Interview Campaign with Translators: Istvan Csoka from Hungary

by Milena Rampoldi, ProMosaik e.V. – The next translator we have interviewed is Istvan Csoka from Hungary, a technical translator whose working languages are German, English, and Russian. 
He shows us how important life experience is to learn how to deal with other cultures and languages. This is what Hungary needs these days: reciprocity, dialogue, and mutual understanding, instead of exclusion, and discrimination. 

Milena Rampoldi: What are the principal linguistic and intercultural problems for translators into and from the languages you handle?
Istvan Csoka: Here in Easter-Europe many do ‘”trusts” the government (including Z generation), i.e. that the goverment should provide them jobs, flats etc. Same time civil organisations are not welcomed by everybody as well here in Hungary. More than personal problems we have to deal with institutional problems in the country.

MR: What do you think is important to promote intercultural dialogue? 

IC: The more we know from other cultures the more we accept them… So make the experience of the other. Try to get in touch with other cultures. I am convinced that intercultural dialogue can be promoted by the personal experience of it.
 MR: How can translations improve communication between peoples and promote a culture of inclusion and peace?
IC: This is a question for sociologists… For sure, translation can help to create peace. But I am a bit pessimistic at the moment…. Inclusion is the other side of peace. If I do not accept the other, if I do not include him/her into my society, there will not be peace. 
MR: How can you explain to foreigners how different your native language is?
IC: I would try in particular with the explanation of the vowel harmony in Hungarian. You can find it here for reference:
MR: How can you teach your language to foreigners in the best way?
IC: Unfortunately, there are not many foreign people who wants to study Hungarian here. There are just some expats who live here. Most of them learn it (most likely) individually, maybe from the partner they live with. I would say that in this case the contrastive approach could be the best one, as Hungarian is very different from all other languages and is just similar to Turkish and Finnish in whole Europe.



MR: What are the principal problems you have when you have to translate into a European language? 

IC: I would say it is the word order, as in many case the first Hungarian words moves to the end of the English or German sentences.Sometimes it is also terminology. But experience helps.
MR: What does intercultural awareness and intercultural empathy mean to you?
IC: I spent many times abroad, so I am accustomed to treat different cultures as my own; but for many people this causes some discomfort… I am convinced that intercultural awareness is the result of your own experience. You know that there are many coequal cultures… And intercultural empathy is related to the intercultural awareness, because you learn how to look to yourself, your own decisions, opinions, and ideas from the point of view of another cultural and linguistic world.