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...]
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...]
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...]
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...]
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...]
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...]
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...]
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...]
We have found that these three factors—the credibility factor, the comprehension factor, and the prestige factor—are all-important components in promoting the use of a newly introduced vernacular translation in a newly written language.
This case history of the Paez, a minority language group in the Andean highlands of Colombia, South America, shows how the credibility and comprehension of the mother-tongue Scriptures and the prestige of the mother tongue affect the acceptance of the Scriptures. It considers how these factors can be addressed, noting the importance of using translators that are respected by the community, the production of high quality linguistic materials (e.g. dictionary and grammar books) and the value of producing a diglot glossary of key terms. [more...]
We need to enlarge our thinking about the contribution of the church to the translation effort. Casting that contribution principally in terms of cash contributions to the translators’ salaries limits options and may even have a negative impact on the use of the translation. Adopting a more complex partnership approach to finances will result in better partnership and may, therefore, positively affect the use of the Scriptures.
Ed Lauber explores the relationship between funding of translation projects and the use of the Scriptures in Burkina Faso. He believes there is often a link, albeit sometimes weak. Where the link is strong, it is often complex and related to other factors. [more...]