Narnia speaks Hindi now

For those who are worrying about the recession, here’s a whole new (well, almost) sector opening up. The just set up National Translation Mission requires 8,000 translators, 2,000 copy editors and 2,000 evaluators to man it, with Rs 99 crore from the union government financing the job.

Not many are aware, of course. Anything that’s not in English barely makes news. In a country of a billion plus people, only about 10 million Indians use English as their first language. Yet an estimated 40-45% of the (again estimated) Rs 7,500 crore Indian publishing industry’s sales come from English publishing. Unending colonial hangover?

Yes, India has more people who know English than in its land of origin. Though most Indians are more comfortable in their mother tongues, our toffee-nosed English publishing sector, the only one really publicised by the media, is just waking up to this fact. But as Kannan, publisher of the Chennai-based Kalachuvadu group that translates books into Tamil, points out: “Authors are keen to see their work in many languages even when it does not mean much revenue. The international trend is marginal writings and Indian English publishing must turn to Indian languages to trace these expressions.”

CEO of Harper PM Sukumar reminisces, “We grew up on English and Hindi translations of Russian works, so translation is important if we want to read the richest literatures in the world.” He agrees with Kannan: “This is the right time to get into bhasha publishing because people want to read good writing, be it original writings or good translations.” Harper has just launched into translations, with a Hindi imprint of the seven Chronicles of Narnia volumes. On the card are Hindi versions of Paulo Coelho’s The Witch of Portobello, Doris Lessing’s The Grass is Singing, and VS Naipaul’s A House for Mr Biswas. Harper is also translating English, Spanish, Portuguese and other languages into Hindi.

“While Indian language newspapers have been doing well, may be the Indian language books market has not been tapped in a proper manner,” says Naved Akber, Penguin Indian Languages section head. Penguin, India’s leading English publisher, which launched its language programme in 2005, is now doing translations from English into bhasha languages and vice versa. Languages like Malayalam and Bangla have high literary rates and hence large publishing markets, including the translation market. “The Malayalam book market has been performing well since 1960s,” points out Krishna Kumar of the State Institute of Languages, Kerala (SIL). Since SIL was established to encourage the production of higher level academic books in Malayalam in 1968, Kumar says all the major Malayalam publishers have come out with academic, literary or popular translations.

(Source: Financial Express)


One Response to “Narnia speaks Hindi now”

  1. aart Says:

    I also loved this book! Do you know Paulo is launching this experiment where he is inviting his readers to adapt the book to the screen?
    Check it out :
    Have a great day

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