Literary translation workshops
Link the Wor(l)ds

Link the Wor(l)ds ©Link the Wor(l)ds

Online in Yangon, Myanmar
July to October 2022

We are looking to support a young generation interested in literary translation work, and we are looking for new talent. In order to achieve good translation practices in accordance with international standards, this workshop was organized by well-known literary organizations.

For the first time, we offered a German-Myanmar literary translation workshop in 2022, specifically for people who already had B1 German language skills and who were interested in translating German fiction. In order to participate in this workshop, all candidates had to take an online test from which the workshop leader selected 6 candidates.

The translation workshop was led by Ms. Kyithar Swe, who is an experienced translator, trainer and coach for German teachers. Working together with participants, Helene Bukowski's debut novel "Milchzähne" (2019) was translated into Myanmar. This novel was nominated for the Mara Cassens Prize, the Rauris Literature Prize, and the Kranichsteiner Literature Promotion Prize, among others. The novel was also translated into French and English and a film adaptation is in the works. 

During the workshop all the participants worked together with their leader on a consensus translation of a short text from the book "Milchzähne" (2019). The goal of the consensus translation was for the participants to work together on a version of the translation. They had the opportunity to share their ideas and discuss the challenges of translating the text together with the German author.

This project was a collaboration with the Frankfurt Book Fair, Yangon Book Plaza, Singapore Book Council, the National Centre for Writing and Goethe-Institut Myanmar.

“First of all, I would like to thank all the organizations – the Goethe-Institut Myanmar, the Frankfurt Book Fair, the National Centre for Writing, the Singapore Book Council, and other partner organization - for creating such a unique program. Thanks to them and to the organizers who stand in the background and support us, we now have a wonderful memory behind us.

We used the opportunity and the planned time period efficiently by discussing intensively and critically about translation theories, techniques, and practical examples. We agreed that we wanted to contribute something in the German-Myanmar translation field, and we committed our best efforts to the task. 

From my point of view, all participants were motivated and willing to learn. As a workshop leader, I was very thrilled how my participants did their homework and research and how they were critical, creative, open to new things and team players. It was clearly evident that they took the workshop seriously.

Despite a lack of knowledge about German culture, climate, terminology, reference books, the participants made excellent progress. There were intense, goal-oriented and often emotional discussions, meetings, research, as well as exchanges of opinions. In this way, they were able to achieve their best results.

We overcame misunderstandings, inappropriate choice of words, faulty sentence structure together with cooperation, persistence, determination, and passion. The result surprised even the guest editor and me, namely how my participants worked professionally on this translation. Time passes, but memories never do. It is a beautiful memory that you can all keep with you. I hope that all participants gained wonderful experiences from the workshop, and I wish all of you great successes going forward in the German-Myanmar translation field.”
Sayarma Kyithar Swe


“During this literary translation workshop, I had the opportunity to learn translation theories and methods not only from the professional teachers, but also from my teammates. I learned a lot about how to think, write and translate. Through this workshop, I could correct my mistakes and improve my skills. I would like to thank the organizers, leaders, authors of this workshop, as well as my translation teammates.”
Khant Wai Thi

“This literary translation workshop lasted four months and we participated in the German-Myanmar translation team. The goal of our team was to translate the novel “Milk Teeth” by Helene Bukowski. We translated the first nineteen pages of the novel. During the group work, we discussed complicated words and had the opportunity to talk to the author about her novel. The workshop was well designed, and our workshop leader was very competent. I had a lot of fun at the workshop, as well as in the group work. There was plenty of time for our translation. For our next workshop, I would like to suggest translation of Poems.”
Kyaw Zay Yar Linn

“The workshop was well designed. There were very interesting additional programs. The lectures and discussions from the experts were very exciting and I couldn't listen to them enough. Our workshop leader Mrs. Kyithar Swe was very competent. She knows not only the theory but also the practice of translation. We learned a lot from her throughout the workshop. The organizers always informed the participants about the dates in time. We got the support for internet costs. The Goethe-Institut Myanmar also offered us the opportunity to come and use the library’s facilities and Space on the workshop days, as it has good internet connection (even though the library is closed on weekends). I had fun at the workshop. I got to make new friends with the same hobbies as me. I had the opportunity to ask the author about her book and to learn how she wrote the novel, and this is what I liked most about the workshop. I didn't like the group work of translating a novel as much, because in my opinion, we are going to lose the translator's style and freedom of choice with words. If the participants had more opportunities for their individual work, the workshop would be better. I recommend this workshop to others because the participants can gain a lot of experience. We learned from the professionals how they (the author, the workshop translator, the publisher and the editor) work together. The workshop really fits with the title. It connects us to the world. I have translated some German texts and a German novel into Myanmar as a hobby. After attending this workshop, I now understand better how to work professionally and creatively in translation.”
Mu Mu Nyunt

“The translation workshop was very interesting because we can learn the German culture through the novel. Both the leader and the participants were very helpful. I learned a lot from them about German culture and Myanmar literature. We also had a chance to discuss with the author (Helene Bukowski) about her book, and it was the best experience for me in this workshop. Everyone should attend this workshop if they are interested in German culture and Myanmar literature. I guarantee it will be worth your time.”​​​​​​​
Myo Khant Zin Soe

“I learned German at the Mandalay University of Foreign Languages. I am glad that I had the opportunity to participate in the workshop. I personally liked the German- Myanmar Translation Workshop. The remarkable presentations of the workshop leader, the good organization and the good atmosphere in the group are the salient points for me. The workshop was well designed and structured. The workshop leader facilitates an open and engaging discussion. She was also technically competent. Her theory lectures were very helpful in practical teamwork translations. Good exchange between the participants also played an important role in the workshop. Everyone asked very openly, answered honestly, and was free to express their opinion. This allowed us to further improve the translation. I was very satisfied with the group work. I recommend this workshop because as a foreign language learner, you should know and be familiar with the translation techniques. During the workshop, you can learn the language skills of the editor and the theory lectures from the workshop leader. Most importantly, theoretical lectures can be tried in group translation. You can also meet new people. I especially liked the teacher's feedback after each exercise, which allowed us to learn a lot about translation. It was a good combination of theory and practice. The biggest gain for me from this workshop was knowing how to do the translation systematically and how to choose and use the beautiful words. As before, I pay attention to the spelling and the sentence structure, not only in German, but also in my mother tongue. The workshop also gave me the motivation to continue with the translation. If there is a similar workshop, I would like to visit it again. I am sure that I will be more than satisfied with it. My horizon has expanded a lot. Thank you for the interesting and exciting workshop.”​​​​​​​​​​​​​​
Su Su Nyein Aye

“I am delighted that you are interested in our workshop. I am one of participants who will translate the German novel into Myanmar. First, I would say I had a lot of fun. Although the internet connection was bad, we all did well in the workshop. Our workshop leader Sayarma Kyithar patiently explained the theories and methods about translation. She also explained the job opportunities if we can speak German well. I learned to be strong, and this encouraged me to realize my dream. I have learned many methods and lessons, and I knew from it that our opinions, thoughts and experiences can greatly improve our translations. I have found that my weakness is a lack of reading skills. I have to target more native language books to read, so I can substitute prettier words than usual in translation. What I particularly liked about the workshop was the group work. All the participants were so optimistic, friendly, willing to help and qualified that we did well to discuss and argue together. This way, I learned to handle my relations with strangers better. I felt the financial support was not adequate, because the cost of Wi-Fi and internet connection is so expensive and they pay 10000kyats per section and I was uncomfortable that the workshop was designed only once in two weeks. Maybe it would be better if it was once a week. This workshop should continue, because the German-Myanmar translation workshop is unknown to us and especially for German learners. This opportunity could be increased. This is also motivation and the chance for German learners to demonstrate their skills. I wish this workshop every success and that it will be better known in the future.”​​​​​​​
Thandar Tun