How to translate
Following are the four steps which I think are necessary for adequate translation, including translation of the Bible to any language. There is room within these steps for different kinds of translation, but there is not room for any kinds of translation which use linguistic forms which are not part of the target language.
- What did the original author say?
- What did he or she intend to communicate by what they said?
- How do fluent speakers of the target language communicate #2?
- Check with a variety of fluent speakers to find out if the translation (#3) agrees with #2.
The total communication package includes the meaning of what is explicitly said or written as well as the meanings intended by what is not said. It includes everything which speakers or authors hope that their hearers or listeners will understand from listening to or reading what was said including what they can reasonably be expected to infer from what was said.
I might say only two words to my wife: "The news." But there can be a number of different things which I intend to communicate by these two words. I will almost always intend only one thing in any specific situation. By saying "The news" I could be communicating to my wife:
- It's time for me to turn on the news on television.
- I hope it's OK with you that I turn on the news.
- Turn on the news (please).
- Something very newsworthy has just occurred.
- I learned what I just said to you from some news medium.
- The information we've been waiting to arrive is about to be given to us; I see a police car has just entered our driveway. A policeman is getting out along with a police chaplain. Both are walking toward our door.
Can you think of any ways that the wordings of my four steps for translation should be modified to better summarize the translation process?
Can you think of passages in Bible versions whose words do not adequately communicate in translation what the biblical author intended to communicate?
Categories: Bible translation, translation theory, translation process