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Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Translation, The Common Language

Acclaimed Kenyan writer Ngugi wa Thiong'o, famous for turning his back on English and choosing to write intead in Gikuyu in an effort to revitalize indigenous languages, has a new book out for the first time in two decades. Titled Wizard of the Crow, it's billed as "a sweeping satire laced with magical realism", a "global epic from Africa." The author's comments on the translation: ""The biggest challenge was in trying to figure a way of rendering in English the playfulness of the Gikuyu language. Gikuyu is very tonal, and the same word could mean and suggest different things depending on the tone. Trying to translate the musicality of one language into that of another is always difficult. But still, translation is the common language of all languages."


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