Posts Tagged ‘Translation’

No easy answers

Monday, February 2nd, 2015 by Nick

Bible translation, as well as being an incredibly joyous thing,  is often difficult and challenging, with the people involved carrying a lot of responsibility. Translators have to truly get to the heart of what is really being communicated in Scripture by the writers and then figure out how to best translate it.  This means the message can be communicated successfully in the translation with minimal loss of the original meaning.

In a brilliant article, Sue Arthur gives us a brief look into the world of  being a translator, highlighting some of the challenges and complications that can arise in the process of bringing Scripture to people in their heart language.

Before you can translate something, you have to understand what it means. Understanding the meaning of a verse like this well enough to be able to re-express that meaning in another language will inevitably involve some level of interpretation, because there are always choices to be made.

There are generally no easy answers when it comes to translation, just hard work and lots of decisions… Yet often in the midst of the research, the brain storming, the testing and the checking, God uses the whole process of translation to speak through his word.

Read Sue’s full article Salted by Fire which describes the process they encountered while translating Mark 9:49 ‘Everyone will be salted with fire.’ (NIV). Eddie and Sue Arthur lived and worked for twelve years in Ivory Coast where they were part of the team translating the Scriptures for the Kouya people. Sue is now based in the UK but continues to support translation work in Madagascar. Check out Eddie and Sue’s blog at Kouyanet.

Support the work of Bible translating by finding out how you can get involved. Are you up for the challenge?

Jesus’ ‘legs’: a translation problem solved

Thursday, November 29th, 2012 by Hannah

Flick through your Bible and you’ll probably find quite a few words that the translators never really translated. They’ve just been made a bit English-y. Think of words like ‘apostle’ or ‘parable’ or even ‘Bible’. When you read the Bible, you probably don’t even notice.

A Bible reading marathon in Kenya.

But when a language group hasn’t had these words for hundreds of years, sticking in an untranslated word (or a word that’s been translated, but into a different language) isn’t particularly helpful. Jacob, who is working with a translation project in Kenya, explains how they solved a problem like this when working out how to say ‘disciple’ (we take that word straight from the Latin):

During the key biblical terms workshop in July the team battled with the word ‘disciple’. The team had initially been using the word ‘mwanafunzi’ which is a borrowing from Swahili, a related language. But after more discussions and inquiry from the community testers, they came up with the word ‘maûlû’, which literally means ‘legs’.

The word ‘maûlû’ was used in olden days in the community to mean apprentice. It was used for anyone who wanted to learn the skills in traditional medicine, how to become a blacksmith or other trades in the community.

The community members have no problem getting the meaning of the term now that we are using ‘maûlû’.

This project is one of many that is supported directly by people in the UK. If you would like to find out more about supporting a team who are translating God’s word into their language for the very first time, you can find out more here.

Photo © Wycliffe Global Alliance

Translation at home

Tuesday, February 28th, 2012 by Hannah

Where do we do Bible translation? We often talk of work ‘around the world’, and it’s sometimes presumed to mean the places of greatest need — like central Africa, India and Papua New Guinea. But work there sits alongside the work going on in our (figurative) back garden. There’s a whole lot more going on close to home than you might think.

Many sign languages have definite needs of translation, because for many Deaf people, the majority language of their home country is not their mother-tongue, whether it’s spoken or written. Here in the UK, the British Sign Language Bible project is still relatively new. In the Netherlands, Wycliffe has been working with the Dutch Sign Language Bible project since 2008. The team of six have attending some Wycliffe translation workshops and Wycliffe Netherlands have been supporting them with administration.

A Plautdietsch-speaking couple

There are also projects like the Plautdietsch, a language spoken by as many as 90,000 people in Germany and 80,000 in Canada. The complete Bible in Plautdietsch was only completed in 2003.

New translation work is going on among Roma (Gypsy) languages in many parts of Europe. There are estimated to be as many as 35 million Roma people in different parts of the world; three different Gypsy languages already have translations of the New Testament, and in twelve others have Bible portions.

The needs are far more reaching than just these few: 350 million people can’t access any part of the Bible in the language they understand best. Be part of Wycliffe’s vision to see a Bible translation begun for all these people by 2025.

What’s the point (of translation)?

Sunday, February 19th, 2012 by Hannah

“English is the most dominant global language ever. So why are we at Desiring God doing so much work to translate our resources into other tongues? Why not just spend the same amount of time, money, and effort teaching people to read our English resources rather than doing the hard (and sometimes messy) work of translation?”

So starts Tyler Kenney’s recent post on the Desiring God blog. It is an important question, and especially important for Wycliffe as an organisation which prioritises translation into the minority languages of the world.

Translation is embedded in Christian history. From the very start, as the apostles wrote of Jesus’ ministry, they translated his words into Greek as they wrote, and those words have been shared since then in translations. In fact, translation is even more fundamental – as Kenney points out, “Jesus’ incarnation was an act of translation, and translation work is the means by which he will be incarnated into every language and culture.”

If you have wondered about why translating the Bible for people speaking all languages is important, we hope that these resources, as well as Kenney’s article, will help you to be encouraged by the great work of translation that God has done (through his son Jesus) and does (as his word becomes accessible to people around the world).

Convinced that translation is worth it? Partner in sharing God’s story.

‘The Son of God’: Wycliffe responds to accusations

Thursday, February 9th, 2012 by Hannah

Over the last few weeks a good deal of information has been circulating on the Internet regarding the translation of the Biblical term rendered in English as “the Son of God” in certain religious contexts. While much of what has been said is inaccurate and misleading, it is encouraging to see the extent to which Christians in Britain are concerned about the accuracy of Scripture translation.

This is part of a press release published on the Wycliffe Bible Translators website. Read the whole release and download pictures from the website.

Which word is right?

Thursday, February 9th, 2012 by Hannah

Translating the Bible is never a simple process. You can’t just open a dictionary and substitute one word for another. Different languages have differing structures, vocabulary and nuances. Take this example:

“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2, NIV).

How should Galatians 6:2 be translated in the Konni language of Ghana? The text says, “Carry each other’s burdens….” In the Konni language, there are five different words for ‘carry’: ‘mili,’ carry on the back; ‘dogi,’ carry on the hip; ‘vigi,’ carry on the shoulder; ‘pogili,’ carry in front of you; and ‘chii,’ carry on the head.

"Chii" - to carry on the head

To best answer the question, a translator must dig deeper and ask, “What do Konni people carry on these different places?” ‘On the back’ is always a baby; ‘on the hip’ is always a small child; ‘on the shoulder’ is usually a piece of firewood or a hoe; and ‘in front of you’ is something light. ‘Chii’ is the right word to use because they carry their heaviest burdens on their heads.

Translators and consultants on translations constantly work hard to find the right words for the job. A lot of work, though, becomes worth it when people open up God’s word to hear his Story in their own language for the very first time. Find out more about what you could do to get involved.

This example is from Wycliffe USA’s prayer blog. Find it here:

Biblefresh: It Could Change Your World

Saturday, March 27th, 2010 by Mark

As an organisation Wycliffe believes that the Bible is the story everybody needs. The Bible records the interaction of God with his people throughout history, and is crucial for understanding and knowing our creator and his redeeming plan for creation.

350 million people don’t have access to this story in their own language, but there are also millions of others right here in the UK who do have a Bible available in their language but are not engaging with it. Biblefresh is an initiative of a wide range of organisations, promoting the use of the Bible within UK churches.

BibleFresh is asking churches to make four pledges:

  1. To Read the Bible
  2. To be Trained in handling the Bible well
  3. To give to Translate the Bible for Burkina Faso
  4. To provide the opportunity for people to Experience the Bible in new and creative ways.

Why not take a look at the new Biblefresh website now – be inspired about the Bible and encourage others in your church to join you in both living and giving the story everybody needs.


Bible College Placement in Burkina Faso

Friday, May 9th, 2008 by Mark

Ben had been interested in Wycliffe for a while, so when it was time for him to do a 5-week Bible college placement he investigated whether there would be any possibility for his skills to be used overseas.

A few months later he was in Burkina Faso on Wycliffe’s One to One programme, using his Bible knowledge and exegesis skills to help a group of Winye speakers translate the book of Titus into their mother tongue.

…The next day involved meeting the team and providing a short overview to the book of Titus and outlining some of the potential difficulties in translation (crazily this was all in French!). The team and I then spent the next few weeks working through the book. I would outline issues and explain passages to the translators who would then translate it into their language. They would then read back their translation and it would be checked for accuracy and meaning.

It was a long process with lots of difficulties. Often this was because there was a word or concept that was difficult to represent in the target language.

As well as helping with the translation work, Ben also had the chance to see previously translated scriptures being used, and people learning to read them.

Ben working with local people

Read about Ben’s time, and also hear about what he learnt from his experience.

If you’re interested in going overseas for anything from a few weeks to up to a year as part of a Bible college placement, gap year or career break, the One to One programme might be just what you’re looking for.