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Bible Translation Language

Translator training: checking tools

The current translator(s) with the Ashɛ translation project had not received much training in using the translation software, so we’ve been doing that over Skype and I’ve made some videos to reinforce what we have done interactively. They’re unedited and not amazing, but if you want a taste of what we have been doing (but not why!) then feel free to skim through these:

1. Helping ensure consistency of spelling and usage with Paratext’s Biblical Terms tool

The Biblical Terms tool is useful to keep track of translation decisions and changes over the whole text we are translating, though we do need to keep a clear head and make sure we remember that we do not need to represent the same term in the same way slavishly in every context. We shouldn’t vary it without reason, but we should make sure the translation makes good use of the language in each context and distinguishes different senses of multi-sense terms appropriately. Sometimes discourse principles indicate that a pronoun or Ø (null) reference should be used to translate a Biblical term and the tool allows us to indicate that.

2. Using Paratext’s Notes List to help with Discourse checking the participant tracking

We created a particular kind of Project note inside Paratext where we track who is doing every clause in the narrative parts of Luke. Yes, that’s exhaustive and exhausting, but it’s not at all overkill at this stage to make sure that we are using the language correctly. This kind of work allows us to verify that we are interpreting the original correctly and representing it correctly to the Ashɛ audience.

This is trickier than it might seem because Ishɛ uses indexes which are like miniature pronouns when the identity of the participant is predictable or obvious (eg same person doing this action as did the previous one) but then full pronouns get wheeled out when you want to achieve a contrast to what may have been expected, or to draw attention to the start of an episode. Greek (and some Bible English) might use a conjunction in those cases.

Handling conversations also requires care because there are clear implications for who is doing what and how the author wants you to understand things from the Ishɛ language choice of nothing, a pronoun or a full name. To check we are handling everything right at both the Greek and Ishɛ ends we have a helpful flow-chart initially developed by Kathleen Spence from her discourse research and adapted by me as we pressed it into service.

S2 is a shorthand for meaning the subject of the current clause was the hearer of the previous speech, so they are now expected to respond in some way.

(S1 means the subject of this clause was also subject last clause,
S3 means subject this time was in the previous clause but not doing the action, and
S4 means we saw the subject earlier in the narrative but not in the immediately previous clause.
SIntro means this is the first time we’ve seen this subject.)

3. Paratext’s basic checks – getting started

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