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The importance of Literature translation in a country like India

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There are many reasons to prove the importance of Indian literature translation and the latest event of Indian novelist Geetanjali Shree’s Hindi novel Ret Samadhi, which was translated into English as Tomb of Sand by Daisy Rockwell in 2022, proves the point well enough. The novel ultimately received the prestigious International Booker Prize in June 2022. That came at a time when the publishing industry had just witnessed a resurrection in promoting translation. Publishers at that time realized the worth of translations and began to invest in their promotion. So this is a perfect example to showcase the demand for Hindi to English translation services in India.

Conducting a retrospection through the timelines

Even a few years back, many publishers were doubtful about investing money in Indian language translation services in India, claiming the possibility that they would not be appealing to global readers and hence would not be welcomed internationally and ultimately would become a commercial failure. The translation scenario in India has improved, due to the concentrated efforts of various organizations and people. While Indian languages like Malayalam, Tamil, and Bengali have a greater number of translations into other regional languages as well as English; many other languages need ongoing support to bring their literature to the larger audience.  A professional translation agency in India knows well enough that translation is an integral part of the publishing vision as one can’t run their business in the publishing industry in a diverse country like India, which is a multilingual as well as multicultural nation without publishing translation. Recent trends in media publications owing to the emerging technologies and their implications made the regional authors a step ahead in their game. This ultimately brings the captivating literary works to the attention of the people within the nation and beyond.

Is it necessary to translate the vernacular Indian literature?

India has always been a country with a diverse range of languages and cultures. This makes the job of Indian language translation services in India difficult yet interesting. As the nation has a diverse range of languages, with numerous still spoken today, contemporary laws give equitable representation in its constitution, respecting the sentiments of all language speakers. Scrutiny of Indian literature in the last few decades of the nineteenth century and the first few years of the twentieth century exhibit that translation as an art and practice was significantly responsible for its growth. Several Indian authors might have stayed hidden beyond India if it hadn’t been for translation. Just imagine, without the English-translated version of the masterpiece Gitanjali, who would have gauged the potential of Rabindranath Tagore? Translators are identifying the weightage of translations, particularly when it comes to translating not only classics but also modern literature.

A note to all the publishers would be that translating Indian languages or literature into Hindi poses varied challenges significantly about conserving cultural and linguistic idiosyncrasies. Indian languages are filled with metaphysical idioms, expressions, and proverbs that are hard to translate into English however translating these expressions literally can result in a loss of meaning, and the translated works may turn into a complete failure. Another hurdle in translating Indian languages into English is the use of regional dialects and vernacular phrases and words and each region has its dialects.

In recent years we have seen that translation has been played as a ‘Literary Device’. Some writers like Amitav Ghosh, Salman Rushdie, and Arundhati Roy have used translation to incorporate the voices of other cultures and languages into their thoughtful words. A simple example would be Rushdie’s novel- ‘Midnight Children’ which incorporates a mixture of English, Hindi, and Urdu to create a hybrid linguistic and cultural identity that reflects the convolution of post-colonial India. 

Subsequently, most of the Indian writers and scholars have come to the thinking that translation aids in the assimilation of India and the rest of the world. By eliminating linguistic restrictions, writers and publishing houses will have a better platform to showcase their insights, creativity, and perception. It easily opens the door to multiplying a plethora of one’s work and ensuring that it reaches the wider audience who are interested. Ultimately, it not only brings that language to the forefront but also allows the rest of the world to see India from a solitary perspective.