Cultural Transference
Sanjukta Dasgupta
CHOKHER BALI by Rabindranath Tagore Random House, 2013, 380 pp., 299
July 2013, volume 37, No 7

Referring to the craft of translation and its difficulties, J.M. Coetzee had commented in his rather well-known essay, ‘Roads to Translation’ that ‘Translation seems to me a craft in a way that cabinet-making is a craft. There is no substantial theory of cabinet-making, and no philosophy of cabinet-making except the ideal of being a good cabinet-maker, plus a handful of precepts relating to tools and to types of wood’ (Coetzee 151).

Translating a creative text is a complex matter, as it is not just about linguistic translation, but entails the task of cultural transfer, thereby making the unknown, the alien and the remote, become known and familiar, through the adroit use of the target language. A skilled bi-lingual translator is expected to be aware of both the source culture of the original text and the target culture of the translated text, so that the translated text is reliable, authentic and readable as well. This is indeed a challenging task, and therefore the experience and judgement of the translator comes to the fore, for it is important to assess how successfully the target text has been able to represent the source text.

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