Bible translations reaching the 'last languages'

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Ma.Elena Carrión de Medina  Identity Verified
Ecuador
Local time: 11:20
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Amazing... Jun 3, 2010

Wycliffe has really done a good job, and they´re still working hard towards the goal of making God´s Word known to every man´s language.

Good job!!


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
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English to Afrikaans
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@Medina Jun 3, 2010

Ma.Elena Carrión de Medina wrote:
Wycliffe has really done a good job, and they´re still working hard towards the goal of making God´s Word known to every man´s language.


I wonder to what extend the advances in technology made Bible translation easier, and if it isn't simply a case of new theories of translation (that offer faster methods) that have superseded older theories (that required a lot more time).

Anyway, I can't find out whether Wycliffe has the $1 billion that they believe will be necessary to translate the Bible into 2000 languages (that's $500 000 per language). I did find a short description of the process they follow in doing the translations:

http://www.wycliffe.org/go/careers/typesofwork/languagework/translation/bibletranslationstepbystep.aspx

Previously, most Bible translators in novel languages spend years and years learning the language and culture of the target readership before attempting to do the translation. These days, many translations into novel languages take place with the help of local believers who do most of the translation, and they are assisted by theologians who can speak their language but hasn't made the language and culture their own. Also, there was a lot more focus on literal, direct, accurate translations in the past, whereas the present trend seems to be to create translations that read well even if they aint all that accurate.


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Madeleine MacRae Klintebo  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 16:20
Swedish to English
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It might be... Jun 3, 2010

Ma.Elena Carrión de Medina wrote:

God´s Word known to every man´s language.

Good job!!


...your god's words. However, others might disagree and find your use of capital letters slightly offensive.


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JackiMor
Local time: 11:20
Spanish to English
Wycliffe relatives Jun 4, 2010

Yes, though I know they have more to go. My inlaws work in Thailand with La-Hu-Shi (sp?) and they haven't finish the New Testament yet, I think.
It does say All nations and tongues will praise Him in His Word.


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
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True, but... Jun 4, 2010

Madeleine MacRae Klintebo wrote:
Ma.Elena Carrión de Medina wrote:
God´s Word known to every man´s language.

It might be your god's words. However, others might disagree and find your use of capital letters slightly offensive.


True, but tolerance (or intolerance) for prejudism shoulkd be discussed as a separate topic, no? Another person might be more offended by the chauvinism than by the deitism. So, do you have anything meaningful to say about the topic under discussion here...? What do you think about what I wrote above, for example?





[Edited at 2010-06-04 06:42 GMT]


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
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Reference? @Jack Jun 4, 2010

JackiMor wrote:
It does say All nations and tongues will praise Him in His Word.


I don't want to start a theological discussion here but I think your statement relates to my point above that the Bible translations are looser and looser these days. I assume your line "all nations and tongues will praise Him in His Word" is meant to be a quote from the Bible, and I assume you use it to mean "the Bible will be translated into all languages", but I can't think of any verse of the Bible that contains such a prophesy. Can you give us a reference for it, so that we can discuss the translation aspects of it?


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Michael Wetzel  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 17:20
German to English
Wycliffe's Word or God's Word? Jun 4, 2010

I would assume that most of the people doing this kind of thing are Fundamentalists (= Bible is the immediately comprehensible and direct word of God) vs. Catholics, for example, who believe that the Bible needs to be interpreted.

This make a Bible translation a pretty tough assignment to fulfill.

If people are translating these versions, then they won't be perfect and therefore aren't really Bibles in the Fundamentalist sense. Are all the Wycliffe versions divinely inspired?

How do they deal with this problem?

P.S. I just checked Samuel's link (Thanks!) with Wycliffe's answer. Are they serious? How many scholars of ancient Greek are they going to find among the indigenous peoples of the Amazon? On the positive side, at least they are using the tried-and-true method of back-translations to check their work. Maybe they just should have said the translations are all divinely inspired.

[Edited at 2010-06-04 09:15 GMT]


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
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On Wycliffe's process Jun 4, 2010

Michael Wetzel wrote:
I would assume that most of the people doing this kind of thing are Fundamentalists (= Bible is the immediately comprehensible and direct word of God)... This make a Bible translation a pretty tough assignment to fulfill.


Translating a holy book (one which is said to have originated in some way with God or some other holy person whose words are holy) is a tough assignment, I agree, but I don't think one needs to be a fundamentalist to want to have a book (holy or otherwise) available to people who don't speak the original language. I do believe it is simplistic to believe that one can capture all the nuances and implied meanings from the source text into the target text, and that is why any type of ancient book that requires *study* should be supplemented by reference materials.

I just checked Samuel's link (Thanks!) with Wycliffe's answer. Are they serious? How many scholars of ancient Greek are they going to find among the indigenous peoples of the Amazon?


On the one hand, this is why translating into a completely new language is a long-term project in which people from the local language themselves should be trained into the various positions (e.g. scholar of ancient history, etc). On the other hand, it would appear to me that the scholars who assist the translators need not necessarily be native speakers of the language. The advantage of Bible translation is that there is no hard deadline or no short deadline, so translators and scholars have ample time to discuss (really discuss!) every single sentence in it. But again, this is why a Bible translation (or any other holy book's translation) is really a lifetime task and not a short-term job.

On the positive side, at least they are using the tried-and-true method of back-translations to check their work.


Their back-translations aren't really "back" in the sense that it is back into the original language, as it is "back-translated" into a widely known language. So they'd do a translation of Ancient Greek to Amazonian X, and then do a back-translation from Amazonian X into English or Spanish. This allows English or Spanish participants to comment on the translation and point out possible problems. I like the fact that this back-translation is the very last step in the process, so it's obviously only to catch errors that for some odd reason managed to slip past all of the previous steps.


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Gillian Searl  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 16:20
Member (2004)
German to English
I looked at Wycliffe's work in detail a few years ago. Jun 4, 2010

First they go into an area - often pretty remote areas - and analyse the language(s) there. In conjunction with the people and local authorities they choose a language. That language is then written down for the first time (done by people from outside that area). They then spend years teaching literacy and helping e.g. government write down health messages like AIDS prevention etc. Over time the people in that area become literate. They then identify native speakers with excellent literacy skills to train them in biblical Greek and Hebrew so that some years later they can start translating the Bible. This whole process could take 25-30 years - that's why there are so many left languages left to do but as I understand it they have started the process for all remaining languages. When I talked to them they said they would like to use linguists at the start of that process - i.e. analysing and writing down languages for the first time. Of course you need plenty of training before you could do that. I didn't go ahead with it at the time but it's something I still night consider in the future.

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William [Bill] Gray  Identity Verified
Norway
Local time: 17:20
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English
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On Wycliffe's process Jun 4, 2010

Samuel Murray wrote:

Michael Wetzel wrote:
I would assume that most of the people doing this kind of thing are Fundamentalists (= Bible is the immediately comprehensible and direct word of God)... This make a Bible translation a pretty tough assignment to fulfill.


Translating a holy book (one which is said to have originated in some way with God or some other holy person whose words are holy) is a tough assignment, I agree, but I don't think one needs to be a fundamentalist to want to have a book (holy or otherwise) available to people who don't speak the original language. I do believe it is simplistic to believe that one can capture all the nuances and implied meanings from the source text into the target text, and that is why any type of ancient book that requires *study* should be supplemented by reference materials.




It might be appropriate to this broadening discussion to remind ourselves that the so-called Fundamentalist understanding of the divine inspiration of those writings commonly known as the Christian scriptures (with slight variations in what is included in the canon, eg. Protestants and Roman Catholics) is that the ORIGINAL TEXTS are considered to be "inspired".

One needs also to remember the point that Samuel makes in a rather "off-hand" manner:

Also, there was a lot more focus on literal, direct, accurate translations in the past, whereas the present trend seems to be to create translations that read well even if they aint all that accurate.


We have more "literal" translations contrasted with more "dynamic" translations, while still trying to capture what the original writer was saying.

An interesting discussion indeed! And wandering a little, as Samuel mentions. But still, an interesting discussion all the same.


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xxxJ Celeita  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:20
Spanish to English
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I believe you might be thinking of: Jun 4, 2010

JackiMor wrote:

Yes, though I know they have more to go. My inlaws work in Thailand with La-Hu-Shi (sp?) and they haven't finish the New Testament yet, I think.
It does say All nations and tongues will praise Him in His Word.


Matthew 24:14 and Philippians 2:10-11.


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Paweł Lutze  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 17:20
English to Polish
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... so let them disagree Jun 5, 2010

Madeleine MacRae Klintebo wrote:

...your god's words. However, others might disagree ...


It's their right.

Just, as it is believers' right in any free country to express publicly what they believe.

Regards,

Pawel Lutze


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