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Essay About Romanian Language Translate

October 03, 2014


It took me a while to find time to read the whole thing, but the roundtable discussion that went up a week ago over at the Observer Translation Project is really excellent. Susan Harris (of Words Without Borders), Chad Post (of Open Letter and Three Percent), novelist Norman Manea, and translator Susan Bernofsky offer thoughtful exchanges on topics such as marketing and editing translated literature, team translations, issues of domestication in translation, and the appeal and value of international literature. For example, here’s Susan Bernofsky on editing translations:

The same editing skills that apply to the best editors of English apply to the best editors of literature translated into English as well. Great editors have a sixth sense that tells them exactly what a book’s style wants to be and shows them the spots where it diverges from this ideal. If there’s an outright mistake in the translation, an editor may or may not be able to spot it (depending on whether it breaks the skin of the book’s mood) – but that’s not the editor’s job, that’s the job of the translator.

The whole thing is highly recommended.


August 09, 2009

From Salonica World Lit


The Observer Translation Project is...a great place to get your bearings about Romanian literature, old and new.  I love this site because it's like a lit journal and a history lesson filled with well-thought out lit crit and incisive commentary. Dig it, friends. 

July 07, 2009


July 05, 2009


What's worse than Western capitalism? Capitalism that hides behind a hammer and a sickle. Moldovan journalist and translator Leo Butnaru sends a caustic letter from Moldova, where the April 7 elections were followed by heavy protests against the Communist election victory. Butnaru explains how the elections were manipulated – a large percent of Moldavians working abroad were prevented from voting – and the perverse nature of the regime: "We're dealing here with a mutant that is hard to describe. This fabulous mongrel, communo-capitalism looks exceptionally repulsive in the fun house mirrors of mysteriously still ongoing, retarded bolshevism, with which European autocracy and diplomacy nevertheless go on flirting. I would very much like to know, for instance, why last March his Excellency, the former British ambassador to Chisinau, John Beyer, allowed himself to be decorated by tovarish Voronin, a dictator, a hypocrite, a show-off, a scoffer at the idea of Europe - an inveterate bolshevik, pure and simple, who benefits from 'multilaterally-developed' capitalism - to borrow a phrase from the old Party manuals."

Beyer is not the only politician whom Butanaru names: his list of foreign dignitaries queuing up to be decorated also includes FIFA president Sepp Blater, Secretary General of the European Council Terry Davis, Austrian EU politician Erhard Busek, Bulgaria's president Gheorghi Pirvanov and the Croatian president Stjepan Mesic.

And the USA-based Romanian writerNorman Manea, Susan Harris from "words without borders" the American translatorSusan Bernofsky and the publisherChad Postdiscuss the market for literary translations and translation itself.



July 05, 2009

From perlentaucher


Was ist noch schlimmer als westlicher Kapitalismus? Ein Kapitalismus, der sich hinter Hammer und Sichel verbirgt. Der moldawische Journalist und Übersetzer Leo Butnaru schickt einen gepfefferten Brief aus Chisinau, der Hauptstadt Moldawiens, wo es nach den Wahlen am 7. April zu schweren Protesten gegen den Wahlsieg der Kommunisten kam. Butnaru erklärt, wie die Wahlen manipuliert wurden - einem Großteil der im Ausland arbeitenden Moldawier wurde es unmöglich gemacht zu wählen - und um welche Art von Regime es sich in Moldawien handelt: "Wir haben es hier mit einem Mutantenzu tun, der schwer zu beschreiben ist. Dieser märchenhafte Bastard, Kommuno-Kapitalismus, sieht besonders abstoßend aus im Spiegelkabinett eines mysteriöserweise weiterbestehenden, zurückgebliebenen Bolschewismus, mit dem die europäische Autokratie und Diplomatie weiterhin flirtet. Ich wüsste zum Beispiel sehr gern, warum letzten März seine Exzellenz, der frühere britische Botschafter in Chisinau, John Beyer, sich von Towarischtsch Voronin dekorieren ließ, von einem Diktator, Heuchler, Angeber und Verächter der europäischen Idee, einem eingefleischten Bolschewiken durch und durch, der vom 'multilateral entwickelten' Kapitalismus profitiert - um eine Phrase aus den alten Parteiprogrammen zu benutzen."

Beyer ist nicht der einzige, den Butnaru aufzählt: auch der Schweizer Sepp Blatter, Präsident der FIFA, Terry Davis, Generalsekretär des Europarats, der österreichische EU-Politiker Erhard Busek, Bulgariens Präsident Gheorghi Pirvanov und der kroatische Präsident Stjepan Mesic ließen sich Orden an die Brust heften. (Mehr über die Wahlen in der NZZ.)

Außerdem: Der in den USA lebende rumänische Schriftsteller Norman Manea, Susan Harris von "words without borders", die amerikanische Übersetzerin Susan Bernofsky und der VerlegerChad Postunterhalten sich über den Markt für Übersetzungenvon Literatur und das Übersetzen an und für sich.



July 01, 2009

From Words Without Borders


The Observer Translation Project just posted a roundtable discussion on our favorite topic, including our very own Susan Harris along with Chad Post of the Three Percent blog and Open Letter publishers, as well as translator Susan Bernofsky whose translation of Yoko Tawada’s The Naked Eye I just read (and will soon comment on).

Here’s an excerpt with Chad honing in on an aspect of reading books in translation that many of us face:

This sounds really bad, but in a roundabout way, I'm motivated by my monolingualism. After college I fell in love with Latin American literature—especially Cortazar—and started trying to revive my Spanish so that I could read the dozens of books I'd heard about, but which had yet to be translated. By the time I got serious about this though, I was off and reading a ton of French Oulipo books. Then titles from Eastern Europe. I'll never be able to speak a dozen languages (like translator Michael Henry Heim does), so I have to rely on English publishers to make available all the great books being written around the world. Probably just an ADD thing, but by not specializing in one language/literature, I feel like I can indulge my roaming interests, and look for books to publish from Asia, then Latin America, then France, then the Nordic Countries, etc., etc.

Read the rest at The Observer Translation Project



July 01, 2009

From Three Percent


The Observer Translation Project, which we’ve mentioned here before, posted a really cool translation roundtable/interview that they conducted recently:

World-famous novelist Norman Manea, two premier experts in the realm of literature in translation—Susan Harris of Words Without Borders and Chad Post of Three Percent and Open Letter—and award-winning translator from German Susan Bernofsky address a literary zone in permanent crisis: the world of literature in translation.

They manage to cover a lot of ground pretty quickly—from editing translations, to the market for translations, to why the panelists read translations—and it’s interesting to see how they approach all of the issues from slightly different angles. Definitely worth a read.



June 18, 2009
June 01, 2009

From signandsight


Al Ahram Weekly | Outlook India| Observator Cultural | London Review of Books | Polityka | Le Nouvel Observateur | The Economist | Clarin | Elet es Irodalom | NZZ Folio | The Guardian 


"The basic question for foreigners in Romania," writes Jean Harris, who runs the Translation Project for the Observator Cultural, " is 'what the hell are you doing here?' That's the existential question, and the sine qua non of successful Romanian-ness involves addressing it to one's self six times a day." The only escape, she suggests, is a healthy sense of the absurd and warm friendships. And with that she introduces Razvan Petrescu, the focus of this month's issue.

Here's an extract from his short story "On a Friday Afternoon":

"Dad went and died. He was a quiet guy, slightly on the mystic side, with two deep furrows on either side of his nose. He was given to occasional bouts of melancholy, and on Sundays he’d do funny stuff over lunch. He'd toss the soup spoon towards the light fixture hanging from the ceiling, then try to catch it. He always failed. Sometimes he'd break the fixture, sometimes – the soup plate. The fat yellow soup would soak progressively into the table cloth first, then into Dad's neatly-pressed trousers, and finally make its way down to the Persian rug, where it became extremely visible and stable. I was in stitches. Not Mom, though. I'm still in stitches now as I look at the Order of Socialist Labor Class III awarded to Dad back in '68 or so. It's a rather nice box, dark cherry in color, soft to the touch, containing a silver medal, a red ribbon and Dad. The medal represents our country's insignia on a bed of sunbeams."

April 21, 2009

From signandsight


Observator Cultural throws a spotlight on Norman Manea, a writer Orhan Pamuk described as "one of the great men of Romania ". The site's Translation Project features a number of synopses of his works, an illustrated bibliography and a translation of Manea's "Sentimental Education", "a charming, sexy, wistful and ferocious take on Flaubert's novel of the same name…”  



April 14, 2009

Weekly News Post
by David Varno
14 April 2009


Romanian author Norman Manea won the third Observator Cultural Opera Omnia Award this month from the Observer Translation Project, an international magazine of Romanian literature in translation. See Totalitarianism Today for an in-depth history of Manea and study of his work. Manea was a guest editor for WWB in 2004, and we also published his “Letter to Ernesto Sábato,” translated from the Romanian by Stephen Kessler and Daniela Hurezanu.

April 14, 2009

Honoring Romanian writer Norman Manea. 

The Observer Translation Project is devoting this month to the work of Romanian writer Norman Manea, who recently won the 2009 Gheorghe Crăciun Lifetime Achievement Award. Critic Carmen Musat describes Manea's work: A witness to the paired totalitarianisms of the 20th century, Norman Manea is a writer of survivals. His medium is Romanian. He belongs to the world. (....) Among other precious stones, Jean Harris translates "Sentimental Education", a short by Manea.

April 07, 2009

From Alina Stefanescu’s Romania Revealed


Forget the fact that I am a globalized mutt who has developed an intense mistrust of any kennel-- American or Romanian-- and prefers to live in cars where the windows are open. Forget my own misgivings about nationalism, patriotism, self-esteem, and resume voyeurism. Forget everything I've ever said or suggeted about politics and conspiracy and other forms of failed literature. For there is hope and excitement on the Romanian horizon. The Observer Translation Projectlanguage barrier by providing translations of previously untranslated fictional gems. For those who long enchanted by the misgivings of the Romanian pen, this project is an oasis. aims to bridge the

A Romanian writer is highlighted in every issue, thus opening the doors of cross-cultural discourse for the discovery of relics and treasures. Apart from translating novels, stories, and essays, the Project includes critical essays and translation notes.

Dip into pathological memory and the nostalgia of the return, the exile's tattoo, the dissident's favorite pair of blue jeans, the stoicism of Soviet toilets, Napoleon in Bucharest, the social stasis facilitated by intellectuals glorifying the ditch as the best abode, token immortalities, the heady drum-beat of a wasted morning, dinners with the devil or the pope, the din inside the artist's head, the cosmic significance of dark bodies, and so much more.



April 06, 2009
March 12, 2009
March 10, 2009

From three percent


Observer Translation Project
9 March 09 | Chad W. Post |


The Observer Translation Project is a relatively new website featuring news, reviews, and samples from and about Romanian authors…. there’s a healthy amount of information available on this site, including samples from a host of authors, a list of forthcoming translations from the Romanian, synopses of a number of Romanian books, and reviews/essays.


Definitely worth checking out, both for the features… and for the blog, which tracks information about Romanian literature.




March 04, 2009
March 02, 2009

Signandsight Reads OTP in its Magazine Roundup  


The novels and short stories of writer Stefan Agopian mark an important point in the emancipation of Romanian literature...

An English excerpt from Agopian's "The Geographer's Tales" can be found here.

February 17, 2009

From Radio France International


A limited team is about to trigger a genuine revolution in the Romanian literary landscape.  Their “weapons” are their translators and the internet. Last September, four journalists on the staff of the Observator Cultural weekly created The Observer Translation Project site to promote contemporary Romanian authors abroad.  With the help of ten translators, fragments from Romanian literary works are published in [multiple]… languages. This ambitious project receives financial support from the weekly Observator Cultural… the credit goes… to the extremely motivated people creating the site. The number of visitors is constantly growing and frequently enough fragments from the translated literary works feature on some of the most important literary sites in Europe and the United States.


December 22, 2008



Now in its fifth issue, this online international magazine features Romanian writing in translation. The site's literary pieces translate into English, Dutch, French, German, Italian, Spanish and Polish, with some guest languages. The director of the Project, Jean Harris, received a 2007-08 ICWT Translation Grant in support of her work on the selection from “The Boars Were Mild”/ Mistreţii erau blânzi from Iarna Bărbaţilor / Men in Winter by Ştefan Bănulescu, that opened the first issue of The Observer Translation Project.


(From Here to There: http://www.humanities.uci.edu/icwt/fromheretothere/Fall08/readinglist.html)

October 16, 2008

Magazine Roundup from signandsight.com


A while back we linked to an article about the fantastic translation project by the Romanian cultural journal Observator Cultural. But things have developed in leaps and bounds since then, with translations in English, French, German, Italian and Spanish, Dutch and Polish. The first edition was dedicated to the writer Stefan Banulescu, the second to Gheorghe Craciun – featuring an excerpt from Craciun's novel "Pupa Russa" and an essay by Caius Dobrescu which presents Craciun as "a Bertrand Russell with a Wagnerian twist"

This, the third edition, is dedicated to the author Stelian Tanase. There are a few things which a "prospective reader of Romanian literature might like to know" writes the translator, writer and head of the translation project, Jean Harris, by way of an introduction. For example, that in Romania, "we're in a world capital of stories because we're in the world capital of regime change". Before moving on to Stelian Tanase, she provides a brief overview of Romanian history and the fundamentals of Romanian literature: "In the long view, what counts is that the Romanian problem has been 'how to survive.' Often it has been, 'how not to die.' And often it has been 'how to die' – finding a spiritual position that makes death a friend. In this context, story telling equals salvation on several planes." In Tanase's case this mindset is fuelled by the Blues.

Further articles include a synopsis of Tanase's novel "Dark Bodies" and an excerpt.


(From signandsight.com: http://www.signandsight.com/features/1778.html )

September 20, 2008

From Conversational Reading


The Observer Translation Project [l]ooks like a promising source for reading works-in-translation on the Web.


(From Conversational Reading: http://www.conversationalreading.com/links/index.html)

September 09, 2008

Reading Is Sexier in Bucharest


In related Romanian-literature-in-translation news, the Observer Translation Project is up and running, featuring previously untranslated Romanian fiction (now translated into En/Fr/Ge/It/Sp/Du/Pol) as well as critical essays (En) on the featured writers and on contemporary Romanian lit in general. The first two numbers have been dedicated to Stefan Bănulescu and Gheorghe Crăciun, respectively. I strongly recommend the excerpt from Crăciun’s Pupa Russa for a lovely account of going to school and learning to read in the People’s Republic of Romania. Kudos to the translator!


(From reading is sexier in bucharest:http://readinginbucharest.wordpress.com/)



September 05, 2008

From the Complete Review


       The Observer Translation Project, "an international magazine of Romanian writing in translation" has now well and truly been launched.
       As they explain:

OTP showcases previously untranslated fiction. We highlight a "pilot" author each month. This is the place to learn about Romanian writers, find updates on Romanian writing abroad, read CV’s, take a look at covers published in countries around the globe, check out the bibliographies, dip into author photos, search our steadily growing archive, and discover essays that put Romanian writing in context. Look for single author fiction issues every month, with free-wheeling updates in between.
       Sounds very promising -- and we hope that other nations have a go at their own versions.


(From the Complete Review: http://www.complete-review.com/saloon/index.htm)



Application options

To study languages, translation or literary Studies as an exchange studen, you can apply for:

Degree Programme in English Language, Literature and Translation

The studies in English language and literature deal with language structure, usage, variation and learning. In addition, students familiarize themselves with English literary genres, cultural material and literatures of various periods and countries. The studies in translation and interpreting focus on translation studies, language and culture, thus introducing students to the professional translation of marketing-related texts, EU documents, manuals and literature. In the Master's programmes, students attain a strong expertise in their specialized field. Moreover, they gain the ability to apply scientific knowledge in practice and build the skills required for postgraduate studies. Students specializing in translation and interpreting are required to have an excellent command of Finnish.

Degree Programme in Finnish Language

Finnish Language Studies seek to familiarize students with the academic concepts of the tasks and the structure of language as well as the history of the Finnish language. Moreover, the purpose of the studies is to introduce students to academic research on the Finnish language and to train knowledgeable and professional users of Finnish. The degree programme is intended primarily for students with Finnish as their mother tongue.

Degree Programme in French Language

The Bachelor's degree programme begins with basic studies, which focus on language skills. In intermediate studies, students develop their language skills and acquire a more extensive knowledge of linguistics, French literature and French society and history. Free choice courses cover fields such as language research, language teaching, translation and knowledge of French society. The Master's degree programme further improves students' knowledge of language, society and culture.

Degree Programme in German Language, Culture and Translation

Basic studies focus on improving students' language competence and cultural knowledge. Intermediate studies then concentrate on acquiring a knowledge of the academic requirements in the Master's programme, as well as enhancing language and communication skills. In the course of their Master's degree studies in German language and culture, students acquire an extensive knowledge of the German language and culture and relevant research, as well as obtain comprehensive information on German-speaking countries. Students specializing in translation and interpreting are required to have an excellent command of Finnish.

Degree Programme in Literary Studies

The Degree Programme in Literary Studies is taught in Finnish. The degree programme offers students a topical view on literature as a part of the larger field of arts and culture, and introduces them to the history of literary forms and to current methodology in literary research.

Degree Programme in Russian Language, Culture and Translation

The Bachelor's programme includes studies in Russian language and culture as well as in translation and interpreting, and provides students with strong language skills and a comprehensive knowledge of Russian culture.

Studies in language and culture focus on the structure of Russian, Russian literature and literature analysis, cultural history and modern society. Studies in translation and interpreting focus on translating, and introduce students to the professional translation of, for example, marketing-related texts, news releases and manuals. Students specializing in translation and interpreting are required to have an excellent command of Finnish. The Master's Programme in Russian Language and Culture provides students with a wide-ranging knowledge of Russia.

Degree Programme in Scandinavian Languages

The Degree Programme in Scandinavian Languages educates specialists for the language, culture and translation requirements of the Nordic countries. The main emphasis is laid on the Swedish language area, Swedish language usage and structure, but students are also introduced to the languages and cultures of other Nordic countries.

Studies emphasize the social status of contemporary Swedish and the Swedish language as a medium of communication, not forgetting the cultural background of the language. While the studies progress, students familiarize themselves, for example, with the differences between Finland Swedish and Sweden Swedish, Swedish literature, translation and the language of the media.

Czech Language

The study module of Czech Language consists of Basic Studies (25 ECTS). Students may choose to complete single course units of the module during their exchange.  N.B. Completing the whole module takes four semesters. Contact teaching is annually available in the first period and in the third period.

During the Basic Studies the students obtain a good command of Czech language in everyday use and a basic knowledge of the history of the Czech Republic and of the structure of the language.

Romanian Language

Students can complete a 25-credit basic studies module in Romanian. In addition to practical language skills, the module aims to provide students with a basic knowledge of the structure of the language and of Romanian history, society, culture and literature and the country’s economy. The module is recommended for everyone who might need knowledge of the Romanian language in his/her field. The module can be completed in one year. Once students have completed this basic studies module in Romanian, they will be able to read texts in Romanian (journalistic, non-fiction and simple literary texts, etc.) and use both spoken and written Romanian to communicate in everyday situations. Students will acquire a basic knowledge of the structure of the language and of Romanian history, society, culture and literature and the country’s economy.

Russian Studies

The study module Russian Studies is an interdisciplinary programme which deals with topics relating to Russia and it offers high quality courses on Russian/Soviet history, politics, culture, social structures and institutions. Teaching is based on the latest research and international expertise, and is given by Finnish and foreign scholars. Language of instruction is English, no previous knowledge of Russian is required.

Spanish Language

The study module of Spanish Language consists of Basic Studies (25 ECTS) and Intermediate Studies (35 ECTS). Students may choose to complete single course units of Spanish Language during their exchange. During the Basic Studies courses the students attain a proficiency in written and spoken Spanish, familiarize themselves with the most important trends of Spanish literature and become initiated into the history, culture and society of Spain and other Spanish speaking countries. The Intermediate Studies aim at further deepening students’ language proficiency, e.g. by familiarizing students with the structure of language, and at giving the students an understanding of contemporary literature, society and of recent history of Hispanic countries.

Suomen kieli ja kulttuuri

Finnish Language and Culture is a programme meant for non-native speakers of Finnish (see special prerequisites). The programme specializes in Finnish language and its usage in every day and professional situations and written texts. In addition, the programme includes studies of Finnish culture and society, according to the choice of students.

Availability of contact teaching is subject to financial resources being allocated for the programme in the academic year. 


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