"Quality, not Quantity"

For many years, the Robert Bosch Stiftung has been promoting translators as important agents in conveying culture and language. To honor her accomplishments in supporting translators, Maja Pflüger, Deputy Head at the Foundation, will receive the 2017 Übersetzerbarke (Translators’ Barque) at the Frankfurt Book Fair. We asked her about the Foundation’s current and future projects in promoting translation.

Robert Bosch Stiftung | October 2017
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Panos Georgiou

Maja Pflüger is the Deputy Head of the Department "International Relations Europe and its Neighbors" of the Robert Bosch Stiftung.

Ms. Pflüger, you will be presented with the award of the German Literary Translators’ Association (VDÜ) at the Frankfurt Book Fair 2017. Can you tell us a little more about this award?

Maja Pflüger: The Translators’ Barque represents the meaning of translation as conveying something. It is a great honor to receive the VDÜ’s award that is given to advocates for the concerns of translators. The award comes in the shape of an artwork that changes every year. By acknowledging my work, the Robert Bosch Stiftung, which has become the most significant private sponsor of literary translators in Germany, is recognized for its commitment as well. For us, it is always about quality, not quantity. 

Talking about translation funding: What does the Robert Bosch Stiftung do to support translators? And what is on the agenda for the Frankfurt Book Fair 2017?

This fall, we are focusing on literary translators. With "Dialogue of Ideas," we are contributing to France’s appearance as Guest of Honor at the Frankfurt Book Fair by shining a spotlight on translators as some of the key players in intercultural understanding. This event series can be seen as a showcase for our support of Franco-German translation through the DVA Stiftung, a small but exclusive associate foundation of the Robert Bosch Stiftung. Visitors can get acquainted with translators of literary fiction, books for children and young adults, plays, cartoons, graphic novels, works in the humanities and social sciences, and view important translators’ estates.

How do you expect translation funding to develop in the future?

The art of translation is highly recognized, which is apparent in the demand-driven availability of public and private funding. Book titles always include the names of the respective translators, and excellent translations are reviewed by the experts in the arts and culture sections of leading newspapers. Readers even choose books because they have been translated by specific translators. No major event in the international publishing world can do without translators or interpreters. As active agents of culture, translators allow their societies to participate in the stories and knowledge of other cultures and to become part of an international exchange.

This is the trajectory we are taking with our new program, "TOLEDO – Translators for Cultural Exchange," which pools our translation-related activities under the umbrella of the German Translators’ Fund (DÜF). The program’s name refers to major European centers of translation, which arose in medieval times in places such as the town of Toledo in Castile, Spain, and initiated a translation culture characterized by cooperation and exchange.