Bible Translation

Author: Viggo Søgaard
Published by: Lausanne World Pulse, September 2009

The issue of non-readers is an issue for all countries, as we see reading declining even in countries with high literacy rates. It has been estimated that in some African countries printed scripture only reaches around ten percent of the population. The challenge is therefore to develop translations that are relevant to the media, productions that are appropriate, and distribution systems for scripture that reach the non-reading population.

Viggo Søgaard argues for the kinds of Bible translation needed for non-reading populations, conforming to "the rules and requirements of spoken rather than written language". He describes the differences between oral and written communication and highlights some of the areas translators need to pay attention to when producing translations for audio media (emphasis, direct speech, intonation, context information).  [more...]

Author: John Beekman

Translators face the challenge of correctly representing the message of Christianity by utilizing a vocabulary that has only, or largely, been used to represent a non-Christian system of thought.

Good translation depends on a good understanding of the receptor culture. This is especially true when choosing key terms, as translators have to not only find ways to express the terms in the language; they also have to bridge different systems of thought. Beekman proposes four methods to discover potential terms that communicate in a relevant and accurate way, and two ways to validate what the terms communicate.  [more...]

Choosing Illustrations for Translated Scripture
Author: Michelle Petersen (2016)

Choosing to illustrate interesting events in the text may help build audience interest in the story of Scripture, and this interest may be more foundational to audiences’ relationship with God than knowledge of details about what objects and places looked like.

Illustrations often serve motivational functions for readers, especially reluctant readers, increasing their enjoyment of a text and the amount of time they give it. Various audiences require different kinds of Scripture visuals to care about the message and understand it well. Just as translators need to carefully check the words of Scripture, it is important that they also check Scripture illustrations with members of the intended audience, and if needed, change their choices based on this interview feedback. This paper encourages translation teams to check visual elements of Scripture with members of the intended audience, and helps prepare consultants to check illustrations based on local visual vocabulary, grammar and rhetoric.

This is an edited version of a paper presented at the Bible Translation Conference in October 2015, Dallas, Texas.  [more...]

Communicating Scripture in a Relevant Way
Authors: Harriet Hill, Ernst-August Gutt, Margaret Hill, Christoph Unger, Rick Floyd
Published by: SIL International (2011)

Over the past thirty years, scholars have made significant advances in understanding how human communication functions. They have moved from looking for meaning in texts alone to seeing texts as providing clues that lead hearers to discover the speaker’s intended meaning. Hearers use other inputs as well—things they already know, information from the speech environment—as they search to understand not only what the words of the text say but also what the speaker is communicating. All this has significant implications for Bible translation.

Bible Translation Basics accomplishes two things: 1) it expresses these theoretical developments in communication at a basic level in non-technical language, and 2) it applies these developments to the task of Bible translation in very practical ways. Tried and tested around the world, people with a secondary school education or higher are able to understand how communication works and apply those insights to communicating Scripture to their audiences. Bible Translation Basics helps translators work with language communities to determine the kind of Scripture product(s) that are most relevant for them, given their abilities and preferences.  [more...]

A case study of the spiritual and socio-cultural impact of the Bible translation strategy of the Ghana Institute of Linguistics, Literacy and Bible Translation on the Dega people of Ghana
Author: Thomas Atta-Akosah
Published by: University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg - MTh thesis (2004)

Abstract:
After participants had been told of the processes of Bible translation during a prayer partners meeting of Ghana Institute of Linguistics, Literacy and Bible Translation (GILLBT), one of them asked, "After the people have been given the Scriptures, what happens?"

This study has been an attempt to supply answers to such questions. It attempts to ascertain the impact that the Bible translation strategy (BTS) of GILLBT has had on the Dega people of Ghana, especially their socio-cultural and spiritual lives. The study uses Darrell Whiteman's conceptual framework of Integral Human Development to analyse how the Bible translation strategy has contributed to their human development. The BTS comprises linguistic and anthropological research, Bible translation, literacy and development and Scripture-In-Use.  [more...]

Author: Rick Brown

We should give specific attention to certain themes and portions of the Bible that are particularly appealing 'door openers' to some audiences.

Different people, in different circumstances, will be able to identify more with certain characters and passages of the Bible than others. In this article Rick Brown suggests that the first portions of Scripture to be translated should be chosen according to their relevance, appeal and challenge to the expected audience.  [more...]

Translating a Story-tellers' Bible for storying
Author: CeliaB

Chronological Storying... needs to be underpinned by a solid, reliable translation in the target language.

To reach an isolated community, Chronological Storying can be an effective tool. However, storytellers need to be aware of the translation principles and key terms that are required to translate the stories into the local language, and know how to tell the story appropriately in that context. This case study describes how a team developed a Story-tellers' Bible — a source for storytellers — covering key Old and New Testament stories for different storying tracks. It outlines why storytellers still need to craft their own stories from this source text and describes the main characteristics of the Story-tellers' Bible.  [more...]

Como tornar a Bíblia relevante para todas as línguas e culturas
Authors: Harriet Hill, Margaret Hill
Published by: Vida Nova (2010)

This is the Brazilian Portuguese version of the book Translating the Bible into Action by Harriet Hill and Margaret Hill.

A tried and tested resource that encourages meaningful Bible use in multi-lingual contexts through both written and oral media. Includes activities, assignments, further reading resources and links to useful websites.

This version has two extra chapters in addition to those found in the English version - "Addressing human concerns: Alcohol abuse", and "Sharing your faith with animists".  [more...]

Author: Warren Glover

Arguments against a diglot version focus on matters of cost, production time, and difficulty, and bulkiness versus ease of handling. Arguments for the diglot are mostly in the area of factors which will promote the use of the publication.

The author discusses the benefits and problems of publishing local language translations alongside national language in a diglot format. Taking the example of the language he worked with, Glover explains the reason they decided to publish the New Testament as a diglot edition: to increase the acceptability and usefulness of the translation. He also mentions several disadvantages, such as increased costs and publication time, which in this specific situation were thought to be outweighed by the benefits.  [more...]

Author: Ernst-August Gutt

Considering now that in Bible translation we are taking the same texts that were written for audiences two thousand or more years ago in a particular corner of the world and presenting them to audiences today, ranging from industrial societies to forest hunters in a jungle somewhere without content adaptation, it should not come as a surprise at all that we encounter not only marginal but serious communication problems.

A significant factor affecting the spiritual impact of Scripture is its relevance. In communication theory, the success of a communication depends on its relevance to the hearer. One way to increase relevance is to adapt a text to the audience, but in Bible translation, this option is normally very restricted. The relevance barrier must be bridged therefore by adjusting the text to fit the audiences’ context—by presenting biblical truths in a way that relates to their situation and using an appropriate means of presentation. Or by adjusting the context to fit the text through teaching biblical background information.  [more...]