Is it acceptable to copy the translation of the book of genesis?
Thread poster: Johann Audouin

Johann Audouin  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 17:52
English to French
May 16, 2012

Hello everyone,

I think the title of this topic says it all: I am currently translating a video game, in this game, the player is supposed to track a serial killer and finds some chapters of the book of genesis on the walls of the killer's house. I therefore need to translate these chapters. I quickly searched on the internet and found the book of genesis in French, including all the chapters used in-game. Would it be acceptable to use this French version of the book of Genesis or would it be considered as plagiarism?

As this is a direct reference to an already existing text, I assume that using this text is perfectly acceptable and would make the translation more genuine but I would like to know your opinion.

Thanks in advance.


 

Joakim Braun  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 17:52
German to Swedish
+ ...
Use an old translation May 16, 2012

Copyright issues don't disappear just because the Bible is involved. You'll have to treat this text as any other text you use. If it's a modern translation there could certainly be a copyright holder lurking somewhere. Still, I would be very surprised if you ended up in court arguing about fair-use in a video game.

However, do you really want a modern text? Every language I know anything about has a "canonical", out-of-copyright Bible translation from the early 1900s (or even earlier) that all classic, well-known Biblical phrases are sourced from. It takes generations for a new translation to take hold.


 

neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 17:52
Spanish to English
+ ...
In the beginning... May 16, 2012

... there was the neilmac, and it spake thusly: why not? If your conscience is bending your inner ear, you could always tell the client before you go ahead. Anyway, nobody knows who wrote the Bible ( I thought it was King James), so I don't see how anyone could accuse you of plagiarism.

A friend of mine was once asked by the local authority to translate a text from French to Spanish about a European directive. Not long after starting it, she went to research the subject and found the whole text, already officially translated into the main EU languages and available in the public domain - and in the local authority's offices only 2 doors down from the one that had ordered the translation!

I also agree with Joakim about the older versions of the Bible being the best. I was brought up with the King James version and all the later versions seem like watered down "decaff" to me, with minimised smiting and all my favourite bits sidelined.

[Edited at 2012-05-16 17:37 GMT]

[Edited at 2012-05-16 17:37 GMT]


 

Ty Kendall  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 16:52
Hebrew to English
Agree with Neilmac May 16, 2012

The bible just doesn't sound quite right (or as authoritative) unless there's a fair smattering of Middle English verb endings (Thou shalt, hath etc).

I really don't rate the modern translations at all.


 

Johann Audouin  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 17:52
English to French
TOPIC STARTER
It is not a modern translation and is a very accurate translation of my source text May 16, 2012

The text I found is not a modern translation, it is old French. I checked the whole chapter very carefully (pretty much as if I was proofreading a translation) and it is extremely similar : exact same meaning and old-fashioned style. It is very accurate and there is absolutely nothing regarding copyrights or authors on this website, only what seems to be an old translation of the book of Genesis.

This is why I wanted to use it, I really do not think it would make sense to provide my own translation for such a widely known text. The characters refer to the actual book of Genesis so I think it would be best to use an actual translation.


 

Usch Pilz
Local time: 17:52
English to German
+ ...
It's expected ... May 16, 2012

... Hey,
very often, if there are bits and even whole paragraphs from the bible in a translation, the client actually expects you to use an already existing translation - one that sounds familiar - like the King James version.
Just to be sure you should confirm with the client. But mostly they want what they - and the users - already know.
Enjoy!
Usch


 

Mark Hamlen  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 17:52
French to English
+ ...
French Bible translations May 16, 2012

If you're translating into French you have a choice of versions to use. The most commonly used, I think, is the Louis Segond translation of 1910 (which is out of copyright). But look at the Wikipedia entry for French Bible translations, there is a wealth of choice: http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Traductions_de_la_Bible_en_français

English speakers would probably be comfortable with the King James version, which is very old-fashioned and hard for gamers to actually understand!!

I can't imagine that you should be doing your own translation of the Bible excerpts, though. That would lead to a strange situation of a very familiar text in an unfamiliar translation (not comfortable for readers).


 

Just Opera
Belgium
Local time: 17:52
French to English
+ ...
In the UK King James Bible is under *perpetual* copyright May 17, 2012

subject to Crown copyright. i.e. outside of standard copyright framework

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crown_copyright

BUT this does not apply in the rest of the world AFAIK. For example World English Bible (20th century US translation) is public domain.

Good resource: http://ebible.org/web/webfaq.htm


 

David Wright  Identity Verified
Austria
Local time: 17:52
German to English
+ ...
The bible itself is not copyrigth May 17, 2012

it was written by some geeks in the middle ast many many centuries ago in languages that have probably all died out by now. The translation MAY be copyright. SO - as said many times - use an old one, where the translator has been dead at least 50 if not 70 years!

 

Johann Audouin  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 17:52
English to French
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you May 17, 2012

Thank you for your answers. I will use an old translation, as suggested.

 

George Hopkins
Local time: 17:52
Swedish to English
Bible translation May 18, 2012

Old translations of the Bible are not necessarily "best".

The latest official translation of the Bible into Swedish, published 2000, states that God is great (väldig, in Swedish). In other words he is no longer considered to be almighty (allsmäktig). This makes him much more sympathetic; and not necessarily responsible for all the really nasty things that occur.


 


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