India, the cradle of earliest poetic compositions, is among the linguistically densest regions in the world with a rich heritage of linguistic co-existence in which people operated in multiple languages in different spheres with ease. The Atharva-Samhita bears witness to it when it states, “Vivachas vai janah.” Prakrats (natural) languages were used in communication and social transaction; classical languages like Sanskrit and Tamil were used for learned discourse and knowledge composition. ‘Anuvad’ was natural and a part of societal consciousness but not a conscious activity initially, for multi-lingual people could operate in different Prakrats, or in a new Prakrat which was a mixture of elements of different Prakrats like the present day Hindustani, leading to a strange mix or hybridity as well. Therefore, translation was practiced in India in a rather inclusive sense (including bhashya, tika, anvaya, vartika) in which transference of ideas was more important than linguistic transference. In addition, texts were rendered from one language to another as ‘tellings’ (Ramanujan 1992) and renderings. With the expansion of Buddhism beyond the Indian shores, the translation came to be practiced in the narrow sense of the term.
The emergence of apabhramshas, lokbhashas, and the advent of languages from outside like Tibetan, Arabic, Persian, Turkish, and English among others and thereafter of modern Indian languages led to proliferation of translation activities in different Indian languages. With the establishment of the Asiatic Society in the latter half of the 18th century, and later from the 19th century onwards, translation came to be practiced for literary, political, cultural and ideological purposes in different Indian languages. Various terms like tarjuma, bhashantar, roopantar, sahasrajan, punarsrajan and sweekaran strove to approximate various layers of activities pertaining to translation in Indian languages.
Notwithstanding this long and continuous tradition of translation, not many attempts have been made for historicising translation in India, while the west has, to a good measure initially, inferred theories from its practices, and prepared historiography of translation activities. The need therefore is to go back to translational practices in different Indian languages and construct historiography of translation in them.
Apart from the translated texts in all Indian languages, the focus would be Prefaces, Introductions, Forewords, Foot-Notes, Glossaries, or Postscripts written by translators, editors, authors or anthologists and thereby construct and infer views and theories pertaining to translation. It is expected that historiography of translational practices and models used in different languages will present divergent trajectories of translation practices and theorization of translation and in the process enrich our existing understanding of translation in India.
A limited number of participants will be invited for the Study Week. Those interested in participating should send title and a synopsis (500-700 words) of the proposed paper along with their C.V. to:
The last date of submission of title/synopsis of paper along with abstract is 19 June 2015. Participants will be shortlisted and invitation letters will be sent by 26 June 2015. It is the policy of the Institute to publish the proceedings of the Study Week it organizes. Therefore, all invited participants will be expected to submit draft papers to the Academic Resource Officer, Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Shimla – 171005 by 07 August 2015.
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