Greetings from Belarus

Te Ara is widely read within New Zealand, but evidently there is also growing interest from people elsewhere.

Last month about one in three visits to our site were from offshore. Almost every country in the world seems to have dropped by, including Puerto Rico (on 103 occasions), the Isle of Man (54), Botswana (23), Libya (3) and a much appreciated single visit each from the likes of Cuba, Mali, Cape Verde and the Wallis and Futuna islands.

Despite this exciting internationalism, more than half our overseas hits came from just four countries – the US, Australia, the UK and Canada. What they have in common, of course, is the English language, and they remind us of our global limitations as a resource that is primarily in English (along with many entries translated into the Māori language).

So it was a pleasant surprise for Jock Phillips, our general editor, to receive an email from Martha Ruszkowski, a professional translator from Belarus, which she described as ‘a small country which is somewhere in the middle of nowhere in Europe’.

Belarus, formerly part of the Soviet Union

Belarus, formerly part of the Soviet Union

Martha came to know Te Ara when she made a trip to Auckland last autumn (‘it was amazing!’). She asked to translate the section of Te Ara on gambling (which you’ll find in the Sports and leisure entry in New Zealand in Brief) into Belarusian, her native tongue. It would then be available to the around nine million speakers of this language, which Martha says is from the same Indo-European roots as English and French.

‘Why the gambling entry?’, we wondered. Martha cheerfully explained that she’s a keen gambler in her spare time, although it’s not a popular activity in her country since most forms of gambling are illegal there.

‘Go for it’, Jock told her, and so Belarusian speakers can now read about pakapoo, pokies and the Golden Kiwi at this site:

Martha thinks this isn’t the only Te Ara entry that her fellow Belarusians will find interesting, and she plans to add further translations in due course.

Kia ora, Martha, and happy punting!

2 comments have been added so far

  1. Comment made by Carl Walrond || March 28th, 2011

    годзе ў латарэю Залаты Ківі!

  2. Comment made by malcolm || March 29th, 2011

    I can’t read Carl’s doubtless illuminating comment but one interesting thing about Martha’s translating efforts is that the most widely spoken language in Belarus is not Belarusian but Russian. Belarusian itself, despite or perhaps because it is such a close linguistic relative of Russian, has had a hard time establishing itself since Belarus became independent of Russia in 1991, and I imagine Martha’s efforts are partly directed at developing a corpus of writing in Belarusian. If more can be translated on political subjects that would be a great thing too but probably risky – Belarus has an unenviable reputation as Europe’s only surviving dictatorship.

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