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Friday, July 21, 2006

from our Bible translation conference

My wife and I are attending a Bible translation conference in North Carolina. Here are a few headlines from the conference so far.

1. How do you give translated scripture to one tribal group that has been split for 30 years over two spelling systems for writing their language? Answer: Try non-print approaches, audio and video recordings of the translation. There is no spelling to be seen.

2. One man at the conference is in a race with God. He has already translated the New Testament into his mother tongue, a distinct dialect of a European language spoken by a religious group in the U.S. The New Testament was published several years ago. Thousands of copies have been sold, and are being used. He has made good progress in the Old Testament where he has translated from Genesis to partway through Jeremiah. He is in his 80s. Oh, he didn't start this translation until late in life because he first helped translate a New Testament for an aboriginal group in Australia. He doesn't know if he will finish translation of the Old Testament before he dies, but he is trying.

3. One group says they don't need a translation in their language because, they say, their language is dying and everyone understands English. When asked what language they and their children speak at home they answer that it is their own language. Which language do you think is their heart language? Which language do you think the Bible speaks in best to their hearts and minds? What do you do when you have the resources to help them translate the Bible into their own language, but they do not want a translation?

I hope there will be other headlines that stand out which I can blog about before our conference ends next week.


At Fri Jul 21, 08:11:00 PM, Blogger anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At Sat Jul 22, 04:09:00 AM, Blogger Wayne Leman said...

How I hope this isn't Yiddish or Ladino.

It isn't.

At Sat Jul 22, 05:20:00 AM, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

Surely if a tribal group is split over spelling systems, the obvious answer is to give them the scriptures in both spelling systems, and each person or sub-group can choose which to buy. OK, it costs a bit more, but the extra cost of typesetting is not all that great these days. I assume that the differences between the spelling systems are reasonably regular - it might be more difficult if one or other was as arbitrary as the English system. I say this from experience: the Old Testament I was working on was published simultaneously in both Latin and Cyrillic scripts - Latin is official but many people still prefer to read Cyrillic.

I say this not to do down non-print approaches. They are certainly important in any situation, and in some might be the primary medium of publication. But I would be worried if this dispute over spelling became the primary grounds for choosing an entirely non-print approach.

At Sat Jul 22, 03:33:00 PM, Blogger Mike Sangrey said...

Wayne wrote:
One man at the conference is in a race with God...

Tell that dear man I said, "Hi. And he is often in my thoughts and prayers." ;-)

BTW: If I recall correctly, you had never met him (in person) before. I'm glad you got to meet him.


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