Conceptual Priority of Translation over Language

Publication Type:

Book Chapter


A Multilingual Nation: Translation and Language Dynamic in India, OUP, New Delhi, p.309-324 (2018)





<p>The possibility of translation depends on prior notions of a distinction between languages. The notion of a language and its distinction from another language is often taken for granted in the task of translation. Languages are generally distinguished based upon their syntax and membership in linguistic families. However, what makes a system of communication and expression a language or a dialect is far more than the linguistic and syntactic factors alone. We argue that the notion of translation is already present in any notion of language and look at transliteration and creation of languages as illustrations. As an example, we will look at Kannada and its relationship to Sanskrit. When a language like Kannada has borrowed a considerable amount of its lexicon from Sanskrit, how and why should we distinguish between the two languages? What are the implications of such a distinction for the activity of translation?</p>