The Importance of Anuvad: Translating Yosemite National Park’s Brochure into Hindi

Anya Gupta in Wawona Campground, May 2022
Anya Gupta in Wawona Campground, May 2022

Yosemite National Park is located in California’s Sierra Nevada Mountain range, and is 3.5 hours from San Francisco and roughly the size of the state of Rhode Island. Established on October 1, 1890, the park is home to vast glaciated landscapes, rare sequoia trees, and unique flora and fauna. Over 3 million people from all over the world visit Yosemite each year. I first remember visiting Yosemite when I was in 8th grade for a weeklong field trip. I was so inspired by its beauty that I knew I had to come back!

I returned to Yosemite in 2022 as a park ranger with the National Park Service and spent 4 months working at the Wawona Campground and South Entrance Station. I noticed that there were South Asians staying at the campground, and our camp hosts were the Patels from Menlo Park! I was excited by this changing social landscape in the parks, which was so different from when I was young. When greeting Indian visitors at the entrance, I would excitedly say Namaste! and loved talking in Hindi to surprised guests, who would often exclaim: I didn’t know there were Indian park rangers! I handed out Yosemite brochures in Spanish, German, Chinese, Japanese, and even Italian, but I wondered why there were no Hindi brochures. Considering the sheer number of South Asian visitation, I sensed there was a need for more languages to be represented.

When I came back to Duke after the summer, I had already taken Hindi 305 and Poetic Cinema with Dr. Satti Khanna. When 2023 came, I enrolled in Hindi 306. I asked Satti Ji if he would be interested in translating the Yosemite National Park brochure into Hindi - and he said yes! I contacted the park, and was able to get an English copy of the brochure. I then enrolled in Hindi 407S for Fall 2023, and we started the anuvad as an independent study project.

Every week, I would translate a section of the brochure, and Satti Ji would do the same. Piece by piece, we worked through the whole thing, collaborating at the end as to how certain parts should be phrased, what words would fit best, and what mood, energy, and emphasis we wanted to be represented. The process showed me the beauty in translating something into Hindi: did we want to use a “high Hindi” word or its more colloquial Urdu counterpart? What writing style would be most appropriate for such a varied audience? How could we use a certain word to make the tone of the sentence more serious to convey importance? How would we translate a term like “trailhead”?

This project deepened my understanding of Hindi grammer, vocabulary, and the nuanced beauty in words like kudratan to describe an environment teeming with life. I loved working with Satti Ji, and doing a project my last semester of college that has real world applications. Our hopes are that our work could possibly inspire other National Parks and public lands to look into Hindi translations to accommodate growing South Asian visitorship across the United States. Language is a powerful tool that helps to foster a sense of inclusion and belonging. It makes people feel heard and seen. Representation is integral in the outdoors, and powerful experiences in nature have the potential to change lives - I know it changed mine! I want people to read our Hindi translation and feel that there is a piece of them in Yosemite, and that Yosemite is a place where they are valued, appreciated, and welcome.


A passage from our translation:

Tuolumne Meadows and the high country offer some of the Sierra Nevada’s most rugged, sublime scenery. In summer, meadows, lakes, and exposed granite slopes teem with life. Because the growing season is short, plants and animals maximize the warm days to grow, reproduce, and store food for the coming winter.

ट्वालमे मेडोस और हाई कंट्री सिएरा नवाडा के सबसे शानदार नज़ारे पेश करतें है। गर्मी के मौसम में मैदानों में, झीलों में और विशाल चट्टानों पर रौनक फैल जाती है। क्योंकि गर्मियाँ लंबी नहीं होतीं, पेड़ पौधे और जंगल के जानवर तुरत जीवन बटोरने में जुड़ जाते हैं: फूलते हैं, फलते हैं, औलाद पैदा करते हैं, सर्दियों को लिए आहार समेटते हैं।  


This project would not have been possible without the support and guidance of Satti Ji, who has been an integral part of my Duke experience. I am excited to return to Yosemite next summer and hopefully hand out our translations to visitors. I am graduating this winter with a profound appreciation for the Hindi language, and for the art that is translation!


Here is the link to the translation itself:


Here is the link to the brochures in other languages that Yosemite currently offers: