The article on “Sarpay Beikman” carried by the GNLM on 25th of July 2020 was interesting as it informed the public of a very important Institution which was set up in accordance with the guidance of our late leader Bogyoke Aung San in his speech at the well known National Planning Conference. The Conference was held on the 6th of June 1947 in the “Sorrento Villa” situated at No. 361 Pyay Road, Yangon. The original name of the Institution in English was “The Burma Translation Society”.
Bogyoke realized that with the gaining of Independence, Myanmar people would need to acquire knowledge to “light up the darkness” if they were to go forward in the world. Reading, at that time, was the preferred way of acquiring knowledge. However books on various subjects and topics in the Myanmar language were scarce. Hence Bogyoke thought it best to have books on various subjects written in foreign languages to be translated into the Myanmar language and published by the Burma Translation Society.
According to the article, the “Sorrento Villa” came to be the venue of the Burma Translation Society as well as it’s printing and publishing facility in it’s early days of formation. As the institution was born out of a dire need , it has lasted with the passage of time and different modes of governments. The present name in English eventually adopted is the transliteration of the Myanmar name, “Sarpay Beikman”.
As regards translation, most of the works of translation has been from English to Myanmar. Many good books written in the English language from works of fiction to books on science, history, literature, politics, biographies, dictionaries, books for children etc. have been translated by many Myanmar writers well versed in translating writings from English to Myanmar. Myanmar translations of books and written materials of other languages are somewhat hard to come by, probably because there are fewer translators of languages other than English. The Sarpay Beikman has been instrumental in promoting, publishing and distributing of the translated written materials.
Nowadays with the advent of the Internet, most people can access the websites for knowledge and information in the English Language. To access the internet for knowledge and information, a fair knowledge of English is required. Hence learning to communicate in English will put one ahead in obtaining knowledge and information, literally on any subject. If one has a communication device and a good command of the English language the world of knowledge is “at one’s fingertip” so to speak.
The Sarpay Beikman should promote not only translations but also original writings in the English language on topics of interest to the reading public so that they may improve their ability at communicating in English and accessing the Internet to broaden their knowledge base. It would also help foreigners to know more about Myanmar and it’s people.
The English language should be viewed as a means of communication, whether spoken or written. Seeking knowledge to keep up with the times is a must, whichever language is used. The English language is after all more familiar to Myanmar people as “English” as a subjects prescribed in the basic education curricula.
Of course any other “foreign language”, if learned to a utility level , can be the preferred language of business and commercial use accepted by many. As mentioned earlier, books written in other foreign languages by famous writers have also been translated by Myanmar writers with a good grasp of the foreign language. Such books may be of interest to many people studying the foreign language or using it at his/her workplace.
The “Sarpay Beikman” could form “Literary Groups”, from among it’s readers and writers, based on different foreign language preferences, to provide “platforms” for exchange of information and ideas on reading, writing and translating reading material written in the foreign language concerned, for the benefit of the Myanmar public.
With Charity to all and Malice to none.