Building New Grounds for Translation in India
ILF Samanvay 2015, Day 2
An engrossing conversation to explore the possibilities of a strong ground for translation in the country took place at ILF Samanvay 5th edition of the annual IHC Indian Languages Festival (26th – 29th Nov.’15). There is an immediate, urgent need for translation as it is the most crucial factor which has contributed to the concept of world literature. Translation plays an important role apart from creating awareness and tolerance in the much intolerant nation today. The following is the report of the proceedings.
Urvashi Butalia, Ashok Vajpayee, Avadhesh Kumar Singh, Bulbul Sharma.
A publisher and literary organizer; A writer who has been translated into many languages and an academician who is building a school for translation studies, and a translator converse to explore the possibilities of a strong ground for translation in the country. It is important to reach out to marginalized sections of society, minorities and bring them in the mainstream and this is precisely where translation plays a key role.
Avadhesh Kumar Singh
The irony in India is talking about translation but not doing it. He went on to admit how academic institutions are ‘laggards’ and incorporate academia only when it is proven by masses and classes alike over time. He further explained the history of translation and acknowledged the effort being carried out by various institutions like IIT’s and Google in the field of translation. He said it is emotive rather than referential. We often tend to learn a language which is more dominant than the rest.
He spoke on the challenges that exist in the translation world. He reiterated on how the most crucial factor which contributes to the concept of world literature continues to be translation. He was kind enough to share a small instance with us on how people often ask for ‘Hindi’ novels written by Tagore!!! Since they are not even aware of some of the most prominent authors from different arenas and diasporas.
Some of the most prominent laureates of all times like W. Shakespeare, Tolstoy, have been translated to many other languages today. He explained how translation is the 3rd life given to a piece of work, 1st and 2nd being by the original author and readers respectively. Translation is vast and includes poetry, what survives poetry and what survives literature. There has been some great translation in terms of ideas, lifestyle from the way we live to the way we perceive things around us. He went on to elucidate about the serious intolerance in the country and how it is the role of translation to spread awareness and tolerance. Mentioning Home minister ‘Rajnath singh’s’ ‘disastrous’ comment on the term ‘secular’ which is a clear indication of BJP’s intent of establishing a ‘Hindu Rashtra’ , he explained how today there is an urgent need for respect and understanding.
The sad truth is that we have less translators and more publishers of translation. It is important to bring minorities to mainstream via translation. Translation is about ‘choice’ as when work is translated to other languages not only technicality but also sensitivities of the work have to be kept in mind. Our frame of language is largely defined by our class, ethics, lifestyle etc. However, translation often makes us lose our ability to learn that language. More money and financial assistance should be provided by the government for ‘translation’ .
To take the talk further, the fourth panelist Ms. Sharma came in the spotlight and enlightened us further. He read his own work which was translated in French and was rather surprised to read the nuances which were never known. He explained how when there is translation we are not closed in a box but rather are free birds taking our own flight.
The discussion ended on a rather mindful note with questions pouring in heavily from the audiences.
A young student was inquisitive to know as to why serious issues like ‘safety of women’ and ‘conservation in Delhi’ were failing to reach the masses and as to why ‘Sarita’ was the only one prominent Hindi magazine.
A mindful lady wanted to know as to how much orality could be put in words. And pointed out that it is quite difficult to explain in words the lift of a finger/ eyebrow and voice modulation. So how much nego tiation could be brought to primary translation.
People wanted to know as to what would bring in more clarity to texts? Would having people from local regions of that language assist and help in presenting the stories in a better manner?
Furthermore, a gentleman suggested that though focus is on translation in north eastern region there is lack of translation from tribal and medieval ages. He adviced for an urgent need for having a systemized central planning for translation, register of translation etc.
The annalists handled the questions with extreme dexterity and left no room for doubt in the inquisitive minds. They emphasized that media plays a vital role in creating awareness about these issues which are to quite an extent addressed to properly. They felt the need to emphasize that English is not superior to other languages.
The panelists felt that translation depends on frozen text whereas oral language offers fluidity and has beauty. It can be spoken of in terms of tangible and non-tangible when we talk in the context of translation.
There was complete agreement in as far as taking help from local people was concerned. They shared an instance on how when they met a person from a particular region of which they were carrying out work, they gave her 5 different explanations for 1 word out of which the most appropriate one was picked up by herself. So quoting the example of a specific way in which clothes are hanged in Kumaon. It raises urgency and the need to do translation quickly and effectively she said. Moreover so, because afterwards people won’t understand what happened 20 years ago.
They were also in complete agreement with the suggestions given by the various gentlemen.
Even though there are more than 780 languages in the country and 6500 in the world. The effort to translate more and more to other languages , the endeavor to learn a multiplicity of them will certainly create a society and world where people are tolerant, aware and concerned only about the right reasons.