Appreciation Programme in English-Khasi Translation



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1.6 Summary

In this unit, we first went through the role of translation in the development of Khasi language and literature. We discussed the role of some of the major writers and translators who were Khasis, as well as Christian missionaries and some non-Khasi. We also listed some of the contemporary translations. These translations have been from both English to Khasi and Khasi to English. Through the translations, Khasi literature has reached a global readership. The unit also carried a brief outline of Khasi culture. From the outline, you will be able to see the issues involved in understanding Khasi language, culture and its folk traditions. The outline should help translators in getting a glimpse of the cultural background when translating Khasi literature.



1.7 Readings and further references

Mead, Margaret

Tylor 1924

1.8 Answers to SAQs

Answer to SAQ 1: See section 1.3

Answer to SAQ 2: See section 1.3.1

Answer to SAQ 3: See section 1.3. 3



UNIT 5: Translation and Education (English-Khasi)
Structure

5.0 Introduction

5.1 Use of translation in education in Meghalaya

5.2 Translating education texts

5.3 Use of translation in classroom teaching

5.4 How to make classroom teaching more exciting through translation exercises among learners

5.5 How translation skill can help enhance teaching learning outcomes

5.6 Some frequently faced problems in communicating knowledge in classrooms etc

5.7 Summary

5.8 Self-Assessment Questions:

5.8.1 Self-Assessment question 1

5 nos. of Match the following questions

5.8.2 Self-Assessment Question 2

5 items of True or False questions

5.8.3 Self-Assessment question 3

5 items of Fill in the blanks questions

5.9 Terminal Questions

5.10 Answers to Terminal Questions



5.11 References and Further Readings
5.0 Introduction
Although you must be aware of the history of the Khasi language (Unit-4), let us quickly look at the beginnings of Khasi literature, in the written form. The Khasi Pnars first came in contact with the British in the latter half of the 18th Century, sometime in 1771. Till the advent of the missionaries, the relations with the British were mostly political and commercial. It was the missionaries who, with their educational, medical and proselytizing mission gradually converted more and more Khasis not only to Christianity, but to a way of life imitating the modes and manners of the West.
The first Indian convert Krishna Chandra Paul became the first missionary to the Khasi Pnars. Around 1813 he succeeded in converting seven local people, two of them being Khasi. William Carey took keen interest in preaching the Christian doctrines among the Khasis and proposed to translate the Bible into Khasi in the Bengali script. Rev. Alexander B. Lish of the Baptist Mission from Serampore served from 1832 to 1838 and opened three Elementary schools at Cherra, Mawmluh and Mawsmai before abandoning its field of work. Rev. Lish also translated the gospel of St. Matthews into Khasi using the Bengali script, as the Khasis till then were without a script.
When the Welsh Presbyterian Church sent Rev. Thomas Jones and his wife to settle in Cherrapunjee to work amongst the Khasi Pnars in 1841, they saw the advantage of using the Roman script and did so discarding the Bengali script. The same year, the couple published the First Khasi Primer (Ka Kitab Ba Nyngkong, 1846) and another Khasi book, Ka Kot Tikir (Christian Catechism, 1845). In 1846, Ka Gospel U Mathaios (The Gospel of St. Matthew) was published. Other translated works by Thomas Jones included a translation of ‘A Mother’s Gift’ (1842) & A Father’s Gift by Welsh Rhodd Mam. Since Thomas Jones was able to reduce Khasi to writing he is considered as the ‘Father of Khasi Alphabets’. Succeeding missionaries like Dr. John Roberts continued the task of translation of religious and other books, used in school and church in particular. Dr John Roberts translated Bunyan’s, Pilgrim’s Progress and The Psalm of Life; a small Scriptural Catechism by Rev. W. Lewis (1848), a small Hymn book was compiled by Lewis (1850). The whole Bible was completely translated in 1891. The not-so religious books were William Pryse’s, Khasi Grammar (1859) and Hugh Robert’s Anglo-Khasi Dictionary (1870), John Robert’s Khasi Grammar and Khasi First Reader I-IV. The present system of spelling of Khasi is largely a legacy of the contributions of the early Welsh missionaries.

Dr. John Roberts laid the foundation of Khasi literature and earned the title of the Father of Khasi Literature. New schools were subsequently opened at Jowai and Sohbar. By the end of 1857, the total number of schools in the Khasi and Jaintia Hills was sixteen.
However it is interesting to note that Thomas Jones, after the death of his wife in 1845, realized that barring their want of written literature, the Khasi-Pnars were not savages at all but very cultured and highly civilized people. Therefore to say that the ‘education’ of the Khasi-Pnars began with the adoption of the Roman/Bengali script or the translation of the New Testament or the opening of elementary schools may be misleading. However, we cannot but agree with D.E. Pollard when he states: ‘it could be that the foreign literature they were reading in translation was more of an inspiration than the native literature: that it played a more positive role in shaping minds, in creating expectations, setting goals and delineating role models’. This statement rings true regarding the role of translation in education in Meghalaya, as we shall soon discover in the following sections.
In the last decade of the 19th century, when the Khasis were on the verge of losing their identity, men like U Babu Jeebon Roy, U Radhon Singh Berry, U Rabon Sing, U Nissor Singh and others marked the beginning of a fruitful period in the history of Khasi literature and contributed to the growth of the Khasi language. Radhon Singh Berrry along with Rabon Singh Suka and Jeebon Roy Mairom were responsible for perfecting the written Khasi language. After the British missionaries had introduced the Roman Alphabet in 1841, they kept the pronunciation intact and completed the alphabet by adding the letters ñ and ng and dropping the letters c, z, f, v, x and q. There are now 23 letters in the Khasi alphabet a, b, k, d, e, g, ng, h, i. ї, j, l, m, n, ñ, o, p, r, s, t, u, w, y. U Babu Jeebon Roy published the First Khasi Reader ‘Ka Kitab Pule Nyngkong’ in 1899, in which he and Radhon Singh Berry introduced the complete alphabet and correct spellings for the first time ever.
5.1 Use of translation in education in Meghalaya
Translation and education gained further impetus after U Babu Jeebon Roy (1838-1903) a man of great vision, observed that the books by the missionaries were about the great men of the West, their thoughts and deeds; or translations from the Bible and other books on Christian religion or some works in praise of the West. He saw that if the Khasi Pnars were to forge ahead they should be given higher education. It was through his tireless efforts that the first Entrance School was established in Shillong to give the Khasi youths an opportunity to enter the portals of higher education. He saw the danger of cultural suicide in the blind following of the West and therefore took steps to write books in Khasi to remind the Khasis of their great past, to acquaint them with their own history and familiarize them with their own noble traditions as well. He wrote a booklet on the Khasi Religion, as well as Readers for Schools. He believed that their education would be incomplete if the Khasi Pnars were not informed of the great Indian thoughts contained in the Indian Classics.
Familiar with not only English but also with Bengali and Sanskrit, he translated the Ramayana, the Hitopaedesha and the Buddha Deb Charitan into Khasi. He also wrote the Life of Chaitanya and the History of India in Khasi. He was convinced that the spread of education would be of little avail if reading materials were not within easy reach of the people. So he started the Ri Khasi Press in 1896 in order to develop the vernacular language and published books which may serve the general readers as well.
Thus the seed of modern Khasi Society sown by Rev. Lish and nurtured by Thomas Jones and others sprouted into a seedling, yet the Father of Modern Khasi is none other than U Babu Jeebon Roy. Babu Jeebon Roy laid the foundation of education for the Khasi Pnars in the true sense of the term, though he himself had very little schooling, yet he has been regarded as an educated man, being an autodidact and a self-taught man. His ideal of an educated Khasi is that an educated Khasi should be a broadminded person with a larger outlook on life. As Jiddu Krishnamurthy (1894-1986) says in his essay on, ‘The Function of Education’: “Not to imitate but to discover – that is education, is it not?”

Dr. Bhupen Hazarika, a prominent Assamese musician and film director says that, ‘Even though in the 19th Century Khasi writers Rev. Morkha Joseph Chyne, S.M. Amjad Ali and Dr. John Roberts advanced the Khasi literature to a great extent, but nobody touched the boundary of epic poetry till the arrival of U Soso Tham (1873-1940). 1930 to 1970 can be seen as the golden era of modern Khasi literature when the writers and poets like Radhon Singh Berry, Soso Tham, D. Wahlang, Rev. H. Elias, B.Thangkhiew, Primrose Gatphoh, Victor G. Bareh, F. M. Pugh, D. S. Khongdup, S. J. Duncan, O. M. Wahlang, W. D Jyrwa, B. R. Kharlukhi and many others placed Khasi Literature on a high altar.
With the substantial growth in the number of literates, there was also a rise in the number of books written. Khasi, no doubt was the ripiest among all the Mon-Khmer linguistic groups. Many of these books were considered of sufficient merit to be used as text-books and Khasi thus became the first tribal language in North-Eastern India to be recognized for High Schools. The first recognition was in 1900. By 1961, Khasi was recognized as a Major Language by the University of Gauhati which had assumed the authority of the Calcutta University in higher education in North Eastern India. Early in 1976, Khasi was given recognition as an Honours subject and there is a plan to include it as a paper for a subject of Comparative Studies in Languages & Literature at the post-graduate level.
5.2 Translating education texts
Prof. Radhon Singh Lyngdoh of Meghalaya says, ‘The name of Soso Tham rests on the highest pinnacle among the literary towers’. Soso Tham has to his credit his first published work, Ki Phawer u Aesop (1920), Ka Duitara Ksiar (The Golden Harp,1925) comprising 46 short poems, including lyrics, ballads, nursery rhymes and 14 translations of various English poets; and Ki Sngi Barim U Hynniew Trep (The Golden Days of U Hynniew Trep, 1936) containing 181 six-line stanzas is considered a bright star in the Indian literary sky.
It is interesting to note that Soso Tham began his literary activity with both translating and transcreating. It is when translation is taken a stage further that transcreation comes into play. Transcreation is the new buzz word for translation. The idea is taking the same concept in one language and completely recreating it in another language. It requires rigor and effort, the resultant copy therefore connects emotionally with the regional target group. For example, with translation, words such as ‘faithful’ and ‘accurate’ are normally used to describe the quality. But with transcreation, one should think more along the lines of ‘creative’, ‘original’ and ‘bold’. The goal of transcreation isn’t to say the same thing in another language; the aim of the game with transcreation is to get the same reaction in each language, something that translation in itself won’t be able to achieve.

In order to raise the moral awareness of his people, Soso Tham transcreated Aesop’s Fables (620BC), 210 of the 377 short narratives typically with animals as characters, conveying a moral designed to apply to humans as well. In all his wisdom, Soso Tham was able to go beyond the text itself to deconstruct on an intra-textual level and decode on a referential level- assessing culture-specific items, idiom and figurative language to achieve an understanding of the source text and embark upon creating a translation which not only transfers what words mean in a given context, but also recreates the impact of the original text within the limits of the translator’s own language system. Today Ki Phawer U Aesop remains the most quoted book in Khasi society and has been reprinted nineteen times since its publication in 1920.


In the 20th Century, therefore, the translator is respected as a creative writer who gives his own interpretation of a literary work in a medium which is similar to but different from that of the original, though the original writer is still at the centre.
It took Soso Tham three long years to translate his first poem which was a nursery rhyme in 1922, Drive the Nail Aright by W.E. Hickson. He wanted to teach his students something new and perhaps the idea that the poem would affect so many people in their attitude towards life never even crossed his mind. Yet the foreign literature they were reading in translation was more of an inspiration than the native literature, it played a more positive role in shaping minds, in creating expectations, setting goals – these words echo what D.E. Pollard says in the introduction. When we think about the power of translated works, our mind becomes ignited to do justice to a piece of work and any exercise that accompanies this course will become more exciting as we are no longer ‘condemned to the sounds of our own voices’ (B. Hariharan) but our role changes to active agents breaking down the invisible barrier called language, at the same time open new avenues towards progress. As E. S. Bates says “Nothing can progress without translation”.
Let us ask ourselves ‘why did it take three years for the Poet Laureate of the Khasi people to translate a nursery rhyme?’ Perhaps the answer can be explicitly understood when we place the two poems side by side and realize that they have a lot in common:

  1. Both poems are written in four-line stanzas

  2. Both the 1st and 3rd lines of each stanza contain six syllables

  3. Both have five syllables in the 2nd and 4th lines of each stanza

  4. Both the 1st stanza is repeated as a refrain at the end.

  5. The rhyme scheme have similar pattern: abab, acac, adad, aeae, & abab

Drive the nail aright, boys Sah beit ha u prek, hep

Hit it on the head; Ai na shata dar;

Strike with all your might, boys Tangon eh tai-tai, hep

While the irons red. Myndang saw u nar.

When you’ve work to do , boys Man ba trei jingtrei, hep,

Do it with a will; Naduh mynsiem trei;

They who reach the top, boys, Ki ban poi sha kliar, hep,

First must climb the hill. Ban kiew lum ki dei.
Standing at the foot, boys, Phai ka khmat shaneng , hep,

Looking at the sky; Sdang naduh bas dang;

How can you get up, boys, Kumno phin poi kliar hep,

If you never try? La phim da pyrshang?


Though you stumble oft, boys La jynthut bunsien, hep,

Never be downcast; Wat ju tieng ne kyiuh;

Try and try again, boys, Pyrshang iai pyrshang, hep

You will win at last. Phin jop hi khadduh.


Drive the nail aright, boys Sah beit ia u prek, hep,

Hit it on the head; Ai na shata dar;

Strike with all your might, boys Tangon eh tai-tai, hep

While the irons red, Myndang saw u nar,



Drive the Nail aright. Sah beit ia u Prek.
This poem proved to be a spring board after which Soso Tham threw himself into translation and translated ten other English poems into Khasi. He was the first poet to initiate secular literature with diction, both singular and genuine. U Soso Tham’s genius lay in his telling use of Khasi idioms which imparted to even translations of such mundane rhymes as ‘Drive the Nail Aright’, a new look. He was not one to be bound by the form of the original pieces which he took up for translation. This boldness of approach is clearly seen in, for example, his translation of Cowper’s ‘John Gilpin’, where he did not hesitate to use a non-Khasi phrase if that served his purpose and conveyed, as he wished, a sense of desperate urgency. Thus a translation is often the product not only of inspiration but also determination. Once given birth, translations acquire a life of its own and abandon their home base and attempt to invade new territories where other socio-cultural norms prevail. The translator’s duty is to provide a lively version of an original work, so that, he is able to create a strong aesthetic impact on his readers. This is perhaps the right approach to translation.
5.3 Use of translation in classroom teaching
For teachers who plan to use translation in the class room, the following guidelines are to be kept in mind:

  • Translation is most feasible when the whole class speaks the same language. A teacher has to understand that multilingual classrooms are not ideal for any kind of translation.

  • Teachers must learn Error Analysis in order to identify, classify and explain the learner’s errors. Error is different from mistakes as the term ‘error’ refers to the systematic errors of the learner. Error is an inevitable part of the learning process and should be tolerated. In most cases, errors are due to inadequate exposure to the second language. Learners with different socio-cultural and psychological backgrounds make different types of errors. Learning of a language is a dynamic process, learners are guided and directed by teachers, and teachers learn from learners errors. There is a shift from teaching to learning.

  • Teachers are able to alter and adjust attitudes, methods and techniques to suit the level and capability of learner. Learners come from different backgrounds; possess different styles and academic levels.

  • Teachers should limit error correction. More focus should be on what’s right rather than on what’s wrong in order to avoid negative effect on learner’s motivation.

  • The teacher should go beyond focusing on the correct answer and call attention to “the way language is used to convey meaning, and the strategies he can use to recover meaning from the text”.

  • The purpose of translation is to help learners develop their knowledge of English. It is a means to an end not an end to be achieved. However some learners may become translators and the basic knowledge they have gained in the classroom can serve as a solid ground for building up translation skills.

  • Translation is an activity leading to discussions and reflections since there is not a single correct answer, and in the classroom it promotes three essential qualities in the language learning process: accuracy, clarity and flexibility.

  • We should use translation in the classroom to promote language learning, to raise language awareness and to develop student’s autonomy.


5.4 How to make classroom teaching more exciting through translation exercises among learners
Alan Duff (1989) says teachers and students now use translation to learn, rather than learning translation. Translation was the basis of language teaching for a very long time. It was a key element of the Grammar Translation Method. In order to make classroom teaching more exciting through translation exercises, the following strategy may be observed:


  1. Translation requires a motivated class. Translation activities must create a desire for communication. The activities must stimulate and encourage the students to be creative and contribute their ideas.

  2. The teacher needs to have a sophisticated knowledge of both the first language (L1) and first language (L1) culture.

  3. The teacher must be as good as and better than the learners to manage translation activity.

  4. If properly designed, translation activities in the classroom can practice the four skills (speaking, writing, listening & reading) and develop accuracy, clarity and flexibility in terms of communicative competence.

  5. Translation is by its nature a highly communicative activity: the challenge is to make sure that the content being communicated is relevant and that we exploit all possibilities for communication during the activity.

  6. Translation in groups can encourage learners to discuss the meaning and use of language at the deepest possible levels as they work through the process of understanding then looking for equivalents in another language.

  7. Translation uses authentic materials. Students respond to relevant materials from the real world and with translation, teachers have an opportunity to select the most appropriate types of text.

  8. Translation is interactive. It does not have to be a solitary activity. It can provide communication through classroom discussion with the teacher and among students through group work and peer correction. Learners should be focused on what they are saying rather than how they are saying it.

  9. Translation is learner-centered. The learner-centered classroom is essential for effective teaching. Motivated students have input into the selection of materials and the design of the activities. The teacher allows for questions and feedback as students negotiate the meaning of language.

  10. Learners can also work on translating different sections of a text and regroup to connect their parts into a full text, with suitable connecting language.

  11. Learners can bring in short texts/proverbs/poems and present them to the class, explaining why they like them. These are then used for translation.

  12. Learners work in groups on short texts then regroup and compare their versions before producing a final text. This can be compared with an ‘official’ published version. Learners translate; then other learners back translate, then compare versions and discuss why there are differences.

  13. Another type of activity is the Word Order and Reference, since when we translate, it is of utmost importance to know not only what we want to say but also what is the correct order, as this can make a great deal of difference to what we want to say. Sometimes a word out of place can alter its meaning and cause ambiguity.

  14. Learners must be able to work independently of the teacher and determine what they want to say or write.


5.5 How translation skill can enhance teaching learning outcomes
Translation emerged in order to facilitate communication, yet translation skill can be rewarding for both the teacher and the learner in a number of ways:

  1. Through translation activities, teachers can promote interaction among learners since they involve the negotiation of multiple possibilities of form and meaning.

  2. Translation provides learners with the practice and skills necessary to communicate accurately, meaningfully and appropriately.

  3. The practice of translation encourages the reflection on language usage and the exchange of different points of view, raising language awareness.

  4. Translation trains the learner to search (flexibility) for the most appropriate words (accuracy) to convey what is meant (clarity)-Alan Duff.

  5. Translation can be a support for the writing process. Teachers can focus translation activities on highly specific learning aims such as practice of certain vocabulary, grammar, style, register etc. It also lends itself well to work with other tools such as email and class web pages.

  6. For many learners developing skills in translation is a natural and logical part of reaching higher levels, and being able to do this well is highly motivating.

  7. Translation involves other useful exercises to expand the skills of paraphrasing, simplification and/or summarizing not only in the second language (L2), but also in the first language (L1).

  8. By allowing or even inviting students to give different translations to a word, teachers can check comprehension and introduce new vocabulary.

  9. Hans J. Vermeer in his article, “What Does It Mean to Translate?” says ‘There are scientific theories of translation. But human translating remains intuitional’. Thus, translation is conceived more as an art and a skill than as a science. Translation requires great skill and ability and the translator’s work must remain largely spontaneous to retain its charm. A good translator should therefore be an ideal reader besides being an ideal writer. As Douglas Knight says regarding the essential qualities of a translator is: “First, he should himself be an artist”.

  10. Translation gets people in this global village talking to each other and allows each of us to read what the other has written. It also gives us insights into why we find it difficult sometimes to speak to each other and be citizens of the world. It also makes us realize why we like or understand what the other has written.

  11. Translation becomes a window for change. It changes not merely the writers but also the readers. It affects writing styles and even styles of appreciation. Thus translation contributes towards the development of responsible individuals apt to interact in a world of many, different views.



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