Challenges of translating folk stories from Runyankore-Rukiga to English
Zabajungu, Boniface Kerere
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Translation requires assessing and interpreting the meaning of a source language text and expressing the same meaning faithfully and idiomatically in the receptor language. This study has examined the cultural and linguistic challenges of carrying out literary translation between two unrelated languages, on the basis of a sample of five folk stories from Runyankore-Rukiga to English. The former has agglutinating features, which make it semantically and syntactically versatile through the use of derived affixes. English uses inflectional grammatical categories, such as tense, case, gender, number and mood. Where there have been no near equivalents in the receptor language, descriptive phrases have been used to convey the source text’s intended meaning. The “today past/historical present tense, marked with a long vowel, mostly “–aa-/-ee-,” is popularly used in Runyankore-Rukiga to narrate folk stories. This tense makes the narrated succession of events seem to be closer and more appealing to listeners and readers. The English simple past tense, mostly marked by the suffix “-ed,” has been used to translate the narrative clauses of the source today past/historical present tense. The challenges encountered have been noted and applicable generic abstractions drawn out from them. Recommendations have been made towards promoting further literary translations and disseminating literature. Folk stories and literature in general creatively deal with themes about human life. The five folk stories for this study depict the cultural view of the Banyankore and Bakiga about marriage for promoting, not only the nuclear family, but also the extended family through collateral kinship. The fifth story seriously challenges the traditional regard for a witch doctor’s claimed supernatural power of emandwa, i.e. idols, and talismans/amulets to provide divination, healing and protection to life; or negatively to harm a client’s adversaries. Through oral re-telling, radio and television broadcasting as well as through publishing of folk stories as books their didactic and entertainment value can benefit the source language speakers: by fostering a reading habit, literacy and laying a base for development. Through translation the same values can be shared across cultures and languages and thereby add a human factor to the on-going process of globalisation.