StoryWeaver Spotlight: Pallavi Rao

Posted by Remya Padmadas on October 04, 2019

Pallavi Rao has done her MA in English and loves music, literature and painting. She is the daughter of well-known Kannada writer Vaidehi, and has worked on a compilation of talks by eminent theatre personality Sri B.V Karanth (edited by Sri Muralidhar Upadhya). Pallavi has been teaching PU students in several places and currently resides in Delhi. She has translated several storybooks to Kannada including The Night the Moon Went Missing and A Whistling Good Idea on StoryWeaver. 

Q: You carve out time for translating children’s books from a busy life. What do stories in translation bring to young readers?

Young readers unknowingly come to know the culture, way of life and language at a young age itself. I think it is very important to imbibe these qualities at a young age. 

Q: What is your personal relationship to language and/or translation?

Kannada being my mother tongue, I have read and listened to several great writers and thinkers in Kannada. I breathe my language and this helps me bring stories into Kannada.

Q: What is your take on translation? 

Translation is a very responsible task. You have to translate the story keeping its original flavour intact and at the same time giving it the flavor of the language it is translated into. One should have a grip on both the languages i.e., from which you are translating and the one to which it is being translated into.

Q: Translating certain stories must have required a lot of research, especially when it came to STEM-related terms and concepts. For example, stories like A Whistling Good Idea. How did you explore new objects and concepts? 

When I read a story to be translated, I dwell on it and begin thinking it in my language. It helps me to understand the story in local circumstances so that I can translate accordingly. While translating concept-oriented stories like ‘A Whistling Good Idea’, I felt it was such a nice way to make a child understand the concept in a playful manner. Difficult concepts are quite hard for children, but when the same concept is told through games, it becomes simple and hence is more understandable and easy for a child.

'A Whistling Good Idea', translated by Pallavi Rao

Q: You have contributed for us immensely. How has the StoryWeaver journey been? What is one big takeaway from this experience?

Overwhelming. By repeatedly wearing a child’s shoe while translating, it has made me more observant and my mind keeps weaving stories for children from whatever I observe around me!

Q: How do you feel when your story reaches the child?

If I can ignite the imagination of a child and add to the child’s vocabulary through my stories, nothing would be more satisfying. 

Q: What is your key driver in taking up translation of stories into Kannada? 

I have a very strong feeling towards my language. Children in big cities in my state rarely speak Kannada, which is very disturbing. Through these stories, if I can sow seed of love for the language of the land - that would drive me to translate more and more stories.

Q: How else do you think we can join hands to take more stories to more children in more languages?

India has abundant folk stories and poems for children in regional languages. They have to be made reachable to more children in other languages too. For example, in Kannada, we have stories of Panje Magesh Rao, Hoysala, Ullala Mangesh Rao, Ugrana Mangesh Rao, Rajaratnam and so on. Apart from translating stories from English to regional languages, I feel that we should also translate stories from regional languages to English and to other regional languages as well.

Q: When you have been given a story to translate, what is your process, and how long does it generally take?

I read the entire story two or three times, linger on the story and try to visualize the same while working on other chores. I try to keep the language simple, use more of sound words to make it more attractive and increase the vocabulary in children.

Q: What is the hardest thing about translating from English into Kannada? How do you navigate words or phrases that are tricky to translate?

Certain English concepts are not present in Kannada. For example, we don’t have a ‘cape’ in our costume. In such times we have to coin a word in Kannada and ensure that the image is translated successfully to the child.

Q: Do you have any advice for anyone interested in becoming a translator?

Keep the language as simple as possible and make it interesting for children by visualising the story yourself to get the best output.

Q: A book you'd like to recommend to other translators?

From the ones that I have translated it would be ‘A Whistling Good Idea’.

Q: Can you tell us anything about yourself and your job that would surprise us?

Cooking and painting interests me to a large extent. Experimenting techniques in both the fields are the same, I feel.


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We are celebrating International Translation Day, and we are grateful for the support of our wonderful translation partners who help us reach more children, protect linguistic heritage, and build a culture of reading. Here is a post by Archana Nambiar, Research Consultant at Pratham Books. She writes about the work done for the indegenous language, Kora, by Shanto and our friends at Suchana, in West Bengal, India.

Shanto Kora is among the first from his village to have attended college and the first person to have completed a masters education in Bengali. He does not recollect reading any literature in his mother tongue Kora while growing up, let alone children’s books. In 2007 he joined Suchana, a community group working on improving the quality of education to Adivasi children in Birbhum district of West Bengal. Today he is the Secretary of the organization, and works as a translator and development officer for the Kora language.

Suchana’s focus has been on promoting learning through the mother tongue in the early years. The indigenous languages Santali and Kora have a rich oral tradition but no children’s literature. Teachers who teach Santali and Kora children are usually completely bereft of resources for early literacy development. There are very few qualified teachers from these communities who can use their mother tongues in the teaching-learning process. Since 2009, the Suchana team has been developing a series of books in Kora and Santali using the Bengali script that support the multilingual approach to education. By 2014, they had developed 15 books in Kora and Santali that included alphabet primers, number charts, flash cards and storybooks. Shanto was instrumental in developing the first ever primer in Kora language called Allo Pora and a word book.

The collaboration with StoryWeaver changed the way in which Suchana viewed content creation. The StoryWeaver platform allowed them to translate 105 books in Santali and a hundred in Kora within a short span of two years. All these stories are published on StoryWeaver. Suchana has printed 10,000 copies of 20 titles and distributed these books to government schools, pre-schools and other organizations in the region. Both the print and digital stories are incorporated into their mobile library programme which reaches around 3000 children in 25 villages. Librarians from Suchana show the digital stories on laptops to children and conduct read-aloud sessions and related activities. Children are allowed to take the books home to read with their families.

Suchana also works with government schools on using mother tongue based approaches in early years. Santali and Kora books have been shared with teachers from these schools. The books, particularly the bilingual ones, have proven to be great resources for the teachers who are mostly from non-tribal backgrounds, for teaching tribal children. Suchana has recently trained anganwadi workers from 49 anganwadis on using these books and is hoping that these will be adopted for early childhood education.

There is empirical evidence to suggest that learning to read in one’s mother tongue in the early years makes learning more engaging, relevant and enjoyable for children. Children who benefit from mother tongue instruction also learn a second language faster and better. Having access to a variety of books in these languages can help children transition from their mother tongues into Bengali, the state language.

Shanto feels that the storybooks have given certain legitimacy to his language. Until recently, Kora has been outside the realm of literature. He prides himself on his contribution towards preserving a language which might have been on the brink of disappearance. The translation process gave him an opportunity to revive some of the lost words in Kora. People from the Kora community were using several Bengali words instead of the original Kora vocabulary. Together with fellow translators, he re-learnt some of these disappearing Kora words from community elders and included them in the storybooks, wherever possible. Examples of such replaced Kora words are chahalam (tail), jhanahjaha / rik (do things), tayen (alligator), arshi (mirror), taruh (tiger), teyang (brother-in-law), hili (sister-in-law).

‘Cat brushing her teeth and a rat looking in the mirror’ by Rajiv Eipe, ‘Tiger looking at hare’ by Rohan Chakravarty, ‘Tail of a tiger’ by Nirzara Verulkar

Shanto is happy that children from his community can now read in their mother tongue and tell their own stories. He attests to the fact that the storybooks have given children a sense of identity. These books have ensured that Adivasi children can discover the joy of reading. Knowledge of one’s mother tongue is critical to connecting to one’s roots and keeping the cultural heritage alive. StoryWeaver has empowered indigenous writers and creators to create engaging children’s books in their own languages. Shanto is hopeful that he will continue to create more stories for children and is excited about developing his first original story on StoryWeaver.

Watch our interview with Shanto here.


You can read the storybooks translated by Shanto and access StoryWeaver’s Kora library here.

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Kumarika Mohanty is an Electrical Engineer and an Infosys staffer. She loves writing about causes that are close to her heart. She is very passionate about her mother tongue Odia and believes in making good use of  Social Media channels to do her bit in propagating the use of Odia by the people who speak the language. 

Here, she writes about Indic language software and tools, and how they have helped her work as a translator. You can read this post in English, here

ମୁଁ ଓଡ଼ିଆ fonts ପ୍ରଥମ ଥର 1997  ରେ କମ୍ପ୍ୟୁଟର ସ୍କ୍ରିନ ରେ ଦେଖିବାକୁ ପାଇଥିଲି |ମୋ ବାପା ପୁନେ ରୁ ଶ୍ରୀଲିପି ଓଡ଼ିଆ ସଫ୍ଟୱେରକିଣି କି ଆଣି ଥିଲେ | ଯଦିଓ ସେ ଇଂରାଜୀ କିବୋର୍ଡ଼ ରେ ଓଡ଼ିଆ ଅକ୍ଷର ଖୁବ ଦକ୍ଷତା ସହ ଆଜି ଯାଏଁ ଟାଇପ କରନ୍ତି, ଯେଉଁପ୍ରକାଶକ ମାନଙ୍କ ପାଖରେ ଏହି ସଫ୍ଟୱେର ନଥାଏ, ତାଙ୍କୁ ଲେଖା ଗୁଡିକ ଦେବାରେ ବହୁତ ଅସୁବିଧା ହୋଇ ଥାଏ | ଲେଖା ଗୁଡ଼ିକଆଗ ପ୍ରିଣ୍ଟ କରି ପୁଣି ଥରେ ଟାଇପ କର ଯାଇ ଥାଏ |

କିଛି ବର୍ଷ ପୂର୍ବେ ୟୁନିକୋଡ ଫଣ୍ଟ ରେ ଓଡ଼ିଆ ଲେଖା ଟାଇପ କରିବାର ସୁବିଧା ଥିବାର ଜାଣି ଖୁବ ଭଲ ଲାଗିଲା | ୟୁନିକୋଡ ରେଭାରତୀୟ ଭାଷା ଲେଖା ଯିବାର ସୁବିଧା ଏକ ପ୍ରକାର ବରଦାନ ସ୍ୱରୂପ | ଏବେ ବିଶ୍ୱ ସାରା ଭାରତୀୟ ଲେଖା ଅତି ସହଜ ରେପଠା ଯାଇ ପାରିବ | ସୋସିଆଲ ନେଟୱର୍କିଙ୍ଗ ର ଚାହିଦା ଏବେ ବଢ଼ିଛି ଏବଂ ଭାରତୀୟ ଭାଷା କୁ ଏହା ମାଧ୍ୟମ ରେ ବହୁତପ୍ରୋତ୍ସାହନ ମିଳୁଛି | ମୁଁ ମୋ Windows ଫୋନ ରେ "Type Odia" ନାମକ ଏକ ଆପ ଇଂସ୍ଟଲ କରିଛି  | ଏହାକୁ ବ୍ୟବହାର କରି ମୁଁଟ୍ୱିଟର ଓ ଫେସବୁକ ଦ୍ୱାରା ଅଗଣିତ ଓଡ଼ିଆ ମାନଙ୍କ ସହ ମୁଁ ଯୋଗାଯୋଗ କରି ପାରୁଛି | @nidhi_budha, @wearebbsr, @BBSRBuzz, @akala_kushmanda ପରି କିଛି ଟ୍ୱିଟର handle ଓଡ଼ିଆ ଓ ଓଡ଼ିଶା ବିଷୟରେ ଭଲ ତଥ୍ୟ ଟୁଇଟ କରନ୍ତି| କେତେକ ବ୍ଲଗ ମଧ୍ୟ ଅଛି ଯାହା ମୁଁ ସମୟ ସମୟରେ ପଢ଼ି ଓଡ଼ିଆ ଓ ଓଡ଼ିଶା ବିଷୟରେ ବହୁତ କଥା ଜାଣିବାକୁ ପାଇଥାଏ, ଯେପରି-https://akalakushmaanda.wordpress.com/ , http://www.ameodia.com/ and http://www.bhubaneswarbuzz.com/ 

                                               

ଗତବର୍ଷ ମୁଁ Pratham Books ସହ କାମ କରିବାର ସୁଯୋଗ ପାଇଲି ଓ ଦୁଇଟି ଅନଲାଇନ ଏଡିଟର ସାହାଯ୍ୟ ରେ ପୁସ୍ତକଅନୁବାଦ ଓ Proof Reading କରୁଥିଲି - Branah (https://www.branah.com/oriya) ଓ  Tamilcube (http://tamilcube.com/oriya/). ଦୁଇଟି ଏଡିଟର ଏଥିପାଇଁ କାରଣ ମତେ ଯୁକ୍ତାକ୍ଷର ଗୁଡିକ ରେ ଅସୁବିଧା ହେଉ ଥିଲା| Pratham Books ର ମେନକା ରମଣ ଙ୍କୁ  ମୁଁ ଧନ୍ୟବାଦ ଜଣାଉଛି କାରଣ ସେ ମତେ Google Input Tools  ବିଷୟ ରେଅବଗତ କରାଇଲେ | ଏହା ଉପଯୋଗ କରି ଖୁବ ସରଳ ରୂପେ ସୁବିଧା ରେ ଓଡ଼ିଆ ୟୁନିକୋଡ ରେ ମୁଁ ଟାଇପ କରି ପାରୁଛି | ଏହାର ଉପଯୋଗ ରେ ବନାନ ରେ ତ୍ରୁଟି କରିବାର ସମ୍ଭାବନା ଖୁବ କମ ରହୁଛି |

କିଛି  ଦିନ ପୂର୍ବେ ମୁଁ ଏକ ଉଇକିପିଡିଆ ର ନିର୍ଦେଶ ପୁସ୍ତିକା କୁ ଇଂରାଜୀ ରୁ ଓଡ଼ିଆ କୁ ଅନୁବାଦ କରୁ ଥିଲି | ସେଥିରେ ମୁଁ ଜାଣିବାକୁପାଇଲି ଯେ MediaWiki ନାମରେ ଏକ ଅନଲାଇନ ଅନୁବାଦ କରିବା ଉପକରଣ ଅଛି | ମୁଁ ଏ ଯାଏଁ  ତାହା ବ୍ୟବହାର କରିନାହିଁମାତ୍ର ଏତିକି ଜାଣିବାକୁ ପାଇଲି ଯେ ସେଥିରେ ଛୋଟ ଛୋଟ ବାକ୍ୟ ଅନୁବାଦ କରାଯାଇ ପରେ |ଅନୁବାଦକ ମାନଙ୍କ ପାଇଁ ଏହିଅନଲାଇନ ଉପକରଣ ବହୁତ ଉପଯୋଗୀ ହେବ | 

ଓଡ଼ିଆ ୟୁନିକୋଡ ପାଇଁ ଆଜିକାଲି ବହୁତ ଗୁଡିଏ ସଫ୍ଟୱେର, ଅନଲାଇନ ଉପକରଣ ଓ ଆପ୍ପ ଆସିଲାଣି | ଏହି ଲିଙ୍କ ରେସେଗୁଡିକ ରୁ କିଛି କିଛି ଲେଖା ହୋଇଛି - http://odia.odisha.gov.in/it-tool-for-viewing-odia-in-browser.html

You can read some of Kumarika's translations to Odia on StoryWeaver here and you can follow her on Twitter @kumariika

Do you have a favourite software on online tool for translation? Tweet us @pbstoryweaver or write to us [email protected] and tell us what it is! 

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