THE ART AND SKILL OF TRANSLATION

 

4.1. HOW THE POET/LYRICIST PUTS IT IN KANNADA

 (1) ಮಿನುಗೆಲೆ ಮಿನುಗೆಲೆ ನಕ್ಷತ್ರ
ನನಗಿದು ಚೋದ್ಯವು ಬಲು ಚಿತ್ರ

ಮಿನುಗೆಲೆ ಮಿನುಗೆಲೆ ನಕ್ಷತ್ರ
twinkle twinkle little star

 

ನನಗಿದು ಚೋದ್ಯವು ಬಲು ಚಿತ್ರ
for me+it wonder very picture

Twinkle twinkle little star
How I wonder what you are.

ಘನ ಗಗನದಿ ಬಲು ದೂರದಲಿ
ಮಿನುಗುವೆ ವಜ್ರಾಕಾರದಲಿ.

ಮೇಲೆ ಎತ್ತರದಲ್ಲಿ ಭೂಮಿ ಬಹಳ ಎತ್ತರದಲ್ಲಿ
up above the world so high

 

ಹಾಗೆ ವಜ್ರ ಆಕಾಶದಲ್ಲಿ
like a diamond in the sky

Like a diamond in the sky,

Note: This is a beautiful rendering in Kannada from English. You can see how much of the liberty enjoyed by the translator has contributed to the success and popularity of this song. A good translator can decide which word or sentence can be translated verbatim, which ones can be tailored and what he can interpolate, and, even, what he can do away with. He has to employ these skills creatively and artistically either it is prose or verse. Note the following examples:

 

 (2)

“Pussy cat, pussy cat, where have you been?”
“I’ve been to London to look at the queen”
“Pussy cat, pussy cat, what did you do there?”
“I frightened a little mouse under her chair”

ಬೆಕ್ಕೆ ಬೆಕ್ಕೆ ಮುದ್ದಿನ ಸೊಕ್ಕೆ ಎಲ್ಲಿಗೆ ಹೋಗಿದ್ದೆ?
ಕರೆದರೂ ಇಲ್ಲ ಹಾಲೂ ಬೆಲ್ಲ ಕಾಯಿಸಿ ಇಟ್ಟಿದ್ದೆ;
ಹೇಳೋ ಕಳ್ಳ ಮುದ್ದಿನ ಮಲ್ಲ
ಮೈಸೂರರಮನೆಗೆ;
ರಾಜನ ಸಂಗಡ ರಾಣಿಯು ಇದ್ದಳು ಅಂತಃಪುರದೊಳಗೆ
ಬೆಕ್ಕೆ ಬೆಕ್ಕೆ ಬೇಗನೆ ಹೇಳೆ ನೋಡಿದ ಆನಂದ
ರಾಣಿಯ ಮಂಚದ ಕೆಳಗೇ ಕಂಡೆನು ಚಿಲಿಪಿಲಿ ಇಲಿಯೊಂದ

Translation of key words:

ಬೆಕ್ಕು (cat) ಮುದ್ದಿನ (of loving) ಸೊಕ್ಕು (pride) ಕರೆದರೂ (even if called) ಇಲ್ಲ (no) ಎಲ್ಲಿಗೆ (where) ಹೋಗಿದ್ದೆ (gone) ಹಾಲು (milk) ಬೆಲ್ಲ (jaggery) ಇಟ್ಟಿದ್ದೆ (kept (I) ) ಹೇಳು (tell) ಕಳ್ಳ (thief (here, term of endearment, sweetnothing) ಮಲ್ಲ (expert, strongman) ಅರಮನೆ (palace) ರಾಜ (king) ರಾಣಿ (queen) ಸಂಗಡ (with) ಅಂತಃಪುರ (harem) ಬೇಗನೆ (fast, quickly) ನೋಡಿದ (seen) ಆನಂದ (happiness) ಮಂಚ (cot) ಕೆಳಗೆ (below) ಕಂಡೆನು (saw) ಚಿಲಿಪಿಲಿ (the noise made by a mouse or a rat, an onomatopoeic word) ಇಲಿ (mouse, rat)

Note: Taking the idea of the ‘Pussy cat rhgyme’, a rhyme much different from the original has been constrcted. The translater has taken only a few words or ideas from the origina, and has added his own ideas. There is no milk or jaggery in the original, and, he has changed ‘London’ to ‘Mysore’ and ‘chair’ to ‘cot’. He has also put in the king, and brought in the idea that the queen and the king were together.

 

(3) HOW THE POET/LYRICIST PUTS IT IN ENGLISH

ನಾಯಿಮರಿ ನಾಯಿಮರಿ ತಿಂಡಿ ಬೇಕೆ?
ತಿಂಡಿ ಬೇಕು ತೀರ್ಥ ಬೇಕು ಎಲ್ಲ ಬೇಕು.
ನಾಯಿಮರಿ ನಿನಗೆ ತಿಂಡಿ ಯಾಕೆ ಬೇಕು?
ತಿಂದು ಗಟ್ಟಿಯಾಗಿ ಮನೆಯ ಕಾಯಬೇಕು
ನಾಯಿಮರಿ ಕಳ್ಳ ಬಂದರೇನು ಮಾಡುವೆ?
ಲೊಳ್ ಲೊಳ್ ಬೌ ಎಂದು ಕೂಗಿಯಾಡುವೆ.
ಜಾಣ ಮರಿ ತಾಳು, ಹೋಗಿ ತಿಂಡಿ ತರುವೆನು;
ತಾ ನಿನ್ನ ಮನೆಯ ನಾನು ಕಾಯುತಿರುವೆನು.

Translation of key words:

ನಾಯಿಮರಿ (puppy) ತಿಂಡಿ (eatable) ಬೇಕೆ? (do you want?) ಬೇಕು (want (I)) ತೀರ್ಥ (holy water, but here, drink) ತಿಂದು (having eaten) ಮನೆ (house) ಗಟ್ಟಿಯಾಗಿ (becoming strong) ಕಾಯಬೇಕು (must guard) ಬಂದರೇನು (if comes what) ಲೊಳ್ ಲೊಳ್ ಬೌ (barking sound, an onamotopoic word) ಕೂಗಿ (calling, shouting) ತಾಳು (wait) ಹೋಗಿ (going) ತರುವೆನು (shall bring (I) ) ತಾ (bring (you) ) ನಿನ್ನ (your) ನಾನು (I) ಕಾಯುತಿರುವೆನು (waiting (I) )

Dear puppy, Dear puppy, do you want to eat?
Yes sir, please, bread and a little milk;
And some biscuit if you please.
Dear puppy, Dear puppy, why d’you want to eat?
I’ll get stronger and guard your house.
Dear puppy, Dear puppy, if a burgler comes, what will you do?
I’ll raise a rumpus and wake up the town.
Clever puppy, I’ll get you all that you want.
All right sir, I shall guard your house all the time.

Note: What is important in a rhyme is not ‘meaning’ but the rhyme and rhythm of words. The words create a picture in the mind of the child, and, gradually, meaning creeps in along with different feelings as she grows up. It may be humour (e.,g., Pussy cat, Pussy cat) in one rhyme, wonder (e.,g., Twinkle twinlkle little star) in another, and sympathy (e.,g., Ba ba black sheep) still in another. Later, in a poem, there may be an amalgam of all these emotional elements. To reach poetry, in any language, the first two steps are learning rhymes and songs. Of course, the thin line of demarcation that a puritan critic might draw between a song and a poem is pretty precarious, a now-it-is-there and now-it-is-not there thing. The ‘meaning’ of poetry has no height, depth, extant or age. To put it in one word, it is ‘subjective’. Even in a nursery rhyme or a song, there could be an element of poetry, a tinge of suggestivity,   that keeps evolving in the mind of the child as he or she grows. Rhymes, songs and stories are very important in the life of a child. They not only mould her mind but also provide a base for imagination and creative thinking.