W. Wordsworth’s Sonnet In Translation Aspect


The authors analyze the factors of dialogue /non-dialogue of cultures in the process / as a result of literary translation based on Russian translations and Kazakh interlinear translations of Wordsworth's sonnets. This approach has become the basis for identifying the causes of translation obsolescence and the conditions for a foreign text entering into the communicative space of the target language. Attention is also drawn to the function of the Russian language as a mediator language for translating foreign literature into Kazakh. The use of the discourse approach, verse analysis, hermeneutical method, and comparative analysis of two Wordsworth’s sonnets in Russian and Kazakh languages allowed us to establish a link between the translation strategy and the dialogue / non-dialogue of cultures. The principle of the Kazakh rhymed substring is analyzed in the aspect of transmitting the meditative structure of the original, through the Kazakh syllabic verse and the principle of equilinearity. It is proved that the preservation of the genre features of the sonnet and the peculiarities of the Wordsworth style does not provide an authentic translation. The communicative equivalence of the original work and the translation is considered in connection with the phenomenon of dialogue / non-dialogue of cultures as the ability of the translated work to be part of the literary process of the translation language.

Keywords: Wordsworthsonnetcultureliterary translations


W. Wordsworth's poetry works came to Russian literature translated by V. Zhukovsky, A. Pushkin, I. Kozlov, having formed the psychological branch of romanticism in the ХIХth century and translations-paraphrases of realistic nature in the ХХth century. Translations by A. Korinfsky, V. Bryusov, N. Gumilyov, K. Balmont, S. Marshak, M. Lozinsky, V. Levik, and others opened new facets of English romanticism and a wide gradation of translation strategies.

The problems of poetics and style, Russian reception, Russian-English relations, translations from intermediary languages are traditionally studied in the study of the ‘lake school’ poets' works.

From the range of foreign studies devoted to the links with critical realism, romantic aesthetics, history and general poetics of romanticism, the works of the sphere of Anglo-Russian literary relations, Wordsworth’s poetry (Robinson, 2010), literary interaction within the "lake school", including the comparison of Wordsworth and Coleridge’s techniques (Heath, 1970) are of interest for this topic.

W. H. Wordsworth’s sonnets occupy a special place among Russian translations of English literature. Wordsworth's sonnets translated by A. Pushkin and K. Balmont are striking examples of dialogue and non-dialogue of cultures. Created on the basis of the French language-mediator, under the influence of Sainte-Beuve, Pushkin's translations-paraphrases and Balmont’s interpretive translations, close in their equi-spirituality, allow us to state the phenomenon of "Russian" Wordsworth as a field of intersection of the dialogue of cultures, which took place due to the transfer of spiritual and aesthetic information, axiological content of the English original. In 1829-1830, Pushkin created translations-paraphrases of the English poet’s works: "Sonnet" ("Scorn not the Sonnet; Critic, you have frowned,..."), representing a free arrangement of the poem "Scorn not the Sonnet...", "To the Poet" ("Poet! Do not cherish the love of the people..."), indicating a connection with "There is a pleasure in poetic pains...", "Gypsy" ("Over the wooded banks..."), similar to "Gipsies". Pushkin translated the beginning of Wordsworth's poem "The Excursion" in prose. In the poem "Again I visited...", the influence of the sonnet "Lines composed a few miles above Tintern Abbey, on revisiting the banks of the Wye during a tour July 13, 1798" is palpable. For Pushkin, the role of the substring as of an auxiliary tool is obvious.

Appeal or non-appeal for the interlinear translation has long been characterized in science as a forced measure and has been dictated by the belief that it is impossible to create a work of equal value in relation to the original text. Pushkin's paraphrases of Wordsworth's sonnets, which have become an organic part of Russian literature, as well as the ambiguous interpretation of translations from Balmont's interlinear comments, reveal the need to revise the role of the substring. The authenticity of the translation, or the condition for a foreign text’s entering the culture of the target language, can be considered from the perspective of dialogue and non-dialogue of cultures.

Balmont, whose translations are controversial among researchers, attached exceptional importance to sound symbolism. The poet's skillful mastery of sound recording techniques made him a "hostage" to his skill. The semantic poetics of Balmont's translations is determined by the desire to preserve the spirit of the original and its artistic unity.

Another aspect of forming a dialogue / non-dialogue of cultures is related to direct and indirect dialogue. Here, the mediator language needs to be studied, such as the Russian language, which was used to create many translations of foreign literature into Kazakh. For Kazakh literature, the "Lake" school is still an undeveloped territory. This lacuna is filled by the paper authors' initiative to compile interlinear translation in the Kazakh language of the considered sonnets by the English poet for further translation into the Kazakh language.

The use of interlinear translation, a mediator language, or a direct translation creates an uneven text communication, which becomes a factor in differentiating the dialogue and non-dialogue of the cultures. The active role of the translation addressee becomes a source of new interpretations of the original, causing the obsolescence of certain translation facts, or a communicative decrease in the equivalence of the original text and the translation. On the other hand, the correlation between dialogue and non-dialogue of cultures can experience a change of assessments and change places over time.

Problem Statement

The concept of artistic translation as of an act of bilingual communication, which depends on extralinguistic and communicative factors, allows us to link the quality of the artistic translation results with the dialogue/ non-dialogue of cultures. The purpose of poetic translation is formed by the impact on the addressee in semantic (what is said), stylistic (how it is said) and pragmatic (what reaction is caused by the word in the reader) contexts. Another feature of the ethical text impact on the reader is due to its aesthetic information. The relevance of the paper is to establish the conditions for the formation of dialogue and non-dialogue of cultures in the process / as a result of artistic translation.

Research Questions

The study of the dialogue / non-dialogue of cultures in the process of artistic translation required coverage of the following issues: 1) analysis of the deinterlinear translation, the mediator language, equi-linear translation in the communicative equivalence of the original and translation; 2) extralinguistic and communicative factors; 3) study of the ratio of aesthetic, axiological, and suggestive information in the original and translation as the basis of the genre specificity of the work. This approach allows us to answer the question of what causes translation obsolescence and how the correlation of the dialogue / non-dialogue of cultures affects the change in translation ratings.

Purpose of the Study

The paper aims to substantiate the translation strategy, interlinear translation and translation competence as factors of dialogue / non-dialogue of cultures, a foreign language text entry into the communicative space of the target language.

Research Methods

The discourse approach allows us to explain the multiplicity of results of translation activities and the reasons for the phenomenon of dialogue / but-dialogue of cultures. The specificity of poetic communication, which is due to its aesthetic function and the correlation between the original text and the translation as a methatext defines the role of the comparative method. The use of the method of verse analysis complements the idea of the criteria of translation authenticity and the factors of dialogue/non-dialogue of cultures.

Special attention in the translation practice of recent years has been paid to the hermeneutical method, which clarifies the ways of reducing the "translation stress", the appearance of which the scientist explains by "systemically structural, functional-stylistic and cross-cultural asymmetry of the source and target languages” (Mishkurov, 2017, p. 40).


Substring and translation. Dialogue and non-dialogue of cultures

This paper attempts a comparative analysis of Wordsworth's sonnets translations: "The world is too much with us" (1807) (Wordsworth, 1994, p. 311) by V. Levik "God’s world, we see it everywhere" (1975) (English Romantic poetry of the XIX century, 1975, p. 248-249), by G. Kruzhkov "We are lured by the broken path of vanity..." (2017) (Wordsworth, 2017, pp. 550-551), by S. Sukharev "Sonnet 33" (1997) (Literator, 2015, p. 142), and the sonnet "To a butterfly" (1801) (Wordsworth, 1994, p. 324) translated by I. Melomed "To a moth" (2001) (Wordsworth, 2017, p. 524). The object of the analysis was also the substrings of the considered Wordsworth sonnets in the Kazakh language made by A. Kadyskyzy (in the manuscript).

The comparative analysis of Wordsworth's sonnets in Russian and Kazakh languages allows us to establish a link between the translation strategy, including the substring, and the phenomenon of dialogue / non-dialogue as different forms of entering a foreign text into the communicative space of another culture. The modern approach to interlinear translation shows that it serves as a full-fledged instrument of deinterlinear translation (intra-language translation), when the translator-poet does not have sufficient command of the original language.

Wordsworth’s sonnet “The world is too much with us”

In this sonnet, Wordsworth shows a typical method for the poet ‒ to speak naturally about the usual. The poet notes: «The objects of the Poet's thoughts are everywhere; though the eyes and senses of man are, it is true, his favourite guides, yet he will follow wheresoever he can find an atmosphere of sensation in which to move his wings. Poetry is the first and last of all knowledge – it is immortal as the heart of man» (Wordsworth, 1909-14). Wordsworth mourns the loss of man's connection with nature. Lucy Kellett writes: As “the Industrial Revolution had grown too large”, the mechanics of thought, society and literary form had be-come overwhelming; hence the overweening spirit of the age was the question of when “Enough” accedes and exceeds to “Too much” (Kellett, 2016, p. 5). The dilemma outlined by the scientist reflects the dichotomy of human ambitions and social progress, which caused an unsolvable conflict in the literature of romanticism.

Longing for paganism reproduces mythological images of Proteus and Triton, the raging wind, the roaring sea in the image system of the original text. The sound and visual symbolism of the original text become images of authentic life, which is associated with the organic world ‒ nature.

The scientist writes about the philosophical and artistic syncretism of Nature and Earth as symbols and cultural mythologems, Wordsworth's worldview category, which formed the basis of the dialogue: “Wordsworth's related uses of «Nature» and «earth» in the Prelude and other poems represent differently yet connected realms. He never ex-plains in explicit terms how he distinguishes them; however, together they reveal a fundamental hinge in this thought and feeling, a hinge join-ing the immortal with morality, process with finality, eternal creation with individual, human limitation. Wordsworth draws a consistent, consious, and profound distinction between «Nature» and «earth». «Nature» is capitalized often, «earth» rarely. The scene of our mortality is earth, not Nature, and for Wordsworth, while the two differ, they of-ten are experienced in tandem, the pair presented in implied contrast. They are not synonyms; they are almost, at times, antithetical. Yet, they are not separate; for Wordsworth, both are realms of our exist-ence, and we inhabit both” (Engell, 2019, p. 166).

The scientist pays attention to the universal nature of the worldview basis of romanticism in the aspect of the changing context of science, religion and politics: “The question of life, and the nature of life, permeated the literary, scientific, and cultural spheres, influencing Romanticism at its core” (Trantham, 2019, p. 1).

The contrast of self-interest and the pursuit of benefits to the ability of the characters to feel the beauty of life and nature creates a conflict in the soul of the devastated, exhausted contemporary of the poet. Idealization of nature: The winds that will be howling at all hours / And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers ‒ and the alienation of man to nature animates archetypal symbolism, the idea of renewal, the miracle of rebirth and transformation of the man.

Wordsworth's concept of nature is sustained in the spirit of English romanticism philosophy, which led to the existence of the term "experiment". The scientist writes about the origins of the term that led to the subsequent literary tradition of the romantic school: Wordsworth described the poems in Lyrical Ballads (1798) as “experiments”, and seems thereby to have been the first author in the English language to describe poetry as a practice that could be “experimental” (Mitchel, 2015, p. 132).

Wordsworth's lyrical hero appeals to God. His rhetorically sublime Great God! is imbued not so much with a dogmatic-scholastic sense as with a sense of God as the Creator of the world. A sense of measurability and closeness of the world: "The world is too much with us" - gives rise to a protest and tragic feeling in the lyrical hero, an Epiphany equal to falling away, alienating him from Nature.

An additional area of internal dialogue between cultures is created by Wordsworth's creative dialogue with another Lake-school poet, Coleridge. It is interesting to contrast Wordsworth’s materialistic topic with Coleridge’s metaphysical concept. Thus, the scientist writes the following about Coleridge's "Platinum-Platonic" metaphysics, which defined the philosophy and poetics of the imagination: «dissolves, diffuses, dissipates, in order to recreate’’ (BL 1: 304). It disassembles and reassembles in order to construct a ‘‘creative Thought’’ out of an object. To him, moreover, imagination is a ‘‘synthetic and magical power’’ capable of revealing ‘‘itself in the balance or reconciliation of opposite or discordant qualities: of sameness, with difference; of the general, with the concrete; the idea, with image; the individual, with the representative; the sense of novelty, with old and familiar objects’’ (BL 2: 16-17)» (Al-Saffar, 2018, p. 2).

The range of artistic strategies of English romanticism reveals a dependence on the philosophical cosmogonic view of the world. Thus, for the idealist Coleridge, the connection between the "external world" and Reason is typical. While for the materialist Wordsworth, the image of the wind has primarily physical properties. The scientist pays attention to this: «Wordsworth, likewise, began his auto-biographical epic with the description of a breeze chancing to blow across his cheek: the gust of air soon gets incorporated within the poem’s peculiar metaphorical economy, but it’s important that the breeze arrived in the first place as an unbidden breath of fresh air from out-side» (Perry, 2016). Another scholar, referring to Coleridge's biography, explains the poet's belief in the dependence of the mind on the thought, rather on the "things", by his polemic with the materialistic view of the mind and that he «seeks to isolate thoughts from the influence of material causality by taking refuge in a form of mind-body dualism» (Marshall, 2019, p. 33).

The French and Italian versions of the sonnet in Russian translations become the background for identifying the poetic peculiarities of Wordsworth's lyrics. The unity of the stanzas patterns is accompanied by a rhythmic pattern that combines the rhyming of the first two quatrains of the French sonnet and the rhyming of the two tercets of the Italian sonnet: abba abba cdc dcd . This rhythmic structure, when the poet uses two rhyming methods belonging to two varieties of sonnet, creates the romantic style of the original.

Levik's translation reconstructs the picture of the world and nature as the result of the God’s greatness. This creates a predominantly axiological strategy for understanding the original. The presence of an axiological context is probably due to Wordsworth's rejection of politics, which brings him closer to Milton. This is written, in particular, by a researcher: «How does Wordsworth’s disengagement from revolutionary politics destabilize his links with Milton? Several allusions in the Prelude (1805) indicate that Words-worth was sensitive to this issue, justifying, at least to Wordsworth himself, his rejection of political activism. This rejection, though at times uneasily, affirms Wordsworth’s solidarity with Milton, the poet» (Daniel, 2017, p. 172).

Rapture and delight: God's world, we see it everywhere — stylistically organizes the lyric hero's exalted confession: Why do we care! Why wasn't I born into paganism? The axiological and suggestive information create the genre structure of the elegy. In addition to regret and sorrow, light sadness about the lost Golden age of the unity of pagan man and nature, the parallelism of the two planes does not create a total conflict, typical of romantic aesthetics. In Levik's work, the observance of the sonnet's strophic organization is accompanied by the rhyming abba abba cdc dcd . Levik used an Italian sonnet.

Sukharev's translation also contains 2 quatrains and two tercets. The way of rhyme is abba abba cdc dcd . Sukharev also used the form of the Italian sonnet. The plot basis is close to both the original and Levik's translation. However, the rejection of axiological and suggestive information, the displacement with the habitual vocabulary benefit-expenditure and the predominance of features of the fabular text brings Sukharev's translation closer to the lyrical narrative.

In Kruzhkov's translation, the rhyme abba abba cdc dcd reproduces the structure of the Italian sonnet. Colloquial horror , the cliche will come in a wild moan deprive the text of the axiological and suggestive information inherent in the original.

Here it is appropriate to quote the scientist's opinion about the fidelity of the translation to the original, which implies the inevitable contradiction between the meaning and form of the original and the translation:

Because of the difficulty of the task, verse translation vividly exemplifies the fallacy behind the notion of ‘faithfulness,’ a notion which has been appropriately contested within Translation Studies. In a way, attempting a metrical translation entails an essentially paradoxical position: the translator is split between the desire to remain faithful to the form of the source-text and the impossibility of reproducing all the sense-units lying within the original. (Ploix, 2018, p. 20)

The general principle of the Russian translations, which demonstrate fidelity to the original, is the reader's orientation of view, which characterizes the subject-matter figurativeness of the originals. The scientist writes about it: “in The Prelude, the spectator is positioned as above or at a distance from the things being viewed, and never actually physically interacting with them” (Chapman, 2017, p. 120).

The Kazakh substring was created exclusively within the informative content of the original. However, when making recommendations on the stanza and verse parameters of the original, it can help to translate Wordsworth's sonnet into the Kazakh language.

Álem bizge kóp nárse beredi; erte me kesh,

Alys-berispen, biz óz kúshimizdi jumsaımyz:

Tabıǵatta bizge tıesili nárseni óte sırek kóremiz;

Biz júregimizdi alystattyq, ol jaqsylyq emes!

Kókiregin aıǵa tóseıtin bul teńiz,

Ysqyryp turǵan jel

Endi uıyqtap jatqan gúlder sıaqty jınaldy:

Sondyqtan biz ár bir iske zaman talabyna saı emespiz;

Uly Qudaı! Ol bizdi qozǵaltalmaıdy! Men tek

Eskirgen senimge batqan putqa tabynýshy bolar edim;

Sondyqtan múmkin men osy kóńildi jaǵalaýda turyp,

Úmitsizdikke aparmaıtyn kórinisterdi kórýim múmkin:

Proteýstiń teńizden kóterilgenin kórip,

Nemese qart Trıtonnyń konýs qabyǵynyń daýysyn estımin.

The world is too much with us; late and soon,

Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;—

Little we see in Nature that is ours;

We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!

This Sea that bares her bosom to the moon;

The winds that will be howling at all hours,

And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers;

For this, for everything, we are out of tune;

It moves us not. Great God! I’d rather be

A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn;

So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,

Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;

Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea;

Or hear old Triton blow his wreathèd horn.

Literal reproduction of factual and verbal-emotional information of the original by the Kazakh translator preserves its axiological content. However, the subscript cannot convey the aesthetic features of the original associated with the rhythmic organization of the text, leveling the genre features of the sonnet.

Wordsworth’s sonnet “To a Butterfly”

In the first stanza, the poet recreates the feelings experienced by the lyric hero when contemplating a butterfly on a yellow flower. The picture of a summer garden becomes a field for the development of imagination and a suggestive picture of the past, the memory of childhood. The image of the beauty of a butterfly is in the immobility of the small creature, radiating peace and harmony with the outside world give rise to responding feelings in the lyrical hero’s soul. The allusive discursiveness of the original is conveyed by suggestiveness and allegorism, color symbolism. Thoughts, ideas and feelings that a butterfly on a yellow flower evokes in the lyric hero become a source of memory of the days spent with his sister in the summer garden. The lyric hero’s associations create a suggestive element of tender and grateful feelings of the poet. The elegy is represented in the form of a dialogue between the lyric hero and the butterfly. Confessional and autobiographically accented subtext create a form of heartfelt dialogue: the author-hero asks the butterfly to visit him and his sister in the garden and take part in conversations in which they recall the touching days of innocent childhood. Harmony in nature is transferred to the ideal of harmony in human relations: We’ll talk of sunshine and song, // And summer days when we were young, // Sweet childish days, that were as long.

Wordsworth's sonnet is distinguished by a psychologically refined, delicate intonation that resembles a rhythmic-strophic organization of meditation. Rhythmically, the composition of the sonnet is transformed and consists of two stanzas – 9th and 10th verses, respectively. The rhyme looks like this: in the 1st stanza — aabbcdccd ; in the second ‒ cfgghhhhhj This arrangement, close to the syllabic principle, explains the meditative sound. On the other hand, the regularity of the poem and the feeling of tranquility, harmony is created by the parallelism of mundane plan, depicting the landscape of the summer garden and the suggestive panorama, full of desire to see the hidden essence of the world, to capture the eternal in the momentary, to appreciate the place of anthropomorphic creatures (butterflies as the embodiment of the human feeling in the summer afternoon) in the universe. This is the philosophical grain of the work. Here the experimental reformatory activity of the English poet was shown, demonstrating the convergence of the poetry language and ordinary colloquial speech. The synthesis of aesthetic, cathartic, hedonistic, axiological and suggestive information contained in Wordsworth's sonnet became the starting point for a comparative analysis with the translation by I. Melamed and the Kazakh rhymed interline translation.

Melamed’s translation uses the principle of equilinearity: the same two stanzas of the original text in 9 and 10 verses. Rhyming: in the 1st stanza — aabbcdccd , in the 2nd ‒ eeffghgggh . Here we see a complete coincidence of the rhyming of the 1st stanza of the translation with the 1st stanza of the original text. The difference between the 2nd stanza of the translation and the 2nd stanza of the original text is explained by the translator's use of a chorus that is organic to Russian verse. However, the chorus and sound symbolism of the verse imitate the movement of the butterfly in a somewhat minor and "sliding" rhythm, which leads to the loss of the meditative structure of the original. From Wordsworth's philosophical elegy, the Russian translation is transformed into the genre of friendly dedication.

The compiler of the Kazakh rhymed interline translation approaches the meditative structure of the original, using the internal reserves of the Kazakh syllabic verse and choosing the principle of equilinearity.

Kóbelekke ( To a butterfly )

Men jarty saǵat boıy,

Sary gúlge konǵan ózińdi baqyladym;

Kishkentaı kóbelek! Shynynda

Uıyqtadyń ba, tamaqtandyń ba bilmeımin.

Múldem qımyldamaısyń! Muzdaǵan muhıt te

Qozǵalyssyz qalady! Sodan soń

Sizdi qandaı qýanysh kútip tur deseńshi, jel soqqan kezde

Sizdi aǵashtardyń arasynan taýyp alyp,

Sizdi taǵy shaqyrady!

Bul baý-baqsha bizdiki;

Olar meniń aǵashtarym, ápkemniń gúlderi;

Sharshaǵan kezińizde osynda toqtańyz,

Qasıetti jerde demalyńyz!

Bizge jıi kelińiz; jamandyqtan qoryqpańyz;

Bizdiń qasymyzda otyryńyz!

Biz kún sáýlesi men án týraly aıtamyz,

Jáne de jas kezimizdegi jaz kúnderin,

Balalyq shaqtyń tátti kúnderin aıtamyz, sol kúnder

Qazir alys emes tek jıyrma kún ǵana bolǵandaı!

I’ve watched you now a full half-hour;

Self-poised upon that yellow flower

And, little Butterfly! indeed

I know not if you sleep or feed.

How motionless!--not frozen seas

More motionless! and then

What joy awaits you, when the breeze

Hath found you out among the trees,

And calls you forth again!

This plot of orchard-ground is ours;

My trees they are, my Sister's flowers;

Here rest your wings when they are weary;

Here lodge as in a sanctuary!

Come often to us, fear no wrong;

Sit near us on the bough!

We'll talk of sunshine and of song,

And summer days, when we were young;

Sweet childish days, that were as long

As twenty days are now.

Compliance with the stanzas of the original text: two stanzas in verses 9 and 10 and rhyming: abcbcdcef in the 1st stanza and gghhhhhjkl — are inscribed in the syllabic structure of the interline translation. Here is a drawing of a rhyming substring in the Kazakh language, where the first digit indicates the number of the verse, the second — the number of syllables in the verse. In the 1st stanza: 1‒7, 2 ‒ 13, 3 ‒ 9, 4 ‒13, 5 ‒ 13, 6 ‒10, 7 ‒ 18, 8 ‒15, 9 ‒ 8. In the 2nd stanza: 1‒ 8, 2 ‒ 14, 3 ‒ 13, 4 ‒10, 5 ‒ 14, 6 ‒10, 7 ‒ 10, 8 ‒13, 9 ‒ 16, 10 ‒16. Taking into account the agglutinative structure of the Kazakh language and the fixed stress on the last syllable in the Kazakh language, these factors become additional rhythmic markers that contribute to the reproduction of the meditative structure of the original.


Thus, the preservation of the genre features of the sonnet — composition, poetic indicators, as well as the characteristics of the considered Wordsworth’s sonnets — aesthetic, axiological and suggestive information of the original text, does not ensure that the translation genre corresponds to the original. The obsolescence/ preservation of the results of literary translation as a phenomenon of dialogue / non-dialogue of cultures is related to their ability to be part of the literary process of the culture of the target language.


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Sociolinguistics, discourse analysis, bilingualism, multilingualism

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Yessentemirova, A. M., Urazayevа, K. B., & Beissembayeva, Z. A. (2020). W. Wordsworth’s Sonnet In Translation Aspect. In Е. Tareva, & T. N. Bokova (Eds.), Dialogue of Cultures - Culture of Dialogue: from Conflicting to Understanding, vol 95. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 282-292). European Publisher. https://doi.org/10.15405/epsbs.2020.11.03.30