It was time I sourced some humour for myself. The other
day I discovered an easy way to locate it. Really, one need not go any further
than Google translate [http://translate.google.com] to enjoy humour. Try
getting some text translated. Be informed: You’ve a few moments of hilarity
ahead. You might even double up in laughter. And as for me, all I did was I
just took a small sample text in Hindi and got Google Translate to translate into
English. Here you go.
वर्षों पुरानी बात है । चिराग़ दिल्ली राजपत्रित
प्रधान डाकघर को तब ख़ूब आमदनी होती थी । दिन में दो-दो बार रिज़र्व बैंक में रोकड़
जमा करने के बावजूद शाम तक ख़ज़ाने में ढेर सारे रुपये बच जाते थे । उन्हें गिनकर
बड़े-बड़े लोहे के संदूक़ों में रखकर सभी घर चले जाते थे । फिर दूसरे दिन दस बजे
उसमें से कुछ रोकड़ रिज़र्व बैंक को सौंप दी जाती थी । डाकघर में इतने रुपये जमा
होते थे कि मानो आस-पड़ोस के लोग कुछ खाते-पीते नहीं थे; सारी-की-सारी कमाई डाकघर के बचत खाते में जमा कर देते थे !
Translated into English by Google translate, it became:
Years old thing. Keep the lamp at Delhi GPO income was gazetted.
Day two - twice the Reserve Bank to deposit cash in the evening, lots of treasures
were saved Rs. Counting them big - big iron Sndukhon were placing all go home. Then
the next day at ten o'clock of that cash was handed over to the Reserve Bank. At
the post office so that it had deposited the money around - some account of the
people of the neighborhood - did not drink, the - the - the money would be
deposited in the post office savings account!
Any humour? Okay, let me put it this way: All questions do not have
answers, and likewise all text cannot be translated. Say for instance, how to
translate the Mahabharat into English? I mean not the book as such but the two words
‘The Mahabharat’. Is it not the great India? So the Mahabharat is same as mera
bharat mahan. ।। मेरा भारत महान ।। Another example from Oriya language. ବଡ଼ ମାଛ ତରକାରୀ will
be ‘big mother six curry’. In effect it should have been big-fish curry. राजमा – if we translate it
into English it would be kidney bean. It is a delicious, protein-rich item of vegetarian
curry in north India. Well if kidney bean is translated into, let’s say Tamil,
what will be the output of Google translate? சிறுநீரக பீன் – is it correct? I don’t know if it is so; a Tamil reader can say
There are occasions an absurd question just crosses
my mind: If a ghost from Tamil Nadu meets another from UP, in which language
will they communicate? Is there any facility of translation in ghostland, I
mean in heaven, like we have Google translate here on earth?
I’m reminded of something I heard
long back that gives an illustration of the difficulty level of translation. In
British days there used to be a policeman who had perfected his skill of
translation. Once he had to report an incident of quarrel and fighting that
took place at Dhenki. As to the meaning of the word ‘Dhenki’ [ढेंकी] I could not get any help from dictionary, so
I’m going to post a picture of it.
|Dhenki / ढेंकी |
Anyway, the policeman also got the
similar question from his boss: ‘By the way, what’s
dhenki, sepoy?’ And the police constable replied:
Two men dhapad
dhapad one man shanki...Is called Dhenki.
।। जब दो करते हैं धपड़- धपड़ और एक करती शंकि,
कहलाते हैं उसे ढेंकी ।।
The reply is rhythmic, isn’t it? But
is it meaningful? What the policeman reported was that there were three persons
engaged in operating the contraption called dhenki[ढेंकी]—two doing dhapad dhapad, meaning thereby, stepping on and releasing one end of
dhenki which would work as a first class lever and the third person, usually a lady, would do the shanki, meaning, mixing and
shuffling the paddy on the hole. [look at the lady in picture]
As I write this, I’m reminded of something
closely connected to the context. It was about an incident that happened in my
Intermediate class. There was some commotion in our class and the target of the
disgruntled students was the English teacher named God-Son-Banner-Sir, I mean
one Professor Dev Kumar Banerjee. [Dev=God; Kumar=Son; Baner=Banner; and jee=Sir].
He said, ‘If your forefathers gave you wealth, there’s nothing to feel great
about it. The real satisfaction comes out of earning something by oneself.’ This
he said in some context. Lo, the word ‘forefathers’ was received as ‘four fathers’. What did he mean by four fathers? And it was
interpreted even more dangerously than that! This was
taken to be the worst kind of rebuke as it alluded to
one’s mother who had illicit relationship with four men so as to bring him four
fathers. So, there was commotion. The poor old professor Mr God-Son-Banner-Sir
had to apologise for saying forefathers.
English is a funny language wherein
the foot smells while nose runs. Not the other way round, right? So we should
be accurate, no matter in our search for accuracy we actually end up doing the opposite
work. And there are far too many words in the dictionaries. A lady tries to
take spoken English lesson seriously. Halfway through her course she starts
practising her lessons with relish. A guest drops in on her. Seeing him at her
door she is happy and she asks, ‘Would you like to see the map of my father?’ And
the guest somehow succeeds suppressing his laughter and begins praising her
drawing room, ‘Aha! So beautiful.’ Encouraged, the lady says blushingly, ‘You’ve
seen my front and liked it. Even my husband likes my front. Now I’m going to
open my back...and you’ll like it too.’ And she leads her guest to the kitchen
garden in her backyard.
Two people were fighting. They
started their fight in Hindi but as the pitch heated up, they chose English.
One: If you utter a word more, I’ll
The other: What? You’ll die me?
Before that I’ll suicide you.
A N Nanda