In Search of Military Translation Cultures

Translation and Interpreting in World War II in Finland

Connections abroad

International collaboration

Languages at War: policies and practices of language contacts in conflict
We have followed with special interest the pioneer research conducted at the University of Reading together with the University of Southampton and the Imperial War Museum, London, in their project on Languages at War: policies and practices of language contacts in conflict. As can be seen from our few blog entries so far, we have used the opportunity to participate in their workshops and conferences and are looking forward to their forthcoming publications. The project has set up a new book series with Palgrave Macmillan entitled Languages at War  and edited by Hilary Footitt (University of Reading) and Michael Kelly (University of Southampton), a book series to which we hope to contribute as much as possible.

Affiliated research project in Zittau, Germany
Furthermore, our team collaborates closely with the research project Translation and Interpretation during WWII considering the Polish, Czech and German languages running at Hochschule Zittau/Görlitz (University of Applied Sciences) in Germany. It started in June 2011 and is scheduled to end in June 2012. The responsible project leader is Prof. Dr. phil. Sebastian Seyferth. The staff includes Prof. Dr. phil. Annette Muschner, PhDr. (MU) (Czech studies), Prof. Dr. phil. Fred Schulz (Polish studies), Michalina Pyszczak and Oliver Rymon.

We quote from their project outline:

” (…)  The Zittau team is focusing chiefly on the analysis of war-related texts (…) As a start, a text analysis will describe individual and relevant text types (translation protocols, memos, reports, or documents which reveal what kind of texts were translated, how and by whom). Various translation strategies are going to be looked into during the process to gain knowledge of translational diversities or varying approaches or attitudes among individual translators within the context of multilingualism. These phenomena will then be analyzed on different linguistic levels (vocabulary, syntax, textual linguistics).
In addition, oral history sources shall be used. Interviews with veterans or their family members shed light on respective translation activities. (…)
The general scope of interest is the research into translational texts and translation activities during WWII. What kind of personal backgrounds and translator training can be identified? What content has been translated in what way? Will it be possible to reconstruct a phenomenon called “military translation”? What role do bilingualism and multilingualism play in areas close to borders? What are the characteristics of the so-called Greater German Reich’s language policy?”

Here is some information on the staff as well as on their research interests:

Sebastian Seyferth
Prof. Dr. phil – Professor of German Language and Linguistics
Project leader; contact:  sebastian.seyferth @

  • Focus on history of translation
  • Research on linguistic and cultural aspects of translation
  • Linguistic analysis of II World War documents

Michalina Pyszczak
MA (Intercultural Communication Studies)
Research assistant; contact:  mpyszczak @

  • Research into: Polish-German and German- Polish translation activities during World War II in the Polish occupied territories (with special focus on Silesia)
  • Research on political and cultural aspects of translation processes;
  • reconstruction of translators‘/interpreters’ profiles with special interest on their identities, background (historical, social and cultural) and their work (translated documents and translation strategy)
  • Linguistic and discourse analysis of archived war documents

Oliver Rymon
Dipl.-Ü. (FH) – (Translation English/Czech – German)
Research assistant; contact: orymon @

  • Research into language policy of the German occupation authorities in the territory of the Protectorate Bohemia and Moravia; introduction and implementation of language arrangements
  • Research on Czech-German and German-Czech translation and interpreting activities 1939-1945 including translators‘ profiles; Linguistic analysis of translations and translation aids with special focus on legal translations

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