• September 24th, 2018
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Translating the Bible takes 14 years


Alvine Kapitako Windhoek Every day, for 14 years, Valerie Isaaks has devoted her time to translating the Bible into Khoekhoegowab from the Hebrew and Greek languages. In the beginning it seemed almost impossible that the Elobmîs |Asa #Nû!khunis Bible would one day see the light of day. This is because the process had to be thorough enough to ensure a perfect product hits the shelves. “We are almost finished and now the many years feel as if we started yesterday,” Isaaks told New Era in a recent interview. The first Khoekhoegowab Bible has been since 1966, however it is in the old autography. Isaaks says there was a need for the new edition because the current version of the Khoekhoegowab (Elobmîs) Bible is a literal translation, which makes the context difficult to understand for some readers. In the 1970’s, schools started using a new autography of the Khoekhoegowab language, added Isaaks. “The old autography is not very familiar with the language that is being used in schools. The Bible Society of Namibia did research about the need for a new Bible translation, and that it also be changed into the new autography of the language which has been in use since the early 1970’s,” Isaaks elaborated. Additionally, the new edition of the Bible has a more meaning-based kind of translation. It also has more illustrations. “This means that we will have two different versions. The old version and this one, the new version,” said Isaaks. Language experts and lay people were consulted for their input to the new version, explained Isaaks. The translators also had to undergo much training (Greek and Hebrew languages) and do refresher courses to competitively translate the Bible as accurately as possible. Accompanied by her co-translator, Erwin Tsowaseb and a translation consultant, Gerrut van Steenbergen from United Bible Societies, Isaaks also shared the difficulties they experienced during the translation process and why it could not be completed within two or three years. “It is a long process and during this process there are many other aspects that we are dealing with, one of which is money,” she says. About N$10 million was devoted to the project, she adds. This money, she says, is to pay for the translators and reviewers’ salaries, as well as the general maintenance of the project, including computers. The translation process was divided into stages. This means that the team could only work on a given (certain) number of verses or passages in a day. This is to assure accuracy, Isaaks says. “We had to work according to the number of verses and the degree of difficulty.” Isaaks explained the degree of translation difficulties using numbers. “If it is a degree of difficulty of number four, that is a more difficult book, of which you have to translate at least ten verses per day. If it is a number five, you are fine if you translate eight verses per day but if it is ten or twelve it is a bonus for the translator (sic),” says Isaaks. Also, in the early years of translating the Bible, there was no software to make the work easier. “In the beginning we had to literally put in the verse numbers and all those standard format markers, which was a challenge although we got used to it.” However, that changed when the team was introduced to the Para-text software. “We had to get used to the new software. That was a challenge on its own,” Isaaks says. With the revision and new additions to Para-text that were tailored according to the translators’ needs, the work became easier as the years progressed. “Now we can just create a book and start typing. The verse numbers are already there and we don’t have any confusion with those things, but in the past even the footnotes had to be put in literally.” Isaaks was responsible for the translation of the poetry books. “Translating poetry is different from a narrative. However, the challenge made me stronger.” As the team is getting ready to wrap up on the project in a month or two, Isaaks says the process groomed her into becoming “a better Christian”. “When a preacher uses a verse in the sermon I am always curious to learn from which angle they will use the verse. This process taught me to observe things that seemingly did not matter,” said Isaaks.
2018-04-13 09:16:35 5 months ago
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