We need translators for literature! | Daily News

We need translators for literature!

In this multiethnic country, people are lost in rabid nationalism; tend to divide the country for their own benefit in the name of patriotism and political nationalism. But most of such people are not genuine in their pursuit. This is a kind of pseudo-love for the country. It prevents the country to survive and progress materially and culturally.

But not all Lankans, fortunately, fallen into this damning pit. In fact, there are many citizens who genuinely want peace, harmony, unity and love for each other.

By experience I know, the educated and intellectual among them, particularly the writers, artistes, artists, poets, dramatists and others are really interested in knowing the respective cultures of the country.

However, unfortunately, they are not bilingual (at least in Tamil or Sinhala, (if not tri-lingual taking English as an example). Most of the Lankans are monolingual.

If the translation is one way of bridging the gap, we have a few bilingual translators’ bits and pieces of translation of official businesses. They work in Government departments and newspaper institutions and the like. Such translators are maybe strong in one language and not so in the other language.

But to translate literary works from Tamil to Sinhala and from Sinhala to Tamil, we don’t have anyone who knows the language, culture, nuances, of the target language.

In Lanka, a few Sinhala novels and short stories have been translated into Tamil. And in my opinion, most of such translations are far from satisfaction. Similarly, a handful of Tami writing has also been translated into Sinhala. I wonder how it looked like.

The first ever translation of any book I have read was the Tamil translation of Gamperaliya. It was by a Tamil scholar, the late M Uwaise., who belonged to a traditional background. He was not a creative writer. Unfortunately, it was not readable. From that day I stopped reading any creative writing translated into Tamil.

I learn that Kamal, a writer from Dickwella, has translated Sinhala works to Tami. Hemachandra Pathirana, Leelarathna, and few others from Jaffna and Ruhunu Universities have translated a0ne or two Tamil works into Sinhala.

Why has not Lanka produced many Tamil works into Sinhala either buy Sinhala or Tamil translators? And why have not many Sinhala works translated into Tamil?

Why has any government not thought of this lacuna in connecting people through translated works which will help readers understand the mutual cultural traits of our country?

Is Tamil a difficult language for a Sinhalese to understand when many Sinhalese learn difficult foreign languages.

At present, a lot of Muslims and Tamils from the hill country learn in Sinhala medium. Cannot they be groomed as future Tamil translators?

Why cannot the Government set up a separate Department of Translation Methods and actually engage the translators from all communities to translate Lankan Creative Writing? This can come under the preview of the Ministry of Culture.

This would be a positive move towards reconciliation.

Training in Translation methods can be given once a week beginning with grade 8 students.

This kind of skills should be taught in schools and it will be productive in the long run.

Another suggestion is to have a combined Library period for Sinhala and Tamil Medium students for them to know the writers of this country.

While overhauling the Secondary School education system such subjects should be introduced

At the Sinhala-Tamil writers meetings, books in both languages should be introduced and reviewed in both languages,

What happens then to those who know English only and not either Sinhala or Tamil?

For them, Sinhala and Tamil works can be introduced and discussed in a separate session on a weekend class.

Our politicians should look at these possibilities too for real understanding among our communities.

The money and time spent on these matters are worth than spending more periods on well-known subjects.


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