Nov 29, 2011

Coming or Going?

Jita translation team in consultant checkThe three Jita translators work with a
translation consultant on a passage from Acts
The Jita translators and I recently spent two weeks with a translation consultant working on the first fourteen chapters of Acts.  One day we encountered an interesting problem in Acts 10:33a.  It's one of those half-verses that doesn't have anything particularly theological in it, so it didn't seem likely to have any translation issues.  The context is that Cornelius is talking to Peter and explaining to him about being visited by an angel telling him to summon Peter, and how he had done so.  In the New Living Translation, it says: "So I sent for you at once, and it was good of you to come."  At first glance that might appear pretty straightforward to you, but maybe you'll notice something interesting in the Jita translation, which is translated word for word into English here: "So this is the reason I told people to come call you, and you have done well to come."

Read it again, just in case you missed it the first time.  Do you see it?  It's that "I told people to come call you" bit in the verse.  How can Cornelius, who is at his own home at this point in the story talking about sending messengers to go on a journey of three days to fetch Peter, say "to COME call you"?  It doesn't make sense in English, but in Jita it sounds just fine.  Because Cornelius is talking to Peter himself, it's "come".  In Jita, if he said "go" in this context, it would mean that it was someone other than Peter who had been called. 

The consultant and I both thought the translators had simply gotten confused and messed up by writing "come" instead of "go", but when they explained it, it reminded us once again of the value of having mother-tongue translators!  There is no way someone who is not Jita could have possibly translated that verb correctly, but since they are doing it in their own language, it sounds just right.


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