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Reading: The Case of the Curious Comestible from Bengali into English: Rendering Sarcasm, Polysemy, A...

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The Case of the Curious Comestible from Bengali into English: Rendering Sarcasm, Polysemy, Ambiguity, and Connotation by Direct Translation, Footnoting, Transliteration, and Addition

Author:

Sanjay Sircar

Independent Scholar, AU
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Abstract

A translator's choices include directly translating source language words into the target language (with and without inverted commas), retaining these in transliteration, explaining them in footnotes, and inserting unmarked additional words (a few or many) as seems best. This essay focuses on a single word, a metaphor for reddening in anger, its literal referent most likely the word for a sweetmeat, the Bengali lāl-mohan, used sarcastically (so it seems) for the angry being to whom it is applied. This comes from Gaganendranath Tagore's classic humorous fantasy narrative Bhonda Bahadur (1926), translated in Fantasy Fictions from the Bengal Renaissance (OUP, 2018). This word lāl-mohan has several referents, multiple etymologies, and  pairs of positive/negative connotations. A sense of all these is automatically part of the linguistic capital of the Bengali speaker, and not that of Anglophone readers, pan-South Asian or other.  Hence I attempt to justify my inclusion of what seemed to be the most important shades of meaning, and how I attempted this, and why I left out the others. 

How to Cite: Sircar, S., 2022. The Case of the Curious Comestible from Bengali into English: Rendering Sarcasm, Polysemy, Ambiguity, and Connotation by Direct Translation, Footnoting, Transliteration, and Addition. Asian Literature and Translation, 9(1), pp.1–36. DOI: http://doi.org/10.18573/alt.55
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Published on 30 Apr 2022.
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