Georgian School of Translation in Peril
26 July, 2012

I have made all my money using the English language as a medium. I have interpreted from English into Georgian and Russian, and vice versa, at innumerable good and bad occasions.  I have translated English and American literature into my mother tongue and have ventured to turn Georgian prose into my beloved English. And all that has made me extremely happy in life. I love being part of cross-cultural communications, doing my job with excellence. I mean it – no cheap bragging around! And finally, I adore teaching the art of translation. I am doing it at Tbilisi state University – pride of this nation and an outstanding symbol of Georgia’s intellectual power. 

 

Being a staff member of the Institute of Translation & Literary Relations of Liberal Arts School of the University, headed by its director Professor Merabishvili, I feel myself at the right place at the right time for a chance to share all my knowledge and experience with the young men and women of my country – the future translators. And I am doing my job for peanuts too. I simply love what I am doing. Period! The thing is that Georgia and its economy, its politics and social life cannot do without a translator’s good services because we need to be professionally trained for swimming in the deep and high ocean of information, overwhelming the world, including this country. For teaching the theoretical part of my course, I am using the two-volume text-book for translation written by Dr. Innes Merabishvili. Her translations of Byron into Georgian and Galaktion Tabidze into English are permanently used by us the teachers as a classic example of poetic translation from one language into another. Incidentally, she has given the world this Georgian genius of poetic thought by way of translating his poesy and having published the precious book in the United Kingdom. All of us together, encouraged and lead by Professor Merabishvili are bringing up the generations of linguistically minded translators – not the simplistic performers of translation from one language into another. Ours is a field of science with an inevitable practical bottom-line.  And Innes knows exactly what she is doing in the field, bringing back to the University the best of the harvested crops. As a matter of fact, she is a pioneer in the filed, herself well-equipped and equipping her students and colleagues with the newest methodology of translation, based on the latest scientific achievements in the realm of linguistics.

Why am I writing this piece? – The question might naturally occur to anybody. This is not Innes’s birthday or the umpteen-year anniversary of her thirty odd years of research into the art of translation and practical delivery. Using the journalists’ favorite introductory phrase, the reliable sources of information are alleging that somebody out there might want to move her from her university position. In principle, there is nothing wrong in substituting one person with another at any presumable job provided it is guaranteed that the new challenger can at least do the job a little better. Frankly, I am very much afraid that it would be practically impossible today to substitute Innes without a detrimental result for the Tbil-State, and when it comes to linguistic science and the art of translation.  Competition is welcome in any walk of life, but the phenomenon of voting in the electoral process might beget certain sinister results because we are all humans and the human charity begins at home. Most of us will vote for a friend or a relative - not for the candidate who can really deliver accordingly.

This article is not a hot-headed challenge; neither is it a vicious complaint against any particular person. This article is a regular whistle-blower’s signal – you can even call it a pure patriotic act, directed towards those who have enough power not to allow a change at the University if the change means disservice to Georgia. Well, this might sound like a piece of panic, released well in advance and with no reason to panic. No! Let’s strike the iron while it is hot! A little late could be too late. The proverbial truth is – ‘to leave well enough alone’.

Indeed, why should we endanger the perfectly built and operating academic process – or the business environment for that matter – if it is giving satisfactory results to the benefit of this nation and its younger generations to come? Just for the caprice of one unfit-for-the-job but ‘connected’ person or because the unfit-for-the-job person has got a firm grip on the strings to pull? Oh God, will this ever end? I truly, truly hope as much!

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