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May 27, 2011

Building blocks of Translation

Written by Alison C.

alison_jita__kwaya_workshop Handbells used during a Literacy workshop for the Jita
and Kwaya speakers. (Mara Cluster - Tanzania)
I recently conducted a week-long course for my new colleagues that covered everything from the Jita alphabet and spelling rules to how to be a creative writer, and what things to look for when editing. One of my highlights of the week was identifying and listing onomatopoeic words in the Jita language. This process involved making lots of funny sounds and acting things out! For example, in English we say that a lion roars but a cat meows. A loud sound is a bang! These words are imitations of the actual sound itself. Using these expressions is a lot more descriptive and natural than saying a lion or cat "made a noise", or there was a very "loud sound". Onomatopoeia, vivid descriptions, and idioms will make a Bible translation come alive. For example, rather than saying that Peter will deny Jesus three times before the rooster "calls out", what can you say instead? The (more experienced, not newly hired) Jita translators did it this way earlier this year: Ing'oko means rooster and ukookoroma means to crow. If you mimic the rooster's crow, you would say, "Kookoroweeko!" (That's "Cockadoodle-doooo!" in English.) Isn't that fun?! Please pray for continued creativity and wisdom as training efforts are ongoing!

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