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History of Translation in India

History of Translation in India
Item Code: NAV910
Author: Tariq Khan
Publisher: Central Institute Of Indian Languages, Mysore
Language: English
Edition: 2017
ISBN: 9788173431890
Pages: 468
Other Details: 8.50 X 5.50 inch

History is not only about the past but also about how the present evolves. Things are inter-related and inclusive in the world. There is no history of a subject but of subjects. History of a language is not only about the language, but also about its culture and the people who speak it. It is for this reason that a historical study is always composite in nature. History of translation is to give an account of what is translated, how it is translated and how it contributes to the development of a language. The study of translation historically is an emerging area of research in the field of Translation Studies. India has many translation traditions that have existed across the ages and have shaped the development of modern Indian languages and literatures. The National Translation Mission intends to add to these traditions, to record them, and create a discourse on translation. In these pursuits, it is heartening to know that NTM has brought out a thematic volume titled the History of Translation in India.

History of Translation in India is a unique collection of articles in Translation Studies. So far there has been no such huge contribution from Indian languages to this evolving field of Translation Studies. This cumulative volume will answer the question of what has happened so far in translation in India. History of translation is never an easy assignment. In India, information on translations in Indian languages has not been documented yet. The National Translation Mission (NTM) has been working towards the preparation of bibliographic records of translations in Indian languages. Apart from the knowledge text translation, NTM is also working for research in the field of Translation Studies. Hence, this book is a well-researched and well-thought endeavour of the NTM to disseminate and strengthen the knowledge in the field of translation. I hope the book will attract and benefit both translation theorists and practitioners.


Translation and interpretation have existed for a very long time, probably as long as the human language itself. These pursuits of communication have not only existed for long but have also thrived through diverse cultures and traditions. Therefore, an endeavour like History of Translation perhaps requires no justification. In that perspective, this introduction is mostly customary and slightly facilitative in gaining a bird sight view of the intellectual contents of this book. I am happy to present History of Translation in India, a commingling of translation practices across languages, across cultures and across timescales. This book is an anthology in disguise, attempting to present a coherent account of beginning and advancement of translation in some languages with special reference to the Indian context.

Though there is not enough writing available on the translation activities that have existed in the past in India, the case of translation here is highly intriguing. The history of translation in India is intriguing for several reasons, the most salient among them is the linguistic and literary richness that have sustained here for ages. It is a common understanding that India has been a land of linguistic diversity and distinguished literary traditions. This characteristic of India is undebatable. However, it is also important to note that translation has played a pivotal role in sustaining the linguistic and literary richness in India. The pluralities of language and culture contribute to India’s richness, on the one hand, however, on the other hand, especially with respect to documentation, they pose an intellectual challenge of a kind. The languages here embody identifiably distinct and understandably compatible traditions of writing and translation so much so that it is difficult to decide where to begin, and it is difficult to determine what language not to include in a limited time frame. In addition, a single volume also has to delimitate its scope somewhere.

From the disciplinary perspective, the following points are worth consideration:

(a) If we can record the intellectual experiences of our earlier thinkers on translation, then only we can strengthen the discipline of Translation Studies in India. To answer the question of translation theory in India, one has to build upon what has happened so far in India.

(b) It would be wrong to assume that the literature in any language can thrive without getting translated into and /or without receiving translations from the literatures of other languages. Therefore, the history of translation in any language also presents an informal history of the literature of that language.

(c) Arguably, the translation activities in some languages received higher patronage than others. Consequently, the written materials in some languages grew more than others.

(d) Translation has served as the custodian of tremendous resources of the civilisation and literacy, and in turn it has facilitated them some sort of immortality.

(e) As an academic exercise the history of translation is not simply an account of translation from one language to another. Rather, it is a description of what, how and why something is translated.

The idea of a thematic volume has been doing the rounds at the National Translation Mission for quite some time. The Project Advisory Committee for NTM also appreciated this initiative and maintained that the Mission should bring out thematic volumes regularly. Several scholars directly associated with the Mission as well as assisting it externally have emphasised on the necessity of it. However, it could take off only now. For the purpose, we shortlisted some relevant articles published in the Translation Today and then invited papers from scholars of repute. The response was better than we expected as the contributors transformed our request into a vibrant canvas. There are two dimensions to the task undertaken by each author. On the one hand, it looks quite easy for the fact that there was something to refer to and work upon. On the other hand, it turns out to be a Herculean task for there is so much and so diverse to express in the form of a crisp paper. Our esteemed readers will notice that the contributors of this volume have succeeded in achieving that.

An obvious shortcoming of this volume is the absence of oral traditions. It is beyond doubt that a different set of resources and references would be required to address this shortcoming. Needless to say, another thematic volume is in the offing, andhopefully, that will make up for this shortcoming.

T. Vijay Kumar analyses the history of translation in Telugu and its role in the making of Telugu language and literature. Ramesh C. Malik and Panchanan Mohanty theorise the colonial translation history of Odia descriptively. They have studied the history of translation in Colonial Odisha from socio-religious, political, educational, linguistic, and economic issues of colonial Odisha. Avadhesh Kumar Singh studies the translational practices in different periods in Hindi literature. Sushant Kumar Mishra writes about translation in Maithili. Maya Pandit describes how translation culture in Marathi was pushed from a central literary polysystem to a peripheral position. K. M. Sheriff analyses the roles of translations from European languages into Malayalam in the making of modern Malayalam prose and fiction. V. B. Tharakeshwar examines two assumptions in the context of pre-colonial translation practices in Kannada; one how was translation seen as empowering the yernaculars to become literary languages, two how Sanskrit high texts were made available in vernaculars so that the texts were accessible to the people who were earlier kept away from these texts. In another paper, Tharakeswar puts forth the idea of going beyond binaries such as Western/Indian, colonial /indigenous, Kannada/ Sanskrit while theorising the pre-colonial notion of translation and he views that one should study earlier texts in the socio-political space. T. 5. Satyanath studies medieval Kannada literature while analysing various modes of telling and rendering. He discusses the strategies used by the medieval Kannada writers to reproduce texts which are radically different from the source texts. Govinda Raj Bhattarai gives a brief survey of translation in Nepali. Priyadarshi Patnaik compares Sanskrit Bhagabat and Odia Bhagabat and analyses the variations between them and tries to explore the becoming of translation in pre-colonial days. Aditya Kumar Panda surveys translations into Odia historically from Sanskrit and English. Biswadip Gogoi gives an account of translation in Assamese historically. Debendra K. Das and Dipti Ranjan Pattanaik attempt to give the readers a cultural history of Odisha by examining the translated texts in Medieval Odisha. Sudesh Manger studies translations from English to Nepali and its influence on Nepali literature. Mrinmoy Pramanick recounts the history of culture and intelligentsia of the 18th and 19th century around Bottola, commercial space for books and describes how it offers an alternative voice to urban colonial Bhadrolok culture. P. Ranjit observes English to Malayalam translations in periodicals at the beginning of the 20th century. Nilufar Khodjaeva describes the historical evolution of translations from Indian literatures into Uzbek. Finally, Anil Thakur offers a history of machine translation in this country.

As stated earlier, the history of translation is natural and a volume comprising papers focussing on specific languages and literatures is natural too. The present book is a coming together of scholarships on an array of issues pertinent to language, literature, culture and translation, and I am happy to note that it also contains a paper on the History of Machine Translation in India. This article is a distinct characteristic of this volume. I must admit that authors of established credentials have put in considerable efforts and their best foot forward in illuminating the critical and scholarly works that have constituted the mainstay of some principal languages of India. Therefore, it was a privilege to edit this volume, and now it is a pleasure to present it for the general consumption and academic utility in Translation Studies. I sincerely hope that this book would generate a good response among the readers. The readers would be delighted to know that Anthony Pym and Jeremy Munday have appreciated this endeavour and have complimented the National Translation Mission for it. A text with historical underpinnings is often attracts the metaphor of a journey. In the same breadth, the readers may now unwind in an eventful and illuminating journey. Bon voyage.

­**Contents and Sample Pages**

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