Tuesday, July 6, 2010

More on translation difficulties

Eddie Arthur's Kouya Chronicle pointed me to this article about some of the difficulties in the task of Bible translation.

It mentions how that translating from one language to another is a task of compromise with opposing ideals causing translators difficulty and frustration. That's certainly been my experience, and it's part of the reason why there's no perfect Bible translation. And that in turn is part of the reason why there are so many different English Bible translations -- every one has to apply their own set of predefined weightings in making the compromises which translation of necessity demands due to linguistic and cultural mismatches.

Many Bible translations are forced to make middle-of-the-road decisions so as to ensure that the final product is marketable to the Christian public. The Open English Translation of the Bible (OET) handles this in a different way -- it consists of a collection of four different linked versions each of which is able to make some more extreme decisions than most traditional translations, yet the compromises between things like accuracy and naturalness are balanced across the entire set. Thus, although compromised like every modern English Bible translation has to be, it tries to make the compromises more open and exposed to the reader.