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Translation Isn’t Apples to Apples

Translating the Bible into Lusi

This week’s article was written by Rick and Anji Zook who minister to the Lusi people of Papua New Guinea.

Yesterday I was working on a [section of Scripture] where Paul says, “Even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed.” Galatians 1:8 (NASB)

Isn’t that nice and short and succinct? Unfortunately, I can’t put that information into Lusi in quite the same length.

Translation Must Cross Language and Cultural Barriers

Crossing Language and Cultural Barriers

Bible translation is so much more than taking one word of Greek and substituting in one word of Lusi. Why? Have you ever read anything translated by Google Translate from a non-western culture? There are some things which must cross not only language barriers but cultural barriers. Sometimes Paul’s thinking is just really foreign to the Lusi. He makes cultural assumptions, and Lusi speakers make different cultural assumptions.

It is not just about finding the right words but making sure that we are communicating clearly the same message. So, I had to unpack it and slow it down even more, because what Paul was saying is very different than the assumptions that the Lusi make.

Slow Down! You’re Going Too Fast!

Slow Down!

I thought I was doing really well with slowing the information rate down. However, during the mother tongue taping session, my Lusi speaker really struggled with the idea that Paul had previously taught them the truth but then could turn around and teach something different.

I had to unpack it and slow it down even more by breaking the argument down into pieces and explaining things that Paul’s audience would have known or taken for granted, because what Paul was saying is very different than the assumptions that the Lusi make. My next attempt communicated Galatians 1:8 clearly.

Please pray for us as we continue the huge job of translation. We need God’s wisdom as we cannot do this job in and of our own power and will.

POSTED ON Mar 24, 2019 by Rick and Anji Zook

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