Friday, March 24, 2017

Re: USA Africa Dialogue Series - ³An advice, ² ³a good news²: Errors of Pluralization in Nigerian English

Ken:

Part of what I meant by the younger generatiom being motivated to translate into other Nigerian languages is the disincentive that the monopoly of English as lingua franca has on other major Nigerian languages as economically viable medium of scholarship. 

Your position on the prohibitive cost of translation as a limiting factor against translations into English will be counterbalanced by intra- Nigerian translations if local publishers find that there are enough readers in other Nigerian languages nation-wide to embark on the venture.

Yes, legislating the use of other lingua francas in the country will help in reversing this trend.


Sent from my Samsung Galaxy smartphone.


-------- Original message --------
From: Pamela Smith <pamelasmith@unomaha.edu>
Date: 23/03/2017 14:37 (GMT+00:00)
To: usaafricadialogue@googlegroups.com
Subject: RE: USA Africa Dialogue Series - ³An advice, ² ³a good news²: Errors of Pluralization in Nigerian English

"Soyinka translated a fagunwa novel—had that not happened, fagunwa would remain known only to Yoruba speakers…" – Ken Harrow

 

Ken, I'm not sure this claim is accurate. Literary translation is alive and well. See below a cobbling together of a Fagunwa works short list I am aware of. Granted, Soyinka led the way, but others have continued in the same path in both ENGLISH AND FRENCH. Availability/circulation may be a different story. Also note that in the case of the publication of the Smith and Ajadi translations of Igbo Olodumare, completed in the same year, the latter beat the former to the publishers in a market that cannot sustain duplication – the situation (in the absence of a literary clearing house) in a couple of instances I am aware of.

 

1.        Igbo Olodumare -- English translation titled The Forest of the Almighty, by Pamela J. Olubunmi Smith, PhD dissertation, University of Washington, 1985 –  Unpublished, but Excerpts published in numerous essays

  1. In the forest of Olodumare, A translation of D. O. Fagunwa's Igbo Olodumare, Translated by Wole Soyinka (2010).
  2. Forest of a Thousand Demons, A translation of D. O. Fagunwa's Ogboju Ode ninu Igbo Irunmale, Translated by Wole Soyinka (1968).
  3. Mystery of God, A translation of D. O. Fagunwa's Aditu Eledumare (translated by Olu Obafemi, 2010).
  4. The Novel of D.O Fagunwa - A commentary by Ayo Bamgbose written in ENGLISH
  5. The Forest of God, Annotated translation of D. O. Fagunwa's Igbo Olodumare by Gabriel A. Ajadi, a PhD dissertation (Revised edition, 2005).
  6. The Expedition to the Mountain (The Third Saga) an English translation of Fagunwa's Irinkerindo, by Dapo Adeniyi, (1994).
  7. ALL 5 FAGUNWA NOVELS HAVE BEEN TRANSLATED TO FRENCH by Abioye
  8. I am sure there are others which further search would unearth.

Also, I know Igbo and Edo friends and former classmates, born and raised in parts of Yorubaland (Lagos and Ibadan especially) who read Fagunwa's Ogboju Ode during our Yoruba course/class reading/studies much better (more proficiently) than I did (as a poor Krio-speaking Yoruba learner).

                      

 

 

From: usaafricadialogue@googlegroups.com [mailto:usaafricadialogue@googlegroups.com] On Behalf Of Olayinka Agbetuyi
Sent: Tuesday, March 21, 2017 6:39 PM
To: usaafricadialogue@googlegroups.com
Cc: tunde.bewaji@gmail.com; john.bewaji@uwimona.edu.jm
Subject: Re: USA Africa Dialogue Series - ³An advice, ² ³a good news²: Errors of Pluralization in Nigerian English

 

 

 

Ken. 

 

You stated that if Soyinka did not translate Fagunwa into English it would remain known only to Yoruba readers.  Not so.  There is  now an army of Igbo-Yoruba offsprings who are products of inter ethnic marriages in Lagos, some of whom may become translators and produce Igbo translations given the right level of motivation.

 

Sent from my Samsung Galaxy smartphone.

 

 

-------- Original message --------

From: Kenneth Harrow <harrow@msu.edu>

Date: 21/03/2017 13:39 (GMT+00:00)

To: usaafricadialogue <usaafricadialogue@googlegroups.com>

Subject: Re: USA Africa Dialogue Series - ³An advice, ² ³a good news²: Errors of Pluralization in Nigerian English

 

Hi all

I'd like to refer to moses's fourth point, the question of translation, so that cultural production not remain local.

As I work in literature and cinema, that issue is and has been for a long time a central question in African studies. Achebe vs ngugi.

Ngugi advocated writing in African languages, so as to remain true to the cultural, epistemological values.

Why not? One of my favorite writers among contemporary African authors, boris boubacar diop, opted to begin writing in wolof, and produced a magnificent novel, doomi golo.

On the other hand, if ngugi turned to writing in kikuyu, please note he then turned around and translated it into English for wider dissemination. Are there any novels or plays by ngugi that he has not had translated and published in English?

Soyinka translated a fagunwa novel—had that not happened, fagunwa would remain known only to Yoruba speakers. That is no worse than having Shakespeare known only to English speakers; but when the germans translated Shakespeare into german, that gave a tremendous boost to his expansion onto the world stage. Similarly when freud was translated into French, that enabled lacanian analysis (and the training for fanon) to become disseminated widely. When Lacan became translated into English, film studies and feminist studies turned deeply toward psychoanalytical approaches. Should I go on?

In film studies, carmela garritano distinguished between local twi films made in Ghana for local audiences. Had the films all remained in twi, they would have remained confined to accra and its region. But filmmakers like Shirley frimpong-manso wanted to make films that could be distributed world-wide, she turned to English, as well as to what Ghanaians termed professional looks, to polished post-production, as we have now seen in afolayan's films

Now, folks, if afolayan's films did not have English, or if there were no sub-titles, we who don't speak the languages he employs in his films would be at a loss.

Subtitles, translations, these are how works enter into the global waves of culture. Not everyone wants to do this: but if you and I were to actually sit and talk about African literature, we have to have a text that we share in common, and that means sharing a language.

Let the author decide what language works for him or her in writing a novel. But he or she can't control what languages others know. You can write for your own community, or reach out to others. And if you make a film that costs hundreds of thousands of dollars or millions, you'd better find a way to reach the audience. That might well entail using hausa in northern Nigerian. And if your ambition is to go further, it has to be translated, subtitled, or dubbed.

Lastly, the original almost always is better than the translation. Much is always lost in subtitling. But a great translator can create something even better than the original.

As example might be seen in the adaptation of carmen by jo ramaka, his film karmen gei. I wouldn't want to ask which is better, ramaka or bizet's version: both are wonderful.

And of course, shakespeare's own plays were based on earlier written texts as well. Texts written in other languages. Without translation there'd have been no Shakespeare either. We live by sharing across culture, and culture breathes when it can reach outside its own closely confined world.

ken

 

Kenneth Harrow

Dept of English and Film Studies

Michigan State University

619 Red Cedar Rd

East Lansing, MI 48824

517-803-8839

harrow@msu.edu

http://www.english.msu.edu/people/faculty/kenneth-harrow/

 

From: usaafricadialogue <usaafricadialogue@googlegroups.com> on behalf of "meochonu@gmail.com" <meochonu@gmail.com>
Reply-To: usaafricadialogue <
usaafricadialogue@googlegroups.com>
Date: Monday 20 March 2017 at 11:30
To: usaafricadialogue <
usaafricadialogue@googlegroups.com>
Cc: "
tunde.bewaji@gmail.com" <tunde.bewaji@gmail.com>, "john.bewaji@uwimona.edu.jm" <john.bewaji@uwimona.edu.jm>
Subject: Re: USA Africa Dialogue Series - ³An advice, ² ³a good news²: Errors of Pluralization in Nigerian English

 

It is sad to see this edifying discussion degenerate into this, but a few quick points preceded by a declaration:

 

I have been following the thread and the contributions of Farooq and Ken have captured by own position so excellently that I saw no need to contribute. After reading Oga Falola's penultimate post, however, I feel that a few submissions would be in order.

 

1. Despite the effort of the mild-mannered and polite scholar, Ken Harrow, to explain that the notion of English being the property of the British or of Euro-America is wrong, some responses have continued to proceed from that erroneous, ironically neocolonial idea. Falola challenged us to name countries that have developed by operationalizing the languages of other people, implying that English is not Nigerians' property, that it belongs to others. It is only if you believe this foundational fallacy that you'd believe that when Nigerians master English, they are embracing someone else's linguistic heritage and abandoning their own--the largely outmoded argument about about linguistic imperialism. It should be self-evident that the notion of linguistic imperialism dissolves considerably when the language in question is now democratized and domesticated in several locales and when the original possessors of that language have lost control of it while those who adopted it have shaped and reshaped it in line with their own communicative and cultural predilections. Even the canonization of standard English was not--is not--an exclusively Euro-American affair as stakeholders in the language's multiple varieties have contributed to the institution and convention we now know as standard English.

 

2. There is also, in Falola's and others' contributions, the erroneous assumption that Euro-American modernity--or modernity as a generic category--inheres in English. This is a claim made by generations of Eurocentric scholars and hegemons. It has been challenged successfully by postcolonial theorists, literary scholars, historians, and others, who have rightly sought to decenter modernity, locate it in multiple locales, practices, discourses, and linguistic communities, and to puncture the claim of haughty imperialists that they bestowed modernity on benighted subalterns through the instrumentality of the English language and English language education. Mainstream concepts such as parallel modernities, vernacular modernities, alternative modernities, etc--which we now take for granted as commonsensical givens--signal how successful the project of provincializing Europe and its modernity and of recognizing modernity's polyvalent manifestation and provenance has been. Yet some contributors here seem to be reifying this debunked claim and inadvertently rehabilitating it through their claim that modernity is coextensive with the English language. Even the British colonial variety of modernity, encoded in post-Enlightenment claims to universality, is not as Euro-American in provenance as was previously thought. You only need to read Simon Gikandi's Maps of Englishness to know that colonial subalterns in non-Western locales helped constitute and reconstitute the iconic edifices of Englishness and its associated modernity.

 

3. Therefore, it is problematic to equate the mastery of English with a capitulation to a "foreign" English modernity or culture. That culture, to begin with, is hardly English in the strict Manichean way some are arguing here. Colonial culture and colonial modernity are as Nigerian as they are English. There were as many subaltern actors in making colonial modernity as there were English people. Secondly, it is condescending and even a tad insulting to Nigerians to imply as some have done here that they are incapable of separating the linguistic utilitarian benefits of English from its cultural components--that in fact when they choose to master English in order to participate in global professional and intellectual currents or to be conversant in the dominant epistemic vocabulary of our world, they are assimilating to a foreign culture. Nigerians are capable of smartly adopting the utilitarian ethos of English without uncritically embracing whatever cultural resources may be conveyed by the language. We as scholars should not arrogantly infantilize our African subjects, who are in most cases smarter and more pragmatic than we give them credit for. Nigerians do not need to be protected or shielded from what we assume to be the culturally corrosive effects of English mastery. They are capable of making a distinction between the ways of the English and the globally utilitarian language called English.

 

4. Much of the attack on English by people whose intellectual and professional trajectories have been defined by a mastery of standard English seems driven by a simplistic and self-destructive Afrocentric impulse. Self-writing is a noble endeavor, but it becomes counterproductive when it devolves into epistemic self-isolation. If indeed Africa possesses a rich intellectual and scholarly heritage that we complain is yet to be shared with or recognized by the broader global world of scholarship how can the solution be to further isolate this heritage from the global intellectual pool by enunciating it in Africa's languages, which are unintelligible to outsiders? I don't get this type of logic. It seems to me that the urgent task facing Africanists is to seek pathways into consequential global scholarly and intellectual conversations, pathways through which the insights and contributions of African vernacular and other epistemologies can enter into dialogue with epistemologies of other places and eventually take its place in the arenas where paradigms and consensuses are consecrated. If we publish and write in our languages, we are writing for for ourselves, essentially. How is such an incestuous intellectual enterprise going to enable African epistemology to enter into the global scholarly marketplace and be appreciated and engaged with? There is already a model for subaltern epistemologies entering the global English-language epistemological canon. Indian social scientific and humanistic scholars are today some of the most influential in the world, but they did not enter into global scholarly reckoning by complaining about linguistic imperialism or advocating for a return to Indic languages, modes of self-representation, and esoteric discourse, but by translating the unique insights and properties of Indic vernacular epistemologies into English and specifically into the high theoretical academic lingo of the Euro-Americn academy. Western theorists and academics took notice. They had to. They began to engage Indian scholarship on its own terms but they did so only because the language in which this scholarship came to them was relatable, familiar. There was a shared linguistic space where productive engagement was possible. Pius Adesanmi has a brilliant article that documents and analyzes this process. By all means let us create platforms for indigenous African knowledge to thrive, but let us also prioritize translation, not just in the mechanical or literal sense but also in the epistemic sense of transporting entire intellectual repertoires from our localized and limited languages into a language and lexicon that is intelligible to global scholarly audiences. For good or ill, that linguistic medium is English, along with its associated disciplinary jargons.

 

5. Malami's narrative is a great example of providing recognition and visibility to vernacular African scholars and intellectuals, but it is ultimately an incestuous enterprise. To really bring the caliphate's intellectual heritage as espoused by Talata Mafara and Waziri Junaid to the world and gain recognition for its unique contributions to scholarship, you need to translate the ideas and productions into English and not allow it to be accessible only to Hausa- and Ajami-literate people. In the same Sokoto example, how could a non-Hausa speaking person in the audience have accessed the insightful points the Waziri made? By the way, we have Hausa and Arabic departments in most universities in the far north of Nigeria. These are a self-enclosed intellectual communities with a shared medium of intelligibility where scholarship and scholarly conversations are conducted in Hausa and Arabic. It seems to me that rather than railing against English and raising the straw man of an Anglophilic educational curriculum, we should be asking the departments of Hausa and the departments of Arabic and Islamic studies to collaborate and promote the study of this caliphate corpus and their producers while also promoting the work of translation to bring this vast scholarship into the global scholarly mainstream, which is at present English-denominated.

 

On Mon, Mar 20, 2017 at 7:44 AM, Toyin Falola <toyinfalola@austin.utexas.edu> wrote:

To the great minds, let us stay close to the arguments. The thread on language is a good one as we all are seeking answers. Indeed, I have been forwarding them to UNESCO and the African Union.

Whenever I am on the road, I contract the moderation of the site, and I also press the button without reading.

I must confess that I am reading the insult and counter-insult for the first time. I apologize.

I will do my private calls as usual.

I take full responsibility.

TF

Toyin Falola

Department of History

The University of Texas at Austin

104 Inner Campus Drive

Austin, TX 78712-0220

USA

512 475 7224

512 475 7222 (fax)

 

From: dialogue <USAAfricaDialogue@googlegroups.com> on behalf of "Farooq A. Kperogi" <farooqkperogi@gmail.com>
Reply-To: dialogue <
USAAfricaDialogue@googlegroups.com>
Date: Monday, March 20, 2017 at 6:36 AM
To: dialogue <
USAAfricaDialogue@googlegroups.com>
Cc: Tunde Bewaji <
tunde.bewaji@gmail.com>, "john.bewaji@uwimona.edu.jm" <john.bewaji@uwimona.edu.jm>
Subject: Re: USA Africa Dialogue Series - "An advice, " "a good news": Errors of Pluralization in Nigerian English

 

 

On Mon, Mar 20, 2017 at 3:52 AM, 'Ayotunde Bewaji' via USA Africa Dialogue Series <usaafricadialogue@googlegroups.com> wrote:

lgnorance breeds arrogance. A tale told by any idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing. Komolafe is right, "May God save us from ourselves". We should give the last word to Oga Farooq, and done. That way there shall be linguistic peace in the land, and Boko Haram will vanish. Shikena. Ire o.


Ayotunde,

 

You should know about ignorance because you embody it. The thoughtless, dimwitted excerpt above shows the depth of the ignorance that holds your fatuous mind hostage. When people are denuded of substance and have no capacity for deep intellectual engagement, they get into an unwarranted vituperative frenzy and throw cheap, pedestrian insults at their intellectual superiors. Do you have anything intelligent to contribute to the debate? Of course not. It's above your intellectual pay grade. Your sterile, vacuous mind has no capacity to grasp complex, nuanced thoughts, so all you do here is post inane, insult-ridden gibberish. Since the discussion has degenerated to this low ebb, I am out. I am disappointed that Professor Falola would allow this malicious illiteracy to escape moderation.

 

Farooq

Farooq A. Kperogi, Ph.D.

Associate Professor

Journalism & Emerging Media
School of Communication & Media

Social Science Building 

Room 5092 MD 2207

402 Bartow Avenue
Kennesaw State University

Kennesaw, Georgia, USA 30144
Cell:
(+1) 404-573-9697
Personal website:
www.farooqkperogi.com

Twitter: @farooqkperog

Author of Glocal English: The Changing Face and Forms of Nigerian English in a Global World

"The nice thing about pessimism is that you are constantly being either proven right or pleasantly surprised." G. F. Will

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