Translation, Transcreation and Empathy


I’ve been translating varied academic and extra or non-academic materials from English to Bengali and vice versa for about four decades now. It’s is both a considered opinion and a felt feeling that to be able to translate effectively and meaningfully, one really has to sum up an empathetic understanding of matters at hand and would also do well to combine such understanding with an element of creative imagination in so far as the message such materials would endeavor to convey. In my view, English is a much older and stronger language than Bengali and most of the time it turns out to be rather counterproductive to attempt at a word-by-word translation if one really wants to meaningfully translate any English material into Bengali. But quite the opposite happens when we reverse the process because the language of English has a much higher bearability of personal and social modes of expression and it can subsume and / or incorporate a vastly larger number of situational linguistic transactions and transmissions of receptivity.

I would invite our colleagues and friends from the Kato Community to reflect on these opinions of mine out of their own experiences of translating materials from other different languages, comparing and contrasting how and why they do what they do.



Hello @Satyajit,
I think you’re right. My experience as a translator is very less than yours but I already perceived that translations can’t do word by word, mostly in languages very different and comparing to English. Into Spanish from Portuguese, they are quite similar and not difficult to translate into English and the opposite. But I started to learn Swahili and immediately perceived how different is a language that has neither definite nor indefinite articles e.g., to say the minimum. I think that despite these differences, we need to focus on what really is behind the words, see the matter as a whole and from that to do what we really need to do, that is provide the better way to express feelings like concerns, needs, and information.
Kind regards