The Process of a Bible Translation Project
Before we start a Bible translation project:
We ensure through research and language surveys that the language does indeed need a translation of the Bible. Together with indigenous churches we recruit suitable candidate translators. We then train these candidate translators through a combination of classroom work, self-study and on-the-job training.
The actual translation process itself involves three steps:
- Analysis of the original to determine what the meaning of the passage is.
- Finding the right words and expressions to convey that meaning in the language into which the translation is made.
- Constructing sentences in that language, faithful to the particular manner of expression of that language.
Three criteria are applied to ensure quality translation:
- Accuracy, that is faithfulness to the meaning of the original
- Naturalness, that is sounding natural to the speakers of the language into which the translation is being made
- Intelligibility, that is being understandable to the reader
Newly translated passages are subjected to two kinds of tests:
- The first involves testing among the mother-tongue speakers of the language. Important questions are the following: Do they understand the translation? Does what they understand convey the correct meaning? Does the language usage sound natural to them? Groups of indigenous speakers from all walks of life are involved in these tests.
- The final test is applied in consultations with a Greek or Hebrew specialist, who compares the translation with the original Hebrew (Old Testament) and Greek (New Testament) version. If the consultant does not know the language of the translation, he or she is provided with a back translation into a language they do know.
Only when all the feedback from community testing has been taken into account, and when the consultant is satisfied that the translation is in fact an accurate representation of the meaning of the original, is a translation approved for publication.