Dr. Nilima Jha & Md. Eakub Ali
Translation is an intimate act of changing a work originally written in one language belonging to a certain culture into a different language belonging to another culture, retaining the nearest possible sense. The art of translation deals not merely with the act of changing the literal sense of the source language into the target language but of changing also the feeling, thought and character of the work, so that the finished translation is equal in quality to the original. Translation is a linguistic activity. It is a cultural activity. It is concerned with communication of meaning. The art of transferring the meaning of a text from the source language to the target language is a difficult task because it is not easy for the translator to find full equivalence of a source language word in another word in the target language.
Key -Words:Translation, Problems, Communication, Equivalence, Language.
Translation, the practice of rendering a text originally written in one language belonging to a certain culture into a different language belonging to another culture, is a human activity of inter-lingual communication to understand global relations. The practice of translation where transference of meaning of a text from the Source Language (SL) to the Target Language (TL) gets prime importance, aims at offering the equivalent elements in the Target Language Text (TLT) and bringing the intended elements of meaning of the Source Language Text (SLT) into the TLT. In this act rendering the meaning from the source language into the target language, the translator plays a vital role, whose job to change an already existing text into another language is a difficult task as it is not easy for him to find full equivalence of a source language word in another word in the target language. While bringing the nearest possible equivalence between the two texts of different languages belonging to two different cultures, the translator not only has to do the job of a creative writer but he also has to undertake the job of a critic in trying to get in the target language text the meanings and the nearest possible sense inherent in the source language text. In the present paper an attempt has been made to reflect the myriad problems faced by the translators in translating a text from the regional languages of India into English.
Even though the practice of translation bears a large number of problems that cause threats to the authenticity and position of the genre, the desire of the scholars and translators to render a text from one language into another has shown an upward trend in the present society. It is not only ‘an act of journey from the source language to the target language, but an inter-communicative activity between creation and criticism. The translator is the builder who builds a new text, curved out of the original’ (Das 111). The problems that the translator has long been facing in translating a text from one language into another are felt with great care to make translation equally important as the original work in the literary scenario of the world.
2.1.10. Problems in Two Approaches of ranslation
Basically, there are two competing theories / approaches of translation. In one approach, the predominant purpose is to express as exactly as possible the full force and meaning of every word and turn of phrase in the original, and in the other, the predominant purpose is to produce a result that does not read like a translation at all, but that moves in its new dress with the same ease as in its native rendering. Of course, in the hands of good translators neither of these two approaches can ever be entirely ignored. The question is merely which should come first, and which second, in the translator’s mind; and when the two are in conflict and it is therefore necessary to choose between them, the question is which side is to be sacrificed.
2.2.1. Lack of Multi-Directional Flow of Translation Works
In the post-colonial India even when the translation works are supported by the government agencies, we donot have many writers accepted as national writers while writing in their own languages. In other words we do not have Tagore and Sharat Chandra or Bankim Chandra today because we do not have translators who would devote their academic and creative energy just for the sake of the love of their own language and literature. Sujit Mukherjee the noted translation scholar regrets the fact that national awards for literature such as Bharatiya Jnanpitha award is frequently given to the writers who are not well known to the readers of the country. The recipients of such awards are well known in their own language context but the dearth of translation activities from one Indian language into another keeps the fame of these writers confined to their own language context. These good and great writers are not translated into different languages of India either before receiving these awards or after it. Worse than this lack of the multi directional flow of translation work is the apathy of the readers. Our not or little knowing of these writers does not surprise us. This is an alarming situation. We donot make any effort to know the writers of our own country. The awarded works are translated into Hindi which is in accordance with the conditions of the award but these works are not translated into other languages. Sometimes these works are translated into English.
2.2.2. Dwindling of Literary Translation in Postcolonial India
The dwindling of literary translation between Indian languages is an observation made by Sujit Mukherjee on the basis of his contact with the people who are familiar with the literary situation in their own languages. His fear is that the literatures in India are not being given exposure to their own larger context. The translation of literary texts into English is simply making some works accessible to the readers in India as well as abroad but it is losing contact with the neighbourhood language literature contexts. Different language literatures of India should increase their access to literature in other Indian languages through translation. For example, the translation of The Hour before Dawn or Antoreep into Oriya, Bengali, Marathi, Tamil and Gujarati will not only contribute to the enrichment of the target language literature contexts but it will also enhance the literary atmosphere of Assamese in a positive way by making the readership world share the same reading experiences with readers of different language contexts. The readers of the novel Antoreep in Assamese will feel a sense of pride when their reading experience will be shared by the different language readers of the country. The readers in India would also prefer to read the novels written in one Indian language translated into another Indian language rather than these novels translated into English. For example, if the novel Antoreep is translated into Bhojpuri, Maithili, Bengali or Oriya, the life and experience narrated in the novel will be easily conveyed in the language of actual experience.
If the experiences such as the following:
Indro went to see the Puja __ once with Banalata, Chitra and Reba, once with Aparesh and several times on his own, changing trams and buses, covering the entire stretch from Shyambazar to Gariahat (THBD, P. 243) are translated into Hindi, Maithili, Bengali or Oriya, the readers of these languages will enjoy reading it more. Their own experiences of the Puja festival will find an echo in these narrations in their own languages. The experience of reading it in their own language makes it a part of that experience of watching Puja itself. The literary associations with lived experiences and their flow and continuousness in creating such fresh memory are easily done when the reader is in his / her own language context. English in India is not the language of such an experience. Therefore, the Bengali, Oriya or Maithili readers, while reading it in English, are unable to recreate that experience. Thus, the text is only half available to them. The ability to read and write English has simply made these texts only accessible to them in a haphazard manner.
Why should an Assamese reader prefer a novel written in Malayalam and translate it into Assamese rather than into English? In Assam for a novel translated into Assamese the readership will be larger than the readership in Assam for a novel translated into English. Besides, the novels written in Malayalam or Hindi, Telugu or Bengali depict the life and experience which is very similar to the life and experience of the Assamese readers. For this reason the novels like Antoreep should be translated into Bengali, Oriya, Maithili, or Bhojpuri for the readers in India rather than into English. Even the English reading public as well as the translators from Bengali and Malayalam into English know well that the uprooting of the text into a different language context is a bizarre exercise. The fact that the readers in Assam are likely to enjoy the novels from Bengal and Orissa and Bihar translated into Assamese rather than into English, need not to be proved with statistics. But the question that arises is the dearth of such translation works being ignored in a callous way by the publication world as well as the government agencies. The Sahitya Akademi or The National Book Trust has not encouraged many translators in Assam to translate the novels like Antoreep into the neighbour languages like Bengali, Odiya, Maithili, Bhojpuri or Bodo. The lack of active interest for such translation activities on the part of the publication people is reflected in the choice of the texts to be translated by the publication houses in Assam. The translators such as Sujit Mukherjee while admitting honestly that they would prefer to read a novel translated from Malayalam into Bengali rather than into English avoid to discuss the issue further. ‘Such scholar translators in India mostly busy with their translation work from Indian languages into English are fully aware of the unavailability of the novels translated from one Indian language into another’ (Mukherjee 29). There is no reason to believe that the dearth of such translated novels is the result of the unavailability of such translators.
2.2.3. Role of Universities in India
The role of the universities in India to encourage the pace of the translation of literary texts in the contemporary scenario is very significant. In order to encourage translation of the literary works between Indian languages, the universities in the different states of India can include the works of the famous writers from their neighbour language contexts in the syllabus. If the novel The Hour before Dawn though a translation work is included in the syllabus in the universities of Bihar, Bengal, Orissa, or Gujrat, it will not only enhance the literature students’s skill as a reader but it will also allow the students to have an understanding of the subtleties and nuances of the literature and culture of the different other parts of India. And if the novels like Antoreep are translated into the regional languages like Maithili or Bhojpuri and are included in the study list of the universities of Bihar, it will mean an extension of the boundaries of their contemporary literature. The Bhojpuri Department with a list of only Bhojpuri writers will certainly be benefitted by the inclusion of the writers such as Bhabendra Nath Saikia in translation in Bhojpuri. The success of the Indian literary texts translated into English in the world market should not be considered as a hindrance towards the translation activities which might result into the translation of those same texts into the different other languages of India. As far as the readership issue is concerned, the translators from one Indian language into another should feel themselves to be in a much better position than the translators of the Indian literary texts into English. A translator like Maitreyee Siddhanta Chakravarty while translating the Assamese novel Antoreep into English as The Hour before Dawn has a vague idea of the readership. Her readers exclude:
• The readers in Assam who have read the novel Antoreep and cannot read the novel in English.
Her readers include:
• The Assamese readers who have read the novel Antoreep and can read the novel The Hour before Dawn.
• The non-Assamese English readers in India who are very familiar with the cultural warp and woof of the text.
• The non-Assamese English readers outside India but of Indian origin who have a connection with their country and understand the socio-cultural background of the text to a great extent.
• The non-Assamese non-Indian English speaking readers for whom the language of the novel is the mother tongue. He / she may find the use of the language as peculiar and the culture and society depicted in the novel altogether foreign. As a translated text the novel __ though translated into English by a person whose mother tongue is not English __ has a stronger base among these readers because of the deep association with the English language as a language of education in India and the translator’s efficient language skill as she happens to be a member of the society which adopted the English language as its own language two generations ago.
The novel also includes the non-English readers outside India. The readers from Germany, Italy, France, Japan, Russia, Nigeria, Ghana, etc. are neither very familiar with the world depicted in the novel nor is the language their native tongue. With these readers the novel is supposed to establish a connection only on the basis of the wider perspectives of the human culture just as the translations of Maxim Gorki and Chekhov in the English language are enjoyed by the readers in India. Such global perspectives of the texts produced in English either through creative writing or through translation confuses even the writers of statures such as those of V. S. Naipaul who admitted:
I don’t know where I have an audience (As quoted in Srinivasarao 165).
In contrast with such a vague scene of readership of the Indian novels translated into English, the context of readership of a novel written in Assamese and translated into Bhojpuri, Maithili, or Bengali is much clearer. The socio-cultural perspective of the SLT will remain if not the same very similar to each other. A translator’s target readership in the Indian language context is supposed to be more specific than in English with the global readership.
In order to prepare a market for such translated texts the university syllabi can be used by the governments for the sake of the further canonization of the texts. Literary works once famous in one language context can be encouraged by other Indian language contexts by the governments on different levels on the basis of the similarity of the Indian experience.
2.2.4. Avoiding English Desirable But Not Feasible
English is used in India as the main ‘link for inter-Indian literary translations as well as for Indian non-Indian translations’ (Paniker, 42). Even though the history of translation into English has notorious examples of Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam by Fitzgerald, the role of the English language as that of an interpreter or mediator is still enjoying the most dominant position. However, K. Ayyappa Paniker observes that the mediation of English for foreign literatures will continue in the same way but ‘the mediation of English between Indian languages can be progressively eliminated in the foreseeable future’ (Paniker 43). The two-way mediation of English which is illustrated with the help of a diagram can be expressed as follows:
Reflecting on the anxiety of authenticity in literary translation, Paniker observes that ‘It is perhaps time to think of avoiding the mediation of English for translating from one modern Indian language into another. It is desirable, but not feasible right now’ (43). Paniker also observes that ‘Of all the arts, literature alone is faced with this problem of translation, because it uses different languages as its medium of expression’ (44).
2.2.5. Single Translation Cost Effective
The intended target readership of the Indian novels translated into English is both the readers in India, the Indian readers outside India and the non-Indian readers all over the world. From the publishers point of view it is more cost effective to have a single translation into English and distribute across India. The distribution of The Hour before Dawn in the Indian market is easy and reasonable for a publisher in Assam or Delhi. But for the same publisher the task will be far more complex if the book is translated into different Indian languages and to be distributed among the different parts of the domestic market. The domestic consumption should be / can be encouraged with the support of the government agencies.
2.2.6. Phonological Features
Phonological and prosodic features are technically non-existent in the orthographic representations of the text either in the source language or in the target language but their presence in the reading of the text are crucially important to all the semantic levels of the text. These non-existent features include segmental phonemes (vowels, consonants, consonant clusters, and diphthongs), supra-segmental and prosodic features such as stress, intonation, pitch, rhythm and tempo. Translation of a literary text is a highly complex act as it is an intercultural communication act of a high level and it essentially requires bicultural competence on the part of the translator. The flow of the original text is maintained by the translator in the target text through his / her competence.
2.2.7. Recognition/Non-Recognition of Translator
The devoted readers of Bhabendra Nath Saikia for whom his writings are a kind of treasure cannot be expected to respect the translators of his works in the same manner. But the fact that the translators are completely ignored in the discourse of literature is unfortunately affecting the translation activities. The discussion of the translation of Saikia’s book The Cavern and Other Stories (2012) may reveal a commonly experienced phenomenon in the world of translation of literary texts. The stories like Gahbar (The Cave), Sendur (Sindur), and Srinkhal (The Chain) showing the ‘literary prowess’ of the writer and at the same time explaing the love of the readers in Assam for the writer are the gems of Assamese literature. The kindle edition of the book was discussed and it was observed that the devoted readers of Saikia hope that the translator Dheerendra Nath Bezbaruah does justice to the stories. They also feel happiness for the fact that the international readership finds the writer worthy of being compared to the writers like O’ Henry and R. K. Narayan. The article describes the narrative of all the fascinating stories of the book and observes the book as ‘an impressive sampling’ of Dr. Saikia’s writing. The writer who recieved an offer from the publisher to write a review admits that he was not familiar with the name of Bhabendra Nath Saikia or his literary works. As a reader and reviewer of the stories from a culture which was very different from his own, he realizes the differences between the two cultures as ‘fascinating’ and also realizes that the feelings and the motivations of the characters are not very different from theirs (Chambers www.amazon.com). The reviewer J. Chambers also admits his difficulty with the Indian words which could not be completely solved by his kindle built in dictionary. The glossary provided at the back of the book explaining all the Indian words used in the stories is mentioned by the reviewer. But the name of the translator is not mentioned, neither any fact regarding the creative process of bringing the original text in Assamese into the translated text in English is discussed. Saikia is seen as the sole creator of the text in this discussion.
The role of the translator involves many challenges and little rewards. The journey of the text from one readership to another from one language context to another is made possible by the translator but he / she is often ignored as the creator/recreator of the text. His contribution in the creation of the text is marginalized when the literary text as a literary text is appreciated. But when the fact of translation is mentioned, the attention of the readers of the source language context is suddenly focused on the performance of the translator, especially when the writer is famous and loved one by the readers.
2.2.8. Presention/Non-Presentation of the TT as TT
It is surprising to note that the translated texts are very often not presented as translated texts to the readers. The publisher’s focus on the facts related to the SLT, such as its being a classic text or being a popular text for winning a wider readership sometimes appears to assure the TLT readership about the worth of the SLT. But the translators as translators can be focused by the publishers for such purposes only when the literary world celebrates the translated works as good and great works and as translated works.
Sometimes the readers have interesting experiences when the translated text is not presented as a translated text. Rita Kothari in the notes to her article Bengali into Gujarati: Unequal Transactions says about a unique experience of the readers of the TLT. She says that ‘A Gujarati reader who had read Sharatchandra Chatterjee in Gujarati’ without being aware of the background of the text as it did not have the name of the author on it was feeling disappointed by the fact that ‘good vegetarian Gujarati women had turned into fish-eating ones’ (53).
The style of the original text is considered as the most important element in the process of translation. In this case it can be said that in order to achieve relevance in translation the equivalent effect of the original must be rendered which requires a kind of freedom for the exploration of different interpretations. The stylistic dimension of the literary texts has been overemphasized by the theorists of translation. It is not surprising that theorists concerned with literary translation have paid considerable attention to the preservation of the stylistic properties of texts.
The problems of the translation of referential or denotative meanings is not considered as complex as the translation of attitudinal connotative/ expressive meaning. The extra-linguistic situation affecting the interpretation of the TLT involves functional and contextual meaning. According to the levels in language the translators need to organize the performance on different levels such as the phonetic level.
There are many texts published by even national publication houses where the translators are not presented as translator. A book titled as Vedanta published by NCERT mentions the name of Dr. Karan Singh on the cover page. The cover page does not say that Dr. Karan Singh is the translator and the work is a translated work. The foreword of the book tells the reader that the book is a selection from translation work by Dr. Karan Singh and is published by NCERT with his permission. There are numerous examples of such omissions which are certainly at the cost of the identity of the translator as a translator. NCERT is presenting the book to the Indian readers who can be expected to have the knowledge regarding the language of creation/creator of the Vedanta. But the same book needs more information details regarding the SLT for the non-Indian readers.
The Hour before Dawn was published in 2009 by Penguin Books India. The note of appreciation on the cover page of the novel by the contemporary prominent Assamese writer Mamoni Raisom Goswami the acclaimed author of The Moth- Eaten Howdah of the Tusker and the winner of the Jnanpith Award is for the writer Bhabendra Nath Saikia, not for the translator Maitreyee Siddhanta Chakravarty:
‘A rare glimpse of Assamese society, portrayed with deep understanding and love by a master craftsman.’ The back cover page blurb after making a casual mention of the fact of translation from the original Assamese novel Antoreep by a renowned writer and film maker Bhabendra Nath Saikia describes the time in which the story is set.
The blurb on the back cover page of the novel The Hour before Dawn mentions the time in which the story is ‘set primarily in pre-independence India.’ The ‘vibrant life in a small village in Assam’ is depicted in a poignant prose. The blurb also describes the story as ‘haunting’ and observes it to be about ‘woman’s hidden strength in her darkest hour.’ But it does not say anything about the translator or about the translation of the text. In the first page of the book the translator is introduced as follows:
Maitreyee Siddhanta Chakravarty is a freelance writer and translator. She has held a gamut of jobs but prefers to work at her own pace and remain ‘a part-time freelancer and full-time homemaker.’
This short introduction of two sentences follows an interesting fact which is related to both her husband and Dr. Bhabendra Nath Saikia. In Saikia’s film Anirbaan the husband of the translator ‘featured.’ The translator’s being related to the author is perhaps to be supposed as her introduction as a translator. The personalized relationship with the creator of the SLT is certainly an advantage for the translator. But the translator’s performance, especially successful performance deserves more appreciation in explicit terms. The presentation of the translator by the publication houses is benefitial for the individual translator and important for the improvement of the literary culture, especially related to translation work.
The blurb on the cover page of the novel The Hour before Dawn highlights the two aspects of Saikia’s art that is universality and particularly for the marketing of the novel. Can we imagine of a blurb mentioning the masterly skill of the translator to marketize the book? The book’s presentation as a novel and its talking about the essential themes of human life can be stretched to include the facts of translation. The readers can be made aware of the particular skill of the translator through these carefully selected blurbs.
2.2.9. Translator’s Note
There is a recent trend of supplementing the translated text with elements such as Translator’s Note and scholarly Introduction by a critic of the original language in the modern Indian novels in English translation. This recent trend which makes the translated text to be read as a translated text helps the world of translation of literary texts in further theorisations and understanding of the complexities and challenges involved in the process of translation. The inclusion of these texts in the university syllabus is conscious and necessary step towards the canonization of these texts as well as in the respectability of the translation in the world of literature.
A young scholar named Pallabi Konwar observes that “The preface is rather short and so is the suffixed ‘Glossary’ and ‘Translator’s Notes’ to aid the reader through some culture specific terms” (www.indianreview.in). Considering the translated text as an Indian English novel ‘marketed only for an Indian readership’ she accepts that the exclusion of the illustration of mythical characters such as Sita and Sabitri is appropriate. The Indian readers being ‘well versed’ in those mythical literatures need no such illustration. But the problem arises when the translator’s notes include explanations such as the following: ‘Wearing vermillion in the parting of their hair is indicative of the married women in many parts of India.’ The young scholar observes that this is such a commonly practised ritual in India that the Indian readers do not at all require such explanations in the footnotes. This piece of information offered in the footnotes clearly indicates that the ‘anticipated readership’ is of ‘outside India.’
The inclusion of the informative elements in the Glossary and Footnotes shows the translator’s attitude regarding the target readership. The inclusion of the culture specific terms not only of Assam but also of India which enriches the Source Text (ST) is suggested to be included in the Target Text (TT) if it is aimed at ‘readership outside India’. Of all the mythical narratives allowed to in the ST only one is included in the glossary which is not sufficient help for the non-Indian readers. The fact the publishers in India for the translated texts in English can suggest the translator to have two types of glossary and footnotes. The same TT can be equipped with two types of glossary for the two types of readerships __ the Indian and the non-Indian. The same translated text can be printed in two different ways thus making the job of the translator easier and clearly defined. This will also help the marketization of the text in both the contexts.
2.2.10. Social Fabric
The translation of literary texts is regarded as difficult because the literary texts appear to be made of language but actually these texts are also made of cultural and social norms. These different constituents of a literary text also need to be translated. But it is almost impossible to have such translated texts where there is zero gap between the two texts in terms of these cultural and social aspects of a text. For example, the translation of Shakespeare’s The Tempest in Assamese in the twenty first century can not capture the colonial connotations of the Elizabethen play evident to its contemporary audience.
The social fabric of the semi rural Assamese village depicted in the source text titled as Antoreep is a collage of people from different cultural background. The nurse Irene Baideu, Bhajohari, Poornima, Bhodrokanto’s wife Shailabala, etc. are from different socio-cultural background. The target text entitled The Hour before Dawn is incapable of capturing this variety. In the ST a simple use of a little different Assamese by Bhajohari tells the reader about the type of the character. This narrative element wonderfully woven through a certain use of language is completely missing in the nearly monolingual TT.
2.3.1. Socio-Political Implication of Names of Characters
The socio-political implication of the names of the characters introduced by the first author in the source language text plays a significant role on the readers of the target language text. This socio-political implication of the names of characters can also be explicitly observed in Maitreyee Siddhanta Chakravarty’s translated work The Hour before Dawn which was translated into English from Bhabendra Nath Saikia’s Antoreep. Not only a different kind of Assamese is used by the character Bhajohari in the novel Antoreep but also the name itself conveys its negative connotations to the Assamese readers. But this socio-political implication of this name does not indicate its alienation from the mainstream in the TT. The change in the intended readership which is inevitable in translation practice has significant impact on the crucial parts of the warb and woof of the narrative. The single negative character in the ST loses some significant parts of his negativity in the TT. The conventional space for a negative character in a narrative may make some readers of the TT attribute some negativity to Mohikanto which was possible, not intended by the first author i.e. Dr. Bhabendra Nath Saikia.
Sometimes the characters are introduced with proper names but the details of those characters are not given. Like Hanif, the trader from Dhaka who made Mohikanto buy ‘attar’ (a kind of non-alchoholic perfume generally used by the Muslims) is not mentioned latter in the story. This way of referring to people with their proper names even if they are not close is known to the Indian readers. This may or may not be very familiar with the non- Indian readers. But this feature is communicated in the translated text with accuracy.
Unlike many other characters who are introduced with their names, Modon is introduced with a formality:
‘The man named Modon from the house under the Kadamba tree’ (TLT, P. 10)
The mentioning of the name is not usual in this novel when the characters are introduced. Here the formality is observed perhaps to focus on the significance of the name which is the name of a God. Lord Krishna is also known as Madan and the character in the novel is first introduced with the description of his ‘house under Kadamba tree’. The association of Kadamba tree with Lord Krishna as a boy who played with his mother under a Kadamba tree is also popularly known to the Indian readers. But these connotations, religious and cultural are suggested and easily communicated to the English speaking non -Assamese readers in India. So the translation is successful with the Indian readers. But for the non- Indian readers these religious and cultural overtones of the text should ideally be explained. A translator has to take liberty with the text in both the directions i.e. either in the domestication of the Target Language Text (TLT) or in keeping the stranger elements intact.
Menoka is one of the most powerful women characters in literature. The novel begins with the description of a disturbed night of Menoka and the description of her memories of the past. The novel also gives at the outset a detailed and a clear account of her position in her family which includes her in-laws, the workers in her husband’s mill and her neighbours who are her caste people if not directly relations. The power relations at work in this novel are based on several factors of Indian society. Money and loss are universal factors and are easily translated but the caste factors and Indian family values are not easy to be communicated to the non- Indian readers. In the beginning of the novel we find the central protagonist disturbed by the news of her husband’s marriage. Menoka came to know about it from Reboti, an opium addict, whom she used to offer a coin when she requested. But Menoka’s class does not allow her to gather the details of the news from such women. Whether the news is true or not, she cannot find the answer because she cannot ask people around her as they happened to be in lower position than her:
What class of people were they? Should Menoka summon Modon’s mother? Or Deukilal? No, if anybody needed to be summoned, it had better be Bhajohari. Should she send someone to the rice mill? No, there was no need for that. Bhajohari sometimes visited Menoka’s backyard, never daring to venture beyond the pomegranate bush. He could not even speak to Menoka without nervously rubbing his hands together. When he brought any olives, cane shoots tamarind or other kick-knacks from his village, he would leave the bundle on the ledge near the pomegranate bush, not coming even as far as the veranda. ‘How could Menoka ask this Bhajohari about her husband’s plans to remarry?’ (TLT, P. 12)
The rhetorical question with which the paragraph ends very clearly shows the power and the limitations of the central protagonist. The class values and the feudal values are known to the world readers but the belief in and respect for the monogamy in India is perhaps not shared by other societies.
2.3.2. Pragmatic Approach
The translation of a literary text involves linguistic, pragmatic and cultural elements. Some translators pay attention to linguistic and cultural elements. Some translators show a more serious concern with the pragmatic aspects of the source text in order that the readers of the target text do not face the pragmatic problems. The challenge of literary translation is that the imaginative, intellectual and intuitive writing of the author should be reflected in the translated text. The concept of aesthetics associated with literature makes literary translation a distinguished thing from translation in general. But normally the translated works are perceived as unoriginal and therefore, the question of the aesthetics of these works remains largely ignored. Literal translation is not supposed to reproduce the effect of the original. The wide range of implications should be captured by the translator as a literary text can have multiple interpretations.
2.3.3. Role of Government Agencies
Regarding translation practices the questions on the issues that need to be addressed are many. The role of the government agencies is an important issue. The government agencies that are engaged with the noble task of translation of Indian language literary texts into English are functioning also as guiding factors for the readers. The institutions like Sahitya Akademi or Katha are non- profit organizations and these organizations do not keep an eye on the market from profit point of view. This affects the choice of the authors to be translated. And this also affects the kind and quality of the translators and also of their motive. In order to encourage the translators we need first to identify the translators of literary texts. And it can be easily observed that because of only the government agencies being the forces behind such activities, the practice is limited to a certain class of translators who can be and are approached by such agencies and it also affects the choice of the authors to be translated.
2.3.4. The Choice of the Text
The selection of text for translation depends on several factors. The translators in India are normally encouraged to translate the regional language literary texts into English mainly because the socio-political status of the English language. The high middle class readership is interpreted as more lucrative by the publication world. But the large number of regional language readers supported by the government organizations, educational institutes, etc. can change the scene which affects the choice of the text in the translation world.
In the syllabus of the undergraduate and post-graduate programmes all over India we have literary texts produced by the European writers. The literary texts from the Russian and the French languages are easily included in such lists but the Indian writers made available in English through translation are not included in these lists. There are no reasons why they should not be treated as classics and why they should remain outside the classroom discussions. The inclusion of the translated works such as The Hour before Dawn in the university syllabus of India will not only contribute to a better understanding of the different social and cultural perspectives of India demonstrating the oneness of the Indian culture but it will also help in the improvement of the academic perspective where the students will be able to relate the literary, academic and social and cultural perspectives which is denied to her / him on routine basis so much so that they associate education with the understanding of non-Indian and mostly European literature and their social and cultural perspective. The study of Nirmal Verma, Ananthamurthy, Bhabendra Nath Saikia, etc. in translation can be equally or perhaps more rewarding to the students of English literature in India as the study of Chekhov, Tolstoy and Balzac in translation.
2.3. 5. The Task of the Translator
Translation is an activity which has to do with languages, cultures and nations. Literary translations are viewed as powerful sources helpful in bridging the gaps between different cultures and nations. Translation is both a linguistic and cultural activity. An inwardness into both the languages and cultures can only enable a translator to take up the job. The translator’s mastery over both the languages makes the words obey his/her call with the feel of the language he or she translates from and translates into. The process of translation should avoid both transliteration and transcreation. The recent theories of literature influenced by the philosophy of language view the text as being possessed more by the reader than by the author. The indeterminacy of language and the elusive nature of language have made the task of the translator difficult.
2.3.6. The Choice of Language of the Translator
Indian English as a language is believed to be born of translation. The whole literature produced in Indian English either through creative writing or through translation is consumed by the readers who do not speak English as their first language and most of the times it is about people ‘who do not speak English at all’ (Prasad 44). The chances of erasure or misrepresentations or misconstructions are very high in the translation of Indian literary texts into English because the large group of readers of Indian English feel themselves to be very close to the people who are represented in literature written in English but the linguistic distances of these people from the readers are the challenges of the translator. Unlike an uncomplicated example of translation where the work produced in translation is aimed for the target readers who are not only linguistically but also culturally different and distanced from the language and culture of the people of the original text.
The readers of the English text are the same people about whom the novel is written. If they are not exactly the same people culturally, they are very close to each other. The cultural nuances are known to the readers. The readers of the translated text in Indian English can miss / judge / criticize the translation gaps in a much more comfortable position. Hence, the task of the translator is very difficult.
There are different Englishes used in translation in India. The word ‘Pirha’ in Assamese and Hindi is ‘Palgai’ in Tamil but both these words used for the same thing in Indian language are translated as ‘a sitting board’ in The Bachelor of Arts (1999:74) and simply as ‘a plank’ in The Man Eater of Mulgudi (1999:202). The existence of this different Englishes rightly questions the notion of a ‘uniform, monolithic style of English for Indian translators’ (Mathew 154).
Mallikarjun Patil in the article ‘Literary Translation: Its Importance, Ways and Difficulties begins the discussion on translation with the observation made by Albert C. Baugh that ‘Writings done in an alien speech rarely rise above the level of school exercises’ (9). This dismissive approach to the writings in an alien speech may not be acceptable in the global scenario of literature but the observation made by a great scholar of the history of the English language and literature certainly justifies the need for translation of literary texts.
Translation is a kind of extended product of creative exercise ignited by an already existing work. The art of translation lies not merely in translating the literal sense of one language into another but of translating also the feeling, thought and character of the works, so that the finished translation is equal in quality to the original. In the present study the researchers do not regard the issues of ascertaining the accuracy and authenticity of a translated text. The need for an evaluating body which may constitute of readers, critics or some organizations regulated by the publication houses can be required to be bilingual and bicultural for such judgmental works. But for the present study it will be assumed that the translation of a literary work is very close to creative writing. So the issues of evaluation will be regarded as irrelevant. It is almost impossible to state whether a novel is more or less good or bad than another novel.
The western obsession with the concept of loss during the translation will also be regarded not a very relevant concept. For the present study the researchers’ assumption is closer to the Indian concept of translation where every translated work is a creative work. And the role and the job of the translator are as respectable and significant as that of the creative writer. R.N. Rai, a professor of English at Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh in his article ‘Indian Fiction in English Translation: Problems and Perspectives makes a list of problems that a translator faces in doing his translation work from one language into another. He also suggests solutions to some of these problems.
The first point in the list of problems is the necessity of the translator’s being not only bilingual but also bicultural. He also talks about the verbal order of both the texts and their equivalence. The third problem is about grammatical, stylistic, lexical and socio-cultural level. He also mentions Midnights Children which is not an example of a translated work in which Shiva is mentioned. The possibility of the non-Indian reader’s missing ‘the significance of the myth of Shiva’ makes the issue of inclusion of such myths in the list of glossary and notes relevant (Rai 10). According to the researcher, the translator has full freedom to decide where he/she wants to draw the line between the domestication of the Target Language Text into the Target Language context and to retain the elements of strangeness keeping it closely based on the Source Language Text situated in the original language context. A balance between the elements used to domesticate the text and the elements used to retain the uniqueness of the text is to be achieved by the translator.
The question of fidelity to the source language text is mentioned by R.N. Rai. The suppression of the ‘distinctive qualities of the writer’s culture and language’ will lead to the problems of fidelity (Rai 10). The translation of proper names, the literary genres, forms, proverbs and metaphors of the source culture is also discussed in the same list of the problems of a translator. The last item in the list of the problems is about the power relations between the cultures concerned. And the rule prescribed by R. N. Rai is as follows:
If the translator has to translate a dominant culture source text to a minority culture audience, he is free to leave dominant cultural materials implicit believing that the mythical, historical and cultural contexts might be known to the receptor audience. But when he has to translate a minority culture text for a dominant culture audience, he has to adopt certain devices to convey the full implications of the translated text (Rai 11).
In the novel The Hour before Dawn we see a glimpse of Mohikanto’s anger at Modon. But what for is Mohikanto’s anger at Modon? Mohikanto is heading the family willingly or unwillingly.
The only relationship that Modon had with Mohikanto was that whenever he was caught as a thief, Mohikanto bailed him out which Modon did not like. Modon thinks of the nature of the relationship with Mohikanto when he is requested to keep an eye on his household (111).
The way Modon is trusted by the husband and the wife separately is narrated and translated in an effective manner. Menoka trusts Modon and asks him to keep an eye on her children in her absence. Towards the end of the novel, we find him taking care of the mill under the guidance of Menoka. This unique relationship and this character are situated in a typical Indian way.
In the first part of the novel the issue of language is not as complex as it is in the latter part of the novel. Menoka’s son Indro goes to Calcutta for higher studies. This shift in locale means use of more than one language for communication. When Menoka expects an explanation from Shankar regarding his behaviour with Kiron, she is presented as in command of the situation. The language barrier is overcome. She learnt Bengali from Bhajohari, another character with negative shades in the novel:
‘Can you follow what I speak?’ asked Menoka, alluding to the language barrier.
‘If you speak slowly __ I may not understand all the words, but I’ll more or less get the point.’
‘That’ll do. I don’t have much to say. It’s you who will speak.’
‘So you can follow my language?’ asked Shankar lightly.
Trying to lighten the situation, Shankar forced a smile and said, ‘How come you can follow Bengali? Where did you learn it?’
‘There was a man named Bhajohari’ ___Menoka paused___‘he taught me a lot of things.’ (THBD 309)
Towards the end of the novel The Hour before Dawn we find a changed Chitra. She tells Indro who claims to have struggled all his life to understand things as they are ‘Effortless and spontaneously comprehension is what really matters’ (THBD, 318).
In the case of The Hour before Dawn there are not many characters who are given their own languages. Therefore, the translator did not have to face the issue of translating Assamese of different levels on caste and class basis to translate into English. In the writing of the novels like Untouchable, the idea of a creation of a certain kind of English as referring to the social and political situation of the characters had emerged.
The use of the source language words in the target language text is a recent direction in the history of translation. In India there are so many translators who use in the TLT some words used in the SLT. Translators like Maitreyee Siddhanta Chakravarty, Ranjita Biswas, Pradipta Borgohain, Indira Goswami, etc. have developed this tendency frequently in their translated texts. In the novel The Hour before Dawn the translator Maitreyee Siddhanta Chakravarty has retained a bulk number of Assamese words like ‘sador’, ‘mekhela’, ‘Kokaiti’, ‘Deuta’, ‘naam’, bhaona’ to give the English readers a taste of Assamese flavour. Abha Bhattacharyya in her translation of an Assamese novel titled The Heart’s a Showbiz by Anuradha Sharma Pujari retains several Assamese words such as ‘kadam’(P.12), ‘Magh Bihu’(P.16), ‘bakul’(P.16), ‘Bohag Bihu’(P.17), ‘tagar’(P.17), ‘keteki’(P.17), ‘Champa’(P.17), ‘rajanigandha ’(P.76), ‘singra’(P.37), ‘samrat’(P.58), ‘hooka’ (P.101),etc. and expressions such as “Yadi tor dak sune keo na ase tabe ekla chalo re,” (P.37) “Ekla chalo,…ekla chalo….ekla chalo,”(P.37) “Mashal jwalo, mashal jwalo…”(P.37), etc. The words like ‘japi’ (P. 6), ‘Kokaideu’ (P.13), ‘Akonman’ (P.16), ‘sattra’ (P.30), ‘chadha’ (P.35), ‘bhakats’ (P.61),’phagun’ (P.69) used in Pradipta Borgohain’s translation of Homen Borgohain’s Halodhiya Charaye Baodhan Khay; ‘sapori’ (P.7), ‘Pitadeu’ (P.43), ‘sari’ (P.54), ‘Aita’ (P.62), ‘Jetha’ (P.65), ‘jurun’ (P.90), ‘xorai’ (P.204), ‘laru’ (P.239) used in Maitreyee Siddhanta Chakravarty’s translated text on a Wing and a Prayer by Arun Sarma; ‘dhora’ (P.1), ‘garam’ (P.15), ‘aanchal’ (P.35), ‘bahi’ (P.43), ‘baideu’ (P. 128), ‘gadha’ (P.160) used in Ranjita Biswas’s translation of Bhabendra Nath Saikia’s collection of short stories titled Srinkhal as Fetters are some outstanding examples of foreignisation, not domestication in the realm of translation in India. A much larger list of Assamese words are included in the novel on a Wing and a Prayer than in The Hour Before Dawn by the translator Maitreyee Siddhanta Chakravarty because of her increased confidence on translation work.
The rendering of a text from the source language into target language is regarded as more difficult than creative writing. The translator not only has to cope with the bilingual complexities but also with the background of the text and its different readings in different periods in the same language context. The tight-rope walking between the source language and the target language makes the task of the translator more difficult than that of a creative writer.
2.3.8 The Politics of the Publication Houses
The role played by the publication houses in the field of translation is noticeable. The presentation of the translated texts as translated texts to the readers deserves to be appreciated. But very often translated texts are not presented as translated texts to the target language readership. The supposition in the world of book market seems to be against providing too many information on the cover page regarding the fact of translation. Spectrum Publications which has published a number of translation works from Assamese into English differentiates between the presentations of these translated texts. The texts which are regarded as classics provide the details of the facts of translation on the cover page such as Miri Jiyori by Rajani Kanta Bordoloi translated into English by P. Kotoky. All these pieces of information are provided on the cover page. In addition to this the jacket of the book introduces the translator. But the work supposed to be a work of popular fiction avoids such details on the cover page. The Heart’s a Showbiz is presented as a work by Anuradha Sarma Pujari not as a translated work by Abha Bhattacharyya. The “Foreword” by P. Kotoky does not refer to the process of translation though it hopes to win the readership in the English language context as it did with the Assamese language context. There is no introduction of the translator. It may be concluded by such examples that in the publication and the distribution of the translated texts such details are supposed to affect the sale of the books with their specific readership.
This study is not as much concerned about translation defined as ‘the replacement of textual material in one language (SL) by equivalent material in another language’ nor is aimed at the discussion of the problems that a translator faces during translation which has to do with the dilemma between literal translation and translation done with a purpose to achieve the effect that was possessed by the ST (Catford 20). This study attempts to recognise the issues related to the practice of translation of literary texts by exploring the contemporary scenario. This study supposes the translators to have sufficient inwardness with both the languages and to well-verse in the socio-cultural matrix of both the texts. The study focuses on the problems that a translator faces during the selection of the text to be translated, the policies of the government and the publication houses that affect the flow of these translation activities and the difficulties that a translated text faces in its journey from its selection to its marketization.
2.3.10. The Role of the Translator
The role played by the translators in the field of translation is important. In his essay The Anxiety of Athenticity: Reflections on Literary Translation K. Ayyappa Paniker observes that only the translated text should survive, not the translator:
He should disappear in the work, should he? He should not stand between the reader and the original author, why should he? He should achieve the extinction of his personality. He is perhaps most successful when he is least visible, and hence most visible too (45).
The author while creating a text surrenders to the language in which it is created. A translator imposes his / her own intentions on the text and creates a text after having resisted the authorial, textual and readerly intentions of the original text. Awadhesh Kumar Singh views that
Translation is an extension of creative exercise in the same sense as critical act is extension of creative exercise characterized by almost the same rocess. Translator is a creative reader- critic and not a failed writer or a disappointed author (7).
The process of reading, interpretation and criticism that precedes the creation of the translated text makes it belong to a new reader’s realm in a systematic way. Awadhesh Kumar Singh schematizes the process as follows:
(I) Readerly / Reader-critical intentions
(II) System / Linguistic intentions (SLI vs. TLI)
(III) Contextual / Cultural intentions (SCI vs. TCI)
(IV)Writerly / Authorial / Translatorial intentions (FAI vs. SA/TI)
(V) Origin of a new text
SLI __ Source Linguistic Intentions
SCI __Source Cultural Intentions
FAI __First Authorial Intentions
TLI __Target Linguistic Intentions
TCI __Target Cultural Intentions
SA / TI __ Second Authorial / Translatorial Intentions (8).
The translator after understanding and analyzing the message codified in the source language creates a new text by recodifying it in TL system. The journey of the text from its position as SLT to TLT can be seen as a process of codification – decodification – recodification which leads to the transplantation of the text from one textual system to another. This origin of a new text is a result of a complex process because unlike the author the translator does not enjoy a complete freedom.
2.4.1. The Footnotes
Every translated text includes this part known as footnotes. The Target Text (TT) is shaped according to the readerly intentions of the Target Text Culture (TTC). And in India when a text is translated into English from a regional Indian language, there are basically two types of TT Culture contexts. One is either identical or similar with the STC (Source Text Culture) and the other is foreign to it.
The volume and the nature of footnotes are according to the TC. The transltor’s intention regarding the readership affects the creation of the text. The translator’s job to make the text belong to a different culture context is made easier by the provision of the footnotes. The footnotes also reflect the Second Authorial Intentions (SAI) regarding the target readership. The Second Authorial Intentions of the text reflected in the footnotes can make the TT belong to different categories depending on the different TTC (Target Text Cultures). The experiences of the Latin American novelist Reberio while translating his own novel from Portuguese into English offer an interesting insight to the translators. Discussing the cultural problem in the process of translation, the sarcastic observation made by him about his readers is as follows:
People in England… are very much astonished when they find out … that some of us wash, have teeth, wear clothes and live in houses. So should I suffocate the book with hundreds of footnotes, making it longer than the New York telephone directory? (As quoted in Singh 9).
And the novelist admits that his decision not to make the list of footnotes very long by explaining the simple facts of the Source Text Culture (STC) involved a little cheating here and there with the knowledge of the publishers.
2.4.2. Problems of Literary Translation
It is generally assumed that unlike poetry, translation of prose is easier to translate. The specific problems of translating literary prose are not even discussed in detail as the problems of translating poetry are discussed. The widespread notion that ‘a novel is somehow a simpler structure than a poem’ is perhaps responsible for the comparatively less focus on the discussion of problems of translation of literary prose (Bassnett 110). Very often the concept of the imaginary distinction between form and content prevails when the text to be translated is a novel. Even though the translator adequately grasps the significance of the novel, there may happen mistranslation though such strong words should be avoided in the context of translation of literary texts in India mainly for two reasons: (a) Our tradition of translation culture has a very different concept of translation from that of the western concept. (b) The dearth of translation activities between the Indian languages requires encouragement of such activities and the mind boggling discussions of the rules of propriety of the translation performance are hardly rewarding. The translator of the Assamese novel Antoreep into English as The Hour before Dawn uses certain methods such as dropping of names which is used throughout the text. Such practices can be construed as mistranslation according to Susan Bassnett who doesnot regard the form of a literary text as separate from its content.
2.4.3. The Translator’s Intrusion
Considering the issue of self-effacement on the part of the translator Aladi Uma states her observation based on her translation of Telugu stories into English ‘that the intrusion of the translator is inevitable and that the questions of self-effacement and the translator’s presence in the text … are too complex to be answered neatly’ (Uma 97). As a practitioner of translation she always wanted to take the Telugu text to the English readers in as unmediated menners as possible.
2.4.4. Translation in the Post-Colonial Context
The act of translation of literary texts is seen as an act of re-creation of the text, especially in the context of post-colonial hybrid text. In the post-colonial literary context the original text itself is “already a blend of cultural and linguistic elements occupying a ‘space in between,’ the target text will have to follow suit if it is to reflect this” (Snell-Hornby 187). The novel Antoreep presenting a new woman is itself a highly complex text with the use of literary traits such as social realism. The political aspect of the time is kept at the periphery by only mentioning minor details such as the novel refers to several facts denoting significant changes in the contemporary society such as the details of railway station and the modern education system. The shift in locale towards the end of the novel is a complexity which is further added by the use of another language context with more exposure to the English language and English education in the India of the first half of the twentieth century. These complexities of the original text are difficult to be translated into the English version because the translator of literary texts into English in India cannot situate the text into such definite surrounding where the reader is easily identifiable. The language of the text i.e. English clearly indicates that the readership in India is exclusively upper middle class. But whether it is addressed to only the Indian readership or not is not made clear. The translated text in English in India can be easily divided into two categories for the Indian readers and for the non-Indian readers.
Mary Snell-Hornby is of the view that “The ‘new English’ with its own individual language ‘norms’, along with the many ‘exotic culture-bound items, which in their entirety often carry the message of the text, presents a genuine challenge for the translator’s capacity of understanding, and for his or her creative powers” (187). Maitreyee Siddhanta Chakravarty in her translation of the novel The Hour before Dawn from Antoreep has tried to bring the feel of the cultural conflict of the original text into English in many ways. In the original text the use of the English words itself is an indication of the complexity in the social perspective of the characters. The translator had no option to convey this conflict in the TLT through the use of two languages. But the translation of the same text in any other Indian language could have used the English words with the same literary connotations. The translator of Antoreep has used several methods to give the TLT a literary complexity of the SLT.
2.4.5. Evaluation of the Target Text (TT)
The verification of the authenticity of the Target Text (TT) by ascertaining the accuracy of it can be done by the persons who are not only bilingual but also bicultural. David Lodge in his book Language of Fiction (1996) says,
To test the closeness of any translation to its original, one would have to be not only bi-lingual but __ to coin an ugly phrase __ bi-cultural, i.e. possessed of the whole complex of emotions, associations and ideas which intricately relate a nation’s language to its life and tradition, but possessed not only one such complex __ as we are to some extent __ but of two (As quoted in Rai 7).
2.4.7. Total Translation Not Possible
Translation is a linguistic and cultural activity. Total translation is unattainable. The translator’s inwardness with the languages and cultures of the SLT and the TLT allows him to strive for finding the lexical equivalence. The socio-cultural matrix of the SLT and the words charged with memory, associations and literary allusions are not easy to be translated. The act of translation is described by Meenakshi Mukherjee as ‘voluntary that is the material has been chosen by the translator himself and the prime mover is a compelling desire to recreate’ (As quoted in Das 39). The choice of the text is made by the translator and the desire to recreate reflects her competence of both the languages and a creative capability in the target language.
2.4.8. Problems of Freedom
The maintainance of the balance between the fidelity to the original text and freedom from it is the challenge of the translator. The translators are sometimes suggested to take liberties from the original text and may take the process of translation to the point of creating a new text. Great writers like Sri Aurobindo favoured this liberty of the translator and suggested making one’s ‘own poem’ out of the original while translating. But translation scholars of our time say that translation should be guarded against both transliteration and transcreation.
The modern linguistic theories interpreting the text with its indeterminate linguistic meanings are also a challenge for the translators of our time. The legitimacy of perpetually changing meaning of the text makes the accuracy of the text an irrelevant idea. The practice of translation in literature is significant because in the literary context the text has to be rendered into another language. The indeterminacy of the text makes the job of a translator difficult.
2.4.10. Problems Related to Reader Response Theory
The recent literary theories such as Reader Response Theory has also brought altogether new issues to add complexity to the scene of translation practices.The author-text-reader triangle with the author and the reader as creator of the text has made the different interpretations of the text acceptable. The authenticity of ‘literary constructs’ created by this interaction between the text and the reader makes the job of the translator difficult. The translator cannot depend merely on the text which the author intended but s/he also has to consider the text which the readers experienced. The reader being the co-author of the text includes the translator and the experience of reading the text is at par with the creation of the text as both are perceived as constituting the text.
2.5.1. Problems of Ambiguity in the Use of Language
The problem of language where the literal and metaphorical levels are equally important is yet another problem of the translator. The translator gets confused whether to take literal meaning or metaphorical meaning in translation when literary language is metaphorical. “In a translation process,” says A. K. Srivastava, “It is the metaphoric metier that provokes the problem of ambiguity even when assuming that the ‘core’ meaning arrived at by the translation represents the temper and tone of the original faithfully’ (As quoted in Das 40).
2.5.2. Translation Is More Difficult Than Creative Writing
Translation which is understood as the ‘decoding of the message and meaning of the SL text into the encoding of message and meaning in the TL text’ is almost impossible to come to the point where there are two texts exactly equivalent in every sense. According to Bijay Kumar Das, the task of the translator is ‘more difficult than a creative writer’ (40). The creative writer thinks and writes in one language context whereas the translator makes a tight-rope walking between two languages.
In the process of translation the problems faced by a translator are many. There are some colloquial expressions, slangs, and proverbs for which normally no one-to-one correspondence between two languages is found.
2.5.4. Orthographic Problems
There are also lots of words which are shared by different Indian languages with slight variation in pronunciation. The Assamese words such as ‘gamosa,’ ‘khisiri,’ and ‘sador’ are equivalent to Hindi words ‘gamacha,’ ‘khichri’ and ‘chador’ respectively. During translation the translator sometimes retains the words of the SLT in order to preserve the foreignness of the text. But in the context of translation of literary texts into English the translators also need to take a decision regarding the orthographic representation of these words into English. If these words which are retained in the translated literary texts from Assamese literature, their slight variation in pronunciation from Bengali, Oriya, or Hindi may confuse the target readers. Even the Assamese literary texts translated into English by different translators use different spelling. The translator of Indira Goswami’s novel The Moth-Eaten Howdah of the Tusker the English translation from the Assamese novel Une Khowa Howda is the author herself who uses the words like ‘mekhala’ (P.3) and ‘chaddar’ (P.8) slight differently from the words ‘mekhela’ and ‘sador’ used in The Hour before Dawn the English translation from Bhabendra Nath Saikia’s Assamese novel Antoreep by Maitreyee Siddhanta Chakravarty.
2.5.8. Translation between Native Languages Easier
Translation from one Indian language into another Indian language is also a very interesting area in Translation Studies. The similar cultural backgrounds seem to make the task of translation easier in comparison to the translation of literary texts from Indian languages into English. For example, words such as ‘Krishna’ or ‘Hari’ or ‘Harinam’ have more or less the same connotations in many different languages of India. Translation from Urdu into Hindi is to a great extent only a change of script. And the structures of these languages, if not identical to each other, are very similar to each other. But this study considers these issues of translation as less relevant than the issues related to the translation of literary texts into English.
If one literature in regional language is translated into another regional language, then only the people belonging to that language will read it, not other people who know some other languages of India. But if a regional literature is translated into English, all the people who know English all over the country, irrespective of region, will read it (Das “Translation or Perish”).
This argument which seems to favour readers from all over the country is actually in favour of the people who know English. The size of the readership of English literary texts may or may not be greater than the size of the readership of the Indian regional literary texts. Besides, the size of the readership should not be taken so seriously as to either encourage or discourage the translation activities in different directions. The literary texts translated from one Indian language into another have also large readership world in our country. The English readership though spread all over India is confined only to the upper middle class of the country with a good exposure to the educational environment.
2.5.9. Problems Raised by the Respondents of the Questionnaire
The researcher prepared two types of questionnaire, one for the publishers and the other for the translators, academicians, intelligents, etc. for the present work. Some respondents of the questionnaire approached by the researcher for the research talked in brief about the problems of the translators of literary texts in Assam. Nirmal Chandra Bhoi, a respondent who is also a translator says that ‘While translating any text from Assamese into English and vice versa one needs to tackle the breach between the two different cultural, social and political ethos. The very structure and texture of the English language and literature are quite different from the structure and texture of the Assamese language and literature. Instead of translating facts word by word or sentence by sentence from an Assamese text into an English text and vice versa, a translator must read out the whole text several times to have an overall grasp of the thoughts and ideas embodied in the work. The next step should be to concentrate on the text part by part thereby giving due attention to the part he/she translates from Assamese into English and vice versa and co-relating it to the entire text. One should keep one’s mind open to all the possible expressions which might come to his/her mind which are equivalent to or nearly close to the expression available in the TLT that he/she is embarked upon. Certain roundabout expressions not absolutely necessary should be dropped from the translated text. The translator should search for an alternative expression of the emotional state of the characters and the situations in his translated work which might be close or nearly approximate to the state of affairs which originally exist in the SLT. If such alternatives are found out, the translator should employ his mind to innovate and devise similar things that could bring the essence of the original ideas to the text. Despite these exercises the fullproof success of the translated text cannot be guaranteed’.
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The writer is the Associate Professor, Dr. Nilima Jha, Deptt. of English, R.D. S. College, Muzaffarpur (Bihar) &
The writer is the Asstt. Professor, Md. Eakub Ali, Deptt. of English, Dalgoma Anchalik College
Dalgoma, Matia, Goalpara (Assam)