Note for Translators:
Author of the story, Roopa Pai has a few thoughts and tips for translators as they get on to translating this story. A note from her:
In this story, there are certain phrases that could be tricky for translators, because it was written by someone who thinks in English. However, I’ve tried to keep much of it pan-Indian, even universal, in context, so that it would work in any geography or with any language.
Here are my thoughts and tips.
1. Forest-By-The-Sea and Somewheristan should be translated into whatever language, and not retained as such, even though they could be viewed as ‘proper nouns’ and therefore untranslatable. Somewheristan in my mind would translate to ‘Yello-ond-kade-istan’ in Kannada, or even better, because ‘istan’ doesn’t sit as naturally in Kannada as in Hindi, as ‘Yellowondooru’, In Hindi, ‘Kahindooristan’ would work. Forest-by-the-Sea in Hindi would be ‘Dariyabaajuban’ or something similar, and in Kannada could be Kadalakaadu.
2. ‘Breaking News’ could remain as Breaking News – I think everyone in India understands that concept!!
3. The messages that Telephone Voice people say are eminently translatable into any Indian language, since people of that state / region are very familiar with recorded phone messages in the local language. If the story is to be translated into a language that is not an official language of any state, the translator could go with Hindi – yeh number maujood nahin hai, krupaya jaanch le – which everyone has heard on the phone at some time.
4. At one point in the story, Bear is thinking he should be a Sweeper Bear, or a Waiter Bear, or a Telephone Voice Bear. The Telephone Voice Bear has to stay, but translators could choose professions other than Sweeper and Waiter for Bear, which are more natural to the context of the language. Whatever profession you choose for Bear, it should be something that doesn’t require any particular education or skill – something anyone at all can do.
5. The song that the Singing Sardarji sings need not be translated word for word, as long as the sense of the song is conveyed.