Showing posts with label Translation. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Translation. Show all posts

3.04.2011

"Over and Over He Said 'Survive'": the Poetry of Khaled Mattawa in Light of Libya

I was lucky, at Duke in the mid-1990s, to overlap for a few years with the Libyan poet and translator Khaled Mattawa, then enrolled in Duke's Ph.D. program. I don't think I really grasped the extent to which Khaled's experience as an expatriate (really, exile) would end up impacting me at the time. And I was also a bit too young to be able grasp the level of accomplishment and power of Khaled's first published book of poetry, Ismailia Eclipse. (Sheep Meadow Press, 1995. The book is difficult to find now, though Khaled has helpfully put many of the important poems online here.)

Since the recent uprising in Libya began, I've been slowly revisiting Khaled's work and using the poems, where possible, to help process the incredibly stirring -- but also distressing -- events that are taking place in that country. As one of very few Libyan intellectuals fluent in English living in the United States, Khaled has of course been in demand in the U.S. media in the past two weeks. He did a great interview on PBS's NewsHour, and another on NPR in the past few days. But the most moving statement he's made in light of the rebellion is to write a personal account of growing up in Libya (Benghazi) at the beginning of Qadhafi's rule: "Rising to Shake Off the Fear in Libya". (The essay has appeared as an Op-Ed in several newspapers today.)

Here is an excerpt from that Op-Ed:


A few months earlier on April 7, 1977, members of the revolutionary committees had plastered a poster of Gadhafi’s image on my father’s car. On that same day they had, under the dictator’s direct supervision, publicly hanged several dissidents in Benghazi. 
On the day of the execution, the Ghibli winds blowing from the desert filled the air with dust and turned the sky into a reddish-gray canopy. I’d taken a bus with a friend to catch a movie downtown. Nearing Shajara Square, the bus simply turned around and took us back to where we had come from. Later that evening, state television repeatedly broadcast the hangings. I went to our garage to peel the dictator’s poster off our car. It took an interminably long time.
Along with millions of other Libyans, I have never stopped trying to peel Gadhafi’s image from my life. Even after I came to the United States in 1979 to continue my education, the dictator seemed to follow me. He was the one Libyan most people had heard of, and they wanted to talk about him. I used to be enraged when women told me how handsome he was. To me he was the face of evil itself, the face of separation, exile, thuggery, torture and lies.
(Source: http://www.miamiherald.com/2011/03/03/2096377/rising-to-shake-off-the-fear-in.html#ixzz1FeVTVOts )


Reading this, I couldn't help but think of Khaled's early poem, published in Ismailia Eclipse, describing the very same event, "Fifty April Years". Here is an excerpt from that poem, which Khaled has posted in its entirety on his website:


1.31.2011

Poetry in the Protests -- Abu Al-Qasim Al-Shabi

[Cross-posted at Guernica

Protest poetry and music sometimes rises to the surface during popular uprisings, crystallizing popular sentiments -- one thinks of Victor Jara in Chile, Nazim Hikmet in Turkey, Faiz Ahmed Faiz in Pakistan, or Woody Guthrie in the United States. At times like these, the right poetry and song doesn't merely describe how people are feeling; it can actually act as an intensifier that guides a protest movement, helping it spread and solidify. (Needless to say, such poetry does not need to be written by professional poets. Martin Luther King's "I have a dream..." was an act of poetry as much as anything else.)


Along those lines, it seems worthwhile to note the role played by Arabic poetry in the uprisings. One particular poet, Abu Al-Qasim Al-Shabi (whose name can also be rendered in English as Aboul-Qasem Echebbi), was widely cited on the streets and even in the Tunisian news-media during the uprising against Ben Ali, and according to reports coming in from Aljazeera, is now being cited by protestors on the streets of Cairo and Alexandria.

The key poem is rendered in English as "To the Tyrants of the World," and unfortunately I cannot find a great translation of it online anywhere. There is one version at a blog called Arabic Literature in English, here. Interestingly, a better translation is actually available via a radio story on NPR.


To the Tyrants of the World
(Translated by Abdul Iskander for NPR)

Oppressive tyrant, lover of darkness, enemy of life
You have ridiculed the size of the weak people
Your palm is soaked with their blood
You have deformed the magic of existence
And planted the seeds of sorrow in the fields


Wait -- don't be fooled by the spring
The clearness of the sky or the light of dawn 
For on the horizon lies the horror of darkness,
Rumble of thunder, and blowing of wind

Beware, for below the ash there is fire
And he who grows thorns reaps wounds
Look there, for I have harvested the heads of mankind
And the flowers of hope 
And I have watered the heart of the earth with blood
I soaked it with tears until it was drunk
The river of blood will sweep you
And the fiery storm will devour you 

Translated by Abdul Iskander (Source. Original Arabic)


As I mentioned, "To the Tyrants of the World" was recited on the streets during the protests in Tunisia, and it is now being recited in Cairo and Alexandria by the millions who have taken to the streets to demand democratic reforms and the ouster of Hosni Mubarak. One line whose meaning comes across with unmistakable force in this translation comes near the end: "He who grows thorns will reap wounds." One does not forget a line like that.

Another poem by al-Shabi is a short verse that is actually part of the Tunisian national anthem, "If the people one day aspire to life" (also referred to variously as "The Will to Life" or "The Will to Live"). Here the Arabic Literature blog does have three very good translations available on their site here. My favorite, at least in terms of the quality of the English, is by a commenter at another site, called YankeeJohn:

Should the people one day truly aspire to life
then fate must needs respond
the night must needs shine forth
and the shackles must needs break
Those who are not embraced by life’s yearning
shall evaporate in her air and vanish.  (Source)

Again, for the original Arabic, I would suggest taking a look at the bottom of the post here. You can also see Al-Shabi's poetry being recited in Arabic in a video at the website of UT-Austin here.

Another powerful political Arab poet I know of is Abd al-Wahhab al-Bayyati, an Iraqi who spent much of his adult life in exile. One of his famous poems, "The Dragon," is available in translation here. Below are the opening lines of the poem (it's worth reading in full):

A dictator, hiding behind a nihilist's mask,
has killed and killed and killed,
pillaged and wasted,
but is afraid, he claims,
to kill a sparrow.
His smiling picture is everywhere:
in the coffeehouse, in the brothel,
in the nightclub, and the marketplace.
Satan used to be an original,
now he is just the dictator's shadow.
The dictator has banned the solar calendar,
abolished Neruda, Marquez, and Amado,
abolished the Constitution;
he's given his name to all the squares, the open spaces,
the rivers,
and all the jails in his blighted homeland. (Source)
This is usually interpreted as the poet's commentary on Saddam Hussein, but at various points in the poem al-Bayyati expands his meaning to refer to the dictator-dragons who are being "cloned" acround the world.

There are of course many other contemporary poets from Egypt and Tunisia, and I will be looking them up in the days and weeks ahead to see if I can find more writing like al-Shabi's -- writing that seems to crystallize what is going on, even if it might have been written at a different time or in a different context. One place to look might be the collection, Language for a New Century: Contemporary Poetry from The Middle East, Asia, and Beyond. Egyptian poets included in the volume include Andree Chedid (writing in French), Amal Dunqul, Ahmad Abd al-Mu'ti Hijazi, Fatma Kandil, Abd el-Monem Ramadan, Salah 'abd al-Sabur, and Himy Salem. Some Tunisian poets whose Muhammad al-Ghuzzi, Amina Said (writing in French), and al-Munsif al-Wayhabi.

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[UPDATE: Read this incredibly informative essay by Elliott Cola on the role of poetry in the Arab protest movements... Thanks Kitabet.]

10.20.2010

A Brief Note About Jainendra Kumar's "The Resignation"

I came across Jainendra Kumar's The Resignation (Tyaga-Patra ; 1937) as I was combing through the library looking for work associated with Ajneya, a figure I have been mentioning on and off in a number of recent blog posts. It turns out that Ajneya translated a novel by Jainendra Kumar, a Hindi novelist who was well-known in the 1930s but who has in more recent years dropped off the map. Jainendra Kumar seems interesting as a misfit in his era -- while his peers in the 1930s were generally somewhat optimistically Progressive, Jainendra seems thoroughly alienated, anticipating in some ways the turn towards the New Story in Hindi fiction in the 1950s and 60s.

Ajneya's preface to The Resignation gestures at Jainendra's oddness:

Jainendra Kumar appeared on the literary horizon in 1929, his first published work being a book of short stories. (This was followed shortly after by a novel, Parakh (The Criterion) which won immediate recgonition from critics as well as from the general public, and was also awarded the Hindustani Academy prize. Thereafter the author's rise to prominence was phenomenal, and within a few years he was probably the most talked of figure in Hindi literature, not only because of the high literary quality of his subsequent work, but also, and possibly more, on account of the disturbing originality of his creative outlook. His thought, his story material, his characters, even his language, was provokingly different, and each new novel seemed to define more clearly a philosophy that was in startling contrast with the nationalistic aspirations current at the time.

10.07.2010

Revisiting the Calcutta Writers Workshop

I remember finding volumes printed by the Calcutta Writers Workshop while browsing the library as a young graduate student, but at the time I didn't have much context or understanding of the history of the group or its philosophy. Indeed, at that time I found the books to be kind of shoddy -- the hand-printed aspect of the volumes made them seem archaic.

More recently, as I've been researching "modernism" in India and Pakistan, I've been learning more, and I now have a much greater appreciation of what P. Lal and company were trying to do. First, a little background: Calcutta Writers Workshop was founded in 1958 by a group of seven writers -- mainly as a venue to share poetry. By 1960, the group had begun publishing chapbooks of poetry and small books of criticism; they also started a journal called Miscellany. The group is still active as a publishing house, with recent volumes listed on its website here.

I would also recommend readers check out P. Lal's essay on the founding of the Writers Workshop here. And see the profile of P. Lal in The Hindu, from last year.


9.28.2010

Translation Workshop: Prabhjot Kaur's "Bewildered" (UPDATED)

My first attempt a couple of months ago at translating from Punjabi was humbling, but I'm back to give it another shot. As readers may remember, with help from a couple of friends, I put forth an attempt at a translation in the earlier post, only to find that Jasdeep of Parchanve did a much better job of it in the comments.

I'm still looking at the same anthology of Experimental Punjabi Poetry from 1962 (Prayogashil Punjabi Kavita), though this time I'm looking at a poem by Prabhjot Kaur, "Pashemaan Haan," or "Bewildered." This time, with humility in mind, I'll just translate the first three verses today, and put out a call for help from our friend in Chandigarh (Jasdeep) as well as anyone else who might wish to help. The poem is on the theme of corruption....


9.24.2010

Gordon Roadarmel and Modern Hindi Literature

One of the key critics in looking at modernism in Hindi literature in particular is the American critic and translator, Gordon Roadarmel. Today Roadarmel is probably better known as a translator (i.e., of Godaan) than as a critic, mainly because we have several excellent published translations from him, while his 1969 dissertation from UC-Berkeley was never formally published. (In terms of translations, Roadarmel also did a collection of stories called "A Death in Delhi," and a translation of Agyeya's novel Apne Apne Anjani [To Each His Stranger].) The fact that such seminal research went unpublished is hard for me to fathom, though it may be that the critic's premature death in 1971 may have had more than a little to do with it.

Luckily, I was able to track down a copy of Roadarmel's dissertation in bound form at Penn, and have been reading it this week. Here I wanted to offer a few helpful quotes from him as regards the 'modernist' (or experimental) turn in modern Hindi fiction, which is sometimes described as the "Nayi Kahani" (or New Story).

Here is Roadarmel's account of the emergence of that movement in the late 1950s:

[T]he popularity of the [short] story seems to have been first noted in print by a writer calling himself Chakradhar, in the April 1954 issue of Kalpana an important literary journal. He says: "After a long time, short stories have again begun to attract readers." A change in the nature of the stories was noted by the son of Premchand, Shripat Ray, writing in the New Year issue of Kahani in 1956:

I began to wonder whether I might be behind the pace of the times and therefore was not noting the progress in the Hindi story which ought to be expected... The form of the story was changing and perhaps I, because of my old traditions, was asking of the story what today was not characteristic of it.

The naming of the new group is credited to Namwar Singh, probably in an article published in Kahani just a year after Shripat's comments. Namwar wrote: 'In thinking about the story today, the first thing that comes to my mind is the question as to whether, like 'nayi kavita,' there is also such a thing as 'nayi kahani.'

In 1957 the term Nayi Kahani became generally applied to the new writing, though debate has never stopped as to the appropriateness of the term. By 1957, Hindi literary circles generally had hailed the material appearing in that issue of Kahani early in 1956. A year before, in 1955, eighty percent of the stories in the special issue of the periodical were by older writers. In this 1956 issue, eighty percent were by the newer writers; and "in the Hindi world there was such wide discussion of this issue and such a warm welcome that the foundation of the revival of the story was established."


In subsequent pages, Roadarmel goes on to talk about the initial divergence in the Nayi Kahani movement between authors who were more interested in 'rural' fiction and those who were more thematically 'urban'. One text mentioned as aligned with the rural-ist Nahi Kahani is Phanishwer Nath Renu's 1954 Maili Anchal (The Soiled Border). But this debate died down relatively quickly, and over time, the urban sensibility came to predominate.

9.17.2010

Thoughts on Premchand's "Godaan"

The first surprise in reading Premchand's 1936 masterpiece Godaan is just how different it is from the blurb describing it. Here, for instance, is the standard blurb, lifted in this case from Wikipedia:

The protagonist, Hori, a poor peasant, desperately longs for a cow, a symbol of wealth and prestige in rural India. In a Faustian twist of fate, Hori gets his cow, but pays for it with his life. After his death, the village priests demand a cow from his widow to bring his soul absolution, and peace (Godaan). The narrative represents the average Indian farmer's existence under colonial rule, with the protagonist facing cultural and feudal exploitation.


It's hard to imagine anyone having the patience to read a 400 novel on a subject as limited as this, but fortunately the novel itself is much more than a single villager's cow-related struggles. There are several parallel plots: the story of Hori and his wife, Dhaniya, mentioned above; the story of Hori's son Gobar, and his wife, Jhuniya, who leave the farm in rural UP for an urban life in nearby Lucknow; and the story of the Rai Sahib and his friends in Lucknow. The Rai Sahib owns the land on which the village is situated, and as the novel develops his circle of friends, including especially a philosophy professor named Doctor Mehta, an English-educated single woman named Miss Malti, and the sugar mill director Mr Chandra Prakash Khanna, all become major characters with their own personal and familial plots. Even in the village, new plots begin to spin out involving characters who seem minor at first, but who begin to play more important roles as the story develops.

The novel is in short, a big story in the manner of the grand Victorian novels, with about fifteen major characters. The two nodal points are Hori, the poor villager (whose life really isn't that oriented to the idea of the "gift of a cow"), and Rai Sahib, the powerful Zamindar in Lucknow. In the plot of the novel the two characters are shown meeting once, at the beginning, but from that point onwards their stories go in different directions (though certain incidents, do keep the two characters in each others' orbit).

Another misconception about Godaan comes with its form -- namely, "social realism" -- which might lead one to expect this to be mainly a political novel, with the Zamindar and his high-caste agents as villains, while the poor Kayastha (Kshatriya) and Chamar villagers are heroes. In actuality, Premchand gives full and equal psychological depth to both the high-born urban characters and the poor villagers, and the novel's politics are much more subdued than one might expect from a key figure in the Progressive Writers' movement, writing at the height of the era of anti-colonial agitation. This is undeniably a novel that dramatizes the crisis of rural poverty and the corruption of the ruling class, but what comes across more than the socio-political critique is Premchand's remarkable characterization and plot.


8.09.2010

Translating from the Punjabi -- K.S. Duggal

I have been looking at an obscure volume of Punjabi poetry published in 1962, as part of a project I'm doing on South Asian progressive and modernist writing. The volume, Prayogashil Punjabi Kavita ("Experimental Punjabi Poetry," edited by Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia), has never been translated as far as I can tell.

One poem I've found particularly challenging, owing in part to the vocabulary, is by Kartar Singh Duggal. Duggal is a writer whose short stories I know well & have worked on over the years; this is the first time I've seen any of his poetry. Below are three renditions of the poem, the Gurmukhi/Punjabi, the Roman Punjabi, and finally an attempt at an English version. In some cases I had trouble getting Google's "Transliterate/Punjabi" site to render certain Gurmukhi letters, so I left those words in Roman.

Incidentally, I don't necessarily know that I love the message of this poem yet; I'm more interested in the kinds of ideas and the style of the poetry from this period.


ਫਿਰ ਆਈ ਹੈ

ਫਿਰ ਆਈ ਹੈ
ਮੁਸ ਮੁਸ ਕਰਦੀ ਹੋਈ
ਲਿਬੜੀ ਹੋਈ ਵਿਸ਼ ਨਾਲ
ਕੱਜੀ ਹੋਈ, ਢਕੀ ਹੋਈ

ਫਿਰ ਆਈ ਹੇਇ,
ਚਘ੍ਲੀ ਹੋਈ, ਚਟੀ ਹੋਈ
ਕੁਤਰੀ ਹੋਈ, ਛਿਜੀ ਹੋਈ
ਗੰਢੀ ਹੋਈ, ਤ੍ਰਪੀ ਹੋਈ.

ਫਿਰ ਈ ਹੈ
ਫੁਲਿਆ ਹੋਇਆ ਅੰਗ ਅੰਗ,
ਸੁਜ਼ਿਆ ਹੋਇਆ ਬੰਦ ਬੰਦ,
ਅਕ੍ਰੀ ਹੋਈ, ainthee ਹੋਈ

ਫਿਰ ਆਈ ਹੈ
ਪੂਰੇ ਦਿਨਾ ਦੇ ਨੇਰੇ,
ਆਲਸੀ ਹੋਈ, ਹਫੀ ਹੋਈ
ਢਾਹਿ ਢਾਹਿ ਪੈਂਦੀ ਪਈ

ਫਿਰ ਆਈ ਹੈ,
ਝਗ ਝਗ ਬੁਲੀਆ ਤੇ,
ਮੈਲ ਮੈਲ ਦੰਡੋ-ਦੰਡ,
ਕੂੜ ਦੀ ਪੰਡ ਨਿਰੀ.
ਫਿਰ ਈ ਹੈ ਫਾਈਲ
ਹਾਜਾਈ ਔਰਤ ਦੀ ਤਰਾ.




Phir Aaee Hai (written in 1962)
by Kartar Singh Duggal

phir aaee hai
mus mus karde hoee
libRee hoe vish naal
kajee hoee, DHakee hoee.

phir aaee hai,
chaghlee hoee, chaTee hoee
kutree hoee, chhajee hoee
gandhee hoee, trappee (?) hoee

phir aaee haie,
phuliaa hoyaa ang ang,
sujiaa hoeaa band band,
akRee hoee, ainTHee hoee

phir aaee hai,
pure dina de neRe
alsaaee hoee, haphee hoee
dhahi dhahi paindee pei

phir aaee hai,
jhag jhag buleeaa te,
mail mail dando-dand,
kooR dee panD niree
phir aaee hai phaaeel
harjaaee aurat dee taraa




Still She Comes

[UPDATE: I decided to remove my own attempt at a translation, as Jasdeep, in the comments put forward a much better rendering of the poem, which I'm now copying and pasting.]

again, she has come
smiling coyly
doused in venom
veiled, concealed


again, she has come
disgraced, decrepit
clipped , smacked
sewn, stitched

again, she has come
puffed up body
swollen limbs
numbed, stiffened

again, she has come
in the last days
slumberous, exhausted
collapsing

again, she has come
frothing mouth
begrimed teeth
like a pile of trash
agin, the file has come
like a fallen woman



Assuming that the meaning as rendered above is roughly correct, what is this poem actually about? What is Duggal's "message"?

2.15.2008

Indian Literature: Translation Stories

There have been quite a few stories in the past couple of weeks about the issue of translation in Indian literature, most of them stemming, I think, from the annual Jaipur Literary Festival which took place last month. (Incidentally, I've been keeping up with these stories through The Literary Saloon, by far the best blog for world literature out there right now. All the links below come from that blog.)

Some of the stories read kind of like pep talks for translators -- come on guys, get translating! This story, in The Hindu, might be one such example. Mini Krishnan focuses on the idea of a translator as a creative figure in his or her own right -- a "conjurer." One of the translated passages she quotes, from a Tamil writer, seemed particularly evocative to me:

The translator throws her voice so skilfully that the truth of a text originally written in an Indian language is “heard” in English. Here is Vasantha Surya translating the Tamil writer Ki Rajanarayanan: “Taking out the betel leaves one by one as if he were taking things out of a pooja box, he would lay them out with the devotion due to objects of worship. . . Next he would sniff the broken areca nut. Then he would blow on it. This sniffing and blowing procedure was repeated several times, his hand transporting the areca nut from nose to mouth, nose to mouth, more and more rapidly until ooomm-oosh, ooomm-oosh, ooomm-oosh, dabak! Into his mouth the areca nut would go, having been noisily purified.” Which Indian — educated in English, unable to read his mother tongue or born of a mother other than Tamil — will not thrill to such a retelling? (link)


What I liked about this is the fact that the translator doesn't feel the need to translate every word. Even though I don't know Tamil, I have a pretty good idea of what a word like "dabak" must mean, just from context. I think even writing originally written in English can often get away with the inclusion of many more words from Indian languages than people might think. (I've seen my students pick up words on their own as they read books by Indian authors. They often have no idea how to pronounce them, but the foreignness of the words usually doesn't stop a dedicated reader; if anything, it presents them with an interesting puzzle to solve while reading.)

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There's also another story in The Hindu, this one about the future of Hindi literature. Much of the article rehearses the trend we might expect -- Hindi literature is in trouble because of the growing emphasis on English in Indian cities. On the other hand, things look quite different once you get out of the big metros, so perhaps the situation isn't really that dire:

Battling the two formidable adversaries of the Internet and English writing, the consumption of Hindi literature has long been restricted to school curricula and competitive examinations. Then there are some who accuse publishing houses of not putting in enough to propagate Hindi literature. “Hardcover books are expensive and beyond the reach of most Hindi readers. Paperbacks are released only after the hardcover has raked in enough profits. The publishers should take pains to promulgate this literature to places where it is sure to be voraciously devoured,” said Khalsa College student Brijesh Kumar, adding that another undeniable aspect of the scenario was Hindi’s limited scope in professional set-ups, particularly with the advent of the new MNC/BPO culture.

Another significant facet of the readership equation is the apparently increasing age of readers — Hindi books seem to be read only by people well into or well past their middle age.

Author Teji Grover, however, said to arrive at an accurate reading of the scenario, one would have to make a trip to the rural areas where there is a hunger for Hindi books that rivals the obsession with cinema. “I don’t think there is a readership crisis at all. If one diverts one’s gaze past the urban centres, children vie to read even the smallest scrap of paper they find lying around. I have chanced upon discussions comparing Premchand to Gorky in remote villages.” (link)


In short, maybe it depends on where you're standing. If Hindi literature publishers can find ways to sell cheap books out in the smaller towns and villages, they might find a potential readership numbering in the hundreds of millions.

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It's not only literature, of course, that needs to be translated. The coverage of the Jaipur Literary Festival in the Deccan Herald had an interesting point about the urgent need for translation of science and technology terms.

What was Dr Suman Sahai, president of Gene Campaign, doing at the Translating Bharat festival? Throwing new light on language, of course. Sahai started Gene Campaign in 1993. The Campaign is a grassroots organisation with a presence in 17 states across India. Gene Campaign is a research and advocacy organisation working on farmers' and community rights, intellectual property rights and indigenous knowledge, among other related issues.

These are all regions where language – and its accurate translation for proper comprehension – plays a primal point. “There is a need to bridge India and Bharat, a need to simplify our dialect,” she pointed out. Science and technology continue to be in India, while the people who practice the laboratory findings of science are on the fields of Bharat. She is convinced that it is time that we got down to reporting science and technology in Hindi. And in regional languages, of course.

The time is more than right, indeed, it has been so for a while, to develop a contemporary vocabulary in science and technology. The challenge is not as simple as, say, translating telephone as ‘doorbhaash’. That is one example of how a word can be accepted in the ‘foreign’ language and Indianised with no lapse anywhere: it’s still called telephone, or teliphoon, if you wish, almost across the country. So, the translation has to be simple enough to be taken to the farmer, to be accepted at the grassroots and carry with it some flavour of the technology.

Well, if you think that’s simple, try this one that kicked up a bit of a debate at the conference: How do you explain gene modification to the farmer? While you ponder on that, here’s a hint from Dr Sahai. Try, gene ‘sanshodhan’. Or would you like to make that simpler? (link)


In France, there are government bodies that make sure that every new technology object has a proper French word that has some kind of justification linguistically. I don't know if this is being done in Hindi and regional languages -- but perhaps it should be.

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And finally, The Hindu has yet another story, this one on the publisher Namita Gokhale, who is starting Yatra Books, a publishing house dedicated solely to translations -- back and forth, between English and any number of Indian languages (and from one Indian language to other Indian languages). An interesting bit about the publisher's approach to translation comes out when one of Gokhale's associates describes the direction given to the translator of a novel by "Shobhaa" (Shobha De?):

Neeta Gupta joined us as we chatted in Namita’s cosy study, with the winter sun’s rays prying gently through the window. She said, “We are trying to discount Sanskritised Hindi promoted by hardcore bhasha followers. We tell our writers and translators not to shove in difficult words that sound pompous unless it’s a text that demands classical Hindi like Shakuntala. We used Bombaiya Hindi in Shobhaa’s Spouse. We want to throw away that baggage of having a rigid vocabulary, the Raj Bhasha angle and its tediousness has to go.”

Namita added, “Languages are evolving, whether through Bollywood, advertising or even our daily speech. They have a vibrancy of their own; we have to let them go where they want to. Like Indian English is already accepted as a language, it has also developed its own dialects.” (link)


I strongly agree, and wish all the best for Yatra Books.