Nuances of Translation

In the modern world patronage has emerged as a dominant factor in deciding the shape and future of translation. The publishing houses, universities and funding agencies extend patronage to translators. It is they who determine the parameters of what is translated, just as they fix para meters of what is published. This in turn logically leads to the crucial role played by the audience. It is very well known that the nature of audience determines the norms and strategies of translation. In a multilingual nation like India translations are rendered for the audience within the country and outside. English with its historical and cultural reference to India is best suited for the purpose.

Culture and culture specifies are generally regarded untranslatable. In one culture one is expected to ask a person’s profession. In another it is considered rude to do so. In one society one is judged by the wittiness of conversation over dinner. In the coastal districts of Andhra Pradesh during wedding banquet it was considered a cultured practice to sing songs and recite famous stanzas from classics and stage plays. Now we cannot expect the same kind of response and appreciation for the same.

Thikkavarapu PattabhiRamaReddy transformed Telugu Poetry around 1940s. He joined Calcutta University to study MA literature and took up residence in the dingy rooms of lower Chitpur road in Calcutta. “The din, the squalor and human misery shocked me to the core. The mad commercial activity of the city and the loathsome brothels of Chitpur road where innocence was exploited by avarice, disturbed me greatly. Besides this the gathering war clouds in Europe completely shattered the misty moonlight influence of Tagore. It was the year 1938”, confessed Pattabhi, as he was known subsequently.

All the impressive metaphors he had read in Bhava Kavitvams, Prabandhams and Tagore’s songs suddenly lost all their meaning. At that moment, he found the point of view, rather the angle of attack which subsequently prepared the basis of his book Fidelu Ragala Dozen. He could no longer study in the university and returned to his

native place Nellore. As he himself stated the writers who influenced him profoundly were Sri Sri, Chalam, Arudra,Walt Wittman, Oscar Wilde and Tagore. Albert Einstein too motivated him in different way. Buffoonery, egoism and sex were all part of his arsenal. He shocked the literary world of the time with his daring experimentation by breaking approved norms of versification.He had also translated poems of Rabindranath Tagore, Harindranath Chatopadhyay,Shakespeare, Robert Graves, Herrick, P.B.Shelley among others into Telugu.

Pattabhi was essentially an urban poet. He fused Telugu English words creating a new idiom. As he declared:

“I will follow a modern path;

but romantic poet I am not,I

am an egoist poet” [translated by me]

He received bouquets and brick bats with equanimity. His major work Fidel Ragala Dozen was basically designed to shatter the prevailing practices and shake up the world from a stupor caused by romantic poetry of the times. His penchant for alliteration and end rhyming should not be underestimated. His firm grasp of traditional Telugu prosody alone emboldened him to play with words comfortably to draw caricatures of city life.

His poem ‘Police’ has been translated by B.V.L.Narayana Row titled ‘Police Man” [ in the volume This Tense Time] and V.Kondala Rao titled ‘Police’ [ in his work Poetry Pattabhic] at different points of time. A diachronic analysis is attempted here, in the light of text linguistics. Prof H.Lakshmi of EFLU[ English and Foreign Languages University], Hyderabad complimented me as the first one to attempt diachronic criticism of translated texts two decades ago, when parts of this article were published.. She is my ‘Toli Guruvu’ who taught me how to write articles and literary criticism.


Let us evaluate the works of the two translators, now.

A) Cohesion

In the original text, generally some references, laagaa, antaa, moostaru, are used to glue the expression in the surface level. Most of these are translated competently by B.V.L.Narayana Row as ‘like, ‘all’, ‘like’.

V. Kondala Rao also translates as ‘like’, ‘entire’

NatarshicuuDaamaNilaagaa’ is transalated as

‘like’ the venerable sage of Dance (B.V.L.Narayana Row)

‘like’ the great Natarishi (V. Kondala Rao)

Rahadaari Traphphikkantaa nilcipoowagaaa’ is rendered as:

all traffic to a stop (B.V.L.Narayana Row)

the entire road traffic come to a halt (V. Kondala Rao).

B) Explicitation

Shoshana Blum-Kulka (1986) states “The process of interpretation performed by the translator on the source text might lead to a Target Language (TL) text which is more redundant than the Source Language (SL) text.”

Blum-Kulka’s term ‘explicitation’ can be accounted for the kind of translation process where implicit co-textually recoverable (Source Text) ST material is rendered explicit in

(Target Text) TT.

Critical analysis of the translated texts of the Telugu poem “Police” is attempted here: 

For eg:

NataraaTTu laagaa natamDukuuDaa

Mrityunjaya nrutyambunu

SalpuycunTaaDu satatamu

is translated as:

The Divine Dancer

dancing his conquest of Death [B.V.L.Narayana Row)

Like the Nataraja, who is engaged in an eternal dance

for the life to go on non stop [V. Kondala Rao)

text (ii) is a clear instance of explicitation, keeping the target audience in view.

C) Specification

The term specification refers to shifts involving expansion or substitution.

For eg: Hastaala nandammugaadrippcucu

Eemaa yapuurwa drusyam ?

is rendered as

His arms moving in a flash

are a sight to see

‘His’ is in tune with the ‘Divine Dancer’ mentioned earlier.

(B.V.L.Narayana Row)

What a scenic-scene it is to see him suddenly wave his hands

This side and that verily like a performing dancer

(V. Kondala Rao)

text (ii) is a good example for ‘expansion’.

D) Intentionality and acceptablity

The intention of the poet Pattabhi is very well conveyed in the translated texts V. Kondala Rao states “the poet immortalizes the policeman, the real serviceman who plays his all-busy role in heat and cold.

The poem reminds us of the ‘postman’ of Tilak. “We hardly lend an eye of admiration for the man who is always standing at the cross roads showing the way for the people stranded at the ‘crossroads’, and to him who checks the people who have a tendency to cross the “uncrossable” “says Dr. V. Kodanda Rao in his preface his to his volume “Poetry Pattabhic” (Raagala Dozen).

Here, crossing the uncrossable immediately brings to the Indian readers the ‘Lakshmana Rekha’ of Ramayana and subsequent suffering one has to endure for violating the inviolable.

Perhaps the Western audience and those who know the ‘fall of man’ understand the significance of the limits and the line of demarcation.

The two translated texts competently convey the real intention of the poet in the S.L. Text.

E) Informativity

The SL text is quite informative. There is not a redundant word or expression. It

addresses to any one who seeks a proper and plausible philosophy of life. Hence, it sustains the interest of the audience. They are exhorted to contemplate on the crucial and selfless service rendered by the policeman.

This is very well brought out in the translated texts, sustaining the curiosity and interest of the target audience.

F) Intertextuality

The references to Natarishi, Nataraja and the dance performed to sustain and regulate all human activity as mentioned in the source language text is very well conveyed in the two translated texts. ‘Lakshmana Rekha’, ‘Fall of man’, ‘Dance of Nataraja’ exemplify instances of intertextuality. Translations are aptly rendered.

G) Regulative Principles

As for the regulative principles (efficiency, effectiveness and appropriateness) both the texts (T.T) are adequate and the competence of the translators is highly commendable. Excellent balance is maintained between the efficiency and effectiveness. Both the texts are informative and readable.

Vyanjana” or ‘Vakrokti’ so well portrayed by the SL text is very well translated by B.V.L.Narayana Row. V. Kondala Rao tends to expand and resorts to explicitation to drive home the poet’s view in S.L.

In conclusion it may be stated that translations are highly desirable in multilingual contexts for understanding subcultures and emotional integration of the people. Translation studies assumes greater significance and relevance.

T.S.Chandra Mouli

T.S. Chandramouli

T. S. Chandra Mouli , an academic , poet, translator and critic, is a Fellow of Royal Asiatic Society, Great Britain and Ireland. With 3 books of poems in English to his credit, he published 26 books[19 edited anthologies of literary criticism and 7 authored works]. He completed translation assignments for institutions of higher learning.
His poems in English and translations of Telugu poetry and fiction are extensively published. He is the Chief Editor of VIRTUOSO, a Refereed Transnational Bi-Annual Journal of Language and Literature in English, approved by U.G.C.
Vice Chairman of AESI [Association of English Studies in India] for a second term, Dr Mouli made panel presentations in International Conferences in universities in China, Thailand, Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia,the U.K, France and Sri Lanka.
Email: tscmouli@hotmail.com; Ph:91-9849005304.

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