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Translation and Interpretation in Europe

Contributions to the Annual Conference 2013 of EFNIL in Vilnius


Edited By Gerhard Stickel (EFNIL)

Europe is not «lost in translation». It lives in and by translation and interpretation. The 11 th conference of the European Federation of National Institutions for Language (EFNIL) dealt with the importance of these two significant communicative techniques for mutual understanding within multilingual Europe. The articles by official representatives of the different European institutions inform about the facts of day-to-day interpretation and translation in Brussels, Luxembourg and Strasbourg. Experts discuss translation and interpretation under various general aspects including a historical perspective. Reports on the training and activities of interpreters and translators in several European countries follow. A discussion of the demands and suggestions for translation and interpretation in Europe concludes the thematic part of the book.
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Klaus Reichert – (University of Frankfurt a.M.) ‘Lost and Found in Translation’


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Klaus Reichert

‘Lost and Found in Translation’


The history of European cultures may be narrated as the history of its translations. Every culture is a hybrid; it wouldn’t exist without appropriation of the Other, the Alien (des Fremden): by integration and/or transformation. Translation is always interpretation. A culture that does not translate is or becomes sterile. (The problem of national cultures.)

I. This will be shown, 1) by way of a brief overview of the history of the one common basic text of European cultures, the Bible, from the Septuagint and Vulgate to the various vernacular renderings; 2) by way of the history of our Graeco-Roman heritage that gave us the fundamental concepts of our philosophical, political, moral, and aesthetic thinking; 3) Goethe’s idea of ‘world literature’ that enlarges Western Christian thinking by shifting attention towards Arabic, Persian, and Chinese literatures.

II. Our debates about Europe today are frustrated by focussing on financial, economic, political, or constitutional problems for which no consensus is in sight. The old ‘Idea of Europe’ is feasable only as a Europe of cultures: by becoming aware of our common roots, on the one hand; by taking into account the linguistic plurality of Europe, on the other. In the process towards a linguistic monoculture (globalization), attention should be reversed: only by way of translations may we become conscious of this plurality, of the otherness that separates and unites us.


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