vocabulary and Bible reading levels
One factor which is never included, as far as I know, has to do with vocabulary level, including the social register of a word. A word may compute at a low reading level according to an algorithm, but it may actually require a high reading level. For instance, the word "ascribe" is relatively short. It has only two syllables. It would contribute to a low reading level calculation. But "ascribe" is a word which is not well known to many English speakers today. Oh, sure, many of you reading this post understand and perhaps even regularly use this word, but many visitors to this blog are capable of operating well at high reading levels, due to levels of education and practice reading literature which has high level words.
Furthermore, reading level algorithms do not currently calculate for whether or not a word is currently in use or is obsolete. The word "thence" is mono-syllabic (a high level word itself!). It would calculate at a low reading level according to the typical algorithms. But many readers today, especially children in the typical grade levels for which reading levels are aimed, 3rd to 12th grade, are not familiar with the word "thence". So even if a computer algorithm says that a sentence with the word "thence" computes to a low reading level, the word "thence" would create a reading level problem for many.
I have been pushing hard these days to check the TNIV in order to submit revision suggestions to its translation team (CBT) before its annual January 1 submission deadline. (We still need checkers for several Old Testament books. See the green background poll in the margin of this blog.)
Here are some individual words in the TNIV I have spotted which seem to me should raise the reading level of the TNIV, even though the TNIV computes with the usual algorithms to between a 7th and 8th grade reading level:
abodeWhat are other words you have noted in the NIV or TNIV (or other versions) which seem to you to be above the 7th grade reading level?
As you think about this post, please do not forget that a Bible version is, whether intended or not, best suited to a particular audience, such as those who have completed a high school education, or those who are familiar with church language or theological terms.
We are not suggesting in this post that reading levels or vocabulary levels be "dumbed down". It is appropriate to use higher reading levels and words such as those noted in the list from the TNIV for more highly educated audiences.