HOW THE 1989 VELVET REVOLUTION CHANGED THIS TRANSLATOR’S LIFE

The last weekend everyone – well, at least all the sane people – in the Czech Republic and Slovakia celebrated the 30th anniversary of the 1989 Velvet Revolution that put an end to the totalitarian Communist regime in the former Czechoslovakia. Now that the celebrations are over, I have been thinking what this event meant to me as a translator.

Let me put it straight; I was only 12 back in 1989 and had no idea what would become of me. Probably I didn’t even know there were people making their living as translators and I definitely didn’t give a shit about languages. But…

Without the November 1989 events, our country would not have opened to the world and there would not have been the first bilingual English-Slovak grammar school in Sučany where I got so well-versed in English. Without the Velvet Revolution, we would probably still be living in a planned economy where everything was owned and managed by the Communist state-party and no private businesses were allowed. A sure thing is there would be no real freelancers, because all people had to be employed somewhere, otherwise the official authorities considered them „leeches“ and put them under constant surveillance and persecution by both the regular and secret police.

The thirty-four revolutionary days of 1989 very likely changed the course of my life forever.

In other words, without the Velvet Revolution of November 1989:

… I would probably not be an English-to-Slovak translator, if I would be a translator at all.

… I would definitely not be a freelancer, because there was no such thing as freelancing under the Communist rule.

… and, for sure, I wouldn’t be living in a free and democratic country with all the opportunities democracy and a free market have to offer, despite any flaws and glitches they may have.

For all of the above, I’m forever thankful to all those great and brave people who found the courage and took to the streets and squares of our cities and towns, clinking their keys for our right to live in a free world.

THANK YOU.

PS: Sorry for being somewhat pathetic here but this is how I feel about it.

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