Translators Associations Europe: OP

Translating the Belles Lettres

Translation Associations Europe: OPThe Czech Translators Guild (Obec prekladatelu, OP) is a voluntary translators association whose members dedicate mostly to belles lettres (prose, poetry, drama, etc.) but also to translation theory, critique, history and educational issues. Currently, it has over 300 members. It operates in the Czech Republic, having its offices in the country’s capital city, Prague.

OP supports the activities of language, genre, regional and other special interest clubs. It is happy to collaborate with other creative organisations, both nationally and internationally.

The role of the Czech translation association is to protect the rights as well as the professional interests of all members. At the same time, it is the organisation’s goal to promote the prestige of literary translation and the position it holds within the culture of the Czech Republic.

OP is committed to following systematically all literary translations which are published in the country. Moreover, in cooperation with the Ministry of Culture and the Czech Literature Foundation, the translators association based in Prague awards the annual prestigious Josef Jungmann Prize, as well as a number of other awards that contemplate the best translations of the concerning year.

In addition, the Czech Translators Guild is in charge of the organisation of an annual competition named after the late Jirí Levý, who was “an eminent Czech translation theorist”. The awards are aimed at young translator talents, to reward their promising works in several genres. The winning works are presented at public readings and afterwards published in literary magazines.

Prize-wise, the translation association is also represented in the annual State Prize, as part of the jury. This prize is awarded to distinguished translators whose lifetime work has had a significant contribution towards the enrichment of Czech culture.

Another interesting contribution from the guild to the translators’ community has to do with the Worst Achievement Prize. The initiative, which enjoys “considerable publicity”, is aimed at helping “counter pressures caused by unscrupulous publishing business practices combined with dilettantism”. It is now a tradition, involving a committee of experts, once every year.

OP is not only about distinctions; it is also about knowledge and training. For this purpose, the Czech translators association holds conferences on numerous subjects concerning the problems of literary translation, often with invited speakers from the country but also from all over the world. The guild also organises lectures and research visits for foreign translators and scholars.

The Czech organisation has published a directory of its members, with their profile and linguistic specialisations. The document also offers professional assistance to publishers, other partners like translation companies and beginners in the art of translation. Moreover, it provides free legal advice on contractual matters. The translation association’s directory can be obtained directly from its offices in Prague.

OP is a member of CEATL, the European Council of Literary Translators Associations. It is also a partner of the UNESCO Centre for Support and Exchange of Literary Translation.

The Unmentionables

In 1992, OP began a project called The Unmentionables: Banned Translators 1948-1989, which comprises a reference manual listing the real names of the authors of 662 literary translations made in the period of political and cultural oppression in the Czech Republic. Those days, the best in the field (translators, writers, journalists, scholars and many other intellectuals) depended on courage, dedication and conspiracy of friends to publish and, in many cases, to survive.


Regular membership of OP is individual and voluntary. To become a member of the Czech translation association, you must be a citizen of the Czech Republic, who has a degree or has published two translations. Alternatively, you may have been continuously published in theory, history or translation critique (for example, two papers published as a book or ten essays in periodicals).

Membership is open to foreign citizens only when they have translated to or from Czech. Those who have just published a translation journal or a book may become candidates for membership.

The admission or refusal of a new member is decided by the OP Application Committee.

OP may also decide to grant honorary membership to individuals or organisations. These can be either citizens / organisations of the Czech Republic or from abroad.

Regular members are entitled to attend the general meetings with voting right. They may elect and be elected for the organs of OP. They have the right to suggest, question and complain to the organisation’s board. There are several services at their disposal, as well as many events.

Members of the Czech translators association have the obligation to follow the statutes of OP and operate in accordance with the ethics of translation. They must pay their fees (students, pensioners and candidates have a 50% discount).

Keep in mind that Czech is the official language of the Czech Republic. It’s a West Slavic language with approximately 12 million native speakers. It is similar to Slovak.

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