I have had a long-standing goal to photograph the Charles Bridge in Prague at sunrise, and one day a few years ago, I had my chance. I was only staying overnight, leaving the next day for Berlin. Of course, I woke up with excruciating, mysterious back pain. It was so bad I could barely walk. But I took my camera and forced myself to get out of bed, knowing that I was willing to put up with some short-term pain for the long-term benefit of accomplishment. The photos didn’t turn out quite as wonderfully as I’d hoped; nothing like the ethereal, fog-tinted scene I imagined. But I had done it. As a baseline, that was good enough for me.
Overall, this sort of sums up many Westerners’ experiences with the region. They want to get in and capture the essence of the fog-tinted landscape, but often, it ends up being a bit trickier than they’d hoped. I admit, I learned a lot as I read through the articles of this issue. More than I was expecting, and more than once, checking this or that fact led to extensive personal tangents on Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) history. It is, as many of our writers point out, complex, fragmented, unified by little more than a past torn by political conflict, shared borders and relative linguistic obscurity.
Now, of course, many CEE countries have joined the European Union in the drive to change their allegiance to the typically more prosperous West, although, ironically, this is coming at a time when the West has worries of its own, as Thomas Patrick Gilmartin points out in his article on CEE economies. Next in our focus, Michal Küfhaber and An Stuyven discuss the linguistic difficulties of using computer-aided translation tools in CEE languages, and how to overcome them. Asta Rusakeviėčienė and Rasa Kriaučionytė offer tips on how to translate the Baltic languages, and then Andrey Ruban and Iryna Pigovska cover medical translation in Russia and Ukraine. Libor Safar adds to the focus in the same vein with an article on regulations for CEE pharmaceutical translations, and Rebecca Ray finishes it with a brief look at CEE language service providers.
We have two book reviews in this issue: one by Nancy A. Locke of David Bellos’ oft-cited Is That a Fish in Your Ear? and another by Thomas Banks of Stephani Berard’s Capti. Capti is, it appears, the first novel to be written in Latin in over 250 years, and fairly or not, it makes me feel old that the “curmudgeonly” reviewer is actually younger than I am.
Heading to another part of the world entirely, Lori Thicke brings us an interview with Denis Gikunda of Google Africa. Kate Edwards’ column focuses on the dividing issues of Cyprus, and John Freivalds covers some Biblical translation history — referencing, once again, David Bellos. Terena Bell introduces a new column on the macroforces of the world and how they influence the microforces, down to the relatively-small agency or freelancer. In our Takeaway, Rob Cools talks about the web.
May your journeys eastward be eased through these pages, and may all your CEE goals come true.