India is an immense country, and its borders encompass many different cultures. According to Ethnologue, 452 individual languages are spoken there, which means that many communities are divided by language barriers. Now, a new translation project is using children’s stories to build bridges between the different language communities in the Northeast portion of the country.
According to the Indian Express, the project involves translating traditional children’s stories from six different languages:
- Assamese, the official language of Assam.
- Bodo, the language of Assam’s Bodo people.
- Khasi , the language of the Khasi people, who live in the state of Meghlaya, Assam and in Bangladesh.
- Garo, spoken by the Garo tribe in Meghalaya.
- Manipuri, the primary language spoken in the state of Manipur.
- Mizo, the language of the Mizo people of the state of Mizoram.
The project involves taking six stories from each of these languages, translating them into English and then translating them into each of the other languages. Then, published editions of the stories will be made available in each language so that children from the different regions can read each other’s stories. It’s a fun way to connect neighboring communities with different cultures.
Professor A C Bhagabati, the regional head of the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts, which underwrote the project, told the Indian Express that the project “is a massive initiative to promote inter-cultural and literary exchanges among the six languages. An effort of such a magnitude has never taken place in the country.”
Arup Kumar Dutta, a popular Indian children’s author who assisted with the project, called the project “a rediscovery of the colourful multi-ethnic heritage of the Northeastern region….And once these books are brought out in English (which is not included in the current project), the rest of the world will also get an interesting insight into the world of children literature in the region.”
We can’t wait to see the results!