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Thursday, January 18, 2007

translation checking

I work these days as a translation consultant. Recently I have checked the translation of 2 Cor. and Ephesians for one tribal language, and 2 Peter for another. I find the work fulfilling. It is special to be able to have a part in bringing translations of the Bible to groups other than the one we personally worked with (Cheyenne). I don't have to know the translation language to check its translation. The translation team sends me a literal back translation to English which I then check to see if it is accurate and if there is anything missing or anything added that should not be there.

A couple of days ago I received the following email message from another Bible translator:
Dear Wayne,
I am enjoying reading your blogs on the Better Bibles blog. My wife and I are with xxx and work with the Ayta Abellen people ( in the Philippines (but are home on furlough this year). Just before coming home on furlough we got consultant approval to publish the book of Mark but we have a rough draft of the whole NT because of CARLA.
I got to thinking that since the Philippines branch requires we do a back translation into English before submitting to a consultant, I might as well do the English BT really early in the process, even before I have had a chance to work through the exegesis. The reason for doing this is to be able to put the text online ( for review by others (ala the NET Bible). We basically are putting online Back Translations that are only half baked and need some work. The main reason for doing this is that our translation committee can't read English (thus severely limiting their ability to do their own exegesis) but are eagerly revising the CARLA draft to the point where I can't keep up with my doing the exegetical checks while they do revising for naturalness. Hopefully we can get the bulk of the exegetical problems isolated online through massive review. We have one person working with us who has reviewed all of James and Acts (although I haven't yet uploaded Acts). He really enjoys it and is making helpful suggestions (he knows Greek). As we go along I would love to have many more reviewers to help us and that's where you come in. I don't have many contacts of people who love Biblical studies as a pasttime (it seems they are becoming a rare breed in the churches in our area) but I notice that many comment on your blog so there must be people like that out there. Am wondering if you could check out our site and think about letting others know about it who might be able to help?
P.S. We are using Wiki software (like Wikipedia) so anyone who has registered as a user can insert comments by putting (( double paretheneses)) around them.
Would you like to try your hand as a translation consultant? Here's an opportunity for you, not only to help a translation team, but to learn a lot about translating to a language which is very different from English. I recommend that you read the wiki introductions to the above translationEspecially read the answers to the question "How can I help with the Translation if I don't speak the language?" and other questions. This section will help you better understand the translation so that you can focus on noting things that might be actual problems in the translation.

Finally, the same basic methods for checking a translation in another language work for checking translations in English. If you can put your (linguistic) feet in the (linguistic) shoes of the intended audience of a translation (such as mixed non-churchgoers, new churchgoers, and long time churchgoers), then you can check to see if each wording is expressed as that audience would write and speak. And, of course, you can check for accuracy.


At Thu Jan 18, 04:50:00 PM, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

Roger's approach is certainly interesting. I would consider getting involved myself if I wasn't so busy just at the moment. Of course this remote approach will never replace face to face interaction with a translation team, but it can certainly help when there is perhaps a shortage of resources, of people who are actually able to spend time in village locations.

At Thu Jan 18, 08:16:00 PM, Blogger Roger Stone said...

You're right and in our case it is not replacing face to face interaction as we typically live in the village 9 months out of the year working with the committee. This serves more as a partner check. Our translation will also have to face a consultant later on.


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