Punjab Notes: Books: translations, dictionary for children and poets – Journal
Translation is perhaps as old as language. It appeared then that the human need to communicate with people who did not share his language was compelling. The co-speakers do not need translation between them because what they speak is directly understood. It is still intended for those who are extraterrestrials in the linguistic sense; they speak another language. A different language invariably implies a different culture whose soul or lack thereof it represents.
Diverse cultures need to interact and translation is the most effective vehicle for moving literary and cultural expressions from one society to another. In other words, translation is a story of intercultural communication and interaction. It is through translation that the thoughts, experiences and ideas of one society are transferred to other societies, which triggers a process of cross-cultural fertilization. It helps a wide range of things such as trade, business, political relations and conflict resolution, for example. At a higher level, the translation of literary works has been/is a powerful means of bridging cultures, facilitating the sharing of what is shareable in a specific culture. Great literary compositions have been/are accessible to most people through translation. We are no exception.
Waseem Gardei’s book of translations, titled ‘Rung Rus’, published by Sanjh Publications, Lahore is a good sign. Gardesi is a good writer and translator. The book contains a selection of world news translated into Punjabi. There are fourteen stories selected from various cultures, which represent an impressive array of famous fiction writers such as Hermann Hesse, Knut Hamsun, Naquib Mahfouz, Ernest Hemingway, Mikhail Sholokhov, William Faulkner, Franz Kafka, Joseph Heller, Guy de Maupassant , Aldous Huxley, Erskine Caldwell and Ray Bradbury. Along with the translation, we find concise biographical notes on the authors, carefully prepared by Gardesi. The notes are intended to briefly introduce the great writers to Punjabi readers. The quality of the translations is good as they reflect a serious effort to convey the original narratives of the stories in Punjabi as well as evoking a cultural vibe subtly hidden beneath the surface. The language is not very far from the speech and its flow makes them very readable without losing the literary embellishments. ‘Rung Rus’ is an enjoyable read. Don’t miss it.
The dictionary is something we all know. Every literate person needs at some point a dictionary of his own language or a foreign language. Language is a mysterious product if it is a product at all; it is always greater than what its speaker imagines it to be. The language never exposes itself fully to its speakers because it reveals itself in measures to each according to his need. And the individual need is always immeasurably less than his tongue can satisfy. Language has the ability to grow larger than its speakers know it at any given time. Thereafter, he hides more than he reveals. The dictionary is one of the tools with which we try to measure its length and width. But even the most comprehensive dictionary of a language cannot capture its full spectrum. The moment a dictionary rolls off the press, language launches new words and phrases due to the self-generating and self-expanding power of language. But the dictionary is always what opens the window to the secrets of the treasure that is the language. Among other things, a student is one who constantly needs a dictionary. Teaching and learning at school, college and university is hard to imagine without the help of a dictionary. Even children need it to learn language and improve their expression.
Realizing such a need, Suchet Kitab Ghar, Lahore has published “Punjabi Baal Dictionary” edited by Maqsood Saqib. The editor took the help of the primary Punjabi dictionary of Bhasha Vibhag Patiala to prepare the dictionary in question. The dictionary gives the meaning of words as well as their usage, which sheds light on how words can be used in writing. For some strange reason, the prevailing alphabetical order was dropped in favor of a new one, but no convincing explanation was given for such a drastic decision. This can make searching for words long and therefore tedious. Our children are more comfortable with our Arabic-based alphabetical order.
“In this dictionary, words are listed that school children use or can use,” explains the publisher. The statement is partially correct as there are words that address higher level students. On the title, for example, we have the Punjabi words ‘Ukka’ (totally, entirely, completely), ‘Ukka Pukka’ (total, all, in full, lump sum), which overwhelms most children in the urban area . The dictionary is a good book that meets one of the crucial needs of our children, long ignored. It will be very useful for children, especially for high school students who are offered Punjabi as an elective. Schools should have it in their libraries. Your personal library will be poorer without it.
Have you heard of Bahawalnagar? It’s a sleepy town on few people’s radar. But in reality, it’s an interesting neighborhood sandwiched between two rivers, Hakra and Sutlej. Unfortunately, both ran dry. The first died out for natural reasons, but the second was sold to India by one of our foolish rulers for a pittance. Hakra supported a vibrant society, which had been part of the Harappa civilization for a long time. With the sale of Sutlej came a foothold, which tipped the future against the region by depriving it of a vital source of economic activity, water. Defying all odds, it can boast of having valuable agricultural production. Fortunately, the whole region was deeply influenced by our giant poet and mystic Baba Farid on a literary and spiritual level. Saghir Tabassum, poet and writer, attempted to capture the literary history of the region in his book ‘Asaan Chup Nahi Vattni Dharti Te’ published by Print Media Publications, Lahore. The book “is a historical and critical assessment of Bahawalnagar Punjabi literature…” states the author.
The fact is that it is a history of poetry. Dozens of poets were included. Each entry contains the poet’s biographical sketch followed by a sample of his representative verses. The book is a collection of poems that deal with diverse experiences that evoke the ethos of a particular region. The book is a commendable effort. — [email protected]
Posted in Dawn, December 13, 2021