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Walter Köppe

Walter Köppe

Walter Köppe

Walter Köppe was born Feb 22, 1943 and grew up in Steinhude am Meer a village of linen weavers and fishermen alongside a lake created by the last European ice age, north-west of Hanover in Lower Saxony. A few kilometers outside the village on a forested hillside he once came upon an old Jewish cemetery and cherished this place as his own personal secret discovery where he used to cycle to and sit and think without knowing then much about history. His father was thrown to the western front in 1945 and did not return. Albert Schramm became his stepfather; had been through the war from beginning to end on the Eastern Front as an orderly and survived. His screams at night were torrential. Walter grew up with a love for literature. Not knowing much about life he studied to become a lecturer in German. Medieval German literature became his specialty, though eventually, in a foreign language environment, after he had immigrated to South Africa, his field of interest had to widen to include German life and letters of the 15th up to and including the 18th century. He has always had a keen interest in Literary and Linguistic Computing at a time when his dabbling in it was looked upon with curiosity by his computer boffin colleagues at Stellenbosch University. It’s all history now with punch cards and oversize print-outs yellowed. Throughout his years of teaching German history language and literature translating was a constant companion, though on the side-line. When he withdrew from University life in 2001, he set himself up as a freelance translator, not knowing what that is all about. He had to acquaint himself with serious translators’ tools and with attitudes of colleagues and clients and was not amused. He pulled a number of contracts though and in the end enjoyed translating very much. Translating however, is not something to be enjoyed. If you enjoy it, then there is something wrong with your translating. A good translator suffers gladly under the stress of meeting deadlines and crashes on Mondays. No regrets and very little pay. It’s a hare and hound game: you think you are ahead and winning but it is the hound who takes the prize. These days Walter translates for pleasure. Rilke, for example. There he feels at home. Where his heart is challenged together with his intellect. A luxury, you may say, few can afford. True. And be it so. Walter and his wife Colleen live at their beach cottage in Betty’s Bay on the Southern Cape Coast.

Walter maintains a profile on Proz.com. He can be reached directly via email.

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