An introduction to Translation

(By Ranjan Lal Gammeddage)

1:1: Translation : definition The Sinhala word for translation, ‘Pariwarthanaya,’ derives from the Sanskrit root ‘Wruth,’ and when it is connected to the suffix ‘Pari’ the suffix caries the meaning ‘in every respect’ or ‘around’ the pali Pali stanza ‘parisamanthatho thayathi rakkathithi pariththan’ will further clarify the aforementioned definition to the suffix ‘pari’ the root ‘Wruth’ means ‘happen’, ‘existence’ or ‘turn’. Then translating a book should be defined as 'changing the language of certain th e book to another language without distorting spoiling its original contextual meaning. But the Sinhala word for adaptation, ‘Anuwarthanaya’ ro or ‘Anuwadaya’ connotes a different meaning. If we consider the lexicon meaning of the word it is a combination of the root ‘Wruth’ and the suffix ‘anu.’ . The suffix carried carries the meaning ‘acording to something’, while the root connotes the meaning ‘changing’ as in the case of ‘Pariwaththanaya.’. The Sinhala word ‘Anuwada’ has the same meaning and it derived from the suffix ‘Anu’ and the ‘Wath’. The aforementioned above-mentioned three ideas were not unfamiliar to the sinhala Sinhala readers. In medieval sinhala the word ‘Pariwaththa’ has been used to connote ‘changing’: ‘….Adhi Gahanin Langana Pariwaththanadi Gannei.’1 “Magada basin watemin ã Budukeli Atuwa Heladiwa Ajuro Helu Basin Thubuha” 2 Here the word ‘Pariwarthanaya’ has been replaced by the word ‘thubuha’. ‘The author of Mahawansa’, the The main traditional literary source of writing history, Rev.Mahanama who resided in Mahavihara, also compiled another source book, ‘Sihalatta katha mahawansa’ 3 It is easy to conclude here that in classical Sinhala literary arena, translation has been used to connote various different meanings. From this we can understand that in classical Sinhala literature the word

Repetition6 This shows that even in some lexicons the words ‘Pariwaththanaya’(translation) and ‘Anuwaththanaya’ (adaptation) have been used without any difference. Translation 2. for the benefit of the readers who do not know the language of the original text. 2. Polwaththe Bubbhaththa deeply scrutinizes to the word: change into another language5 In the Pali Dictionary of Gunapala Weerasekara. in her Translation Studies has defined five prerequisites for translation: 2 . 7 The text ‘Sinhala Pariwarthana Sahithya’ has more descriptively analysed the word ‘Pariwarthanaya’ 1. According to that report.8 Susan Bassnett. ‘Anuwadaya’ and ‘Pariwaththanaya’ have been defined as carrying the same meaning: Anuwada (Adaptation) : 1. ‘Sankshiptha Anuwadaya’ (Summarized adaptation) summarized the original text in another language. The new text would change the original background.'pariwarthanaya’ does not necessarily contain the meaning of the English word ‘translation. The dictionary that has been prepared by Rev. gives descriptive definitions to these two words. ‘Anukrutiya’ : A text produced after imitating another text that was written in another language. ‘Chayanuwadaya’ : Take only the summary of the original text and represent it in completely different from. ‘Pariwarthanaya’ means. has been designated as ‘translation’. however. ‘a text that has been translated from one language to another’ 4 In Sri Sumangala dictionary ‘translation’ is defined as ‘peralima’. two concepts. The Sinhala Translation Conference Report(1965). while the word 'adaptation' has been defined as modifying the original text in another language. personal names and place names. 3. repeating the same things that happen to be in a literary or academic text in another language.’ According to the Sinhala Dictionary. The fact that the first volum of the Sinhala Encyclopedia does not refer to the Pali word ‘Anuwaththanaya’ further attests to the fact that in some lexicons Pariwaththanaya and ‘Anuwaththanaya’ had no difference.

The classical Sinhala literature started with that kind of translations. 3. ‘Helatuwa’ or ‘Sihalattakatha’ of Anuradhapura period are Sinhala interpretations for the Pali Buddhist texts. Anuradhapura period marked the beginning of Sinhala translations.2 Classical Sinhala Translations: Usually the Classical Sinhala literary period is defined as time between Anuradhapura period and Kotte period. ‘Aththappakasanaththan attakatha aditho vasi sathehi Panchabiya sangitha anupangeethacha pachchapi Sihala deepan pana abhathatha vaseena maha mahindena Tapitha sihala bhasaya deepavaseena maththaya’10 The meaning of this stanza is ‘Thripitakaya’ that was in Magadha language had been translated into the language of the island for the benefit of its dwellers. At the same time Pali Buddhist texts had been translated into Sinhala language for the benefit of ‘the island dwellers’ ‘Dmpiya Atuwa Gatapadaya’ mentions that Pali texts had been translated to Sinhala during the Anuradhapura period. 5. They were translated into Pali language to protect them. 2. The translator must fully understand the sense and the meaning of the original author although he is at liberty clarify obscurities The translator should have a perfect knowledge of both SL and TL languages. The translator should use forms of speech in common use. A Pali text called ‘Papaggasudani’ also mentions it. 4. In later time ‘Sihalatta Katha’ which were in Sinhala were once again translated to Pali for the benefit of the monks in other countries.9 1.1. The translator should chose and order word appropriately produce the correct tone. ‘Sanwannana seehala deepakena Wanyena esa panasan khamatha Ni kinchi aththan abisambuthathi Depanthare bhikku janassa yasma’11 3 . The translator should avoid word-for-word rending. For the benefit of future generations.

will not be useful to the monks in other countries. therefore. This vividly shows that at the beginning of the 4 .“These illustrations are in Sinhalese and. will be started by me”. the illustrations in Pali language. therefore.

‘Sinhala Bodhiwanshaya’ is an adaptation of Pali ‘Bodhiwansaya’ . was considered in the contemporary literary arena as a leading critical composition. therefore. ‘Pansiya Panas Jathaka Potha’ is a adaptation of ‘Jathakattakatha’. It also indicates that while Sinhala language was in wide usage among local people. An important fact regarding the above mentioned texts is that they cannot at all be considered as mere translations. are in such an excellent quality that sometimes they surpass their originals. because each of them are altered according to the personal tastes of the Sinhala audience. 5 . ‘Saddharma Rathnawaliya’ is a creative adaptation of ‘Dammapadattakatha’. While some people consider this as a direct translation. which was constantly considered as an acceptable literary theory book and. ‘Amawathura’ by Gurulugomi is the most creative work belongs to the Polonnaruwa era. Some Sinhala texts. ‘Eluaththanagaluwansaya’ is an adaptation of ‘Haththawanagalla Vihara Wansaya’. Derasvas kiyami-peragath sakevinudu wu Nodatha nodatha dewbas. Sinhala texts were also prepared after selecting facts from ‘Tripitaka’ and compiled then as a different text. widely used as a guide book by the poets as critics is also a translation. Sometimes one Pali text was completely translated into Sinhala. compiled by the King Sena 1. Almost all classical texts were prepared with the help of either Pali or Sanskrit texts. ‘Siyabaslakara’.siyakawlakuninek des12 This aptly shows the importance of translation at that era. It is a translation of a Sanskrit work ‘Kavyadarshaya’ by Dandin. ‘Saddharmalankaraya’ is an adaptation of Pali text ‘Rasawahini’.classical period. ‘Sinhala Thupawansaya’ is an adaptation of Pali ‘Thupawansaya’. This book no doubt. Pali language was used as an international language. Sinhala text are considerably different from their originals. therefore. or the whole context was changed suitable for the contemporary social environment. Pali texts had been translated into Sinhalese and vice versa. ‘Saddharmarathnakaraya’ is an adaptation of ‘Sarasangraha’.

had been supported by Pali texts. and therefore. Guththilaya also used stories from ‘Pansiyapanas Jathakaya’. ‘Saddarma Rathnawaliya’ and ‘Pansiya PanasJathakaya’ took a prominent place among other adaptations. The doctrine that was expressed by the Buddha for the benefit of the people. He used many Pali texts. Except few poetry books.” 14 Gose without saying Rev. plain translations were replaced by more descriptive and creative adaptations during the next era. Gurulugomi did not rely on single source book. 15 ‘Kavya Shekaraya’ which was done by Rev. In the same manner Sasadawatha. Dammakirthi. we encounter literary works galore. Dharmasena who claims the authorship of Saddarma Rathnawaliya. “Gurulugomi taking facts from Sutta and Atuwa presents a selective version showing a good taste. It had been done by Rev. After taking the core incidents. According to Rev. “The text we did excluding the Pali system. yet without giving any consideration to them as the swan that separate milk from water …. therefore I wish to complete a text in Hela to exist for long . Dharmasena’s effort to present a new creative version without damaging the original story is a praiseworthy Endeavour. “………. Muwadevdawatha. He often lopped off unnecessary repetition in Sutta and took only the core of the story. there may be some problematic instances. cannot be understood by the dwellers of Sinhaladvipa. Rahula was also supported by Saththubaththa Jathakaya in Jathakattakatha. it had been claimed to be translated into Sinhalese. Using a creative language innate to himself. a large number of them are either translations or adaptations. he presented a concise yet poignant version of the stories”13 These simple. a large number of poems composed in Kotte era. Snnasgala’s following statement will further clarify this idea: 6 . Since Magadhi or Pali language is for away from the understanding of common audience. Prof. During the Mahanuwara period which comes after Kotte period. receiving the reverence of virtuous people”. taking only the core facts. Compared to the original texts they should better be called adaptation of Pali text Rasawahini. is in Magadhi.others refuse that idea. Gurulugomi presented one of the immortal texts that ever existed in Sinhala literature. He had been well-versed with Sutta and Attakatha styles.

we should pay our attention to translation regulations. included his own 7 . detailed description will be summarized. not the ward. All the important facts included. Source language was replaced by Sinhala. Grammatical rules of the targeted language were safeguarded. In this regard we can observe that there are no such widely accepted rules or regulations. the translated text should contain all the important facts in the original text. Descriptive parts were summarized. ‘Ummadanthi Jathakaya’ which does not appear in the Sinhala Jathaka Boook . When we compare ‘Amáwathura’ and ‘Buthsarana’. for an example when Amawathura was prepared the writer did not restrict to a single text. Almost all the translators have been driven by their personal interests. At the beginning of the ‘Samantha Pasadika’ it is mentioned that it will replaces pali language to Sinhala in Atuwa and. 4.“ Among translations that were done during the Mahanuwara period. 3. 1. I will tell it in Magadha language. enjoying a great a great freedom. furthermore. 2.”18 This clearly shows that classical Sinhala translations concentrated on facts rather than translating each and every wards in the original. Harischandra Katha kavya had been translated into Sinhala from Tamil in 1726. A text called ‘Sri Saddharmadana’ which was a translation by Rev. We meet the same incidence described in different ways in these two texts. Pali Wimanawattu was translated into Sinhala as Sinhala Prakaranaya in1770. translated to Sinhala during 1770-1778. The key factors as far as classical Sinhala translations are concerned as follows. Gurulugòmi preferred a word to word translation while the author of Buthsarana. while inserting important facts.Hinatikumbure Sumangala was famous among Sinhalese as Sinhala Milinda Prasnaya’”16 When we consider about the translations in classical Sinhala literature. we cannot say to what extent the facts in the original texts were included by the translators. This aptly indicates that these writers paid attentions to both source language and the targeted language.17 It is clear this that although the original text and the translated text differ from languages. “ I will include only the facts. Since some original texts no longer available. we can understand the methodological differences in translating.

1:3 Translation issues: There are a numbers of problems when we translate an academic text or literary text. ‘Jathakapotha’. were given prime position in this procedure. his effort end up in failure when translating a text. different opinion derived from different cultural background. It is not enough to be an export of both source language and target language to become a successful translator. Hence Sinhala Jathaka Book became a successful translation. According to it highly qualified monks from chóla. Most times these problems concerned with language matters. ‘Mahawansa’ reveals the importance placed on translation when Pali Jathakattakatha was translated into Sinhalese. The translation pattern in Buthsarana. If not outcome will not be a proper translation. the translator must well-equipped with the cultural background of the relevant text. deeply blow each language there is a different viewpoint. two different grammatical systems resulted in. Languages are symbolic expressive systems according to 8 . knowledge about languages is not adequate. If the translator is not good at both languages.”20 From this quotation it is clear that for translating. Translators will face many problems without understanding the proper function of the relevant culture of the source language. ‘Saddharmalankaraya’. goes without saying. ‘Atha só chóla desiyan nà nà basha wisaradan Thathkagamadharan ekan suthwa suthwa nirantharan Thani sabbani pagna sadhike panchasathe subhe Jathake palibhasatho seehalaya niruththiya Kamatho pariwaththethwa pitakaththaya dharinan’19 According to this it is clear that when a text translated it was minutely scrutinized by the expert of the subject. “Two languages do not simply mean two expensive modes.instructions. The text was prepared after being consulted with a panel of experts of the subject. On the otherhand he should be well-versed with the written and verbal usages of the target language. due to this. influenced almost all the literary works in latter times like ‘Sadhdharma Rathnawaliya’. who were well-versed in various languages.

in a stage to create new word suitable for the terms in the source language. a number of subjects should have been presented in Sinhala language and that purpose with the help of many institutions a considerable number of glossaries have been prepared. 9 . short story.”21 Though some people think that it is an easy task to translate academic texts.in such cases the translator should be a creative writer. In any languages. Another problem that a translator faces is lack of glossaries. beyond their simple dictionary definitions. words may load with many connotations. This fact also may cause many problems in translations. Due to new inventions and discoveries it is necessary to coin new words match with the original words. As a result of the government language policy. This issue mainly occurs in translating academic texts. When the target language is not powerful enough to express loaded terms of source language. A translator may face many problems when he selects to translate a literary text. It is necessary to coin new terms suitable for new subject. westernization and globalization have widened the vocabulary of many languages. therefore. Hence a foreigner will face many difficulties when translating a Sinhala text to another language. in actuality it is the most difficult task. modernization. novel.which one language differs widely from another. Dhàgaba. “when translating an academic text it has often become problematic to find new terms go with a specified glossary. Sinhala expressive systems are considerably reasoned by Budhism and its long existed cultural patterns. Though the Bible has been translated to 1064 languages. Western critics explain this as ‘denotation’ and ‘connotation’ of a word. Vihara. Dharmasàla are not mere buildings. translators face a number of problems. At the beginning of the 19th century that kind of glossaries were prepared for new subjects. New worldly trends like industrialization. for an example. in many countries a number of issues arose due to cultural differences. It is extremely difficult to translate one set of symbolic expressive system to another language for the Sinhalese. because many aspects like the style of the writer. Bò tree is not one of trees. poem. In such instances lack of vocabulary may lead to a poor translation Target Language.

because the definite lexicon meanings of the words appear in academic texts do not happen in literary texts. can happen. when one tries to translate a literary text. possibly far better than the original one. his task is not an easy one.  The translator has to protect the originality of the illustrations. however. differ from one literary text to another.  The necessity to coin new words for the text.23 The problems that translator face. “translating a literary text is much more difficult than translating an academic text.  Hidden meanings of the original text should be included in the translated text. 1.illustrations and characters in the text should be carefully presented in another language. 4 New Sinhala Translation At the end of the classical Sinhala period. It is easy to put Sinhala words to a certain glossary of an academic text than searching various words for a literary work.  Difficulty in understanding the exact meaning of the original text as a result of the vague language the writer has used. 10 . The specialty in the era is that. and as a result of it the spread of Missionary education. In some languages. In such cases. translator may not be able to reproduce the true meaning of the original text. we meet the new Sinhala literary era. certain words are loaded with many implications that may not appear in lexicon interpretations. If a text which is an outcome of completely different cultural background is selected to translate. no doubt.”22 We can summarize some main issues that translator may face when translating a literary text as follows. it was heavily influenced by western literature. However a clever translator can overcome all these problems and he will be able to produce a new text. The fact that our country was under the British rule for a considerable time. Has the true mentality of the writer been reproduced in the translated text? To what extend has the social and cultural backdrop of the original text been reproduce in the translated text? These problems.

 The popularity or greatness of the writer. Under these circumstances. 11 . china. When literary texts were translated to Sinhala. We can divide new Sinhala translations into a number of categories.G.heavily influenced Sinhala literature. The Good Earth have been translated to Sinhala. Munidasa Senarath Yapa.k  ix{d mßj¾. There has been a great tendency to translate Russian and English fiction to Sinhala. Kohoro. the USA. During the decade of 1950. A large number of fictional translations have been translated from English language and for that category both novels and short stories include. These fictional translations are mainly aim at the countries like Russia. Karunathilaka. a large of translations came out of the press. Padhmaharsha. a large number of texts written in English were translated to Sinhala. because they are considered as classics by the critics. All the important literary works like the old man and the sea. England and India. African countries. The diamond Necklace. Siril. Brothers Karamazov. When literary texts were translated to Sinhala many aspects were taken into consideration:  As was mentioned by the translators themselves they translated these texts.  Fictional translations  Science and technology  Legal documents  Media document  iudc mßj¾.k All these translations are being done to meet the social necessities. Perera. Mother. ushered some kind of cultural enlightenment in country. C. the following are noteworthy: Anna Karanina. Chintha Lakshmi Sinharachchi are prominent translators. Under such circumstances translations played a big role. The establishment of state language department? Is one of the reasons that helped that tendency? Cultural department which was established in 1956. Japan. Among the famous novels and short story collections. K. the war and Pease. During that time the government built libraries in almost all districts in the country and fostered reading abilities.

24 Other than these facts. Such fictions. people translate novels with religious themes. translators tend to translate them with the hope that they would be much closer too the local reader.  To popularize the religious beliefs. Some people translate fiction with an eye to money. unfortunately. Foot Notes 12 .  When the cultural background of the original text is very much similar to that of Sri Lanka. has wide circulation and they have already caused many problems. Translation is a serious discipline which requires thorough study before becoming a translator. we can see that some people tend to translate text merely to earn money.  To show off one’s language skills.  Personal contacts with foreign writers sometimes lead to translate their works. Some translators have come to the field without any knowledge about the subject and that has caused many issues.

1970. 20 ‘Mahawansaya’.2007. p3. M.D. 10 ‘Papancha Sudani’ Sri Dhammananda Darmakirthi himi.’ Sri Lanka Prachina Bhasopakara Samagama.p1. 23 ‘Kawya Vichara Gaweshana’. Deparment of Cultural Affairs. 1968. Colombo. 22 ‘Sathasanwathsara samuru Sasthriya kalapaya.E. Nimal Wijesiri. Revised edition. Siril Sri Perera Upahara Granthaya. Colombo. Kiriyalle Gnanawimala thero. Colombo.D. ‘Pahanin Pahana’. P.D. . Walivitiye Soratha himi.p 563. ‘Dampiya Atuwa Gatapadaya’ p. Polwaththe Buddhadaththa himi. 6 ‘Pali Sabdhakoshaya’. Gunapala Weerasekara. 17 18 ‘Pariwarthana Nawakathawa ha Lanka Samajaya’. 15 ‘Saddharma Rathnawaliya’. 1980-1991.p30. 1974.1 2 ‘Dampiya Atuwa Gatapadaya’. 1959. 19 ‘Dampiya Atuwa Gatapadaya’ p08.p28. Colombo. Ministry of Education and Higher Education.82. 1933. ‘Siyabaskakara’. 4 ‘Sri Sumangala Sabdhakoshaya’ ( second edition). Ministry of Cultural Affairs in Central Province.p96. 9 Susan Bussnett.2007. (first section). 16 ‘Saddharma Rathnawaliya’.1969.Colombo. Colombo. Buddhadaththa himi.p02. Siri Pagnaseeha himi.p11. edited by Buddhadaththa himi Polwaththe. Galkissa.p323.p3.Colombo. p 268. Gunasena saha Samagama.269. Translation studies. Warakapola. Colombo.1964.p171. London and New York. Henpitagedara gnanaseeha himi. Godage saha Sahodarayo. Colombo.1965. 13 ‘Amawathura. 5 ‘Pali Sinhala Akaradiya’.Wichchasara Mudranalaya.Colombo. Kiriyalle Gnanawimala thero. 7 ‘Sinhala Pariwarthana Sahithya’.p33.p54.p3. 11 12 ‘Samanthapasadika Sawisthara wyakyawa’. 2007.1999.2007. Colombo 10. 24 ‘Pariwarthana Nawakathawa ha Lanka samajaya’. M. 1988.Colombo. Hettiarachchi. 8 Sinhala Pariwarthana Sahithya. university of Ceylon. Colombo. 14 ‘Sarathi’.p8-9. p167. Ariya Prakasakayo.1967. 21 ‘Sambhasha’.81.Colombo. edited by Kodagoda Gnanaloka. Gunasena saha Samagama. 3 ‘Mahawansaya’.edited by D.83 verses.p21.p171. Wijayawardana.