The taxing art of translation

Baka Bina – “Translation is really hard work, very taxing on the mind”

By BAKA BINA – PNG Aittitude blog

PORT MORESBY – I recently submitted a short story of mine to the Commonwealth Writers competition. It was written in Tok Pisin and I had translated it into English.

Ino long taim igo pinis, mi salim wanpela hap stori igo long Komonwelt Raitin Resis long ples bilong Misis Kwin. Mi raitim dispela stori long Tok Pisin na bihain mi mekim wok tanim tok na putim dispela stori ken long Tok Ingis.

I wrote it in Tok Pisin first then, paragraph by paragraph, rewrote it in English, trying to stick to the meaning as best I could.

Hawsat na me mekim olsem – raitim wanpela stori long tupela tok ples.  Mi raitim stori long Tok Pisin pastaim na bihain mi go long hap ‘paragraph’ (sorre, mi no tingim Tok Pisin nem bilong dispela hap toktok paragraph) na tanim tok igo long Tok Inglis wan wan paragraph. Mi traim insait long ol despela paragraph long istap klostu long ‘meaning’.  Yu ken lukim howsat mi mekim long hap bilong stori mi tok mi salim igo long ples bilong Misis Kwin.

I applaud Dr Dom, because translation is really hard work, very taxing on the mind. Not so much the writing but the ideas that the words must carry, the meaning and the intent. 

I’d say it must have taxed Ed Brumby very much and I also say it is superb work he did in translation.

Mahn ya katim tok em mekim tru tru stret. Wonem tok, Dokta Maikol laik mekim, tanim tok em katim stret ya.

Here’s an extract and translation from my Commonwealth Writers story.

Na Mama Weh? Wonem Samtin Kamap Long Mama?

What Must Have Happened to Mama?

‘Iyeno!’ Kol bilong avinun ikam long baret na san igo daun klostu klostu long hap.  Klostu em bai go daun long silip.  Hangere bel bilong mi tanim tanim mekim mi lukluk go daun long hap weh mama isave stap long em.  Mi tingim, em bai stap klostu o longwe liklik.  Em taim bilong painim aut.

‘Iyeno!’ The afternoon chills followed the depression up and the sun was slowly setting to the west.  Soon it would sink behind the mountains to go to sleep.  I was very hungry when I looked down to see if I could find where mama would be.  I was wondering if she would be near here or at the far end of the garden. It was time to find out.

‘Mama, Iyeno!’ Mi singaut tu long tokples. 

‘Mama, Iyeno!’ I also called out in our language.

Mi sanap antap long maunten  na singaut isi igo down long baret.   Ples igo daun na mi save olsem liklik nek bilong mahn save ron igo daun na long wonem hap mama istap, em ken harim neck bilong me.

I stood at the edge of break going down to the garden and called out softly.  I knew that you just needed to call softly and the call would float down the gully to where mama would be and she could discern my voice. 

Nogat bekim ikam bek antap long mi.  Mi stap long het bilong  gaden na lukluk igo daun.  Mi traim tingim weh hap bai mi painim liklik samting bilong kaikai long holim bel. 

There were no replies back up to me.  I stayed at the head of the garden and looked down.  I tried to think where will I find things to eat to hold up my empty stomach.

Mi tingim laulau tasol em istap arasait long gaden na tu em bilong ol lain kasen bilong mi.  Nogut ol bel kross.  Mi lukluk igo long ples bilong ol guava.  Ino taim bilong guava tasol bai sans wanpela bai stap hait long ol lip. 

I thought about the laulau fruit across the fence in my cousin’s garden.  I did not want to create any angst against me.  I looked towards where the guava trees grew.  It was guava season but I knew there would be a few off seasonal ones out of sight amongst the leaves.

Published by Ples Singsing

Ples Singsing is envisioned to be a new platform for Papua Niuginian expressions of creativity, ingenuity and originality in art and culture. We deliberately highlight these two very broad themes as they can encompass the diverse subjects, from technology, medicine and architecture to linguistics, music, fishing, gardening et cetera. Papua Niuginian ways of thinking, living, believing, communicating, dying and so on can cover the gamut of academic, journalistic or opinionated writing and we believe that unless we give ourselves a platform to talk about and discuss these things in an open, free and non-exclusively academic space that they may remain the fodder for academics, journalists and other types of writers alone. New social media platforms have given every individual a personal space to share their feelings and ideas openly, sometimes without immediate censure. The Ples Singsing writer’s blog would like to provide another more structured platform for Papua Niuginian expressions in written, visual and audio formats while also providing some regulation of the type and content of materials to be shared publicly.

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