Today is International Translation Day. To celebrate, you can start by reading this interview from Eternity News with some of United Bible Society’s top translation consultants.
Translation work may seem like a pretty simple job. You just take one language and translate it into another, right? But if you add in words that just don’t translate into another language or have to wrestle with cultural connotations and complicated grammatical structures, and it can get pretty complicated.
That’s why translation teams are made up of people from all different places with any number of different skill sets. We asked some experts. But, first, we had to check their credentials, starting with Marlon Winedt is a Global Translation Advisor.
Marlon Winedt: What languages do I personally speak? My own mother tongue is Papiamento .… Then, I do speak Spanish, French, English, Dutch, German, and some other Creole languages which I won’t list now. Then, the languages of the Bible that we can read, so Hebrew and Greek and Aramaic and stuff like that … and the languages I’ve been involved with translating … over the last 30 years, I’ve been involved with maybe 18-20 languages.
Okay, so Marlon’s credentials check out. Like Marlon, Brigitte Rabarijaona and Edgar Ebojo are translation consultants: they travel around the world advising on different Bible translations.
Edgar: Bible translation is exciting! You are open to new worlds, new communities, new practices, new cultures – and a lot of different foods!
Marlon: It is a very enriching experience.… It’s a very synergetic thing.… we grow a lot and learn a lot. The translations are done by local people; ministers, scholars, anyone interested in seeing the Bible translated into their own language.
A translation team usually consists of a manager, two translators, an editor and an outside consultant.
Marlon: That’s the nice thing about this ministry is you’re always learning. Then, you give what you have; it’s nice because you’re always keeping up with academic stuff but you learn a lot from your translation team too, because [of] the way they look at the Bible.