Department of English organizes seminar on “Bengali Literature in Translation”


The Department of English, University of Asia Pacific (UAP) successfully organized a seminar on “Bengali Literature in Translation” on June 18, 2019. The renowned academics and translators, Professor Dr. Niaz Zaman and Professor Dr. Fakrul Alam were invited to speak on the occasion. The honourable guests talked about the practical problems faced by the translators and the prospect of translation in Bangladesh. They also put emphasis on the various aspects that are needed to be focused to be a good translator.

The seminar was anchored by Ms. Ismat Zarin, Assistant Professor, Department of English, UAP. The discussion was divided into two sessions where Professor Dr. Niaz Zaman and Professor Dr. Fakrul Alam presented their papers respectively. Both the sessions were followed by question-answer segments.

In the first part of the seminar, the well-known translator and a supernumerary Professor of University of Dhaka, Dr. Niaz Zaman presented her paper titled “Style and Texture in Translation”. She started her speech by saying that a translator should be recognized as an artist. In her speech, she focused on was what others components required to be a good translator. In this regard, Dr. Zaman said that the translator needs to draw on all resources available to him/her and he/she must have patience to read every word and line of the original to see what the writer meant. Furthermore, she discussed several issues encountered by the prospective translators of Bangladesh. She said, “Respect has to be given to the translator”. As for the responsibilities of a translator, Dr. Zaman told that a translator should not take away the style and texture from the original piece by means of addition and mistakes. To make it more comprehensible, she shared a few hands-on examples from a number of translated works. During the question-answer segment, Dr. Zaman put emphasis on the translator’s knowledge of the language and the culture of the text. She wrapped up the session by saying, “Translation is a duty to convey the original.”

During the second part of the seminar, reputed academic, writer and translator, Dr. Fakrul Alam shared his own experience of being a translator. He also presented his paper titled “Translation from Bengali to English”. “The best translation is when the translator is in possession”, with this statement, Dr. Alam said that the translators need to translate what they like and they have to get to the mind of the original. He also talked about his involvement in translating Jibanananda Das, Mir Mosharraf Hossain and Rabindranath Tagore. Dr. Alam mentioned the difficulties in translating poetry especially when it is musical. He gave a few suggestions to the budding translators e.g. adding footnotes, endnotes and glossary where needed and always to revise the work once it is completed. As for translating dramas, he suggested that the rising translators should consider the cultural context of the text and the adaptability of the audience. Dr. Alam opined that a translator must be one who uses the target language easily, and also has a reasonably good command over the source language. “A translator has to be a close reader”, he mentioned. He also discussed the process of loss and gain in translation referring to the theories of Bakhtin and his ideas of dialogism, polyphonia and heteroglossia to recommend the translators to have an awareness of the presence of the different voices in a particular text while translating.

“Every act of translation is an interpretation”, Dr. Alam mentioned. He showed two different versions of his own translation of Rabindranath’s song “Bhalobeshe Shokhi Nibhrite” to At the end of the seminar, Dr. Muhammad Mizanur Rahaman, Professor, Department of Civil Engineering and Director, “Institute for Energy, Environment, Research and Development (IEERD), University of Asia Pacific handed over the crests and bouquets to the invited speakers. Afterwards, the vote of thanks was given by Ms. Arjumand Ara, Assistant Professor and Head, Department of English, University of Asia Pacific.