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Jan 28, 2010

We canít have two Josephs

Written by Misha S.

michelle_in_workshop Michelle working with mother tongue
Bible Translators (Mara Cluster - Tanzania)

To give a good idea of some of the issues that can come up when checking a Bible translation, here are some examples of what the translation consultant (Patrick) experienced while checking Luke 1-2 in both the Zanaki and Ikizu languages. The translators are Tanzanians working full-time as mother tongue Bible translators, and a Wycliffe missionary (Michelle) is a translation advisor.


Patrick: "In 1:64, your drafts say, ‘his tongue was untied'. What does that mean?" Translators: "It's an idiom for someone who talks after being silent."

Michelle: "Is it normally ‘tongue' or ‘mouth' in the idiom?"

Ikizu translators: "Tongue. It's correct as is."

Zanaki translators: "We say ‘mouth' and need to change it! We wrote tongue because it's in the Swahili like that."


Michelle: "In 2:4, your drafts say, ‘In the town of Nazareth, there was a man named Joseph.' Will readers think he's a new character in the story?"

Translators: "Yes, that's how we introduce new people."

Michelle: "But we met Joseph in 1:27..."

Translators: "Oh no! You're right. It sounds like there are two Josephs!"


Patrick: "In 2:11, your drafts have the phrase ‘city of David.' What does it mean for a city to be of someone?"

Translators: "That he was from it; that his descendants live there." Patrick: "Great. That works well."
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