Apr 23, 2013

T is for Translation !

Since childhood I've had two passions, Languages and Creative Writing. I love learning languages, love to understand their mysterious intricacies and how to use them. I have been learning languages since childhood and it was my love for them that made me do my masters in Japanese.

Like almost all language professionals do, I started off by doing translations. When I started learning the language, I had visions of myself wearing ethnic clothes from Fab India, doing literary translations and discussing Japanese art and literature over coffee. But then I found myself in the IT Industry, a non techie sticking out like a sore thumb amongst all those technically savvy people.

The only thing that has come true is that I wear ethnic clothes. Instead of doing literary translations I translated technical specifications and instead of discussing literature over coffee I now spend my time with the so called techie nerds who think Yasunari Kawabata is not worth knowing because he didn't write an idiots guide to Java programming !

But inspite of spending years doing technical translations and then later handling Japanese clients and projects, my Love for literary translations still remains. Technical translations are not easy, to do a good job you need a thorough knowledge of the subject matter along with the language, but then a technical or business translation lacks the charm a literary translation has!

A lot of people think translation is simply replacing the words in the sentence with a similar word from the other language. Translation is not as easy as that! That is how a machine translates and a machine translation in my opinion lacks soul !

The art of translation, especially translating literature is a difficult one. You need to take care of both the lingual and cultural nuances in such a way that the reader feels he is reading the original and not a translation.

I love the challenge of finding the exact words that would convey not the dictionary meaning but the real essence and spirit behind what the writer wants to say. To be able to translate well you need to have not only a flair for words but also a creative bent of mind.

I love translation for I do believe that it is a great art. I love to translate simply for the love of the language, because I love to dabble with words, to play with them and use their magic the way I want!

46 comments:

  1. There is a word for what you like to do. Transcreate, where you keep the essence of the text intact. I'd love to hear you speak one day. Come to Bombay fast.

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    1. Booking my tickets right now ! :P

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  2. So totally with u on what translation is all about. I think twice before I read any book which has been translated, fearing that the essence may never be the same. I so wish to learn Bengali so that I can read some of my fav works in their original form.

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    1. I have always wanted to learn Bengali too .. Its such a sweet tongue and how wonderful would Tagore sound in the original !

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  3. Like like....

    http://capturedalive.wordpress.com/2013/04/23/tree-tragedy/

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  4. Good to see someone with passion for Translation, I agree its a high level skill. I gather you are in Delhi; Mumbai is more organised in these matters. Some of the things I have written commercially have been translated into 36+ languages (don't ask me which ones!). And, of course, songs/ jingles are routinely translated/ dubbed in dozen plus languages. Can help if you want.

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    1. welcome here and thanks for the offer !

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  5. wow- the magic of translation; loved reading it ruchira

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  6. I'm very fascinated by what you are doing! And totally agree it is not an easy job! Read a couple of translated Indian authors and it was v. bad. Great post.

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    1. When the translation is bad the whole fun in reading the book is gone !

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  7. You did your masters in Japanese? How cool is that??
    Charmed endlessly by your literary prowess and the sound of your ethnic wardrobe :)

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  8. Ohio gozaimas. I know two words in Japanese and I plan to show off. I agree with you. Translation is a very difficult job. I sometimes attempt it with Spanish. I find it very amazing that we have so many things in common. We both love books, and now I come to know that we both love creative writing and language learning. Now time for my second Jap word. Arigato gozaimas.

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    1. Ohayo gozaimasu !
      I didnt knwo you know spanish .. I know a smattering myself - hola, como estats :P

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  9. My husband does translations as a hobby. He has told me how difficult it is to translated from Kannada to english itself. I can imagine the complexity of translating from Japanese to english.
    We live in CZech republic. My husband is planning to translate czech stories directly to Kannada. Have to wait and see when he will finish that project.:-)
    If you can find this book called 'dots and lines' a translation of Jayant Kaikini short stories, my husband has translated 2 stories in there. His name is N.S Kiran :-)

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    1. wow - A kindred soul ! Would definitely look up this book !

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  10. Translation in an art because the most brilliant original work is useless to the end consumer who reads the translated version. Translation allows us to partake of stories and literature from other languages. And Japanese is so fascinating.

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    1. Translation is definitely an art and literary translation is one of the most difficult creative things to do !

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  11. Techical am asuming is easier cause the words there need not make ur imagination fly, ther eis nothing more there than that meets the eye while its jus the opp in any literature...

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    1. Yes technical in a way is easier !

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  12. Translation? That too Japanese? How cool is that :) :)
    Its true, when machines translate, the soul of the work is lost, I so admire you for what you do.

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    1. Thank you :P Its interesting work !

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  13. Well said, translation is not about words. It’s about what the words are about. If a translation is not right, it gives a different perspective to the original work. Must say you have a cool job! :)

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    1. Shilpa, I hardly translate now, more of client management. But I would love to go back to literary translations anytime !

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  14. I am with you when you say translation is not only replacing words. It is so much more. :)May you get to work on a literary level super soon.. GOod Luck

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  15. I'm impressed. Japanese is not an easy language to learn I would imagine. I hope you'll soon get a chance to move out of the nerdy space into the more creative translations.

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    1. Its not easy but it sure is fun ! I hope so too !

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  16. Translation is defntly not an easy job !! Translators do have demand. They r rare I guess. I read a book in which the protagonist is a translator . Travels a lot and gets well paid by various client . I used to dream my self in that role ! How ever M stuck in IT like U
    Good u atleast follow ur passions of learning languages.
    I want to learn French and even URDU properly :)
    good day

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    1. I would love to learn Urdu and French one day !

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  17. I like your passions, I know 5 languages myself and in situations they have been helpful too.
    T is for travel which too is your passion I believe. :)

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    1. Five wow ! Which ones ? Yes true, travelling is a passion with me too :P

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  18. WOW, you have done Masters in Japanese, that's amazing. Even I thought translation is converting each word/sentence into its equivalent in other language but when I met Liesl Schillinger (She writes book reviews for NY Times and specializes in Russian), I came to know what goes into this work. She was reviewing the translated version of 'Happy Moscow' that time and Boy! I am amazed.

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  19. Am not good at learning languages...even if I am aware of some words/phrases, I am self-conscious to use them. Translation is not easy and you are doing an enviable job.

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  20. Nice to hear about your passion for translation, thanks for sharing !~

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  21. Ruchira, My daughter is a true Japanese fan. She learnt the language online and had bought a dictionary when she was still in school. She is studying law now but she dreams of going to Japan and living there. She has taught me a few words, attempting a couple here 'Koni Chiva' :)
    Did I get them right?

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  22. I've heard Japanese is touch language to learn. And to master and be a translator itself is a great achievement! Translation is very difficult, I agree. When I learnt German, I tried to translate every word of English into German, and it was very difficult. And the sentence would lose it's actual essence, unless right words are used.

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  23. So very interesting to find out about what you do, Ruchira! I guess the bright side is that you would be comfortable in pretty much any country you travel to!

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  24. Wishing for you that you go back to what you really love and making a difference through that.

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  25. Wow! Your jhola-wala fashion sense, love for Khadi, and now this.. I'm completely floored!

    The only connection I have with Japan are Haruki Murakami, Memoirs of Geisha book/movie, Anime movies, Manga ( I draw them too)! And wait, I used to watch a serial in DD - Oshin as a kid, I loved the kimonos back then, still do!

    I love learning new languages too. I learnt French in my college summers, now trying to teach myself Korean from Live MOcha

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  26. The art of translation, especially translating literature is a difficult one. You need to take care of both the lingual and cultural nuances in such a way that the reader feels he is reading the original and not a translation.


    and thats why I try to read originals. :) if necessary along with translation. :)

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  27. Love your passion for languages, it shows in the post!

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  28. Thank you for introducing Yasunari Kawabata. I have bookmarked three of his novels in my wishlist.

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  29. Thanks for this excellent post. It will really help a lot of people.

    Technical Language Translation

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