Opinion

More on the translation of the Grade 6 Maths Text Book

It was disturbing enough to read Dr. Uswatte-arachchi’s analysis of the English translation of the Grade 6 Maths Text Book but what was more shocking was the explanation offered for the blunders. If not for that, this letter would not have been written. Let me first make my own position clear: I am neither a teacher nor a student, nor have I seen the texts; but I am keen to see that Maths and English are taught properly, as done during my time.

The explanation for the blunders (The Island of November 13) is peppered with references to the "Ministry", the finger obliquely pointing at it. Why? Who made the translation, the "Ministry" or the bright lads and lasses of the English Association? Then, why accept the task if the team was not competent to finish it at the allotted time? My teachers who taught me Latin would have taught me another lesson, not to forget, had I dared to give the same excuse for a shoddy translation of a Latin passage.

This is just curiosity: Did the translating team use the excellent 14-page Sinhala-English glossary of commonly used mathematical terms in the third Maths text Book for the O’Level? All translations should relate to this glossary to maintain consistency. While on this matter, "Data" may be either singular or plural to the pundits walking the university corridors, but to the schooling student struggling with English Grammar it should be plural. Again, Dr. Uswatte-arachchi’s exposures are referred to as gibes", meaning "jeering remarks" (Oxford Dictionary). The prose is well-crafted, a lesson in itself, with its innuendos but, alas, it is maried by this crude term.

The blunders are dismissed as "some infelicities and errors" and as not being "particularly serious". It should be noted that just one misprint in a mathematical sum can make the sum unworkable or un-understandable to a student. Is there such a state when the woman is a little bit pregnant?
I. S. Fernando
Wattala


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