Saying 'thank you' to translators on International Translation Day -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Saying ‘thank you’ to translators on International Translation Day

Pakistan Press Foundation

Translation is a thankless job: if you translate well, the credit goes to the original writer and you get a bit of praise, if at all. And if translation does not go well, as often is the case, a debate entails that questions the very utility of translation business and the “value and pleasure of reading it in the original”, not to mention the wrath that a translator earns.

But the fact is a translation, no matter how lacking, is better than no translation at all. After all, how many languages can one learn in a lifetime? It is because of these translators that we enjoy the thoughts of so many different writers and poets from so many different languages. So on International Translation Day, celebrated every year around the world on September 30, let us say ‘thank you’ to translators who toil and burn the proverbial midnight oil, though they get little in return.

During the last couple of years or so, so many literary works from other languages have been translated into Urdu that one must celebrate. Some have rendered Urdu texts into English. Right now I have before me over a dozen translations published during last one and a half years and feel somehow sorry for the translators, because I know these resilient literary enthusiasts would get little or no recognition — or royalties, for that matter — who have done this painstaking and thankless job of translating literary works into Urdu, or from Urdu, out of sheer love of literature or a fascination with words. No matter how big is the ‘thank you’ that you say to these unsung heroes, they can never be compensated, especially in our society wherein the concept of paying royalties to writers is something laughed at.

One way we can say thank you to these translators is to introduce their works. Some of these recent translations are worth it and they open up a whole new world of ideas to us. A few of these translations are:

Vaba ke dinon mein muhabbat

(Love in the time of cholera) is a novel by the world renowned novelist Gabriel Garcia Marquez. This is an Urdu translation by Arshad Waheed, published by Pakistan Academy of Letters (PAL).


Abdulrazak Gurnah is an African novelist and his first novel, Memory of departure (1987), made ripples as it crisply described the life in African countries: poverty, deprivation, unfulfilled political promises and dreams of freedom gone sour. Syed Saeed Naqvi translated it into Urdu recently and Karachi’s Scheherzade published it.

New York ke liye qabr aur doosri nazmen

Ali Ahmad Saeed Isber, known by his penname Adonis, is an Arab writer and poet. Though considered one of the most important influences on the modern Arab literature, he is disliked by the Arab governments for obvious reasons and lives in Paris. This translation of his poems by Anwer Sen Roy is published by Lahore’s Saanjh Publications.

Nobel In’aam yafta adeebon ki kahaniyan

A collection of short stories by Nobel Laureates, the book has just been published by PAL. Najmuddin Ahmed has selected and translated into Urdu these short stories.

Mu’aasir Chini afsane

Muneer Fayyaz has selected and translated into Urdu the contemporary Chinese short stories. Published by PAL, these short stories present a surprising resemblance between Pakistani and Chinese rustic scene.

Jadeed Japani afsane

Translated from English into Urdu by senior translator Shahid Hameed, it is a collection of modern Japanese short stories by some of the most prominent Japanese writers. Lahore’s Al-Hamd Publications has just published its second edition.

Muntakhab Sindhi kahaniyan

Shahid Hinai has translated Sindhi short stories into Urdu earlier and this is his second such collection. This time around he has come up with modern Sindhi short stories. Fazlee Books, Karachi, has published this volume.

Sindhi vaiy/ kaafi

Vaiy or kaafi is a genre of Sindhi poetry. Selected Sindhi kaafis have been translated by Ameer Bukhari. The special feature is that the Urdu translation is versified. PAL has recently published it.

For the want of space, it is not possible to mention some other works translated from Sindhi, Pashto and Turkish into Urdu and published recently. However, some Urdu works translated into English merit at least a brief mention:


The book is a collection of English translations of some of the well-known poets from the Indo-Pak subcontinent. Translated by Tanveer Rauf, it includes translations from the poetry of Mian Mohammad Bakhsh, Khwaja Ghulam Fareed, Ameer Khusrau and many well-known poets of Urdu.

In conversation with legends

Khurram Suhail had interviewed numerous celebrities from different domains. Afrah Jamal has edited and translated these interviews into English. The well-produced book, published by Paramount Books, contains many photographs, too.


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