Making Unusual Connections

The interview of Abha Dawesar here was translated by me.

Let me tell you about its background, it will show how diversified, and sometimes unusual, our sources of work and connections can be.

This year’s Salon du Livre (the Paris French Book Fair) featured India as Special Guest. Tirthankar Chanda, the author of the interview, is a literary critic for several French newspapers, a journalist on Radio France International and also a professor of Indian Literature and Bengali at INALCO, where I was recently learning Bengali. He is also an expert on African literature and literature of the South. He would probably qualify as a ‘/’ slash careerist!

One day at INALCO, he approached me and asked me if I could translate this interview for him. I was surprised at first, and I must say, a little nervous. Tirthankar Chanda, being Indian, is an expert of English and he writes perfect French. For this reason, and because I translate technical texts mainly, I felt a little uncomfortable, but I ended up accepting the job. The next two hours saw me at INALCO’s library, toiling away as if I was taking my first translation exam, and I’ve been working for almost 30 years!

When you read the text of the article, if you read French, you see that it’s fairly simple. But I checked everything at least 3 times, checked the grammar, the sentences, everything, and re-read the whole thing about 5 times. Never mind. A typo made its way into the copy, and when I re-read it just now, it made me shameful. It wasn’t mine. Still. There’s my name at the bottom. The evil perfectionist in me is grinding its teeth.

Your bonus: For an excellent presentation of Indian literature in French, follow this link.

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3 Responses to “Making Unusual Connections”

  1. Mohar Says:

    I found this entry of yours extremely interesting. Firstly because I am Bengali working as a professional translator( beginner) and secondly I live in France. I have heard a lot about Inalco , had also worked with an ex student , but never had the opportunity to meet any Bengali professor teaching there. Thank for the link.

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