The Ethics of Translation
By Chandan Gowda
A linguist narrated an anecdote that I haven’t been able to forget. A translator in medieval China complained of budget cuts for the work of translation: “In earlier days, a hundred translators worked together, in one large room, to translate a text. This number is now reduced to forty.” Besides the charms of collective authorship of translated texts, in contrast with the modern figure of the solo translator, the anecdote had held up the value of translation in China.
Translations open up pathways of imagination between cultural communities. While their value appears obvious, a few cautionary observations, especially with reference to contemporary English translations from Indian language, might be worth recalling.
Since great stories about village India or tribal India, to name just two spheres of experience, are likely to be written in Indian languages, only translations, in English or Indian languages, can come to the rescue of curious minds. More generally, an interest in the best works of Indian literature and political thought can be presumed to exist, either now or at another point in time. So far, so good. Read more
Source: Bangalore Mirror