But What Does It Mean?
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Posted by: Rich Rudowske 12/25/2013 5:57 PM

This was a busy week of meetings and travel for me.  The highlight of the week was consultant checking with Rev. Larry Johnson at the Shekgalagari Bible Translation Project on Friday.  Bible Translation goes roughly in four stages.  Stage 1 is drafting - the first draft of the text is crafted by the translator (a speaker of the language) after studying the text in various languages and translations as well as consulting materials and summaries assigned and/or prepared by the project exegete (John Strasen and myself in this case).  Stage 2 is team checking - the translators and exegete(s) sit down together and read the text looking and listening for accuracy and naturalness, discussing various opinions on how to improve the translation.  Stage 3 is field testing and review.  Sections of text are sent to literate speakers of the language who have volunteered to be reviewers.  They read the text and make comment and send it back.  Their comments are considered in improving the text.  Field testing involves going out and reading the text to groups of people who are not looking at it but only listening and commenting.  John usually records this whole thing and then Pontsho transcribes and translates the sessions.  These are very valuable in improving the translation.  Stage 4 is consultant checking.  Our translation will be published by the Bible Society of Botswana, thus it (and all translations LBT works on) must meet standards set by the Forum of Bible Agencies of which LBT and the United Bible Societies are all members.  Ideally, a translation is ready to be printed after stage four.  However, in our case we have mixed up the stages a little by having the consultant come in and look at some new texts that have not been field tested yet in order to learn from him how to do the first draft and team checking better.  It was a really great experience, very challenging to think through what the text is really saying and not allow things that have come to us somewhat opaquely in the English translations blindly influence the new translations.  Understanding that a high percentage of our users will be people listening to someone read the text, we need to make the text more oral. In Luke 19, several place names are mentioned.  The reader can see they are place names because they are capitalized in the text.  The hearer can't see capital letters, so we have stated that Bethany and Bethpage are 'meze', villages.  Understanding that texts are often read in small sections or are interrupted by section breaks, we were careful to 'reintroduce' characters so that if you jump in at 19:1, we state that it is Jesus who enters the village of Jericho, and again at verse 11, 'while the people were still listening, Jesus told this parable.  Luke 19:11-27 tells a story about a man who gives his ten servants each one mina to invest while he is gone.  A mina is worth three month's wages.  The Setswana translations that we consulted said that he gave them each one pound (which was a great deal of money a hundred years ago when the translation was done, but now is about $2.00) and the other said he gave them each one rand (the South African currency which is currently worth about 12 cents), so those are poor choices.  We have an unfinished debate on this one.  We currently have imported the word mina into the text with a note in the text explaining it is worth three months wages.  The consultant prefer that we not transliterate the word mina but rather say 'a coin worth three months' wages'.  Try reading the text in Luke 19 and substitute a phrase like that everywhere you see 'mina' in English and you see the challenge we face.  Your suggestions are welcomed by the way. 

The overall work of the consultant is to check faithfulness to the original text with regard to how clearly the original meaning, when it can be known, is coming over into the Shekgalagari text.  This is no easy task, but gave us a lot of categories to work with as we continue drafting.  We should be able to do a better job the first time around and have less revision is stages 2-4.  Whew!

Thanks for reading and for your faithful prayer and encouragement.  We love you.  Rich, Maya, and the Crew.


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