Translating the Oral: Translatability and Cultural Dynamics

Kailash C. Baral


The present paper seeks to examine the theoretical problematics of translatability
that arises in translating the oral into a target language (here English). Even if we
overcome the problem of translatability there are other critical areas which need
to be examined such as cultural specificity and the context of the folk. As a folk
text is perpetually displaced and translation as such is provisional, the problem
of standardization and interpretation remain areas of critical concern. As good
translation endures and bad translation withers away what role do institutions
such as a University department of Translation Studies or Folklore and an
organization like the Sahitya Akademi play in producing meaningful, readable
translation of the oral, working towards a post-colonial archive of the folk that
is crucial in terms of cultural identity and cultural specificity in the
contemporary context.

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