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Conceptual Transfer in Translations of Early Modern Hindi Bhakti Poetry


· Nora Melnikova University of California Berkeley (Berkeley, United States of America)


07/27 | 10:00-10:20 UTC+2/CEST


The ideas proposed in this paper inhabit the intersection of the fields of religious studies and applied linguistics. Based on the case study, the translations of Early Modern Hindi bhakti poetry into English, the ideas of concept transfer as a type of crosslinguistic influence (Jarvis & Pavlenko, 2008) and religion as a eurocentric, non-transferable concept (Fitzgerald, 2000) will be explored. In particular, the paper will examine different ways in which translators dealt with various aspects of “religion” in their translations of Early Modern Hindi bhakti poetry. At the same time, it will take into account the fact that the concept of religion has been a disputed subject, especially since the crucial work of Timothy Fitzgerald was published. While translators might be very well acquainted with a concept network of a different cultural milieu, they cannot evade the task of match-making of non-corresponding concepts for the sake of their audience. That is how dharmashastra becomes a code of law, sant a saint, veda a holy scripture, and dharma religion. When translating devotional literature such as the bhakti poetry, a plenitude of “religious” terminology related issues arise that need resolving. This paper will analyze and classify different types of solutions to these problems that can be found in English translations of poems of the prominent sant poets Kabir, Surdas and Mirabai.