Monday, September 24, 2007

"Source Text" for a Bible Translation Cluster Project

These days I’m doing an advisor check of a Bible translation for Luke 21-24. The vernacular translation will be used as the source text for related Austronesian languages at a translation workshop in November and December.

The back translation into the pidgin trade language will be used as the source text for two different groups of neighboring but completely unrelated Papuan languages at the same workshop. The cross-fertilization that comes from working together in a workshop approach is one of the highest values of this project. Even though the translators come from unrelated languages, they share ideas with one another about the translation problems they encounter each day, and they are learning about different kinds of translation solutions even though they might not have had the same problems.

So it’s important that we do a thorough exegetical check on this translation and its back translation, since the exegesis will be multiplied 11 times. I’m not the only one doing this exegetical check. There are normally four of us doing it separately and passing our notes to one another. This is in addition to the national translators who drafted the translation and are also developing their own exegetical skills.

When I say that this translation and back translation will be used as “source texts,” this only refers to the initial step of using the computer program Adapt It to make a first draft. Adapt It is good at remembering the predictable stuff in a translation so the translators have more time to spend thinking about the tougher translation issues. This draft will be edited many times before it goes through advisor and consultant checks and finally gets printed. Throughout the process, the translators consult multiple English and pidgin versions as well as various translation helps. Their translations are also checked against the original language texts (Greek for the Gospel of Luke) by the advisors and consultants working with the project.

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