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Translations from Arabic into Bulgarian 1990-2010

Author/Editor: Kitaeva, Nedelya

Year of publication: 2010

Keywords: Translation, Arabic, Bulgarian,

Place of Publication & Publisher: University of Sofia

Publication blurb:

The total share of books translated from Arabic into Bulgarian is small, especially
when compared to the number of translations from other West European languages.
According to data provided by the “St. St. Cyril and Methodius” National Library, and
based on our own research, 90 titles of Arabic authors were published between 1990
and 2010. Fifty eight of them are translations from Arabic, while in 32 the translations
of Arabic authors go through intermediate languages.
The number of translated Arabic written works - literary, philosophic or journalistic -
published in Bulgarian literary collections, newspapers and magazines, is insufficient.
Their presence is incidental and fortuitous rather then a well considered decision.
This is mostly due to the nature of the Arabic language and its great complexity,
which makes the worldwide dissemination and popularization of the Arabic literature
quite difficult. In West European countries the dialogue with the Arab East is
stimulated by the notable presence of reputed Arabic poets, writers and immigrant
scientists, while in Bulgaria the contacts between the two cultures is limited because
of the absence of such accommodating figures.
The lack of succession between experienced and young translators from Arabic, the
absence of professional programmes and courses for translators from Arabic into
Bulgarian and vice versa, additionally aggravates the situation. In most cases the
translation, and particularly the translation of fiction, relies mostly on the passion of
the translator, and turns out to be a rather expensive occupation for the translators.
Furthermore, the fluent knowledge of Arabic does not suffice for a good translation.
Because of the marked cultural distinctions, the Arabic language, much more than
other languages, calls for a profound knowledge of the Islamic Arabic culture,
images, symbols and traditions. While most of the translations in the USA and some
West European countries are work of resident Arab-speaking writers and poets, in
Bulgaria exclusively Arabists take up this task. We should also not undervalue the
positive role of available financial support for translation projects. In Bulgaria, it is
almost non-existing. We will again bring up the practice of West European countries
of launching a number of projects for support of translations from and into Arabic.
This is an extremely rare phenomenon in Bulgaria – only just 8 of the above
mentioned books are published with the financial support of various institutions.
Although 11 Arabic countries have their diplomatic and cultural representation in
Sofia, only a small part of them finance or support in any other way the popularization
of their national culture.
This situation speaks above all of a lack of framework strategy for support of
translations from Arabic into Bulgarian. Such strategy would allow to be designed and
launched translation support programmes like the one of the French Embassy and
the French Cultural Institute in Sofia, which resulted in a boom of translations of
French authors at the end of the 90-ies of the last century.

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