What does a translation consultant do? Bible translation is currently active in around 2000 languages, however, before Scripture is pressed and printed, a translation consultant comes in. What exactly do they do?
Sue Arthur is a translation consultant; she and her husband Eddie explain the importance of the role.
‘There are two essential aspects to a translation; firstly that people can understand it and secondly that it means the same thing as the original.’ – Eddie Arthur
Once all the hard work of an initial translation has been completed it’s up to a consultant to ensure it meets the two criteria mentioned above. It’s their job to sign the translation off and give the go-ahead when it’s ready to be published.
What makes a consultant? Well, you need to be familiar with the original text and have experience in translation. Once a consultant has been deployed to a project, they review the entire translation, holding fast to the importance of accuracy. In her role, Sue has been checking that the meaning aligns with the original Greek and studying back-translations (translations from the mother-tongue language back into French or English).
Constant communication needs to be maintained with the translation team, face to face and through mediums such as Skype. Along with the team, someone external is also brought in who is less familiar with the translation text.
There is also testing, or village testing, which is where the text is read to native speakers of the target language who do not know the original passage and then asking questions about it.
This is all really very thorough. Again, why do this? Eddie writes:
‘Very simply, because God’s word is important. We need to know that people can understand what the text says and we need to know that the text is an accurate representation of what Paul wrote. It is worth taking time to get this right. In general, testing, consulting and revising the text takes longer than the initial draft of a translation.’
Eddie’s blog post What Does A Translation Consultant Do? gives further insight into his and Sue’s experience of what it means to be a translation consultant.