Translation as pedagogy in colonial south India

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This article focuses on the introduction of a new function for translation in a changing context of formal language learning in the Madras Presidency in nineteenth-century south India. Amongst this region’s multiple languages, the article considers language examination papers, examiners’ feedback, and preparatory materials in Hindustani, Tamil and Telugu to reconstruct two developments in relation to translation: first, translation as pedagogy, introduced as a key mechanism in the instruction and examination of languages, increased and made visible the scope of translation beyond the literary context. Second, competition based on translation abilities across diverging professions in the colonial domain promoted greater awareness of the changing distinctions between different language registers and varieties within languages. Paying attention to translation pedagogy undertaken for non-literary purposes is thus important in expanding current understandings of how translation evolved and functioned in colonial South India.
Original languageEnglish
JournalTranslation Studies
Early online date24 May 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 24 May 2021


  • Tamil
  • Telugu
  • Church Missionary Society
  • translation pedagogy


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