Thursday, August 22, 2013

Visit of the Consultant

In November of 2012, I wrote about the agreement that I signed with the Guatemalan Bible Society. I mentioned that one of the major contributions the Bible Society could make to us, was providing us with a consultant to check and approve the translation that we are working on. Initially we planned for the consultant to come some time in March, but due to a number of reasons this did not happen. However, I am excited to say that the consultant finally came. 
While on furlough in Canada, I received word from the Guatemala Bible Society that they had finalized the agreement with the consultant and that she would be able to travel to Cubulco from August 5-9. This worked out good for me as we would be back from our furlough and would be able to go to Cubulco and meet the consultant. I was able to spend three days with the consultant, the translation team, and some members of the Bible Society. After some brief introductions and talking about the history of the translation work, we spent several days delving into several portions of the translated word of God into Kubultzij (Cubulco Achi). The consultant chose different texts from the Old and New Testament each with different genres. It was immediately apparent the value of this step in the translation process as the consultant asked pointed questions about how words, ideas, and concepts were being translated. The first text we tackled was Mark 1 and the first issue we ran into was how "repentance" was being translated. The New Testament had been previously translated by two Wycliffe missionary women, but one of our previous translators had done a revision and made some changes. One of the changes was with regards to this text and he had translated the word repentance as "washing away of sin" instead of asking for forgiveness. The original Wycliffe translators had translated the idea correctly, but the former translator in his "zeal" (or arrogance) to better the translation made it worse. It could perhaps also be a problem with doctrine as many evangelicals in places like Cubulco mistakenly believe that repentance includes being baptized in a river since the river will wash away one's sins. The consultant picked up on that instantly as she did on other things and I am sure she will find many more things that will need to be changed.
As you can see the work of the consultant is crucial to ensure a faithful translation. I am grateful for the consultant. She is very qualified for the work and a good fit for our translation team. Her name is Isela and she is from Mexico. She is Presbyterian and therefore holds to the Reformed faith and has a high view of Scripture. She has a doctorate's degree and various other degrees in anthropology, Biblical sciences and languages. She has been involved with Bible translation work and has experience with Mayan languages. 
Translation work is a challenge as there are words, ideas, and concepts that are not found in the language of the receptor. Some languages do not have words for "repentance, forgiveness, atonement, etc". Often literal translations are done to overcome some of these problems, but at times this can cause the receptor to misunderstand the Word of God. For instance in Cubulco Achi a literal translation of "hardness of heart" means "bravery" instead of "stubbornness" "unwilling to submit or repent" or "rejection of God's grace". Therefore an idiomatic translation is important so that the term "hardness of heart" can be translated in such a way that the receptor will understand what it means.
Please pray for the consultant Isela, the translation team, and the Guatemalan Bible Society. Please pray for the translation of the Bible being done all over the world through organizations like the Bible Society and Wycliffe. Pray for the missionaries and nationals who do the work as well as for those missionaries who support them from behind the scenes like our good friends from the Chilliwack FRC, Jaco and Andrea Devisser who are being prepared to work full time with Wycliffe and provide vital IT support for missionaries and nationals. While they might be in the background and not on the front lines, their expertise and contributions are crucial and a huge help to translators. (If you want to know more about Jaco and Andrea Devisser you can check out their blog ‎
PS. I have mentioned Wycliffe several times in this post. Did you know that there is a "Guatemalan Connection" to Wycliffe? If interested read the next post!


Jaco Devisser said...

Excellent writeup Nico! It's neat to read how there are so many people involved to ensure the translation is accurate and true. Your work in connecting people and coordinating the many details is a key part in ensuring the project runs smoothly. Blessings on all the work you and your family do in Guatemala.

Angela Navejas said...

Hi Nico your blog is very nice. There are many in all over the world who involve in the field of translation for accuracy.

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