Besides literature, other publications including academic books, scientific research papers and articles should be translated into Bangla, they said at the seminar on “Translated literature: Literature of translation.”
Bangla Academy arranged the seminar on its premises on Thursday to mark the month-long book fair.
To meet the rising demand for contemporary literature, they suggested a specialised unit be formed to work on translations from Bangla to other languages and vice versa in which the Bangla Academy would play a vital role.
As of day 22 of the fair, a mere 17 translation works have been launched, mostly by young writers.
Shortly after independence, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman had ordered Bangla to be implemented in every sector. However, the work was incomplete due to a lack of skilled manpower and proper guidelines.
Since then, academia has been hit with a crisis in which students are not taught to be well-versed in either Bangla or English, said Prof Khaliquzzaman Ilias.
“Translating literature is a difficult job that requires creativity, and we need skilful, creative minds to carry it out, but have only a handful of experts,” he said.
“We only take English into account when translating, yet for our literature to flourish, we have to consider translating our Bangla works to European and subcontinental languages, and vice-versa,” he added.
To raise our educational standards and research to international levels, there is no alternative to becoming full versed in our mother tongue as well as English to understand any subject of study, the speakers said further. Developed countries such as China, Japan, South Korea, and European nations, who are experts in the fields of science and creative research, implement their work in their own languages.
Prof Abdus Selim, in his keynote paper, said a lack of institutional initiatives is behind the dearth of translations, most of which are carried out on a personal basis, but these efforts need to be brought under an institutional framework.
He called for a government-run “translation centre” where selected literary and research works would be translated. Translations would not need to be literal but should concentrate on preserving the respective culture, language, geography and knowledge of literature, he said.
Poets Mohammad Sadek and Shamim Azad also addressed the seminar, among others. Later, a cultural programme was presented by Sparsho, a publication for the visually impaired.