Language Issues

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: John Ommani Luchivia

Fuller Graduate Schools, School of Intercultural Studies Doctor of Intercultural Studies dissertation (2012)

Abstract:
This dissertation explores the missiological opportunities, challenges and implications of growing multilingualism among people who are fluent in two or more languages. I look at the cognitive value of language and how languages shape people’s world views. World views influence peoples’ perceptions and way of processing and understand information. People’s beliefs are reflected in their character and relationships in the community. Christians want to promote positive community relations in order for people to participate in the mission of God within their community.

I survey relevant literature on the role of language and its value, how language fits the plan of God, and its place in His mission to different peoples. I then survey current trends of language use and growing multilingualism, and the language practices within Kenya. I therefore focus on research factors behind language choice and use.

Methodologically, I use focus groups, participant observation, and personal interviews in four different socio-linguistic contexts in four different Christian denominations. I thematically analyse and code the data to establish my findings. The findings point to the factors that influence language choice.

Factors that determine choice of language go beyond the level of fluency in reading, speaking or understanding. These factors involve attitudes that go very deep in both positive and negative ways. Additionally, people’s language choices are influenced by other social factors. The factors include desire to communicate, social cultural pressure, economic advancement, political correctness, reading materials availability, leadership perception on language, institutional policy, religious values and proficiency in any given language. These factors were consistently displayed in all four research locations enabling me to demonstrate reliability of the data and validity of the findings.

Understanding how these factors influence people will assist Christians who desire to become good witnesses. To be witnesses, people need to be empowered. For purpose of language choice, all languages should be viewed as being appropriate for ministry. Language is a platform for effective participant contextualisation among the people of God. Through their actions and pronouncements people are able to utilize the multilingual environment of Kenya to better engage in mission and spread God’s Word.

-- for more information about this dissertation, please contact the author at john_ommaniatsil [dot] org  [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: Kermit Titrud

Then I asked them if they would prefer a diglot … even if the cost were double. They all answered yes.

Titrud presents substantial reasons why the Caluyanun New Testament of the Philippines was published as a diglot with a language of wider communication, Tagalog, and how the publication has been received. He encourages fellow Bible translators to consider the option of publishing Scriptures for minority language groups in a diglot form, believing the Caluyanun situation is not unique.   [more...]

Enjeux et défis pour l'Afrique francophone
Author: Michel Kenmogne
Published by: Editions CLE, Yaoundé / Wycliffe International, Nairobi (2009)

This book - 'Bible Translation and the Church: Issues and challenges for Francophone Africa' - was written as part of the Francophone Initiative in collaboration with CITAF (Conseil des Institutions Théologiques d’Afrique Francophone) - a consortium of evangelical theological institutions in Africa.

The aim is to introduce into the programme of every theological college a course on the importance of Bible translation and the role of local languages in the mission of the church.

The chapters are divided into five main sections:

  1. Pourquoi traduire la Bible dans les langues locales? (Why translate the Bible into local languages?)
  2. L'histoire de la traduction de la Bible depuis Néhémie jusqu'à nos jours (The history of Bible translation from Nehemiah to today)
  3. Théologie et traduction de la Bible (Theology and Bible translation)
  4. Traduction de la Bible: contexte, structures et méthodes (Bible translation: context, structures and methods)
  5. Bible et héritage colonial francophone (The Bible and the colonial heritage)
  [more...]
Author: Rick Brown
Published by: International Journal of Frontier Missions (26.2 Summer 2009)

Does God really want His Word presented in "sacred" language, as so many people seem to think? Does not the Bible itself demonstrate that God reveals His truth through humble people in humble tongues, rather than in prestigious or “sacred” languages?

The lesson of Scripture and history, then, is that God’s message should be presented in common language that is clear and memorable and not just in language that is prestigious, sacred, or traditional.

From Scripture and church history, Rick Brown argues how important it is to give people the opportunity to engage with God's Word in their heart language.  [more...]

A review of ‘Managing linguistic diversity in the church’
Author: Katherine O'Donnell

Reflections on a research paper by Anicka Fast, relevant for those working on Bible translation in multilingual church contexts:

Fast, Anicka 2009. Managing linguistic diversity in the church: language ideological contestation within a shared moral framework in south-western Burkina Faso. Language Documentation and Description, Vol 6, 161-212.

In this review, Katherine O'Donnell reflects on Fast's research as she looks at the perceptions held by missionaries, church leaders and villagers on Mother Tongue (MT) use in church. Fast studied south west Burkina Faso in an area with lots of languages and lots of multilingualism. Many people speak Jula, a Language of Wider Communication (LWC), and some speak French (the official LWC). This situation resembles that in many of the countries where Bible translation is in progress, where there might also be high multilingualism with a LWC and MTs.  [more...]

A Strategy for Promoting the Use of the Vernacular Scriptures in the Cameroon Baptist Convention Churches in Nso’ Tribe, Cameroon
Author: Shey Samuel Ngeh

MTh thesis, South African Theological Seminary (2015)

Abstract:

This research was prompted by the observation that there is minimal use of Lamnso’ Scriptures in Baptist churches in Nso’, even though the Lamnso’ New Testament has been available since 1990. It was also observed that the active participation of Nso’ Christians in Bible studies done in Lamnso’ points to great prospects for the extensive use of Lamnso’ Scriptures.

The author of this thesis seeks to devise a strategy for promoting Lamnso’ Scriptures for extensive use. He consulted academic works to find out what others have written regarding the importance of mother tongue Scriptures and conducted a historical analysis to find out how historical factors have shaped the attitude of Baptist churches towards Scriptures in Lamnso’. He did an empirical study by sending questionnaires to fifty-seven Baptist churches, receiving feedback. The data collected was analyzed and interpreted.

The result shows that even though Lamnso’ Scriptures are indispensable to spiritual maturity among Nso’ Baptist Christians, their use in evangelism and discipleship do not reflect their importance. This is due to lack of a proper strategy and biblical teaching on the importance of mother tongue Scriptures. Consequently, the author has proposed a theological framework to provide a theological basis for setting forth a strategy for promoting Lamnso’ Scriptures.

The theological framework is followed by a practical framework based on the historical and empirical analyses, as well as the theological obligations of the church. The author contends that proposed solutions, recommendations and action plans with practical steps must be implemented by individual Baptist Christians, churches, Baptist theological institutions and the Cameroon Baptist Convention at large so that Lamnso’ Scriptures assume their proper place in evangelism and discipleship for the growth of the church.  [more...]

Author: David L Payne

One of the major obstacles for the acceptance of an idiomatic translation of the Scriptures into a vernacular language where there is some form of established church is that often there is a strong veneration of a translation of the Scriptures in the national language.

In the translation project for the Asheninka language of Peru, the team was faced with resistance to the idiomatic translation in the vernacular because of a strong attachment to an old Spanish translation. To assuage this resistance, they attempted to teach translation principles to the Asheninka lay pastors and to discuss with them the benefits of idiomatic translation, but both activities met with little success. However, a change of attitude came through a series of seminars that educated them about the source of the venerated Spanish version and the kinds of adjustments that were made in translating it from Greek to Spanish.  [more...]

Assessing the benefit of local language Scriptures among the bilingual Malila and Nyiha communities of Tanzania
Author: Mark Woodward

MA dissertation: Bible & Mission, Redcliffe College, UK (2014)

Abstract:

In many ways the Malila and Nyiha are typical of Tanzania's numerous multilingual communities, where both Swahili and the local language are used as part of everyday life. Given that there are several versions of the Swahili Bible, two of which are generally available in the larger cities, it is often unclear as to what, if any, benefit will be gained from the long and arduous task of translating Scripture portions into the local language.

In this study I first look at the impact of translated Scriptures throughout the history of the church, and what insights might be gained from the sociolinguistic literature concerning the way multilingual communities use and perceive each language that they speak. I then carry out research among the Malila and Nyiha communities, asking them what they feel has been the impact of having access to Scriptures in their local languages in addition to the Swahili Bible. Finally I discuss the perspectives shared by the community members and church leaders, making recommendations for decision makers in other multilingual communities who may be considering translating Scriptures into their local language.

This study concludes that the benefits of translation may extend far beyond simply an increase in comprehension, and so decision makers would do well to bear in mind the fact that sociolinguistic principles play a significant role in how Scriptures are perceived, and should therefore be fully considered when contemplating how a community might best access the Bible.

Download as a PDF document below:  [more...]