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Komi language preserved with technology

The Bureau for Official Language Translation of the Komi Republic is developing and expanding its activities, the head of the Office, Lyubov Matveyeva, informed.

komi tõlkebüroo

The Language Translation Office is a sub-office of the Centre for Innovative Language Technologies, which is located at the People’s Friendship House in Syktyvkar. The Peoples’ Friendship Houses have been established in almost all the centres of multi-ethnic republics and oblasts in the Russian Federation and are part of the national policy of the Russian Federation.

The primary task of the office is to translate all the legislative acts of the Komi Republic into Komi, but a large number of other documents are also translated. In 1992, when the Law on the State Languages of the Komi Republic was adopted, the Translation Department of the Ministry of National Policy of the Komi Republic became its executive arm and operated for 20 years. In 2012, the Department was merged, now as a bureau, with the Centre for Innovative Linguistic Technologies, which operated within the Academy of Heads of State and Government of the Komi Republic. Since 2018, the Centre has been based at the Peoples’ Friendship House.

At present, the staff of the office translate normative acts, the names of organisations, election ballot papers at various levels, award acts and decisions into the Komi language. The spelling of place names is also being ratified.

Over the decades, the office has made a major contribution to the development of Komi terminology. In recent years, however, electronic dictionaries of Russian-Komi socio-economic and socio-political lexicons have been published, containing more than 1,700 terms. In 2021, an electronic dictionary ‘Names of organisations and institutions of the Komi Republic in Komi and Russian’ was published. All of them are freely available online.

Developing and upgrading the Komi language version of the Komi Republic’s state portal is also part of the office’s work. It also participates in the work of the Commission for Terminology and Spelling of the Head of State of the Republic, and ensures simultaneous translation into Komi and Russian of meetings of the State Council, as well as official events. The staff of the office also translates into Russian the speeches delivered in the Komi language at the Congress of the Komi People.

At the moment, however, the office is facing new challenges, especially in the translation of advertisements and the names of goods into the Komi language. In addition, official notices on air and rail traffic, as well as tourist information, are translated into Komi. In recent years, however, there has been an increasing need for translators from Komi into Russian for court hearings.

The Language Translation Office and the Centre for Innovative Language Technologies are unique organisations in the Russian Federation. The Komi were the first in the Russian Federation to adopt a law on state languages. However, between 2010 and 2021, the number of Komi decreased by 37.1%, and according to the last census, there were 143,516 Komi living in Russia, 108,958 people spoke Komi and 66.4% of the Komi considered it their mother tongue. The education system in Komi is Russian-language, with 1 to 3 hours of voluntary study per week, which varies from region to region.