Symposium on ‘Theory of Translation for Pedagogic Purposes'”Discover the harmony of creativity through translation” [Archives:2004/707/Education]

January 29 2004
Dr. Mohammed Mutahar, Vice Minister, Higher Education
Dr. Mohammed Mutahar, Vice Minister, Higher Education
Prof. Saleh Ali Bassurah, Rector, Sanaa University
Prof. Saleh Ali Bassurah, Rector, Sanaa University
Photo from archived article: photos/707/education1_3
Photo from archived article: photos/707/education1_3
Dr. Ramakanta Sahu
Under the patronage of Prof. (Dr.) Saleh Ali Bassurah, Rector, Sana'a University, a 2-day symposium on the theme “Theory of Translation for Pedagogic Purposes” was organized on 30 and 31 December, 2003 at the Department of English, Faculty of Languages. The saliency of the theme in the present context attracted large scale participation from across the Republic of Yemen. Prof. (Dr.) Saleh Ali Bassurah, Rector, Sana'a University and Prof. (Dr.) Mohammed Mutahar, Vice Minister, Higher Education graced the occasion as Inaugurator and Chief guest, respectively. Prof. (Dr.) Tariq Al-Jenabi presided over the inaugural ceremony.
The event started off with a recitation from the Holy Quran by Mr. Amer Al-Mikhlafi. Welcoming the Hon'ble Vice Minister, the Rector and the delegates, Prof. Tariq Al-Jenabi,
Dean, Faculty of Languages lauded the efforts of the English Department for organizing the symposium, thanks to the active help and generous support of Prof. Basurrah, Rector. Briefing on their future agenda of action he said that the Faculty mooted plans of bringing out an academic journal in foreseeable future, setting up a Centre for Translation Studies and opening up instructional facilities in Italian. He expressed the hope that the symposium would go a long way for the extension and augmentation of translation studies and research in the Republic.
In his inaugural address Dr. Bassurah underscored the need and importance of wider dissemination of ideas in diverse disciplines including science, technology and literature in the present age. He particularly stressed the significance of acquisition of languages of wider communication which could lend leverage to accelerate the wheel of progress, especially at a time when creating a language competent society is a top national priority. He congratulated the Faculty for pioneering a movement in the right direction.
Dr. Mutahar, Hon'ble Vice Minister while expressing his happiness to participate in the symposium characterized translation as an invaluable instrument to forge better understating among countries and cultures. It is an efficient vehicle to effect a transfer of a burgeoning body of knowledge. Translation faithfully and efficiently embodies the doctrine enshrined in the Holy Quran which exhorts people to learn from one another. Drawing upon a wealth of findings of international projects, he gave a passionate call to the academic community to make an all-out, concerted effort for the revitalization of language teaching programs.
Prof. A.K. Sharma, Head of English Department, in his address iterated their resolve to carry on the continual evaluation and need-based restructuring of the curriculum on translation. He then proceeded by way of a curtain-raiser to present an overview of the theoretical underpinnings of translation as an academic discipline and its pedagogic exploitability. He focused on the need to develop parameters for a comprehensive, progress-controlled, phased teaching framework, to build up a system of teaching-learning targets, and on that basis, to design teaching-learning materials for use in translation pedagogy. He ardently hoped that the deliberations of the symposium would serve to provide fresh theoretical perspectives, formulate practical guidelines, and provide a veritable roadmap for a well directed, cost-effective translation pedagogy in the Republic of Yemen. The Inaugural session concluded with a vote of thanks by Dr. Jenabi.
The first business session was kick started by an illuminating and highly stimulating presentation by Prof. Abdel Rahman Abdrabou. Prof. D. Thakur, Sana'a University, chaired the session and Prof. Abdullah Fadel Farreh, Aden University, was the Chief Guest. Prof. Abdurabou described translation as a creative process. The act of translation doesn't merely involve text duplication. It's indeed a process of text transformation that subsumes text assimilation and discourse processing. He called for a more informed approach to hammer out a cost-effective course that sensitizes the learners in the knowledge and skills of translating the sense and the idiom of the text. It was high time we took concrete steps to reverse the process of institutional failure in this respect and devised ways and means of exploiting the rich resource of literature to enrich the linguistic competence of a vast majority of EFL learners, equipping them to use English as a research tool and a library language.
The second presentation of the session was by Prof. K.M. Tiwari of Taiz University. Building up a contrast between the popular and academic modes of translation Prof. Tiwari illustrated how all translations borrow meanings from other languages, and we, without any conscious awareness, yet driven by pragmatic communicative needs, incarnate them with new shades of meanings. All borrowings tend to undergo alternations, both in sense and form, at the incipient stage. All borrowing in translation is slow movement. Academicians interested more in theoretical principles and insights should take proper cognizance of translations made by popular mode which is, by all means, more successful and cost-effective than the academic mode.
The next speaker, Prof. Aziz Yousif Al Muttalibi of Aden University, presented his paper on “Literary Translation as a Semiotic Act.” He elucidated the semiotic dimensions of a codic 'context' where communicative transactions, pragmatic actions and semiotic interactions operated and which interplay with and override the other dimensions. The texture of poetry is spoiled in translation which accounts for the untranslatability of poetry. He characterized the translator as a 'cruel man', a 'constructive demolisher.' Prof. Al Muttalibi made plea for a synthetic-analytic approach in translation.
The last speaker of the session Prof. A.K. Sinha, Taiz University, focused on the phenomenon of semantic shift in translation of lexical items. With the help of a number of neologisms and metaphorical use of several existing terms he highlighted the role and relevance of the Prototype theory for the purpose of finding equivalence in translation.
In his presidential remarks Prof. D. Thakur drew a clear line of demarcation between translation and translatolgy. He drew an analogy between a translator and an actor. The distance between the translator and the text is same as that between 'me' and 'not me.' A Translator's job is not merely a mechanical pulling of parts, but achieving a dynamic togetherness as well as identifying the 'etymon', the life spirit. A translator's genuine concern should be transcreation.
The second business session was presided over by Prof. Abdelrahman Abdrabou with Prof. K.M. Tiwari as the Chief Guest. The first speaker Prof. Panchanan Mohanty, Dhamar University in his presentation titled “What Can Translation Theory Learn from Medicine Wrappings and Street-side Hoardings” perceived translation out and out as a language activity which is not unitary, but composite. Translation theory should cease being prescriptive with a top-down approach and embody, instead, a bottom-up approach. There is no perfect translation. With the help of the result of an analysis of 87 medicine wrappings and roadside hoardings involving Arabic and English, he called in question certain key concepts of prescriptive translation and advocated adoption of a descriptive approach.
This was followed by a paper “Towards a Discursive Socio-Semiotic Interpretation of Problems of Cultural Untranslatability” by Dr. Anil K. Prasad, Ibb University. Dr. Prasad dwelt upon the embedded semantic indeterminacy leading to problems of cultural untranslatability and how sociosemiotics can offer a solution to the problems and issues involved. He alerted the actual and potential translators against over- an under-translation and called for a socio-semiotic approach to translation to reduce its baffling complexion. A translator needs to be equipped with a set of appropriate manipulation and interpretation strategies in his attempt to reconcile the irreconcilable within the constraints of accuracy and acceptability.
The third presentation of the session was by Prof. Nand Kishore Pandey, Taiz University. He demonstrated how translation is essentially an enigmatic process, especially if it comes to translation of a poem. His attempted translation of an English poem into the Arabic idiom proved beyond doubt that all translation is only an attempt at approximation to the original.
The concluding presentation of the session by Ms. Wasom Fathi, Hodeidah University, on the topic “The Meaning or the Equivalent” was an attempt to grapple with the concept of equivalence as distinguished from 'meaning'. She identified some aspects of language, finding equivalence for which is fraught with problems of varying magnitude. This problem can potentially be addressed by developing itemized listing of lexical items with culturally appropriate equivalents.
In his concluding remarks, Prof. Abdurabou, Chairperson, expressed his considered view that no professional translator can boast of having translated all the subtle nuances of a text. More often than not, a translator is filled with a sense of incompetence rather than accomplishment in tackling the baffling enterprise.
The first session of the second and concluding day of the symposium was chaired by Prof. K.V. Tirumalesh, Faculty of Languages. Prof. Aziz Yousif Al Muttalibi was the Chief Guest. Prof. Abdullah, the first speaker of the morning in his presentation “Literary Translation as a Semiotic Act” traced the primary role assigned to translation in Aden, the focal point of learning during the period of British colonialism.
The next presentation was by Dr. M.N.K. Bose, Ibb University. In his paper “Translation for Empowering the Learners in English Classes: Teaching Reading through Translation,” Dr. Bose critically evaluated the socio-cultural context in Yemen for teaching English. Based on the outcome of his action research involving translation, he inferred that translation is an invulnerable instrument for promoting reading skills in EFL contexts such as in Yemen in so far as both translation and reading are communicative acts. He sounded a caution against stretching linguistic manipulation to its logical extreme to the extent of cultural misrepresentation.
The third speaker Dr. Abdul Majid Joodi, Faculty of Languages, in his paper “A Study of Problems of Learning and Translating Idioms” highlighted some of the crucial problems of appropriate contextual use of idioms, one of the slippery areas of English. He explained how the unit of meaning of idioms is more than the sum of the meaning of its parts and the difficulties involved in the translation of idioms. In so far as idioms are culture-specific, translation of idioms may be percieved as an act of betrayal.
In his paper titled “Science Through Translation” Dr. Rajiv Kumar Mallik, Faculty of Arts, Sana'a University, delved deep into the problems of translating registers. Citing examples of loan translation, he lucidly underscored the importance of looking at this type of translation from the point of view of cultural untranslatability.
Dr. Abdulsalam Al-Ghrafy, Faculty of Languages, Sana'a University, the next speaker, in his presentation “Untranslatability of Some Writing Conventions from English to Arabic” give an exposition of the translatability and untranslatability of writing conventions in different languages which are divergent genetically. The speaker advocated evolving a set of comprehensive strategies involving graphological and stylistic conventions across languages to obviate this problem.
The post-tea session began with the presentation captioned “The Translator as Sceptic” by Dr. Murari Prasad, Faculty of Education and Arts, Sada'a, in which he looked at the skeptical process and program as an enabling template for resolving some of the conundrums of translation which is primarily cultural mediation. He analyzed the problems and prospects of opening common ground between disjunct cultures. Characterizing translation as an enterprise that involves bridging as well as re-constructing the subjectivities of the host culture to facilitate cross-cultural communication, he argued that a translator should aim at 'equipollent' rendition of the source text, not merely its equivalent conversion, or pale wooden paraphrase for that matter, through inter-systemic manipulation.Fittingly, he pointed out the subtle distinctions between 'auto-translation'(bilingual execution by the same author) and 'transcreation', between'crib' and 'dynamic equivalence', and maintained that translation is a creative deviation whereby the translator taps the alternative potential of the text within an alien semiotic frame while conforming to semantic equivalence. Dr Prasad also outlined some of the recent advances in the discipline , such as Skopos theory, Polysystems theory and grammatological theory of translation, to contend that contemporary translation studies and practice are getting increasingly influenced by postcolonial cultural studies and the disciplines proliferating around it. Notably in addition,he called for a reassessment of the protocols of translational practice which are more often than not over-determined by cultural politics on a grade of reception.
This was followed by the paper “Conceptual Translation of Invention Terms into English” by Dr. Talib Abdul Rahman, Professor of Arabic, Faculty of Education, Khawlaan. Briefly outlining the strategies of phonological adaptation, literal or conceptual translation at the disposal of Arabic in encountering English and French words denoting new inventions, Prof. Talib focused on the conceptual translation and explored the connection between the concept, or the new invention itself, on the one hand, and the term used to designate it, on the other.
The last paper in the pre-lunch session titled “Semiotics and the Translation of Terrorism” was by Dr. Khalid Al-Shehari, Sana'a University. He identified terms which are transparent and those which defy an easy translatability. The study advocated a thorough consideration of the qualities and values that would empower the translator to retain the target reader's cultural identity and ideology and defined the role of semiotics in relating the translator to curriculum designer, materials producers as well as the target readership.
The session concluded with a note of appreciation by the Chief Guest and the President for the illuminating presentations which together demonstrated the multiplicity and variety of perspectives from which translation can be studied. However, the practicalities of the enterprise should not be lost sight of in the orthodoxies of theory galore.
In the last business session, presided over by Prof. (Dr.) Ali Mansoor, Dr. U.K. Mishra in his paper “Second Language Learning and Translating: A Perspective” assessed the facilitative role of translating in foreign language acquisition. He discussed how the psycholinguistic process of translating can be fruitfully used as an active agent facilitating the learner navigate the learning route.
The next presentation titled “What Does a Trainee Translator Need” by Dr. Aid Sharyan, Faculty of Education, Sana'a University, was an attempt to pin down the pre-requisites of a translator in discharging, with passion and professionalism, the range of roles he is called upon to perform. Correspondingly, the trainer-translator needs to sensitize himself with a plethora of practical techniques to explode the myth that translation is an act of betrayal and the translator is a betrayer who can never be faithful to the original. Dr. Ayid came out with a practical suggestion to set up a 'Translators' Guild' to streamline all translation activities in Yemen and evolve an integrative approach to the challenges confronting it. Dr. Sharyan's suggestion was hialed by the members of the audience.
The third speaker Dr. Ahmed Mohammed Al Quyadi, Faculty of Education, Sana'a University in his presentation “Translation Teaching at the Yemen Universities: Conditions and Prospects” analyzed the factors leading to learners' dislike of translation, one of which is a lack of linguistic competence on their part including the knowledge about cohesive devices in English which are the nuts and bolts of the language. The teacher of translation has a significant role in sensitizing the learner about the discourse types and in sharpening his skill in translation.
Dr. Saleh Ahmed Saif, Faculty of Language, the last speaker of the session is his paper “Contrastive Linguistics and the Teaching of Translation” identified the common ground between the two enterprises and discussed how each can draw insight from and contribute towards the enrichment of the other.
Prof. Monsour, the Chair and Dr. A.K. Sinha, the Chief Guest, summed up the main threads of argument in the presentations.
The valedictory ceremony began with Dr. Tariq Al-Jenabi, Dean on the chair. Dr. D. Thakur graced the occasion as the Chief Guest. Dr. Jenabi, while expressing his deep sense of appreciation for the active participation of everyone which made the event a resounding success, hoped that deliberations would go a long way to put in a clearer perspective some of the hazy theoretical concepts and help formulate a feasible action plan for the future.
Prof. Thakur in his valedictory address upheld the universal value of harmony which lay at the heart of all texts, the task of the translator being to unravel that harmony. Translation, he said, is not only a skill but a great art that is embellished by intuitive introspection. A translator, like a poet, is a creator. He called upon the students to cultivate a sustained, continued assimilative exposure to texts. Prof. Thakur characterized translation as a great unifying force to bridge the artificial divide that is corroding the human psyche at present.
Dr. Shamser, Vice Dean, Faculty of Languages, proposed a vote of thanks. On the suggestion of Prof. A.K. Sharma, a committee was formed under the chairmanship of Prof. Abdel Rahman A. Abdrabou. Other members who were nominated to the committee are the following:

1. Dr. Mahmood Ali Shamser
2. Dr. Abdul Majeed Joodi
3. Dr. Ayed Sharyan
4. Prof. (Dr.) Abdullah Fadel Farreh (Consultant)

As the annual academic jamboree drew to a close, there was a sense of fulfillment, of accomplishment. Everyone had something to reflect on, something to look forward to. The message that trickled through the 2-day congregation was clear: Translation is an ongoing, creative process. It is never finished, although it is temporarily abandoned. As such, the 'exhaustive fallacy' of translation is a myth. In fact translation is an impeccable instrument of empowerment, an unfailing means for a dynamic interaction between peoples, languages and cultures. It is a unique symbol of a progressive idealism whose lofty aim is to achieve a multilingual, multicultural confluence.
The deliberations of the symposium refreshed the minds of participants and opened vistas of understanding relating to the concept of translation. There seemed to be a tacit consensus and a firm commitment to explore new horizons of translation and redefine the frontiers of translation pedagogy.
The rapporteurs Dr. R. K. Sahu, Dr. U. K. Mishra, Dr. R. K. Mallik, Dr. Rajesh Kumar, Dr. Khalid Al-Asbahi, and Dr. Mohammed Othman Naif perseverantly compiled and consolidated a report on the proceedings of the symposium.