Translation, Script and Orality: Becoming a Language of State


Author: Rochelle Pinto
Asst. Editor: Dale Menezes | Kannada Editor: Mabel Mascarenhas

9789354420047 | Hardcover | pp. 408 | 2021 | Orient Blackswan

Translation, Script and Orality: Becoming a Language of State traces debates around transcription/translation in Konkani that eventually contoured the development of the language towards nationalist or state-seeking forms.

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The book argues that formal literary transcriptions and translations in Goa were an effort to amend a language that nationalist philology once found inadequate. They tended to salvage a sixteenth-century version of the Konkani language as a correctional practice in response to its expanding use in popular print. Transcriptions, in particular substituted elements such as the Roman script, which were seen as an aberration. Viewing the convergence of nationalism and comparative philology as a point of departure, this suggests there are two processes underway in translations across the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. One is an often-unstated rendition from an oral practice to a written text. From the perspective of nationalist philology, however, Konkani also had to be restored from the point when it had been alienated from itself, transcribed into what a majoritarian discourse saw as an alien script.

Translation, Script and Orality: Becoming a Language of State traces debates around transcription/translation in Konkani that eventually contoured the development of the language towards nationalist or state-seeking forms. Though the book is structured around contemporary linguistic states such as Goa, the author argues for a focus on aspects of language that deviate from the nationalist literary norm. The present volume is structured as a long essay, interspersed with excerpts from the introductions and prefaces to transcribed/translated texts. The historically significant extracts demonstrate the shifts in perspectives with regard to transcription and translation, and reveal how what was once termed a dialect, acquired the symbolic attributes of cultural dominance necessitated by nationalist discourse.

The book has excerpts from Narayan P. Desai’s thesis, Rocky Miranda’s Old Konkani Bharata and essays and introductory texts by Fr. Pratap Naik, Melvyn Rodrigues and William R. da Silva, among others.


Rochelle Pinto
Asst. Editor: Dale Menezes, Kannada Editor: Mabel Mascarenhas







Year of Publication:



Orient Blackswan





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The book can be said to consist of four sections: the first two sections deal largely with the discomfort around the Roman script in Goa and it argues that translations became the space where the language could be ‘corrected’.

The book argues that the rejection of the Roman script was so vehement, that transcriptions need to be treated as translations. This is because transcriptions from the Roman script read as though the text was addressed to a different community, and because transcriptions were treated as a means to recuperate the language from its problematic past. One of the highlights is that it examines some discussions about konkani script in the 1950s – with a few articles from Vaureaddeancho Ixtt, A Vida, etc. articles by Cristovão Pinto, Mariano Saldanha, Pedro Correia Afonso and Pe. Conceição Rodrigues, one of the few people to defend popular Konkani. It carries excerpts from Rocky Miranda’s the Old Konkani Bharata, excerpts from a speech made by Suniti Kumar Chatterji at the tenth session of the All India Konkani Sahitya Parishad in 1974, which explicitly stated that translations of the Mahabharata and Ramayana would be beneficial. It also discusses the approach of Msgr. Dalgado and Mariano Saldanha.

The third sectopm is about translation into and from the Kannada script. This section has been edited by Mabel Mascarenhas, and carries essays largely in the Kannada script.

The last section is a collection of critical essays by authors including Victor Ferrão, Jason Keith Fernandes, Teotónio de Souza, and Vidya Pai.

It cites a rare book – a nineteenth century text in Arabic script said to be a translation into Konkani of A history of the saints from Adam. In addition it carries an excerpt from a thesis by Narayan Desai.

About the Author

Rochelle Pinto is an independent researcher. She has held research fellowships at the L’Institut d’Études Avancées, Nantes (2019–20), the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library, New Delhi (2015–2017), and the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, Delhi (2014–2015). She taught at Delhi University, FLAME, Pune and at Centre for the Study of Culture and Society, Bengaluru, where she co-directed a two-year project, ‘Archive and Access’, funded by the Sir Dorabji Tata Trust, Bombay (2009–2011). Her first book, Between Empires : Print and Politics in Goa (2007) was awarded the Hira Lal Gupta Research award (2009). Her other publications include, ‘The Foral in the history of the comunidades of Goa’ in Journal of World History (June 2018), ‘Govinda Samanta, or eluding ethnography in the colonial novel’, in Novel Formations (2019), and ‘Settling the land – the village and the threat of capital in the novel in Goa’ in Commodities and Affect (2017). She co-authored ‘Archives and the State’, an ethnographic account of the state of archives as an online publication for the Centre for Internet and Society, Bengaluru.


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