Strength for Today and Bright Hope for Tomorrow

Volume 5 : 12 December 2005

Editor: M. S. Thirumalai, Ph.D.
Associate Editors: B. Mallikarjun, Ph.D.
         Sam Mohanlal, Ph.D.
         B. A. Sharada, Ph.D.
         A. R. Fatihi, Ph.D.




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Copyright © 2004
M. S. Thirumalai


Moderator : : V.V.B. Rama Rao, Ph.D.


While thanking all those who have come forward and obliged me with their replies individually and severally, I must add that the Symposium has drawn very encouraging reception. Andhra Bhoomi, A Telugu Daily from Hyderabad carried the Telugu version already and letters from translation enthusiasts are trickling in. Viprah bahuda vadanti is no strange thing to our scholastic ethos and then each has a valid point. More and more are welcome to keep the academic spirit high.

Poetry is perception and so is Literary Translation. Different people may perceive the perception of the poet in different ways (as it is done) and it could be seen that the perceptions might be different at different times. Only for evaluation of literary translation, certain conceptual parameters like Fidelity, Freedom. Translation Loss, Translation Gain and Discourse Prominence are applied. So many enthusiasts came up with diverse 'notions' or 'categories' of their own in several published works. Literary Translation is usually dependent on culture-controlled, situation-compelled, context-specific performance. Not every literary text would lend itself to translation. For some specific purpose, if it is to be done cumbersome notes would become necessary at every step for aiding comprehension in the receptor language. Evaluation comes at the end of accomplishing a task. Familiarity with the ideas of fellow-translators would be of some help to the practicing translator to deepen his own awareness of certain important aspects, to gain insights and sharpen his own judgement. We shall include such opinions along with feedback in the coming installments. The moderator looks forward to many more participating in this on-going discussion. -- Moderator.

Sachidananda Mohanty

A project that I carried out in the field of early women's writing in Orissa (1898-1950) involved translation in a significant way. It resulted in a book in 2005,published by Sage India. It taught me the importance of collaborative work. I believe that translation is a difficult task. it involves a lot of hard work, patience and stamina. One ought not to take up translation unless one is drawn to a writer or a text. It quires a knowledge of the source text and source language as well as a knowledge of contextual reading and understanding the role played by cultural and ideological forces in the generation of original and translated texts. Assessing the reception of such writing by an audience belonging to different historical periods and social strata is equally important. As a translator I have derived maximum satisfaction in translating medieval Oriya literatures and works that appeared in 19th century Orissa. Clearly, much more needs to be done. We need to create a body of translators in every Indian language who could collaborate with their counterparts at the regional, national and international level. In my opinion, Translation Studies is best carried out in the larger context of the discipline of cultural studies.

Sachidananda Mohanty (b.1953) is a Professor of English at the University of Hyderabad.. Now he is a Fulbright Visiting Professor in the US. Dr Mohanty has published thirteen books in English and Oriya.

T.S.Chandra Mouli & B.B.Sarojini

Translation is an engrossing activity. Though there are several Euro-centric theories in addition to stances taken in post-colonial contexts, an Indian translator has to evolve a strategy of his own. …We find translation of poetry a rewarding experience. Each poem presents a different challenge to the translator's patience and potential.. . For academic purpose two or more translations of the same text can be compared, making effort to highlight merits of each endeavour rather than hastily pronouncing a value judgement.

While trying to maintain the same order of the S.L in T.L, we always try to make the rendered text look like an original poem.. … The title of a poem need not necessarily be translated.. An example: the title of K. Siva Reddy's poem "Warthamanam" was rendered into English as Link. The poet himself suggested it much to our relief, because in Telugu 'Warthamanam' means the present time, a message or communication. The word occurs in the poem several times. Any shade of meaning assigned lends beauty to the translated text equally well. …Inter action with the original poet, when possible, is greatly helpful.

T. Sai Chanra Mouli (b.1947) teaches at Railway Degree College, and his wife Sarojini at Andhra Mahila College of Education, Hyderabad. Both are writers and translators.

Professor S.S.Prabhakara Rao

To my mind, translation is forever impossible and forever necessary to ensure the urgently required cultural synthesis in a world, which is indeed a "Tower of Babel" and in the multiple linguistic sturucture of India. But for translators, Sarath Chandra would have remained restricted to the Bengalee readership, and could not have become a household name in the Telugu world. And the only Nobel Prize for Literature for a true Indian could come only in recognition of the transcreation, however unsatisfactory, of Gitanajali by Tagore.

This stream of writing, I would like to call "Indo-English Literature," partially inspired by V.K.Gokak. They say, "imitation is the best form of appreciation;" I would modify it as "Translation is the best form of appreciation."

We translate what we enjpoy in the literature of our language and try to pass on part of that joy, rasaananda, to the readers outisde the linguistic group. It is that joy that I tried to share with the non-Telugu readers when I transcrated selected verses of the late Balagangadhar Tilak, way back in 1975. As I found the gamut of his exposure wider and more expansive, I made his "Vasudhaika Geetam" transformed into "The Song of the Cosmos."

Contrary to the general apprehension, I find translating the poems of the poet I love most is easier than translating prose - particularly, dialogue in the stories of some of the upcoming dalit and feminist writers. But when I translated Gopichand's story, "Dharmavaddi," I did not find the going difficult, as I was on the same wavelength as the writer and the ethos created by him. Similar was my experience while I translated the stories of of Padma Raju and Chalam for Golden Nuggets. Finally, translation is a thankless job, with little encouragement and zero financial returns, but the actiivity must go on ceaselessly, and we "should play the Suez" between English literature and our literatures, as advised by the late Prof. Srinivasa Iyengar, over fifty years ago.

Dr S.S.Prabhakar Rao, presently on the faculty of ICFAI University, Hyderabad, was formerly Professor of English. A distinguished translator from Telugu, he has published Five Antholgies of Poetry translated from Telugu. His magnum opus is Post Independence Telugu Poetry.

Desetti Kesava Rao

I was literally pushed into translation field. After writing a few short stories and poems in Telugu, I toyed with the idea of enriching the poetry area of Indian writing in English, as the field was woefully lacking in gifted poets like me. A few of my English poems were carried by different journals, and I also brought out a collection of my poems, which, my publisher said, did not sell a single copy. It was at that time that I was pushed into translation business.

At that time, I concentrated on translating poetry. And I never knew there were things like theories of translation. I took any text that I liked and made myself merry with it. I don't know how---intuitively, perhaps--- I took care not to introduce any of my own ideas into these translations. I only took the liberty of relocating the lines if that was called for to sustain the imagery or if it gave punch to the lines. I consciously avoided the interference of my own feelings. Dr D. S. Rao and Jayant Mahapatra encouraged my initial efforts.

I learnt from Nissim Ezekiel about how poetic lines could be constructed. Dissecting a poem where the poet talks of the creator weaving a silken cloth of diurnal pattern and bathing the worlds in flight with it, he remarked, 'You cannot bathe (the worlds in flight) with silken linen.' That gave me a whole new perspective. I also learnt from him that the articles (indefinite, definite) couldn't be omitted at will: either you omitted them deliberately or included them according to the rules of proper usage. These are the things that occur to me now, but translating every poem is an education by itself. I worked closely with the great Telugu poet Ismail while translating some of his poems, and though I did not agree with some of the things he said, I learnt how a poet's perspective operates differently from those of the others.

Kesava Rao, Desetti (1937) is a retired lecturer in English. He writes in Telugu and English and translates from Telugu to English.

Appalla Someswara Sarma

Transporting a matter (subject) from one language to another is anuvadam. anu=anusrutya, following vadaam = to say, tell). It could be in many ways: true, faithful translation; translating the meaning or substance, translating the essence, free translation and partial translation (amshaanuvad)

Whatever it is, it is good not to overstep the original. In our country Sanskrit and Prakrit are original sources of knowledge, information and enlightenment. Regional languages gradually rendered texts in these languages (not always written ones alone, to begin with), which led to wide publicity to original texts. Translation gained widespread recognition.

But the way of Srinatha* has been followed extensively. Such renderings came to be called translations. It may be true that it is an aspect of cultivation of the beauties of literature. It mt be free translation but it cannot be true translation.

Faithfulness to the original is the life breath of translation. Only faithfulness to the original author would do justice to the author. But then there could be connotation or samvaad translation. Expressions peculiar to language - bhasheeyaas - technical words, - tatwadhaikapaadhyaas - untranslatable words or phrases may be retained as they are.

It would be the best if the original is mirror and translation its reflection.

(Srinatha's self-professed procedure was detailed in Part II-- Moderator.)

Acharya Appalla Someswara Sarma, now an octogenarian, is a recipient of great titles like 'Sarvajna Sekhara,' 'Vidyavachaspati,' 'Mahamahopadhyaya.' He is a recipient of Rashtrapatis's Swarnkankan. He was honoured by Rashtriya Sanskrit Sansthan too.

Ambika Ananth

I believe Translation is a creative activity, where in the translator creates a 'Parallel text' which should appear a spontaneous and effortless creation without any jarring word play, any unwarranted innovations or departures from the original.

I feel a translator should have immense patience, because sometimes the work becomes a long-drawn - 'trying the tried and hitting the hit'. The translator should never let down or mishandle the original - there should be an ingrained professional detachment to rise above prejudice and preference.

I found translating using a link language, without an adequate knowledge of the source language, an unsatisfying experience. When I translated Urdu Feminist Poetry of Pakistan into Telugu using English as the link language, I was a little disappointed. Though my translated poems were appreciated, I felt, I trans-created the poetry by not being completely faithful to the poetic intentions and the text-realization of the since I had to depend on a link language. The underlying difficulty of the task was inevitable. But a satisfying translation takes place between two cognate languages, like Telugu and Kannada, where the order of the alphabet, idiom and expressions are similar.

With reasonable command over source and target languages and their idiom, an understanding of socio-cultural nuances, subtleties and syntactic peculiarities, when one strives for artful expression in the rendering, one can claim to be doing justice to the delicate art called 'translation'.

Ambika Ananth (b.1960) is a bi-lingual creative writer, poet, journalist and a translator, with published work, both in poetry and prose. Her major translation assignments had been co-translating BASAVANNA SAMAGRA VACHANAALU (from Kannada to Telugu) and the NECTAR OCEAN OF ANNAMCHARAYA (from Telugu to English).

R.V.S. Sundaram

In my literary career for the last 36 years, translation gave me an opportunity to understand cultural plurality and stylistic variations. Proficiency of highest order is needed in target language as well, if a translated work should be equally good as the original work. Among the genres, I find poetry the most difficult to attempt as it demands a specific stylistic expression and an appropriate poetic diction. Whenever I translate a creative work I feel that it is a refresher course for me. Each of my poetry translations has been a challenge for me especially when I translated them from Telugu to Kannada. I translated a classical poem, Kreedaabhiraamam and a folk epic, Kaatamaraaju Kathaa into prose, as I wanted to convey the meaning and motif of the poems and not the classic and folk styles.

I find it easy to translate works from Telugu to Kannada and vice-versa. As these languages are closely related genealogically and culturally, translation is comparatively easy between these two languages. If taken in the right perspective, translation is also a creative experience, sometimes more challenging and difficult than creating a work of art. It should be admitted that re-creation is sometimes more difficult than creating a work of art.

Professor R.V.S. Sundaram (b.1948) is a professor in Mysore University School of Languages. A poet and a creative he has translated from and to English, Kannada and Telugu.


Without translation, many countries would have become literary islands. All over the world the literature written in any language reached others though translation alone.

In a way a good translation is a rehabilitation of the original into the embraced. I enjoyed all through my life translating poetry, fiction and essays from Telugu to English and vice versa. I am poet in Telugu but I have constantly pursued the mission of translation.

Nikhileswar, (K.Yadav Reddy)(b1938) is a famous 'Digambara' poet, associated with the revolutionary movement in Telugu literature with sixteen books to his credit which include fiction and essays too.

Summing up

Each of the participants has come up with ideas and experiences and while thanking them all I look forward to receiving more opinions and more experiences. Here is an icebreaker too. The 'display' of the poem is an important aspect in that it could be used as an expressive device. Would it be necessary for the literary translator to retain this device in some way? Can a translator take liberties and superimpose his own scheme to put across the effect of the original?

The poet nowadays thinks of a particular page layout in terms of line spacing also besides 'centering' or 'justification'.



V. V. B. Rama Rao, Ph.D.
C-7 New Township BTPS Badarpur
New Delhi - 110 044
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