A National Seminar on "Crossing the borders through translation" was held at Kala Academy on 28 March 2003 which was jointly organized by National Book Trust and Goa Konkani Akademi. The translation was attended by writers, translators, critics, academicians and editors. The deliberations included wide ranging discussions about the various facets of translation and difficulties arising therein while translating from and into regional languages.
Prof. Nabadita Deb Sen delivered the keynote address. Prof. Sen has written more than 60 books in Bengali. She is recipient of President's award Padmashree and Central Sahitya Academi Award and other awards. She has retired as a Professor of Comparative Literature and has lectured and toured all over the world.
Excerpts from the speech:
Scholars have never stopped arguing about the goals of translation. There may be several alternative goals; today we are not interested in translation as a merely scholarly activity but in translation as a tool of empowerment. For our immediate purpose at hand we can ask three questions.
1. Should it be a means to encourage the intelligent reader to return to the Source Language? As we would want our runaway children to do? Tempt them back to their mothertongue.
2. Should it be a means o upgrade the status of the SL text because it is perceived as being on a lower cultural level? As is necessary in order to protect the regional literatures from being wiped out as useless labour of love in the time of globalization? Show the world our true face. Or,
3. Should the job of the translator be that of an aware intermediary, acting as a bridge builder, introducing one culture to another through a literary text, and opening up the flood gates of intellectual interaction? This is what we need within the country, and outside as well, to get to know one another better. To improve inter-nation and international understanding.
All these possibilities are equally important to us, because they are culturally empowering for India.
In order to achieve these goals much more attention needs to be paid o encouraging the production of good, high standard translations. Proper institutions should be set up for giving regular formal training in literary translation. We need more than the pedagogic discipline of Translation Studies teaching translation theories or the rituals of annual workshops. Translations will help us appreciate the full extent of our good fortune, instead of complaining about the unequalled diversity of the language scene in India. It will not only empower us culturally outside the country, but will have a strengthening effect upon the country within, by defining our Indianness. The problem with us is the division between the theorists and the practitioners of translation. We need to apply the theories to the actual practice of translation.
The only way to contend with this imbalance in the representation of Indian literature and culture in English is by producing world class translations into English. And by making them available in the international book market. We need competent English translations urgently to compete with the Indian writing in English. It not only allows us to reach across all the regional boundaries within the nation but also helps us to leap over the boundaries across the nations, and reach the world outside.
The translator is an intermediary, his/hers is an act of pulling down the fences, of bringing the neighbors together. With the changing times, the role and responsibility of the translator is increasing by the minute. Caste, class, religion, gender, region, language, in every aspect of our being divisive forces that destroy and devastate, are gaining power. It is now that we need our literary tradition to remind us of our realities, our priorities. To reveal our basic identity to ourselves, to help us realize the falsity of the boundaries and the reality underlying it. To make us aware of the impending dangers of separatism and fragmentation. In the name of finding one's own identity we must forget our deeper, inner bonds."
Mini Krishnan, editor, Translations, Oxford University Press, Chennai read a paper on "Literary Gardening: Editing Translations". She is noted editor and at the moment working on a Project of Modern Indian Novels in English Translation - 55 novels from 11 Indian Languages. Pundalik Naik's Konkani Novel 'Acchev' is already translated under this series by Vidya Pai as 'Upheaval'.
Excerpts from the paper:
When you edit a work of translation you are coming to grips with what lies at the heart of all language-communication and cultural complexities. The two points that I am going to try and make is that translation is far more difficult than most people think it is and that there are many different ways of achieving it. These variables make it even more of a cross-country than ever and secondly, and perhaps more importantly that translation must be seen as an independent literary activity and be recognized as such. No doubt the translation is powered by the original, led by it. Similarly in translation there is the original author who may or may not be around to collaborate, a reader-turned-translator who is also the interpreter i.e. the translator, and the product itself� a literary text transplanted in another place, under an alien sky.
One of the most delicate problems in editing translations from Indian literature into English is knowing just how far to go in keeping the awkwardness of style and not making it sound like the result of a bad translation. Connections between clauses and sentences are often made disjunctively, the narrative is left suspended somewhere between continuity and discontinuity, and the language never seems to 'get going' or to flow.
For would-be translators, here is a formula of few concepts of equivalences:
1. One-to-one (total equivalence) exemplified by completely identical terms as in scientific terminology.
2. One-to-many (facultative equivalence) look at English wods like suspense, stress, tension, pressure etc.
3. One-to-part of-one correspondence (approximate equivalence) as in words like sky and heaven.
4. One-to-one correspondence (null equivalence at all) as in the case of culture-bound words that are untranslatable like "karma"/ "mantra".
Noted critic and translator Dr. Kiran Budkuley, reader in English, Goa University read a paper on Supplementing the well springs of Konkani creativity: Translations from other Indian languages and English into Konkani".
Excerpts from the paper:
In the pluralistic climate of our global village, the one thing that could appeal Konkani society in a big way is the propensity of the present day world towards migration and translation. Even a cursory survey of the cultural and literature of the Konkanis will reveal a very interesting fact about this miniscule linguistic community spread along the western coast of India.: migration and translation have been the two marked features of their ethos and survival. Perhaps it would be more accurate to say that the one has complemented the other.
The Konkani diaspora across the globe share an innate characteristic of assimilating the language of their domicile and making it their own, such that many of them have become noteworthy writers in languages not native to them. No doubt, this potential has received a fillip due to the alienation of their own language in their new environment away from home, but even in their native land Konkani had been rendered almost mute, near-extinct as a literary language, with political impositions limiting its spontaneous use and pedagogic prohibitions curtailing its formal study. Thus studying and reading in alien languages for centuries has probably mutated the language acquisition gene among the Konkanis and re-activated it as potent translation gene, since bilinguality or multilinguality comes naturally to them as a community. This is particularly true of the creative writer.
Translation is a potent instrument, medium and challenge before the Konkani literature. It has to be developed scientifically. For this a full fledged machinery/infrastructure is a must. But that is not all. A careful research will have to conducted into the translated work. For this scientific bibliography will be a primary requirement. Fields in which there is greater scope will have to be identified Konkani literature has today reached the stage of self review. In its attempt to revision (its achievements) the first glance will have to fall on translation.
Vidya Pai, Dr. Nandakumar Kamat, Mukesh Thali, Suresh G. Amonkar, Sachin Pai Raikar, Manohar Shetty, Chandrakant Keni cited their experiences about various facets of translation. Maria Aurora Couto and Damodar Mauzo chaired two sessions. The seminar was a grand success owing to the overwhelming response and participation.