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`Language is in a state of flux'

N.J. NAIR

Mini Krishnan explains why a translator's job is crucial in reaching out to people and cultures.


Every translation will only help bring out the different aspects of a work and make it more popular among readers. MINI KRISHNAN



ACE TRANSLATOR: Mini Krishnan. PHOTO: C. RATHEESH KUMAR

The news that English translations by Indians have come of age and have earned international currency is a matter of delight for every litterateur.

All serious Indian writers can now hope that their creative endeavours would get international attention and be read by the English-speaking community across the world.

The fact sounds more convincing when it comes from an ace translator, Mini Krishnan, who has popularised the works of many noted authors, including O. Chandu Menon's `Indulekha' and also that of M.T. Vasudevan Nair. Pangs of creation

Mini, who was in Thiruvananthapuram recently, says that a translator too would experience the pangs of creation like that of an author. It is more of an art and a real translator is one who can imbibe the soul of a work and recreate it with more poignancy and vigour.

At present Mini is officiating as the translation editor of Oxford University Press in Chennai. Mini relates how painstakingly she interacts between an author and a translator to bring out the best from them. "It is a collaboration of an author, translator and editor that yields the best results. The editor is the resource person," she explains.

The translator should have an emotional and intellectual involvement, a thorough knowledge of the literature and culture and such committed efforts often excel the original works. With an eye for detail, she scans the translations, compares it with the original work and keeps on persuading both the author and the translator till she is convinced that they have risen up to her expectations.

Language is in a state of flux and hence the classics that have stood the test of time in different languages should be translated from time to time to make them acceptable to all generations. For, every translation would only help bring out the different aspects of a work and make it more popular among the readers, she says.

Mother tongue

While acknowledging the power of English as a link language, she stresses the need to give due importance to the mother tongue, especially Malayalam.

People should be thorough with their mother tongue. They should never be deprived of their right to master the mother tongue in the name of ensuring a better career by learning English or other languages. Each language has its own magnificence and it is a window that opens to a new world that informs and enthuses a child, she says. Mini also strongly feels that time is up for the Indian authors to liberate themselves from the colonial mindset. They should realise the inherent strength of Indian literature and that there is nothing inferior about it when compared to others in the world.

A strong proponent of Dalit literature, Mini says that writings of the marginalised sections that reflect their plight should get its place in Indian as well as world literature. Translating their stories that are more closer to earth into English may be an arduous task, but Mini has taken it as her responsibility to bring such works to the limelight. All such attempts were successful too. Many such authors, who were otherwise destined to languish in obscurity for want of patronage, shot to fame and turned popular owing to her firm resolve to help them carve their niche.

Mini's latest project, the `Living in Harmony' series of value education textbooks, is meant for the younger generation. This eight-part series is aimed at inculcating the spirit of secularism and religious plurality among the children and equipping them to brave the threat to the secular fabric of the nation.

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