In a nutshell
Kiännä-project (Translation, revitalization and the endangered Karelian language) has got funding from Finnish Kone foundation in 2015–2018. The project focuses the revitalization process and the research of this process from the viewpoint of translation. The aim related to revitalization are 1) to help a new generation of Karelian translator to raise up, 2) to encourage new people to begin translating and 3) to build a network between Karelian translators and translators of other languages. These aims are addressed to by organizing translator training and opportunities for networking. At the same time, the project will increase the number of language products (such as books, comics, poems, songs and internet pages) available in Karelian. In the field of research, the project aims at combining in a cross-disciplinary way viewpoints from revitalization research and translation studies by promoting translation as an object of revitalization research and translating into an endangered language as an object of translation studies.
Translation is in practice a very elementary part of revitalization but its role has been invisible both in actual revitalization work and in research. Translation is a way to make the endangered language available for new speaker generations (e.g. children’s books) and translation may affect the social status of the language: by translating classics or religious texts it is being showed that it is possible to publish prestigious literature in this language. Translated books also raise the visibility of the smaller language among the speaker of the majority. Translation is interconnected with standardization and modernization of Karelian language by bringing the language to modern world. In this way, all the Karelian translators participate in creating new vocabulary and terminology and strengthening the existing norms (or sometimes creating new ones).
Karelian is a small Finnic language spoken in Finland and in Russia. During the 1900s and especially after World War II, Karelian has become endangered in both countries. Revitalisation activities are going on, pursued by language activists and NGOs. An important part of the revitalisation is formed by publications written in Karelian, and many of these are translations from other languages (mainly Russian and Finnish). Translating into Karelian is in many ways challenging compared to translating into bigger, vital languages. The literary tradition of Karelian is short; the present literary languages have been developed after 1980s. Another challenge is caused by the fact that there is no common literary standard for Karelian but several literary varieties exist based on different dialects. Being spoken in two different countries has its impact as well as in Finland, Karelian is influenced by Finnish and in Russia by Russian. Furthermore, translating into an endangered language is challenging: the revitalisation process involves moulding the language to fulfil the needs of modern societies. This requires, in particular, creating new vocabulary