The recent faux pas in the class XII sociology textbook has brought to the fore errors that crop up during translation of content. Board officials said that most textbooks are first written in Marathi and then translated into Urdu, Hindi and English as it is the medium of instruction used by a higher number of students in the state board. Last year, 12.8 lakh students appeared for SSC exams with Marathi as the first language and 2.3 lakh with English as first language.
The sociology textbook had received flak for saying that `ugliness and handicap' are among the reasons why parents have to shell out a higher dowry to get their daughters married. The textbook, which was translated from Marathi into English, also has several other phrases which subject experts said could have be written in a more academic language.
Experts recommend that the state board should not translate texts in isolation. “A subject expert might or might not be an expert in a language.Hence, the state board needs to team up a language and subject expert when translating the book's contents,“ said Shailaja Mule, a former member of the textbook committee.
Despite several errors in textbooks over the years, Gangadhar Mhamane, the chairper son of the Maharashtra State Board of Secondary and Higher Secondary Education, said for the sake of uniformity , they would have to continue with the ongoing practice. “We are trying to take as much care as we can, but sometimes errors crop up or go unnoticed,“ he said. “If we write textbooks in different languages, there could be a loss of uniformity . Hence, we have to continue with translation.“ Mhamane added that to ensure technical terms are not lost in translation, scientific terms are mentioned in English, irrespective of the medium of instruction.
Teachers suggest that errors in the original or translated textbook could be reduced by roping in retired teachers who could dedicate more time to the task. “The textbook panel has many in-service teachers, who are burdened with daily tasks and may not be able to dedicate enough time for writing the text,“ said a former teacher.