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MU graduate helped translate words for Czech-Ukrainian picture dictionary

Masaryk University graduate Jitka Janů contributed to the Czech-Ukrainian picture dictionary developed by the Berlin-based TüftelAkademie. She did not translate the words directly from Czech but via German.

Jitka studied German language teaching at the Faculty of Education and journalism at the Faculty of Social Studies. She is a translator, German tutor and photographer. You may know her work from the M Magazine which has collaborated with Jitka Janů for several years now. When she is not in Brno, she spends a lot of time with her partner in Vienna, which has become something of a second home for her.

After the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the attention the situation attracted in Europe, Jitka accidentally found the Czech-Ukrainian dictionary developed by the Berlin-based TüftelAkademie. “I was working on one of my translations, looking for something on Duden, which is probably the most widely used German dictionary online. On its front page, there was an ad for a German-Ukrainian picture dictionary. Out of curiosity, I wanted to browse through it because I haven’t seen anything of this sort available here in Czechia. And I noticed that TüftelAkademie, which publishes dictionaries on its website, had also created a Czech-Ukrainian dictionary,” said Jitka.

When she opened the dictionary, however, she was horrified by what she saw – clearly, no native Czech speaker had worked on the translations. “I found many mistakes – words that are no longer used in colloquial Czech and grammatical errors,” explained Jitka, adding that she had immediately contacted the publisher, who welcomed her offer to help out.

“Within a couple of days, a new corrected version was already available on the website. The dictionaries are not very extensive, they only cover basic words from certain areas of ordinary life, such as vocabulary relating to the kitchen, school or describing hygiene products. Nevertheless, they can still help in dealing with everyday situations,” explained Jitka, adding that helping in this way seemed like the least she could do. “There was no reason not to offer my help. For me, it wasn’t difficult at all and it can help a lot of other people.”

In Austria, where she lives on and off, support for Ukraine is visible on the streets just like in Brno. “There are Ukrainian flags in windows, there are various fundraisers and the city authorities have waived parking fees for Ukrainian cars for a certain period. Besides, people in Vienna are very active when it comes to demonstrating in the streets – one could say that each Saturday is a demonstration day, and many of these demonstrations are in support of Ukraine,” added the photographer and translator.