How to Do an Oral Translation

Discussion in 'Bible Versions/Translations' started by John of Japan, Feb 22, 2016.

  1. John of Japan

    John of Japan
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    Let's say you are a missionary to Africa, working with a tribe where many speak English, but their native language or dialect is unwritten. The decision is made to do an oral (or audio) translation of the NT. How would you set out to do this?

    1. Goals?
    2. Procedures?
    3. Choosing national translators?
    4. Training the translators?
    5. Time tables?
    6. The role of missionaries?
    7. The role of nationals?
    8. Recording or memorizing?
     
  2. Squire Robertsson

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    One aspect that comes to mind is pre-printing press copies of Scripture were by modern standard rare. So, Believers has to rely on what they heard. This is one reason Dean Burgeon put an emphasis on copies of liturgy. The hearers over time would memorize passages and know it something varied.
     
  3. John of Japan

    John of Japan
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    So in this modern scenario, do you see the translators memorizing everything, or using a recording device? If a recording device, what would it be?
     
  4. Darrell C

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    I would seek to enlist the help of a native who not only knows the language but is familiar with the usage. So #3 would be one choice involved. As far as training them, if you mean Theologically, I would probably say no, because it would probably influence the way they translate. Better to have them come to you to give the options for particular words or concepts that best fit, rather than have them choose, which, if you do not know the language, could be of great significance doctrinally speaking. That way you maintain a more direct control over how it is translated.


    God bless.
     
  5. John of Japan

    John of Japan
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    This is a very important point.

    Rather than theological training, I was thinking of training in translation methodology.

    But this brings up an important point. There are some theological words that need to be chosen early on. The argument about using "Allah" for God is well-known. Lesser known to Americans is the argument about the Chinese word for God: Shen or Sheng Dian.

    I'm thinking that a translation consultant would be a guide as to which words should be chosen. Discussions should be held examining the nuances of terms in order to choose the right one.
     
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  6. Squire Robertsson

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    I see them using a recording device for the initial distribution. The translator(s) would have come up with a writing system for the language for their translation. As time moved forward, I see them setting up literacy classes for the locals. In the meantime, the locals would have Scripture available to them. Think of how English speaking blind folks relied Alexander Scourby.
     
  7. John of Japan

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    That's kind of how I was thinking of the process.

    I hope you or someone else technologically astute will suggest the best recording device for the actual translation process. I'm assuming CDs or even DVDs with cheap players can be provided later.
     
  8. Rob_BW

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    Is electricity going to be an issue? CDs and DVDs wouldn't be the best, then.

    I would imagine recording on a laptop in mp3 format and distributing mp3 players would be the best route. Instead of album art, you could load a picture representing each book. And there are some really good solar chargers if you are distributing these too far from a power grid.
     
  9. John of Japan

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    It's a third world country, so electricity will be an issue, though how much of an issue is not known.

    Good thoughts. Thank you. I knew mp3 existed but never have used it or thought about it much.
     
  10. Squire Robertsson

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    Thanks to improvements in electrical generation, a place has to be 20 mile west of the Back of Beyond not to have some sort of electricity available. Enough for refrigeration, no. Enough to charge various cell phones, yes. Even if the village only has 2 or 3 cell phones.
     
  11. John of Japan

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    Thanks for the input. Now that you mention it, the last time I went to a 3rd world country, everyone had a cell phone. ;)
     
  12. Squire Robertsson

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    I've read that in rural India there are folks making a living recharging (for a fee) cell phones with a solar panel.
     
  13. John of Japan

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    Maybe the same is true in Africa. That would be cool!
     
  14. grits4jesusfl

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    I spent a year in Sierra Leone, which is considered one of the poorest nations in the world. Many of the people there have access to usb drives (they call them memory sticks) and radio devices to play. Many also have wind up radios. Solar is something that very few could afford. Also, what solar equipment there is a is often cheap in quality and would not last long.

    Good ideas!

    Sent from my SGH-T399 using Tapatalk
     
  15. Jerome

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  16. John of Japan

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    That is helpful information. Thank you.

    And welcome to the BB. :)
     
  17. John of Japan

    John of Japan
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  18. John of Japan

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    The reason for this thread: I am the consultant for a new project to produce oral translations in a pidgin language and in a previously unwritten language which has no Bible portions whatsoever. I leave today for Africa with a young student from our schools to train African translators for the project, and will be there until April 9.

    I would appreciate any prayers you can offer up for me, especially for the project. Also, there are a lot of diseases there (I've been vaccinated for Yellow Fever, typhoid and Hep. A & B). Boko Haran operates in the N. of the country, but I'll be in the S., so that should be okay.
     
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