Translating technical terms to regional languages not aimed at replacing English

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The National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 has laid emphasis on empowering students from regional languages background. To enable these students to get apt technical education, the All India Council of Technical Education (AICTE) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Commission for Scientific and Technical Terminology (CSTT) to define scientific and technical terms in Hindi and other Indian languages.

Experts emphasise that enabling the teaching-learning process in regional languages is not about replacing the English language. Rather, it is about empowering students, who did not have English as their primary medium of education in schools.

Translation is ongoing


MP Poonia, chairman, CSTT, says, “In alignment with NEP’s concept of introducing outcome-based Engineering education, we have revised English language course books to make them simpler. The next step was to translate them into regional languages,” he says.

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Since 1961, CSTT has translated about 9 lakh words in the fields of law, agriculture and more into the Hindi language. Of these, around 45,000 are technical words for Engineering, adds Poonia. “First-year textbooks for Engineering and Polytechnic courses have already been translated into Hindi and are in the process of being printed,” he tells. While 37 books have already been printed, 170 are in the pipeline and should be printed in another two months,” says Poonia.

The readied vocabulary is enough to translate second-year books for Engineering and Polytechnic courses in Hindi as well. “For this purpose, we have finalised 88 subjects across Electrical, Electronical, Civil, Computer, and Mechanical Engineering. Currently, we are in process of identification of authors who will be able to translate the books into Hindi language,” says Poonia. The aim is to finish this process for the second year by July 2022, he adds.

Other than Hindi


CSTT has identified other major regional languages for the translation of technical terms. These include Punjabi, Urdu, Gujarati, Marathi, Telugu, Tamil, Kannada, Assamese, Bengali, Odia, and Malayali. “The vocabulary of technical terms translated in Marathi and Odia is ready. However, the process of preparing books in these languages is still ongoing. For the other languages, we are looking for experts who can help us with the translation of the identified technical terms and authoring the books accordingly,” says Poonia.

Better understanding


Students in some states were found to be hesitant of taking Engineering courses in regional languages. “Students need to understand that by providing technical education in their first language, we do not aim to replace English. The idea is to move away from rote learning to a more understanding-based education system,” says Poonia.

Explaining, Anil D Sahasrabudhe, chairman, AICTE, says, “In every book, the technical term will first be mentioned in English, followed by the corresponding term in the regional language. The aim is to enable students, who have studied in regional language schools, to have a better understanding of technical terms. With books providing access to translated material, they will be able to study English books and then reference any terms or definitions they are unable to understand in the same coursebooks in regional languages,” he says.

Language is just a tool to understand the phenomenon being discussed, he adds. “While the English term specifies the ‘action’ being discussed, the translation will help make understanding smoother for students more comfortable in a particular regional language,” says Sahasrabudhe.

Another aim is to enrich the regional languages, adds Sahasrabudhe. “All languages take time to grow and become more holistic. The addition of technical terms into the vocabulary of the identified regional languages will enrich the languages and empower students who have done their schooling in these respective tongues,” he says.

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