How will Zora understand this? (The Prices Write, March 2019, part 1)

Last month, six Roma translators, a consultant, a consultant-in-training, a Croatian translator and I met at the Baptist Church here in Slavonski Brod to edit our translations of Luke 8-10 in 3 Roma languages. We met for six days.

After devotions and prayer each morning, we spent the rest of the day going verse-by-verse over these passages. A Roma translator would read a section of several verses aloud in each language while the others listened. Then the consultant and I would ask questions to help the translators evaluate the translation.

We must always put ourselves in the shoes of those who will one day listen to or read this translation. It helps us to put a name to this representative person (Džemila, Zora or Štefica), most likely an unbeliever with little Bible background. We ask ourselves how she would understand this passage when she hears it for the first time.

For example, in Luke 1:64, a wooden translation describing what happened to Zechariah is “his mouth was opened and his tongue”. How will Džemila understand this? If you adjust the wording to “his ability to speak was restored” then you have captured the meaning, but lost the picturesque description. If you leave it literal, will Zora think Zechariah’s mouth was glued shut and only need to be opened? And how do you “open” someone’s tongue? You could add a verb and say “and his tongue was loosed” but then will Zora think it fell out? Part of Bible translation is not only making it clear so the listener will get the correct meaning, but also doing your best to make sure that it cannot be easily misunderstood.

So thank you for praying for us for God’s wisdom and ability to translate well as we labor to give God’s Word to the Roma here!


Todd & Pamala Price ( Kirsten, Daniel & Ariela)

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