MILAP highlights importance of translation on concluding day

By Alexander Chandy
Udupi Today Media Network


Manipal, 22 September 2017: Translators and translation works held center stage on the concluding day of Manipal International Literature and Arts Platform (MILAP) at Manipal Centre for Philosophy and Humanities here on Sunday. Several linguistic practitioners; litterateurs and translators shared their opinions about translation from one language to another and underscored its importance in Indian literature.



Dr Velcheru Narayana Rao, Professor of Telugu and Indian Literatures at Emory College of Arts and Sciences in a video conference talked about practices of translations in pre-nineteenth century India. He spoke extensively about the translatability of Indian languages and said, “Most of the Indian languages share the same base in terms of semantic, syntactic, phonetic and alphabetic organization.


A panel discussion on, ‘The Art of Translation’ was interesting. The panelists were: Alex Ruiz Falques, Dr Sajal Dey, Dr Nalini Thampi, Dr N T Bhat and Kamala Ramaswamy, with Dr Rahul Putty moderatin the event.


Ramaswamy cited Angika or ‘physical expression’ as a cause stating, “Every language has its own Angika. For example, take the movie ‘Gandhi’, it was originally in English but when dubbed in Hindi, the physical expressions of all remained English.” She further stressed on the role of culture and history with respect to translation of work among various media; print, broadcast etc.


Falques on the other hand stressed on the challenges as a positive aspect as they convey a larger base for connotations giving way for the works of commentators to come into the light. Dr Bhat opined that the problem of translation is that more often than not, there is no feedback, so a translator never knows how qualitatively acclaimed their work truly is.


Tumkur University Professor, N.S. Gundur addressed a translation workshop on the subject “Finding Rhyme and Reason: Understanding the paradigms of translation with special reference to reading Raghavanka in English”


“There is a general conviction that we should translate from other languages to our language,” Gundur said, but spoke against this conviction with consideration to Vanamala Vishwanath’s work ‘The life of Harishchandra’. The translation process includes two levels. The first level is ‘Knowable’. These are the things one should know. The next level is ‘Learnable’.


O L Nagabhushana Swamy, a renowned translator and kannada author also conducted a translation workshop on “From translation to translation – Working with Tolstoy, Singer, Rulfo and Rilke”. Swamy began by speaking about how wrong our idea of an original work was. He said he tried to write in such a way that the language should be familiar, dignified, utterable and something that you would not need the help of a dictionary to read.


Deepa Ganesh conducted a translation workshop titled, “Translating Vachanas into English,” The session started with a comparison of poetry to music and it was said that the meaning of poetry is not always articulated. It is always more complex. Deepa Ganesh gave a brief history of the vachanas and how the literary genre is an outcome of the socio-political movement of the 12th century. Though it is a poetry of protest which is reformist and aspirational in nature, it always has a deeper spiritual significance.


Jayant Kaikini, an eminent figure in Kannada literature and a prolific lyricist in Sandalwood, held a literary meet on 'Poetry and Lyrics' in conversation with Prof. Varadesh Hiregange, the director of Gandhian and Peace Studies. Jayant narrated his journey from Gokarna to Mumbai and then settling in Bangalore and also his venture from childhood love for poetry to his current status as a renowned author, poet, and a lyricist.


Highlighting on writing being inspired by day-to-day nuances, he said, "There is more to perceive from the experiences, memories and imaginative liberation than from the obvious tools we have. Moreover, writing is more of a sub-conscious process which requires intuition, visual thinking, and visual experiences."


On Friday, Chandrakanth Pokale conducted a translation workshop titled ‘Form and Language’ While addressing the participants on the difficulties faced while translating Marathi texts to Kannada. He highlighted the impact of cultural diversities that arise due to geographical divisions and focused on the interesting entanglement of words that are observed in Northern Karnataka and that they are a result of the Maharashtrian influence in the region.


A panel discussion titled “Understanding Blindness in Literature: Medical Condition, Experiential Dilemma or Disability?” also held on the penultimate day had panelists Dr. Hemachandran Karah, Assistant Professor in the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences at the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras (IITM), Dr. Shilpaa Anand, Assistant Professor in the Department of English at Maulana Azad National Urdu University (MANUU), Hyderabad and journalist at Deccan Herald and author of Lights Out, L Subramani. Dr. Aravinda Bhat, Assistant Professor at the Department for European Studies was the moderator for the event.


Dr. Hemachandran Karah shed light on an entirely different perception of “Blind Culture” refuting the generalised notion that “blindness is a reality far from the visual.” Dr. Shilpaa Anand added to the session by shedding light on the area of disability studies, which is still in its infancy in India.


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