Challenges in Translating a Novel from English into Kinyarwanda: Focus on Mariama Ba’s So Long a Letter

Nyandwi Gilbert • Bazimaziki Gabriel

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(English, 8 pages)


This paper pinpoints challenges encountered in the translation of a literary work from a source language into a target language and how these challenges can be addressed. The researchers want to equip Rwandan teachers and students with the material to be used in literature lessons as most of literature in that context are written in foreign languages. The researchers throw light on the translation of Mariama Ba‘s So Long a Letter from English – originally known as a West Germanic language; into Kinyarwanda, a Bantu language. The paper is geared by the belief that some prose writings which should benefit a wider African audience are greatly affected by a number of factors including language barrier as many Africans do not have any knowledge of these foreign languages. As a rich and complex language, Kinyarwanda is often times affected by foreign languages English included. Translating a novel into Kinyarwanda from English is thus challenging as the two languages are too distant. It was found that Challenges encountered throughout the translation of the novel “So long a letter” from English into Kinyarwanda were mainly related to the translation of unknown ideas, genitive constructions known as "of phases", figures of speech such as metaphors, similes, gender markers , proper names , active and passive constructions , proverbs and proverbial phrases.




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