Translation of Kannada literature (ಕನ್ನಡ ಸಾಹಿತ್ಯ)

With more than 43 million native speakers and many second-language speakers, Kannada is a major language of India that belongs to the Dravidian family of languages. It is spoken primarily in the southwest state of Karnataka, which neighbors the state of Goa, where many Kannada speakers also live.

Sandstone Hills at Badami
The Sandstone Hills at Badami

Kannada has a history that can be understood as superficially corresponding to the history of English:

Kannada English
Old 450–1200 550–1066
Middle 1200–1700 1066–1450
Modern 1700–present 1450–present


Both languages have a long-established literature as well, with the first poem in Old English considered to be “Cædmon’s Hymn” from around 675 and the earliest piece of Kannada literature being “Kavirajamarga (ಕವಿರಾಜಮಾರ್ಗ)” from around the year 850. Other great works in Kannada can be found in the Wikipedia list of milestones.

Yesterday, The Hindu announced that translations of two Kannada novels would be released in English. The novels are:

  • The Other Face by Na Mogasale, a novel spanning several generations of a Havyaka Brahmin family and exploring caste and how society adapts to changing times.
  • A Shrine for Sarasamma by Shivaram Karanth, a novel written in 1937 about Indian womanhood

The translation of fiction requires serious dedication to convey nuances in language and culture, and the efforts by translators N. Thirumaleshwara Bhat and D. A. Shankar will enrich English literature through Kannada culture.

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