Interview Campaign with Translators: Alexandra Vasilopoulou from Greece

By Milena Rampoldi, ProMosaik e.V. – An interview with Alexandra
Vasilopoulou, an English Greek Translator. Translation can help to build a
cooperative and tolerant society opposing to racism and discrimination. 

translator can create new perspective. And this mediator-function of the
translator is so important to build up peace in the community and broader
Milena Rampoldi: What are the principal linguistic and intercultural
problems for translators into and from the languages you handle?
Alexandra Vasilopoulou: While translating, apart from the barriers of
grammar, syntax and vocabulary, you can also face problems relating to
political correctness or a country’s culture and history. Regarding the
linguistic issues emerging during the translation process I can highlight the
difficulty of terminology. As for the intercultural aspect, many times I have
to deal with sensitive cultural, religious or historical subjects that require
awareness and subtlety.
MR: What do you think is important to promote intercultural dialogue?
AV: The debate between cultures and nations is essential, as we can
easily understand watching the historic events taking place today all over the
world. Immigration and globalization are a key reason for this need. People should
be aware of the other’s uniqueness and similarities in order to cooperate as
citizens of the world. Racism and discrimination can only provoke problems.
Cooperation and understanding work in everyone’s best interest.

MR: How can translations improve communication between peoples and
promote a culture of inclusion and peace?
AV: Apart from the obvious labor, which is to disseminate knowledge and
literature all over the world, a translator can take an active part in
intercultural communication. He/she can stimulate awareness through the choice
of what is being translated and also by choosing how to translate
something. Especially when talking about topics like racism or chauvinism, the
translator can make a game-changing move. That is what the feminist translators
did in the first place. The translator can be both a mediator and a creator of
new perspectives.
MR: How can you explain to foreigners how different your native language
AV: The uniqueness of a language can be made clear by explaining the
different cultural elements that have infiltrated the language throughout
history and the fusion provoked by these influences. Also, the structural,
syntactical and grammatical aspects may vary between languages, so pointing out
such features could help create an image of the language’s nature.
MR: How can you teach your language to foreigners in the best way?
AV: Teaching can be effective by providing good knowledge and
understanding of the grammar rules, offering a historic and cultural
background, giving opportunities for experience in practice with real life
texts, articles, films, songs and situations. Finding similarities between the
student’s native language and yours can also help the student internalize and
be aware of the language’s concept and philosophy.
MR: What are the principal problems translators have when they have to
translate into a European language?
AV: Translating from a European language to another can seem easy
because of the proximity of the countries. However, Europe is a fusion of
different cultures and that makes localization necessary in many occasions.
Also, within the EU there is concrete terminology that should be followed when
translating documents. Research and consistency should be ensured.
MR: What does intercultural awareness and intercultural empathy mean to
AV: Intercultural empathy is of crucial importance; not only for a
translator – as it promotes better understanding of the language’s “philosophy”
and thus better
interpretation/localization –
but also for everyone, since we are currently living in a globalised world. People,
like translators, who are in continuous contact and interaction with different
cultures, can raise awareness on these subjects.