Interview with Ms Mary Gangaa:
Experience of Salesian Cooperator translator
Darkhan Don Bosco, Mongolia, 15 July 2019 -- Ms. Mary Gangaa, a Salesian Cooperator, is one of the three Salesian Cooperators who will take part in the 2nd EAO Salesian Translators Workshop in Myanmar, 27-29 August. Below, she responds to questions put to her about her very valuable contribution in a language that is relatively new, historically speaking, to don Bosco's charism.
How did you begin or how did you learn to translate Salesian texts?
In 2008, I began working as an English teacher at the Don Bosco Center in Darkhan. At that time I did not know anything about the Catholic religion or about the Salesians. As I was teaching English, I used to make small translations about the Catholic Church, and it was very difficult for me to understand the words and their meanings at first. At that time our chairman, Fr Andrew, was the one who taught me about Catholicism and the Salesian organization. For me, many words, such as “Oratory”, “Assistant”, Preventive system”, and “Spirit of Saint John Bosco” were new. So I asked their meaning from Fr Andrew. He always gave me a lot of explanation. Soon afterwards, Brother Christof came to Mongolia and he explained about Salesians to me, and I taught him English. Since there was no Dictionary or Salesian Glossary, I have learned through the Church, their activities and from the lessons. I was very excited when I read the “Letter from St. John Bosco to his Salesians, from Rome”. Then I continued reading Laura Vicuna and Dominic Savio. After one year I became a Catholic.
But I had a lot of things to learn. Then I received the invitation to become a Salesian Cooperator, and during the lessons I began learning about the life of Don Bosco and his organizations. During the lessosn we were reading a book about Don Bosco and taught each other. It was helpful to us that different priests came to the Cooperator lessons and told us about the Salesian organization. And we watched the movie about Don Bosco and studied many things from the movie. Afterwards, Fr Paul arrived in Mongolia, and we heard interesting histories about the Salesian Saints. Especially when I heard about Saints Versiglia and Caravario, I wanted to know more.
Then I chose to make Pilgrimage to Don Bosco's relic coming to Hong Kong. There we saw the Salesian schools, a real oratory, Catholic churches, and in particular we met Don Bosco’s relics. Then I thought how wonderful are the works has done. Also I observed the faith of the Catholics. That also helped me do a great deal of listening when I went on pilgrimage to Italy and France to Don Bosco's places of study, work and living.
I mostly do oral and written translation from English to Mongolian. So my English into Mongolian is improving but not Mongolian to English. Generally I have learned English in Mongolia. So in the future I need to have more speaking practice in English. I'm not finished with learning, but I’m still learning.
Who or what was more helpful in your translation ministry?
Fr Andrew and Fr Paul were working more close with me, so they helped me to explain much of the [Salesian] organization and its work. And the translation and homilies that I did daily in English to Mongolian helped me greatly.
What were the main obstacles in the translations and how did you face them?
When faced with difficult and uncertain things, I asked the Salesians and talked to them, and they explained it to me by way of story-telling. That helped me do the translation. Also, the book translated into Mongolian about Don Bosco's life has been a great help. Things I did not understand were in the book. For example, Mongolians did not know what chestnuts are. [Chestnut translates into Mongolian as “rabbit kidney” [literally]. But it was in the book and in the movies.
Your working method for translation?
It depends on what I am translating. Sometimes I translate things by making a description, sometimes making it as short as possible. For example, when I translate the Strenna or Words of the Rector Major, I try to translate the speech as briefly as possible, because it should be subtitled after translation, so I need to make it shorter. Instead, I give explanations to make things clear when translating things like the Salesian Spirit, method, history of Saints and their life.
Which tools do you use in translation work?
I often use the English-Mongolian Catholic Dictionary and other simple bilingual dictionaries. In the Mongolian situation, especially where Catholic words and Salesian words are concerned, it is sometimes inappropriate to use Google for translation. So I rarely use Google tranlsate.
What suggestion you can offer to SDB/Salesian translators starting out?
Salesian translators should be able to read [the book ... ] in both languages well and talk with the Salesians as well. Do not worry about asking about what you do not know. Study the story of Don Bosco.
Some suggestions for personal and group translator formation?
Choose appropriate words and share them in the group. For example, some of the names are pronounced differently from English to Mongolian, but have been translated from Korean into Mongolian. Therefore, it is more understandable for readers to use the exact term. When you do group translation, share with others what you are translating.
Any other expectations as a Salesian translator?
I think it would be good to send translators to other countries for training or improving their knowledge of the Salesian work. For example, my English speaking skills are not very good, so I'm happy to be able to go somewhere to improve my English speaking skills in a short period of time.