LANGUAGE TRANSLATION CAN ACCOUNT FOR THE DEVELOPMENT OF AFRICA
By: Bliss Ndapasowa
Out of more than 6 000 languages in the world, Africa contributes a solid 2 000 (more than 30% of the composition), but contributes less than 1 % of income generated by translation.
The Durban University of Technology Language Practice Lecturer brought this to light from the Department of Media, Language and Communication, Felix Awung, in his presentation at the DUT’s City campus.
In a bid to promote the use of native languages in Africa, Awung delivered his exposition titled, ‘A Bourdiensian Analysis of the State of Indigenous Language Translation in Africa’.
He hailed unequal capital ownership and colonialism as the two main factors influencing the nature of language translation globally.
“Socio-economic agents have created a inferior/ superior dichotomy between African and European languages. Vertical combination translation (African and European language) is successful because of the visibility of European countries in terms of their resources and dominating history,” he said.
He further mentioned that Africans themselves promote this partial existence as the elite still think European languages are better hence establishing the monolingual habitus as an African characteristic.
Awung affirmed the need for inter-indigenous as it will create more visibility for Africa, contribution to conceptualisation of African agendas and opening up new perspective in translation studies (as opposed to ingesting every European ideology that is based on a different context), thereby promoting indigenous knowledge production.
“Studies have proven that if one is taught in their native language they learn faster. Education in Africa still fails because this concept has not been internalised,” said Doctor Maleshoane Rapeane-Mathonsi from DUT’s Faculty of Arts and Design upon interaction.
Awung concluded by suggesting the need to explore the role horizontal combination translation (African to African language) can play in the socio-economic, scientific and cultural development of Africa.
Professor I. Bariki from the DUT Department of Media, Language and Communication described the discussion as an eye-opening stimulating talk.
Ideas such as establishment of native language academies for instance creation of a Sesotho academy and allowing students to conduct research in their native languages were suggested as factors that could help implement indigenisation of language translation in Africa.