Translations of National Literature: Existing Translation Works as Means to Promote Better Understanding among Nations

Malithat Promathatavedi


This paper traces the history of translation from ancient time to the present, especially the translation of literature. The translation of literary works in Thailand also has a long history going back to the Sukhothai Period. Through trade and cultural connection with countries in Asia and the intrusion of Western ideology
and technology, there have been broader scopes of translation. In the first stages translation was of a religious nature. During the turbulent times in history when Thailand was still waging wars with neighboring countries there were many literary works in reference to the wars, most of them glorifying the heroic deeds
of various Thai kings who had fought to maintain peace and sovereignty of the country. In the country-building periods it was time to concentrate on the intellectual side. Eminent writers and poets vied to present their works to the court and artists in all fields produced their works of art. There were poems praising the splendor of the architecture of palaces and temples, the royal barge procession, and even the exquisite cuisine and floral arrangement. After World War II regional cooperation among countries in Southeast Asia has resulted in the launching of several bi-lingual volumes of the Anthology of ASEAN Literatures and the S.E.A. Write Award-Winning Stories in English translations as an attempt to make the literatures and cultures of ASEAN known to the world. In comparison to works translated from foreign languages into Thai, there are fewer Thai literary works being translated into foreign languages. The modern trend in the age of globalization is the translation of romances and thrillers. There is a shift of translation purposes from entertainment to business and economic development and the source and target languages of translation vary. A good translation can promote better
understanding among nations, thus linking people all over the world together in a world made smaller by globalization.

Keywords: translation, national literature, ASEAN, S.E.A. Write Award