Unit One: Dr Manjeet Baruah Workbook: Prof. Streamlet Dkhar
Unit Two: Dr Manjeet Baruah
Unit Three: Dr Jagdish Sharma
Unit Four: Dr Sylvanus Lamare
Unit Five: Ms Eudora Khonglah
Unit Six: Ms Esther Jes
Ms Eudora Khonglah
SECRETARIAL SUPPORT Ms. Mebarishisha Kharnaior, IIVET
Mr. Albert Jala, IIVET
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Block Introduction The previous block was a general introduction to various approaches to translation and different uses of translation. This block is focused on translation between English and Khasi languages. The first unit Translating Language and Culture (English-Khasi) will introduce Khasi language and culture and some of the important points to be remembered when translation activities are undertaken between English and Khasi. The unit will also illustrate the important role of translation in the development of Khasi language. After reading the second unit Translation and Education (English-Khasi), you will be able to identify the significance of translation in the education sector, with special focus on Meghalaya. Through a number of case illustrations, the unit will show how proficiency in translation is a major help in the teaching-learning process. There are activities in the unit which can also be conducted as part of classroom teaching to experiment with effective classroom communication. The third unit of the block Translation and Toursim in Meghalaya will show how translation and interpretation proficiency can be a major tool for the development of tourism in Meghalaya. There are also activities which will allow you to practice Khasi to English and English to Khasi translation of tourism related materials.
Unit 4: Translating Language and Culture Structure 4.0 Objectives
4.2 Translation and development of Khasi language
4.2.1 Contribution of John Roberts and others
4.2.2 Khasi as medium of instruction
4.2.3 Contemporary translation activities in Khasi
4.3 A brief introduction to Khasi culture
4.5 Answers to SAQs
4.0 Objectives After reading the unit, you will be able to:
identify the link between translation and development of Khasi language;
describe the role of individual translators in development of Khasi literature; and
list the important contemporary translations in Khasi literature and translations from Khasi literature.
4.1 Introduction What do you understand by the term ‘Khasi’? Does it refer to a community, a race, a language or culture? The term Khasi is in fact, a generic term of the entire Khasi tribe which include ‘Khynriam, Pnar, Bhoi, War, Maram and Lyngngam’. The Khasi tribe is perhaps a unique tribe as it follows the matrilineal system where the children take the surname of the mother and not the father, as is generally the case in other parts of the country. Khasi is also the name used for the language spoken by the population of more than 12 lakhs. The Khasis have their own vibrant culture and way of life which is known as ‘Khasi culture’.
For the purpose of our discussion we shall limit ourselves to two aspects of the Khasis that is, language and culture. Khasi language belongs to the Austro Asiatic family under the Monkhmer group. As stated earlier, the total number of speakers is more than 12 lakhs and it is spoken in the four districts of Meghalaya, namely, East Khasi Hills, West Khasi Hills, Jaintia Hills and Ri Bhoi districts; it is also spoken in parts of Assam, Mizoram and Bangladesh bordering Meghalaya.
4.2 Translation and development of Khasi language It is interesting to note that prior to 1812, the Khasi language was only in a spoken form. It was William Carey, Krishna Pal and Alexander B. Lish who began to write the Khasi language using the Bengali script. William Pryse (1855), recorded the following, “The whole of the New Testament, translated by the Serampore Missionaries, and printed at Serampore in 1831”. The works of Carey was continued by Alexander B. Lish who reached Sohra (Cherrapunjee) in 1832. Lish prepared books in Khasi to be used in the three schools founded by him at Sohra, Mawsmai and Mawmluh. The books were written in Khasi using the Bengali script. In 1833, there were 36 students in the three schools and the prominent names were Duwan Rai, Jungkha and Laithat. In 1834, Lish translated some of the Gospel of Matthew into Khasi. The records of William Pryse say, “A small pamphlet, translated by the late Rev. A. B. Lish, and printed at Serampore in 1836. Title-page: ‘Dr. Watts’s First Catechism for Children, translated into Khasee for the use of the Churra Mission Schools.’ It is printed in the Bengali characters.” Thus, it is clear that the Khasi language in the written form began with the translation of the New Testament, a number of religious literatures all in Bengali script. Though the medium of instruction in schools was Khasi yet the script used was Bengali. Krishna Pal also contributed to Khasi literature because after he left Khasi hills he managed to accumulate a number of Khasi folk tales in the Bengali script. However, the Serampore mission closed all missionary activities in the Khasi hills in 1838.
On 22nd June 1841, Thomas Jones and his wife arrived at Saitsohpen, a military headquarter of the British. The Jones were received by Captain Lewin and other British officers based at Saitsohpen. Thomas Jones was a missionary of the Welsh Calvinistic Methodist Mission from Wales. What surprised the Khasis of Sohra was that it did not take long for Thomas Jones to learn the Khasi language. He spoke to them in their language and they in turn requested him to teach them English for they believed that equipped with knowledge of English language their daily bread is assured. Thomas Jones took advantage of the situation and subsequently abandoned the Bengali script for the Roman scripts which remains in use till today. This earned him the title of “The Father of the Khasi Alphabet”. At the home front, the attempt was met with opposition; however, Dr. Duff, Jacob Tomlin and other older missionaries supported the idea. Thus by 1842, the Khasi language adopted the Roman script for their written form. The first Khasi alphabet in Roman characters as found from the Lord’s Prayer published in 1842 are, A B C D E NG H I J L M N O P R S T U W Y. However, we also found that the letter é and á are used to get a proper pronunciation for the words like mé and máp. There is also mention about the booklet “Ca Citab nyngcong ban hicai pule ci ctin Cassi” which is thought to be the first primer, however, all efforts to trace this book went in vain. Hence, as it stands today, the first Khasi book in Roman characters is what Pryse mentioned in “An Introduction to the Khasia Language” (1855), “The “Mother Gift,” translated by the late Rev. T. Jones, and printed at Calcutta in 1842. Title-page: - “Ka jingai ka kumi ia la ki koon; lane ka jingkuli nungkong ia ki kun kunna ba la shim na ka ktin oo Bloih. It is printed in the Roman character.” William Pryse also wrote, “The Gospel of Matthew, also translated by Mr. Jones, and printed in Calcutta in 1846: title-page, “Ka Gospel jong u Mathi.” This was printed in the Roman character, at the expense of the Calcutta Auxiliary Bible Society.” Thus it is apparent that Khasi as a written language in Roman characters, also started with translation activity.
Other Welsh missionaries who came to Khasi hills also continued the translation work in the form of hymns and other materials. In 1867 Mrs. William Lewis translated John Bunyan’s, “Pilgrim’s Progress” and published it in Khasi as “Ka Jingïaid U Pilgrim”. While William Lewis devoted his time to translate the New Testament into Khasi and published it in 1855. At the same time William Pryse published “An Introduction to the Khassia Language” in 1855, a book which explains the Khasi language with a glossary of words in English at the end of the book. Hugh Roberts translated a number of hymns into Khasi and published them in a book entitled “Ka Kot Jingrwai” in 1876. He also brought out the first biography in Khasi, “Ka Mary Jones” in 1879. He also published a grammar book that is still in use titled “Khasi Grammar A Grammar of the Sub-Himalyan Language” in 1891.
Self Assessment Question 1
Give two examples of the role of translation in the development of the Khasi language in the 19th century.
Note: Your answer should be about 100 words. Please write your answer in blank space given below.
You may check your answer he possible answer given at the end of the unit.
Activity 1: Try to visit your nearby library and look for some of the early translations in Khasi. Try to assess whether the early Khasi were different from contemporary Khasi.
4.3.1 Contribution of John Roberts, Jeebon Roy Mairom and others
Dr. John Roberts, who is considered as “The Father of Khasi Literature” also made a massive contribution to Khasi starting with the translation of the Bible which was completed and published in 1896. He also trancreated Biblical texts to be used as textbooks in school such as “U Abraham”, “U Joseph” which were published in “Khasi Third Reader” (1884) and “U Moses” which was published in “Khasi Fourth Reader” in 1895. He also translated into Khasi “The Vision of Mirza” under the title “Ka Jingithuhpaw u Mirsa”; “Jack and Beanstalk” under the title “U Jak bad u Jintang-bin”. John Roberts also translated some parts of William Shakespeare’s drama “Julius Ceasar” into Khasi under the title “U Julius Kaisar”. John Roberts also revised “Ka Jingïaid U Pilgrim” by Mrs. William Lewis and it was published after his death in 1910. He also had a collection of Khasi words with meanings in English listed at the end of “Khasi Third Reader” and “Khasi Fourth Reader”; he also collected a large number of akin words known in Khasi as “Ktien Kynnoh”. Morkha Joseph a prominent Khasi writer at the time translated a number of christian literature into Khasi which were published in “Ka Ryngkap”.
The Khasis who were non-christians like Jeebon Roy Mairom and his sons Hari Charan Roy Jaitdkhar and Dinonath Roy Jaitdkhar started translating Indian literary texts into Khasi. Jeebon Roy Mairom translated “Ramayana” into Khasi in 1900 under the title “Ka Ramayon”. He also translated “Hit Opodesa I, II, III and IV” and published them under the title “Hit Opodesa” in 1901. Hari Charan Roy did not translate but transcreated the story of Savitri which is found in the Mahabharata into a Khasi drama “Ka Savitri”. Dinonath Roy works such as “U Arbnai”, “U Tipsngi” and “Ka Srommotimai lane ka Hok” which had their origins in Indian literature.
In 1889, the first Khasi newspaper “U Nongkit Khubor” was published and a number of articles were translated from English into Khasi. Later newspapers and monthly magazines such as “U Nongïalam Katholik”, “U Nongphira”, “Ka Pateng Khristan”, “U Nongpynim”, “U ‘Lurshai” and others had a number of writings translated from English into Khasi.
Soso Tham the poet laureate of the Khasis started his translation work with his students when he translated the poem of W. E. Hickson, “Drive the nail aright boy” (Sah beit ïa u prek hep). Soso Tham’s first book was a translation of Aesop’s fables under the title “Ki Phawer u Aesop” published in 1920. Soso Tham translated a number of poems from English into Khasi and one of the prominent one is “John Gilpin”. He also translated Charles Dickens’ “Life of Our Lord” under the title “Ka Jingim U Trai Jong Ngi”.
Now let us see how Khasi became a medium of instruction and a medium of examination till class VI. Although Khasi was used as the medium of instruction it was written down with the help of the Roman script, when students appeared for the upper primary examination they had to write their answers in English. A request to the Sub-inspector of Schools, Jaintia Hills, to allow the Khasi students to present their answers in English in the Upper Primary examination was sent on 8th February 1902. The letter was signed by Hajom Kissor Singh, Soso Tham and Samuel Shalam. The content of the letter is, “Sir, we the undersigned, Headmaster of the two Schools, Jowai M.E. and Shangpung U.P Schools and the Manager of the Unitarian Free School, from which candidates are sent up to the U.P Examination, beg most respectfully to say that our students have suffered much disadvantages from year to year for having questions set and requiring answer to be in English, instead of in their own language, as in the case of Bengalese and Assamese. May we therefore request the favour of your making the following changes in the question papers in future:- (1) That the question in Mental Arithmetic, Needle works and History be in Khasi. (2) That explanation of passages and meanings from the English Text Book may be required to be in English and Khasi half of the marks being allotted to answers in each language.”
The reply to the above letter came on 21st October 1902, where W. Booth, the Director of Public Instruction writes, “... I have the honour to say that I agree with the applicants on all points stated in their application. Children must be taught in their own vernacular to the end of the Upper Primary Standard.” Hajom Kissor Singh was appointed as one of the expert to select the text books to be prescribed for studies in the upper primary level. The fight given by Hajom Kissor Singh, Soso Tham and Samuel Shalam, was unknown to many Khasi educationists yet no mentioned was made to their great contribution in the days when the British were the masters of India. The missionaries gave the Khasis the written language but the Khasis with vision had to fight for their rights in order to get proper recognition of their language.
4.3.3 Contemporary translation activities in Khasi
Translation activity from English into Khasi continued to grow and to fulfill the requirement of upgrading Khasi as an honours subject. F. M. Pugh single handedly translated a number of William Shakespeare’s work into Khasi. Since they were done in a hurry with the sole purpose of fulfilling a need they were considered as poor translation, however, no effort were made to correct them. S. J. Duncan translated Bernard Shaw’s “Androcles and the Lion” into “U Androklis bad u Sing” in 1975. Translation was also done from other languages of the world into Khasi by the Salesians of Don Bosco, such as the life of Namankura from Spanish under the title “Ka Jingim U Namankura”. Spanish and Italian songs which were translated by M. Kahit, T. Resto, H. Elias and others were published in “Ka Sur Syiang” in 1958-59. The Salesians were also responsible for translating a number of plays and dramas from English into Khasi which were acted by members of the Rympei Theatrical Centre (RTC) who were trained by the Salesians in their Sunday activities popularly known as oratory under Brother Mantaro and others. Works of Rabindranath Tagore were translated into Khasi by Esther Nora Lyngdoh Pugh in 1975 and published from Assam.
Other Khasi authors who translated the Indian classics into Khasi were Streamlet Dkhar and L. H. Pde “Ka Mahabharata”; L. H. Pde, “Ka Ramayana”, “Upanishad”, “Bhagawad Gita”. A collection of thirteen short stories translated into Khasi by H. W. Sten, Sylvanus Lamare, Streamlet Dkhar and Artidalin Myrthong. The collection was published by the Sahitya Akademi. Short stories for children in pictorial form were also translated by Kynpham S. Nongkynrih and Sylvanus Lamare. They were published by National Book Trust, India.
Translation of Khasi folk stories, poems and other forms into English and other languages started late. The earliest known translation was found in the book by P. R. T. Gurdon, titled “The Khasis” in 1904. The other collection compiled by S. N. Barkataki titled “Tribal Folk-Tales of Assam (Hills)’’ was published in 1970 by the Publication Board of Assam. A few poems of Soso Tham were translated into English by Oscar M. Wahlang, Kynpham S. Nongkynrih, H. W. Sten and others. Soso Tham’s poems were also translated into Hindi by Jean S. Dkhar. Story on the Peacock and a book “U Ngat Puri” was translated into Hindi and published by the Sahitya Akademi. A few Khasi poems were translated into English and published in the “Anthology of Contemporary Poetry from the Northeast” edited by Kynpham S. Nongkynrih and Robin S. Ngangom. Another book by Kynpham S. Nongkynrih titled “Around the Hearth: Khasi Legends” was published by Penguin, India in 2007.
With the awareness of having Khasi literary works translated into English and other Indian languages some Khasi authors have taken up the task of translating their works but the problem is finding publishers for such translated works. Sahitya Akademi through its different programmes is encouraging Khasi authors to translate their poems and short stories.
Self Assessment Question 3
List the details of two important translated books, translated from Khasi to English and from English to Khasi each.
Note: Your answer should be about 100 words. Please write your answer in blank space given below.
You may check your answer with the possible answer given at the end of the unit.
Let us try to understand who a Khasi is. Understanding this is far from simple as it is linked to so many aspects of the Khasi way of life. A Khasi is one who not only takes the surname from the mother, or who speaks the Khasi language but he has manifold responsibilities as well. He is beset with family, social, religious, cultural and a number of other obligations. He is expected to know his kur (maternal relations) and kha (paternal relations), live and fulfill his duties in his community, own land, keep his traditions, know his rights and earn his livelihood righteously, and, worship an omnipotent and omnipresent God. This explanation is formed after an in- depth analysis of the Khasis and their way of life. The above is what has been accepted and practiced in every Khasi community without any legal sanction.
The definition of culture by E. B. Tylor, says that culture is "that complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, morals, law, custom, and any other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of society" (Tylor 1924 [orig. 1871]:1). While Margaret Mead (1937) wrote, “Culture means the whole complex of traditional behavior which has been developed by the human race and is successively learned by each generation. A culture is less precise. It can mean the forms of traditional behavior which are characteristics of a given society, or of a group of societies, or of a certain race, or of a certain area, or of a certain period of time.” In this paper we will take the definition of Tylor and analyze it part by part.
A Khasi lives very close with his Mother Nature and Nature lives in him. Nature for a Khasi is like a book from where he derives a lot of wisdom. Nature possesses the healing power for all bodily ailments. As a result a Khasi has a clear concept of the value and preservation of sacred forests and grove alike. A Khasi is rich in the indigenous knowledge regarding herbs, hence the popularity of Khasi herbal medicine today. A Khasi is also aware of the usefulness of different minerals like iron, limestones, silimanites etc and how to use them. Nature’s cycles determine the various activities of a Khasi, whether cultural or religious and all work in harmony with it.
The Khasi tribes have different beliefs. God for them is the creator and He is all pervading. Some among them believe in the lesser gods known as ‘dken’. They believe in fairies popularly known as ‘ki puri’. They believe in different evil spirits which manifest themselves in the form of ‘u thlen’, ‘ka taro’, ‘ka bih’, ‘ka lasam’ and others. They also believe in the existence of a diviner or a divine practitioner who can explain perplexing situations and give solutions as well.
As a tribe they have their own indigenous art and it is revealed in the fabric they used for their traditional attires, ornaments, house construction, utensils, bamboo art works, implements used for cultivation and other such artistic work. However, it is to be noted they do not have figures of human or animals as sculptures. To preserve the memories of their ancestor, stones of different shapes and size, like monoliths, are lined up in a specific area. The custom of erecting monoliths to commemorate important events in the society continues even today.
The Khasis are endowed with moral principles. They have their own ethical values which are passed on from one generation to the next. They are told to do good and shun evil, to respect the elders, and to earn righteously. At every stage there are moral principles to be followed and ignoring them will result in automatic rejection by the community. Along with moral values, the Khasis also have their own administrative law which is practiced by the community. Every village has its own headman who administers justice in consultation with the village council known as the ‘Dorbar’. Above him there is the traditional head known as the ‘syiem’ who is guided by the ministers of the kingdom to deliver justice through his court. The ‘syiem’ also collects taxes from the market place and from the subjects who are non-khasis. The Khasis also have a unique land tenure system and the person who takes possession of any land must utilise it and not to keep it as a waste land otherwise it is taken away from him.
The Khasis possess a number of customs, rites and rituals, some, are practiced even by the Khasi converts. These practices begin right from the birth of a child to the day a person passes away. During a marriage ceremony the maternal uncle plays an important role as negotiators. It is also customary for the bride to bear in mind the things she has to carry on her first visit to her mother-in-law’s house. An elaborate naming ceremony of a child takes place where the all important role is demonstrated by the symbols kept during the ceremony. There are also other ceremonies performed as the child grows up. Finally, when a person dies, again an important ceremony is performed in order to bid goodbye to the departed soul, with a hope to meet again along with all the other ancestors in the courtyard of God. It is important to note that, in all the ceremonies of the Khasis, betel nut and betel leaf play an important part.
With education, conversion to Christianity and other factors, Khasi culture in all its richness seemed to be on the brink of almost losing its true colour. However, there is a new consciousness among the people about protecting the traditional and cultural wealth. In fact, a number of organizations which are socio-religious, cultural and even secular like Seng Khasi, Seng Khihlang, Seng Raid, the Hyññiew Trep Cultural Welfare Organisation (HCTWO), and the Rympei Theatrical Centre (RTC) who actively participate in the endeavour to preserve the rich Cultural Heritage of the Khasi people, whose life is by and large devoted to the service of both God and Man.