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On Translation

On Translation


Translation is an existential question for Jayita Sengupta, Kazim Ali and Zoran Anchevski, who spoke about the difficulties and pleasures of translation at the Hyderabad Literary Festival 2016.

Jayita Sengupta specializes in cultural studies and translation. She gave us a glimpse of her forthcoming publication which is a translation of the Bengali modern classic ‘Gandhaarvee: The Life of a Musician’. She says when music is interlaced, it gets tougher to translate. She believes that translation needs to be contextualised.

Kazim Ali enjoys the challenges of translating. There is always a dilemma whether it will be published or not. Translation justifies its existence when it reaches the reader from the translator and it is better to look at what we have gained rather than what is lost in translation. Meanwhile he gave us a phrase as an example, to ponder upon – ‘white wedding’. In India, a ‘white wedding’ is not appropriate. So would you rather change the colour to red while translating? However that would be wrong since it is not what the actual phrase means.

Zoran Anchevski says his biggest problem is to translate a work belonging to one culture into another because it has to merge in another place and tradition. He advises translators to learn to use the dictionary to find a proper synonym, and not just choose the first similar word that one finds. There is a lot of work that requires to be translated. It is important to keep in mind that different words have different meanings in their respective languages. Any work must be translated faithfully and beautifully because it is a powerful feeling.  The code to follow or not is still emerging. However, this art is entirely the translator’s because when translated, the work becomes his.

– Salma Yousuf

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