01 August 2006

Translationno Tarjumeyo...

Live as if you were to die tomorrow, learn as if you were to live forever. This famous quote by Mahatma Gandhi has become like a living motto for me. It was my status message in google talk for last 2 months. seena was saying me change status from many days. Yesterday I saw harish's status message in french. So I decided have my living motto as my status message in a different language. I used Google Translate to translate the quote to German. In German it is "Leben als ob du waren, morgen zu sterben, erlernen, als ob du zum libe für immer warst. "

As soon I changed my message in German language Ande pinged me saying what does your status message mean. After knowing the details he said why not the same status message in Kannada. I asked him suggest the translation. This sparked of translation discussion. Ande suggested "Dinavannu Jivisu Nale illadanthe, Gnanavannu vrudhisu neenu chirayu vendu tilidu"

The translation in Kannada suggested by Ande was bit lengthy. Morever the translated quote should convey the same message as the original one. So I thought of passing problem on this problem to Kannada expert Raveesh Kumar.

The evolution of Kannada translation of this saying is really amazing. Its really difficult to describe that in words. So I have mentioned the excerpts of my chat discussion. (thanks to save chat feature of google talk)

Excerpts of my chat with Raveesh Kumar.

Raveesh: kashta kashta
Raveesh: why btw
me: i will put that as my status message

Raveesh: Nale illa ennuvanthe baduku, amaranaaguvanthe kali
second line is not so good
wait a min
me: ok
Raveesh: kaala anathavembuvanthe kali

me: Nale illa ennuvanthe baduku, + kaala anathavembuvanthe kali
Raveesh: Ist line is too good
me: ya
Raveesh: need to improvise the second one
me: try
Raveesh: see this
baduku indige, kalike ananthake...
this should be good enough
me: ya

Then I prompted Ande about Raveesh’s translation. Here is excerpt from chat

me: he is too good
his translation
baduku indige, kalike ananthake
naveen.aswath: suuuuuuuuuuuper cool
it also mean live for today
kalike ananthake is ok
but i am not happy with the first statement

Then I came back to Raveesh about Ande’s comments

me: badaku indige is not right
live as if u were to die tomrrow
Raveesh: yes then modif y the second one of the first try
me: Nale illa ennuvanthe baduku, + kalike ananthake

Raveesh: kone illavembathe kali
this should be the best

me: Nale illa ennuvanthe baduku,
kone illavembathe kali
4:37 PM Raveesh: let me rephrase it
me: ok

me: Nale iillavembanthe baalu, kone illavembanthe kali
Raveesh: yes perfect
me: Nale illavembanthe baalu, kone illavembanthe kali
spelling mistake was there
check my status now
Raveesh: nodide
me: thanks a lot man
Raveesh: no mention

When going back home Raveesh messaged me about enhanced translation
Badukalu nale embudilla, Kaliyalu kone embudilla.
Bingo !!! This coveys the same message as original quote. Also translated quote structure is also nice.

After all these discussion I decided to write a post about this evolution. The result of which is the post which you are reading.

How did you found this post. Feel free to post comments.

PS: Thanks to Raveesh for all discussion. Raveesh you can help Google in implementing English to Kannada translation feature of Google Translate.


  1. hi ande,

    jobless in what sense, it was you who sparked off this translation discussion.

    this blog was just to indicate how difficult is to translate from one language to other.

    in future i feel there will be job for english to kannada translator for implementing translators. it would be more challlenging than usual software engineer job :)

    Thinking 5 years ahead doesn't indicate joblessness :)

  2. Hmmmm...

    Translation from one language is tough. Look at the English films dubbed into regional languages, which makes dialogues awful. Thank god dubbing is banned in Kannada films. But still the flaw is there in the translated books.

    Anyway if the translated text is almost perfect it served the purpose of the discussion

  3. Anonymous8:37 PM

    Well all depends on whether u want to translate or dubb.Generally dubbing is used to preserve the flow present in the original & translate is used if u want the same meaning.
    I guess the best idea is to dubb is if it looks like translation. :)

    Now translate this into English :)

    Ninu namma tande-tayiyara yestane maga

  4. cool one...
    Indu BaaLu Naale Saayi,
    Indu Kali BaaaLe Sari..

  5. Good translation.
    Translation is usually difficult. It needs a good knowledge of both the languages..
    Btw, Bendre's poems are said to be untranslatable!!
    Kendra Sahitya academy award is given for translation also..