Bilingual poetry – Tamil/English

Writing poetry is difficult but bilingualising it is another all together. With this in mind it is no wonder that the writer almost started negatively as the poetry of the original is so well-known. The news item starts of by saying that:

Reading a bi-lingual edition of a work-in-translation is akin to living on the border between two friendly nations. You can hop from source text to translated text, making up your mind along the way about several things at once.

Translated by Usha Rajagopalan, this special bilingual edition of the Tamil poet Subramania Bharati’s poems carries that lovely promise.

It is such a shame that the emphasis was not more on that now everyone can have some experience of the original poets words, or that people who have spoken Tamil previously but now speak more English, can get access to the text now rather than the emphasis on the poetry not having the same feel when literally translated. it is such a  shame because from what I read I got some song and drama…so maybe it’s in the mind of the reader and whether you come to it with a positive or negative place.

The writer does relent a little later and says that:

In a small subset of her translations, however, Usha really lets go and thereby almost gets Bharati’s voice. “To the Sun” is one such example:

O Sun! What have you done to darkness?

Driven it away? Killed it? Swallowed it?

Have you smothered it with your embrace,

Hidden it with your light ray hands?

Other translations which do reasonably well are “To the Wind” and “Clarity of mind”. “Kannamma, My Beloved” very nearly works, marred only by the “alas! alas!” of the closing lines.

I for one are happy that these poems have been opened up for me, as I love poetry and I am sure many others will as well.  Lets face it how often do story tellers complain that things have been taken out of context by their peers or it’s not true to the original when all involved speak the same language so I say Bravo and well Done.

There is also another more positive story which can be found below.

1 in 6 children do not speak English at home – UK

Todays news in the Daily Mail

More than one million children speak English as a second language, official figures reveal.

A record one in six pupils at primary schools and one in eight at secondary don’t speak English at home.

The number of non-native speakers topped one million for the first time, rising from 957,490 last year.

with a heading

English a second language to one million pupils as record one in six children don’t speak it at home by Laura Clark

The article goes on to suggest that it costs an extra 600% to educate these children, yet they are overtaking ordinary children in exam results. There will be many negative comments surrounding this I think but we should look at whether there is any correlation between the added cost, individual support and their achievement because there is no doubt that they are closing the gap. If so should we be looking at our class sizes? Just posing the question what do you think?

Read more:

The figures were released as part of an official census of schools taken in January. At some schools, dozens of different languages are spoken.

A separate analysis released earlier this year showed how children who speak English as their first language are now a minority in more than 1,600 English schools.

The number of schools where fewer than half of children are native speakers has virtually doubled in 15 years. Pupils with English as their main language now form a minority in one in 13 schools – up from one in 25 in 1997

The cost of educating a child with English as an additional language has been estimated at up to £30,000-a-year, against around £5,000-a-year for other pupils.

Punjabi is the most commonly spoken language among pupils who do not have English as a first language. Other widely spoken languages are Urdu, Bengali, Gujarati, Somali, Polish, Arabic, Portuguese, Turkish and Tamil.

There are also sizable proportions of pupils who speak Shqip from Albania and Kosovo, Igbo from parts of Nigeria, Luganda from Uganda, Sinhala from Sri Lanka and Amharic from Ethiopia.

GCSE results published earlier this year showed how pupils whose first language is not English are closing the attainment gap with English-speaking youngsters. And they were also more likely to make fast progress in the three Rs between the ages of 11 and 16.

A Department for Education spokesman said: ‘English language skills are vitally important to ensure all individuals and communities can fully integrate into society. We provide schools with funding and teaching materials to help them support children with English as an additional language right through to secondary education.’

The council areas with the largest number of schools where English-at-home speakers are a minority include Bradford with 59, Manchester with 35, Birmingham with 117, Leicester with 40, Luton with 22 and Slough with 19.

In London, the highest numbers are in Newham with 79, Tower Hamlets with 70, Brent with 57, and Ealing with 55.

There are also minority English-speaking schools in towns and cities including Brighton, Milton Keynes, Southampton, Scunthorpe, Skipton and Windsor and Maidenhead.

GCSE results published earlier this year showed how pupils whose first language is not English are closing the attainment gap with English-speaking youngsters.

They are actually outperforming first-language speakers on one measure for the first time.

Some 80.8 per cent of second-language English speakers achieved five good GCSEs or equivalent