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Olympics serve as backdrop for foreign languages professor

Sept. 19, 2008

KALAMAZOO--A Western Michigan University professor was performing in China just before the start of the 2008 Summer Olympics.

Dr. Peter W. Krawutschke, professor of foreign languages, was in Shanghai Aug. 4-7 presiding over the 18th World Congress of the International Federation of Translators.

Dubbed a "translation olympics" of sorts, the event brought together some 700 attendees from 120 member organizations representing more than 60 countries and world regions. The opening ceremonies were broadcast live on CCTV, and the event was covered by People's Daily online, China Daily and Shanghai Daily.

Krawutschke, the federation's outgoing president, is a professor of German who has been on the WMU faculty since 1967. During his tenure, he has chaired the Department of Foreign Languages and developed and directed a translation certification program as well as founded a campus translation center through which student interns worked as translators for southwest Michigan firms.

Prior to entering academia, Krawutschke was in the U.S. Army and for a time, put his knowledge of German, French and English to use as a military interpreter and translator. Since entering academia, he has been actively involved in building the translation profession through his scholarly writings and leadership roles with such organizations as the American Translators Association, of which he is a past president and the current treasurer, and the Federation of International Translators.

Translation specialists from around the globe elected Krawutschke FIT's president three years ago at the group's last world congress. His term ended at the conclusion of this year's congress, which also marked the completion of the organization's work with China to prepare for the 2008 Olympic Games by helping the nation standardize its translation and public signage.

A non-political organization, FIT has Category A status with UNESCO and maintains close contacts with many other international bodies. Among its objectives are helping to form translator associations in countries where these associations do not already exist and advancing translation as a profession, in part by addressing such issues as training, working conditions, and the growing demand for international communication and cooperation.

An interview posted by China.org.cn explains more about the 2008 FIT World Congress and Krawutschke's take on various translation-related topics.

Media contact: Jeanne Baron, (269) 387-8400, jeanne.baron@wmich.edu

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