A Certificate Course, General Semantics and Its Implications in Translation Studies, 8-12 August 2011, Venue: H.M. Patel Institute of Training and Research, Vallabh Vidyanagar





In collaboration with H.M. Patel Institute of English Training and Research Balvant Parekh Centre conducted a Certificate Course in “General Semantics and its Implications in Translation Studies” during 8-12 August, 2011 at H.M. Patel Institute in Vallabh Vidyanagar. 50 students from the Institute and neighbouring colleges participated. Mr. Sunil Shah and Dr. Atanu Bhattacharya, the faculty members of the Institute were the coordinators of the Course. The Course started with a brief inaugural ceremony and introductory lectures by Professor Prafulla C. Kar, and Bini B.S. They highlighted the context of General Semantics and its present relevance. Professor Kar emphasized that General Semantics is not a hollow, inhuman scientism; it is, on the contrary, a way of understanding and inhabiting the world in a more humane way. Bini introduced the basic tenets of General Semantics and its gradual evolution as a methodology and discipline. She threw light on the contributions of Alfred Korzybski, Hayakawa and other major thinkers associated with it. Bini, while explaining the idea ‘consciousness of abstracting’, substantiated with examples how translation also involves a kind of abstraction. She reminded that a good translator should be able to respect and appreciate cultural diversity.

Professor Piyush Joshi of H. M. Patel Institute, who is also a well known translator, recapitulated the major ideas of General Semantics and made his session interactive with questions and discussions. His emphasis was on the linguistic base of General Semantics. Professor Joshi talked about the possible ideational traps in language with interesting examples. He illustrated how by restructuring our sentences a little, there could be a major shift in meaning and comprehension. The students actively participated in the discussion.


Dr. Jadeja


Professor Rajendrasinh Jadeja, the Director of the Institute, the convener of the Course gave a talk on General Semantics and translation. He focused on how the fundamental principles of General Semantics prove useful in understanding language and reflecting on translation. He elaborated on the ways in which GS and communication are linked. While stating the principle that the world as it is cannot be internalized, he also drew attention to the fact that perception of the world involves a voluntary or involuntary process of abstraction. Dr. Jadeja discussed the nuances of the Hindi equivalents of the word translation such as bhashantar, anuvad, rupantar, etc. and emphasized that in certain cases translation is transformation or creating a new metaphor

Dr. Atanu Bhattacharya briefly discussed the basic ideas of General Semantics and analyzed how GS looks at the process of ‘meaning.’ He explained the idea of transmutation or converting language into pictures, music, dance, etc. His idea was to illustrate how a ‘transmutation’ makes sense. He also explained the theory of Bhartrhari on language and meaning very lucidly and emphasized that many a time there is a rupture between ‘reality’ and ‘meaning’ attributed to it through language.


Piyush Joshi & Harish Trivedi


The sessions, jointly conducted by Professor Piyush Joshi and Harish Trivedi, a retired bank official, writer and translator from Anand, on practical translation were appreciated by the students. They gave examples of famous translations which in effect re-created the original work. The central idea was that fidelity to the original should come from a close affinity to it; in other words the text to be translated should be approached with reverence and empathy. Any creative writing may have literal, metaphysical and metaphoric dimensions intrinsic to it. A good translation should capture these levels of signification. A translation not faithful to the original can bury the original and decorate the tomb with flowers of rhetorical flourishes. According to Professor Joshi and Mr. Trivedi, fidelity to the original should not also be a fetish that destroys the beauty and power of the translation. Translation has the potential to be a form of interpretation involving the sensibilities and perspectives of the translator. In the practical session, students were asked to translate from Hindi and Gujarati to English and vice versa. The session became lively as the faculty and students analyzed various versions of translations done by the students. The session ended with the analysis of Makarand Dave’s translation of Khalil Gibran’s “The Prophet” and the idea of approximation in translation which was illustrated through the translations of Suresh Dalal.


Bini B.S took the students on an exploration of the theories and nuances of translation in the works of Susan Bassnett, Walter Benjamin, Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, and Harish Trivedi. On the last day, there were individual and group presentations by the participants on General Semantics and the texts on translation studies provided to them. 


Bini B.S.                                                                      Academic Fellow of the Centre