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Jyothi Vijayakumar, woman behind Rahul Gandhi's Wayanad speech translation, volunteered for job in 2011

On the day when veteran Congress leader PJ Kurien fought an uphill battle translating Rahul Gandhi’s speech from English to Malayalam in Kerala’s Pathanamthitta, Jyothi Radhika Vijayakumar gained appreciation for her accurate translations of the Congress chief’s speeches in Wayanad.

Jyothi is a lawyer and a sociology professor at a civil service academy in Thiruvananthapuram, according to The Indian Express. She is also the daughter of D Vijayakumar, a Congress leader who contested the Chengannur by-election last year.

 Jyothi Vijayakumar, woman behind Rahul Gandhis Wayanad speech translation, volunteered for job in 2011

Jyothi Vijayakumar with Congress president Rahul Gandhi. News18

Jyothi’s translation of Rahul’s English speech in Pathanapuram was appreciated to such an extent that she was asked to do the same for the leader’s speech in Wayanad. “I constantly watch Rahul Gandhi’s speeches. I have imbibed a lot of things from him, both political and personal. That’s part of my mental space, what he says and his ideas. I like watching and listening to him. Like listening to music, I listen to his speeches,” The Indian Express quoted Jyothi as saying.

In the ongoing Lok Sabha polls, Rahul is contesting from Wayanad, apart from Amethi in Uttar Pradesh. On the same day as Jyothi effortlessly translated his speeches, Kurien’s translation from English to Malayalam invited laughs from the audience. The Kerala Congress leader had a difficult time understanding Rahul’s words, forcing the latter to repeat lines, according to The News Minute.

Jyothi, who is a part of the Kerala Congress’ social media team, first expressed her wish to translate speeches in 2011 and has been translating speeches for Gandhi and his mother and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi ever since. “I can handle Malayalam, English and Hindi,” The News Minute quoted her as saying.

Translating speeches may not be an easy task. Among the speeches which have been lost in translation include Narendra Modi’s address during his first visit to Kerala as prime minister, Brinda Karat’s 2016 speech and Rahul’s speech last month in Tamil Nadu.

Last month, when Gandhi addressed a rally in Tamil Nadu’s Nagercoil, his attack on the BJP, stating that the Rafale deal was awarded to Anil Ambani, KV Thangkabalu said in Tamil, “Anil Ambani will never speak the truth”.

In 2014, when Modi apologised in Hindi for his late visit to Kerala, BJP’s K Surendran translated it as "I am very happy to come to Kerala", according to The News Minute.

Inaccuracy of the literal translation of speeches may not be the sole problem. “Having a thorough knowledge of the source language and target language alone is not adequate. There should be an ideological connect. Otherwise, a translator will lose track of the spirit and emotional message of the speaker,” The Hindu quoted BJP leader H Raja as saying.

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Updated Date: Apr 17, 2019 23:04:44 IST