Translating Czech Castles

Neil Bermel and Luděk Knittl from the School of Languages and Cultures completed a trip to the castles and stately homes of North Bohemia over the Easter break, with funding from the Faculty’s Academic in Residence scheme. The trip included research data collection, dissemination activities with industry and academic partners, and meetings to plan a further student engagement project.

Field work

Bermel and Knittl conducted several days of interviews, questionnaire collection and observation at Castle Grabštejn, which is at the very northern tip of the Czech Republic, just a mile from the Polish and German borders. Their goal was to learn more about how the Czech National Heritage Institute deals with and caters for tourists who do not speak the local language.

Spreading the word

When the field work had concluded, the researchers travelled south to present the findings of previous rounds of research at the Czech National Heritage Institute’s regional directorate in Sychrov. The presentation had a practical slant, focusing on incremental and cost-effective changes that the CNHI could make to improve foreign visitors’ experience at their sites. Later that week, they spoke to academic audiences at Charles University in Prague and the Czech Language Institute, Czech Academy of Sciences, looking at the research from the perspective of language management theory.

Future directions

A further aim was to agree terms for a student engagement project at other castles. The offer of collaboration was welcomed and staff had preliminary discussions with the castle manager at Grabštejn over how this might work. If further funding can be obtained, next year’s students will have the opportunity to visit the castle as trainee translators to work on their language materials and in doing so to gain valuable professional experience.

For information on our previous project see Castle Hrubý Rohozec.