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Ukrainian Bible Translation: The Case of Resistance and Exile

Centre for Translation (January 12, 2023)

SEMINAR SERIES : Bible and Liturgical Domains of Translation Studies: The Ukrainian Perspective

Ukrainian Bible Translation: The Case of Resistance and Exile
Liturgical Translation as a Domain of Translation Studies
MAJOR SPEAKER : Dzera, Oksana
LENGTH : 70 min.
ACCESS : Open to all
SUMMARY : The research project aims to reconsider and revisit the role of the Bible translations in establishing and determining Ukrainian religious and cultural spaces in the circumstances of Russian colonization. Since the sacred and authoritative status of a text imparts prestige and recognition to languages it is translated into, the activism of Ukrainian translators of the Bible in the 1860s-1900s was bound to trigger official bans on Ukrainian cultural products. Destructive gatekeeping policies applied by the state and the Russian Orthodox Church, working in tandem, displaced the production and distribution of Ukrainian Bible translations behind the borders of the Russian empire of the tsarist and soviet models. Three full Ukrainian translations of the Holy Scripture, namely the translation completed by Kulish, Pului and Levytskyi in 1903 and two nearly simultaneous translations done in early 1960s by Ivan Ohiyenko, the metropolitan of the Ukrainian Autocephalous Church in exile, and Ivan Khomenko, a priest of the Greek-Catholic Church in exile, were published outside Ukraine. Subsequently, these translations, as well as a number of other translations of the Gospels and the Psalter, remained inaccessible for believers of soviet Ukraine and failed to “to be awoken” through its reading and interpretation. This silence surrounding Ukrainian Bible translations and gaps in their reception by the targeted receiver reflect the translation policy in the colonial religious and cultural contexts.

The research highlights the resistance strategy actualized in Ukrainian Bible translations overtly through defiant paratexts and covertly via the lingual intervention targeted at promoting Ukrainian lexical resources, which fell victim to the repressive measures of imperial linguocide. Likewise, Ukrainian translators of fine literature, who represented so call baroque trend, subtly interspersed their outputs with phrases borrowed from Kulish’s translation of the Bible. This subtle translation technique of lingual intervention became an ingeniously instrumental tool for cultural liberation under the circumstances of the russification policy targeted at marginalizing authentic Ukrainian words and annihilating the linguistic identity of the Ukrainian nation. In the broad sense the Holy Bible remained the most widely translated book in Ukraine, as the Ukrainian literature abounds in implicit and explicit attempts “to translate” Biblical images, Biblical wisdom or even phrases deducible to the sacred text.  [Go to the full record in the library's catalogue]

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