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Graphic by Naseem ur Rehman

Perhaps, there is no need to restate that translations are important. A lot of literature has always been read in translations and that’s how the universality of literature is established for readers across cultures. In fact, translations are now taken for granted by the readers; when actually there is so much that is lost and gained in the process. Besides, no two translations of the same text are similar.

So what is it that compels a translator to pick a text or a poem and what is the process like? What are the nuances of language, the cultural perspective and how faithfully is it then interpreted to be transferred into another language.

And what about poetry? Can it even be translated? Language which is more solid in the case of fiction — “with characters, situations, events and real things” — becomes a lot more elusive in poetry, says Nasir Abbas Nayyar in his article for our Special Report today. He also refers to the multitude of possibilities it offers — “from political use of text to cultural dialogue to canonisation”. And then there are other things like the literary tradition and rhythm of one particular language that are crucial in translation of poetry.

Read also: Literature in Translation

We at The News on Sunday are more concerned about our own context; hence translations from literature of other languages into Urdu and vice versa have been dealt at length in today’s report. The other matter which interests us is regional literature and how we have fared regarding translations there. What we haven’t focused on, among other things, is the rich Sindhi language which readily absorbs literature of other languages and all the impressive work done in that language regarding literary translations.


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