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robertogreco : urdu   6

In What Language Does Rain Fall Over Tormented Cities? – Raiot
"Text of The W. G. Sebald Lecture on Literary Translation by Arundhati Roy
5 June 2018, The British Library, London."

[more excerpts coming soon]

"Twenty years after the publication of The God of Small Things, I finished writing my second novel, The Ministry of Utmost Happiness. Perhaps I shouldn’t say this, but if a novel can have an enemy, then the enemy of this novel is the idea of “One nation, one religion, one language.” As I composed the cover page of my manuscript, in place of the author’s name, I was tempted to write: “Translated from the original(s) by Arundhati Roy.” The Ministry is a novel written in English but imagined in several languages. Translation as a primary form of creation was central to the writing of it (and here I don’t mean the translation of the inchoate and the prelingual into words). Regardless of which language (and in whose mother tongue) The Ministry was written in, this particular narrative about these particular people in this particular universe would had to be imagined in several languages. It is a story that emerges out of an ocean of languages, in which a teeming ecosystem of living creatures—official-language fish, unofficial-dialect mollusks, and flashing shoals of word-fish—swim around, some friendly with each other, some openly hostile, and some outright carnivorous. But they are all nourished by what the ocean provides. And all of them, like the people in The Ministry, have no choice but to coexist, to survive, and to try to understand each other. For them, translation is not a high-end literary art performed by sophisticated polyglots. Translation is daily life, it is street activity, and it’s increasingly a necessary part of ordinary folks’ survival kit. And so, in this novel of many languages, it is not only the author, but the characters themselves who swim around in an ocean of exquisite imperfection, who constantly translate for and to each other, who constantly speak across languages, and who constantly realize that people who speak the same language are not necessarily the ones who understand each other best.

The Ministry of Utmost Happiness has been—is being—translated into forty-eight languages. Each of those translators has to grapple with a language that is infused with many languages including, if I may coin a word, many kinds of Englishes (sociolects is perhaps the correct word, but I’ll stay with Englishes because it is deliciously worse) and translate it into another language that is infused with many languages. I use the word infused advisedly, because I am not speaking merely of a text that contains a smattering of quotations or words in other languages as a gimmick or a trope, or one that plays the Peter Sellers game of mocking Indian English, but of an attempt to actually create a companionship of languages.

Of the forty-eight translations, two are Urdu and Hindi. As we will soon see, the very fact of having to name Hindi and Urdu as separate languages, and publish them as separate books with separate scripts, contains a history that is folded into the story of The Ministry. Given the setting of the novel, the Hindi and Urdu translations are, in part, a sort of homecoming. I soon learned that this did nothing to ease the task of the translators. To give you an example: The human body and its organs play an important part in The Ministry. We found that Urdu, that most exquisite of languages, which has more words for love than perhaps any other language in the world, has no word for vagina. There are words like the Arabic furj, which is considered to be archaic and more or less obsolete, and there are euphemisms that range in meaning from “hidden part,” “breathing hole,” “vent,” and “path to the uterus.” The most commonly used one is aurat ki sharamgah. A woman’s place of shame. As you can see, we had trouble on our hands. Before we rush to judgment, we must remember that pudenda in Latin means “that whereof one should feel shame.” In Danish, I was told by my translator, the phrase is “lips of shame.” So, Adam and Eve are alive and well, their fig leaves firmly in place.

Although I am tempted to say more about witnessing the pleasures and difficulties of The Ministry of Utmost Happiness being translated into other languages, more than the “post-writing” translations, it is the “pre-writing” translation that I want to talk about today. None of it came from an elaborate, pre-existing plan. I worked purely by instinct. It is only while preparing for this lecture that I began to really see how much it mattered to me to persuade languages to shift around, to make room for each other. Before we dive into the Ocean of Imperfection and get caught up in the eddies and whirlpools of our historic blood feuds and language wars, in order to give you a rough idea of the terrain, I will quickly chart the route by which I arrived at my particular patch of the shoreline."



"So, how shall we answer Pablo Neruda’s question that is the title of this lecture?

In what language does rain fall over tormented cities?7

I’d say, without hesitation, in the Language of Translation."
arundhatiroy  language  languages  translation  literature  2018  india  colonialism  nationalism  authenticity  elitism  caste  nativism  identity  culture  society  inbetween  betweenness  multilingual  polyglot  everyday  communication  english  hindi  nationstates  imperialism  urdu  persian  tamil  sinhala  bangladesh  pakistan  srilanka  canon 
july 2018 by robertogreco
Katib for Mac
"Katib is a no-fuss, distraction-free text editor for languages that are written from right to left.
We understand that Arabic and closely related languages are treated as a second-class citizens in apps. We also understand that it takes a lot of fiddling with settings & typography to simply make them work and look half-decent.

Katib solves these annoying problems so that you can focus on typing and getting your thoughts on the screen."
applications  mac  osx  texteditors  katib  arabic  farsi  urdu  hebrew 
october 2014 by robertogreco
Brevity: Twtr | The Economist
"THIS 78-character tweet in English would be only 24 characters long in Chinese: [image]

That makes Chinese ideal for micro-blogs, which typically restrict messages to 140 symbols. Though Twitter, with 140m active users the world's best-known microblogging service, is blocked in China, Sina Weibo, a local variant, has over 250m users. Chinese is so succinct that most messages never reach that limit, says Shuo Tang, who studies social media at the University of Indiana.

Japanese is concise too: fans of haiku, poems in 17 syllables, can tweet them readily. Though Korean and Arabic require a little more space, tweeters routinely omit syllables in Korean words; written Arabic routinely omits vowels anyway…

Romance tongues, among others, generally tend to be more verbose (see chart)…

Kevin Scannell, a professor at St Louis University, Missouri, has found 500 languages in use on Twitter and has set up a website to track them."
charactercounts  characters  wordcounts  words  kevinscannell  semiocast  weibo  arabic  urdu  farsi  microblogs  efficiency  2012  romancelanguages  portuguese  spanish  english  chinese  language  twitter 
july 2012 by robertogreco
Learn 40 Languages for Free with Free Audio Lessons | Open Culture
"How to learn languages for free? This collection features lessons in 40 languages, including Spanish, French, English, Mandarin, Italian, Russian and more. Download audio lessons to your computer or mp3 player and you’re good to go."
languages  language  learning  arabic  spanish  bulgarian  catalan  chinese  mandarin  danish  dutch  english  esperanto  finnish  french  free  gaelic  german  greek  hebrew  hindi  hungarian  indonesian  irish  italian  japanese  korean  latin  lithuanian  luxembourgish  maori  norwegian  polish  portuguese  romanian  russian  swedish  tagalog  thai  ukranian  urdu  vietnamese  yiddish  lessons  māori  catalán 
november 2011 by robertogreco

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