The Unadorned

My literary blog to keep track of my creative mood swings with poems n short stories, book reviews n humorous prose, travelogues n photography, reflections n translations, both in English n Hindi.

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I'm a peace-loving married Indian male on the right side of '50 with college-going children, and presently employed under government. Educationally I've a master's degree in History, and another in Computer Application. Besides, I've a post graduate diploma in Management. My published works are:- (1)"In Harness", ISBN 81-8157-183-5, a poetry collections and (2) "The Remix of Orchid", ISBN 978-81-7525-729-0, a short story collections with a foreword by Mr. Ruskin Bond, (3) "Virasat", ISBN 978-81-7525-982-9, again a short story collection but in Hindi, (4) "Ek Saal Baad," ISBN 978-81-906496-8-1, my second Story Collection in Hindi.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Translate Franslate

Translate Franslate
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 [] 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 it better.

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 die you.
The other: What? You’ll die me? Before that I’ll suicide you.   
A N Nanda



Blogger Mary Lewin said...

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12:15 AM  
Blogger A_N_Nanda said...

Thanks Mary. Thank you for your nice words in appreciation of my weblog.

4:04 AM  
Blogger NS said...

Dear Sir
Translate Franslate is a very funny article. Exact translation is an art and become funny if meaning is changed even for a single word. The tamil translation for kidney bean as find in the article with the help of Google translate actually meant one of our organs ( testis) . How humorous it is?
When we cannot translate or mean we can show the picture as you did in Dhenki case and the same analogy may work out in ghostland also. Dev Kumar Banerjee has been very interestingly translated and brought me laugh for two minutes continuously. Spoken English trial madam shows front and back of her entire house to the guest and make him happy but through her English we got good humour.
Very interesting and humorous article to be enjoyed by the readers sir. Thanks for the enjoyable and nice article
-------N. Subramanian, Tirupur

7:15 AM  
Blogger A_N_Nanda said...

Thank U, NS, for giving a relookat my blog. I wish I could write more of this type, say humour and joke, so that I can spare my readers the monotony of reading long-winded text.

Thanks once again.

10:06 AM  

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