Download A Brief Manual - ABWE Word Ministries

yes no Was this document useful for you?
   Thank you for your participation!

* Your assessment is very important for improving the workof artificial intelligence, which forms the content of this project

Document related concepts

Morphology (linguistics) wikipedia , lookup

Spanish grammar wikipedia , lookup

Pipil grammar wikipedia , lookup

Cognitive semantics wikipedia , lookup

Latin syntax wikipedia , lookup

Word-sense disambiguation wikipedia , lookup

Meaning (philosophy of language) wikipedia , lookup

Semantic holism wikipedia , lookup

Symbol grounding problem wikipedia , lookup

Transformational grammar wikipedia , lookup

Malay grammar wikipedia , lookup

Pleonasm wikipedia , lookup

Junction Grammar wikipedia , lookup

Untranslatability wikipedia , lookup

I. Introduction
The purpose of writing a simple English base is to make the translator’s job easier by
producing a complete and accurate translation base that non-mother-tongue speakers of English
can understand. The simple English base is NOT a summary or dumbed-down version of the
original text. Rather, the simple English base communicates the full meaning of the original text
while being clear and natural.
English is a complicated language, often difficult to understand for the non-mothertongue speaker because of the many idiomatic phrases, grammatical usages, multiple meanings of
words, and frequent appearance of long sentences. In addition to all of that, English involves
unpredictable spelling and pronunciation rules as well as inverted order in sentence construction.
Think of all the times when you, a mother-tongue English speaker, have read and re-read some
passage in a reference book or a “deep” treatise, wondering just exactly what it is the author is
trying to say. Translators who are not as familiar with English and its usages will face even more
difficulty if not given a simplified English base for their translation work. The result of poor
understanding of the base text will be a poor translation, one that is not accurate, and probably not
clear and natural, because the translator cannot express in his own language an idea he does not
himself grasp.
A simple English base can be used for translation into any language, assuming the
translator has skill in English. Simple English bases prepared for one particular place can be used
by teams in other locations. (That is why WORD Ministries keep files of simple English bases for
often-requested materials in the resource center at Harrisburg: to promote sharing of prepared
bases and discourage the poor use of time and effort in preparing bases that have already been
Even though bases will be shared, the person preparing a simple English base should
keep language and culture of the target group in mind. Giving thought to the target language will
help you to do a better job of eliminating those words, phrases, grammatical structures, etc. that
will puzzle the translator. (For example, the French language rarely uses passive voice, so the
person preparing the English base for translation into French will do well to eliminate the passive
voice from the text.) Culture of the target group should also be kept in mind, especially in the
parts of the text where illustrations, examples and pictures are used. These could convey wrong or
no meaning to persons of another cultural background.
If we could thoroughly train every translator in good translation principles and methods
and in English grammar, vocabulary and usage, we would not need to prepare simple English
bases. But we cannot; so your job is quite important. By removing problematic features from the
source text, you can help the translator to produce a more accurate translation, and one that is also
clear and understandable. His work will, of course, still go through a series of checks, corrections,
testing, and more corrections, but the first draft manuscript will be of much higher accuracy and
quality than if he had translated from a more difficult, less understandable base text.
The purpose of this manual is to apply some basic translation principles and methods to
the task of preparing a simple English base for translation. Removing possible “stumbling blocks”
for the translator in our preparation of the base text will not only make his job easier, but will
allow the translator to concentrate his efforts on producing a manuscript that is accurate, clear and
natural without having to spend a lot of time figuring out the meaning of the text.. Principles are
presented and opportunity for practice with application of those principles is given.
**Please note that these principles are NOT meant to be applied to the translation of
Scriptures. Some of these principles and methods are appropriate for Scripture translation, but
others are not. The principles and methods applied to Scripture translation are much more rigid
than those for translation of other materials.
II. Translation Defined
Translation is the re-telling (in another language), as exactly as possible, the meaning of
the original message (source text) in a way that is correct, clear and natural.
Note that:
Words will probably not match up one-for-one (nail, board, you)
Words are arranged in sentences differently in each language (verb placement,
If the translation follows too closely the grammar and words of the original, the
translation may be unnatural, confusing and give the wrong meaning
An accurate translation has:
no omissions
no additions
no changes
The two main steps in translation are:
discover the meaning of the source language text and
express the meaning in the target language in a way that is accurate, clear and
A good translation depends on:
a reliable understandable base text
a trained translator and translation team (checkers, reviewers, testers)
clear goals (target audience, proposed uses, etc)
quality time spent in checking, revising, and testing
III. General Suggestions for Preparing an English Base for Translation
As you read through the material with translation in mind, some things will be glaringly
obvious as far as need for simplification. Here is the “short list” of things to watch for:
1. Sentence length – Most tribal languages contain an average of 10-11 words per sentence, while
English has long sentences and Greek has even LONGER sentences. Remember that our
translators often have a tribal language as their mother tongue, so they are accustomed to shorter
sentences. Often you will need to cut the sentences into two or three shorter sentences. Just be
sure NOT to lose the ties between ideas. It in sometimes necessary (and certainly okay) to begin a
sentence with “This is because of..” or “After that...’ or “Then...”, or “As a result of ....”
Remember, our goal is to convey the meaning clearly, and that includes words that describe how
the ideas are related.
2. Difficult words – Sometimes these are big words which can be replaced with one or two
smaller, simpler words or a simpler phrase. Sometimes those difficult words require an
explanation or definition. You may even need to give an example. Words such as “imputation”
and “unanticipated” may need to be defined.
3. Difficult grammatical structures – English speakers (and writers) often invert word order for
emphasis or other meaning shifts. Long sentences can make it difficult for readers to follow the
subject to the verb, and may include several idea units. (These sentences can be cut as discussed
above. See also step 4 below.). It may be that grammar forms used are not found in the target
language or are rarely used (like passive voice in French). Some grammatical structures are
difficult in any language, such as subjunctive, and can obscure meaning for the translator.
4. Vague referents – English often uses “it” or “they” to refer to something mentioned in a
previous sentence or earlier in the paragraph. This can be confusing, especially for translators
whose language uses referents only for the most-recently mentioned subject or when the language
uses the same pronouns for animate and inanimate subjects. (For example, one translator was
stumped by a sentence referring to the temple and tabernacle as “them,” because she expected
that pronoun to refer to people.) It is better to re-name the subject than to leave the reference
5. Words or phrases likely to be misunderstood (idiomatic phrases, words with more than one
meaning, etc. Note that more of these will be specified later in this manual.) For example, the
phrase “Jesus had beaten Satan again.” could be re-written in the base text as “Jesus had
conquered Satan again.”
6. Cultural ideas – Often the examples given in word or picture illustrations are unknown in the
target language culture. Substitute common examples from the target culture. For example, if the
woman in the lesson is suffering financial difficulties (maxed out her credit cards), the woman
could be described in the simple English base as facing the problem of no money in hand to do
her marketing on a Monday.