Thursday, May 15, 2014

Translation Work

There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all.   1 Corinthians 12:4-6

My family has had the opportunity to host missionaries on a regular basis all of my life.  I have always enjoyed hearing about what God is doing through believers who are obeying the great commission where God has placed them, whether in the next county, state, across the country, or around the world.  I am currently enjoying being an eye witness of missionary life during my visit, first with my family here,  but then with other missionaries who are nearby.   Each missionary has a different "job description," but each "job" furthers the goal of seeing people saved.

On Tuesday, I had the opportunity to be a part of a translation team for the morning.  (I apologize for not taking any pictures.  I will try to do better to take pictures of what I am doing.)  

Kuya Graeme is passionate about accurate translation work.  Upon arrival at his home, he immediately put me through a crash course on translation work while his wife and two other team members worked on back translation.  

First, he defined the three key terms of translation work and drew a picture of the process, all the while speaking in his strong New Zealand accent.  Next he briefly explained the steps of translation that should result in an accurate translation of the text.   Then he elaborated on the exegesis, the part that I would be assisting Ate Naomi with.

After that Kuya Graeme explained levels of communication.  His goal is to have whatever his translation team translates to be understood on a paragraph level, not just a word or sentence level.   He also briefly described the origin of languages.  He believes that any people group without a common language to communicate with can come up with one language within eighteen months.  That is, languages evolve over time (i.e.Beowulf in its original form is hardly understandable to an English speaking person).  His interpretation of the tower of Babel is that God did not give many languages but that he confused the one language and the groups of families that were scattered came up with their own working language as they traveled.   Somehow I never read Genesis 11:7 carefully, where it does indeed say that God confused their languages.   Interesting food for thought.

Lastly, I was given my first Tagalog lesson.  Tagalog only has five different vowel sounds. It is hard to make my English speaking tongue correctly pronounce the vowel sounds and different consonant combinations, but I was coached until I could do it right.

After the condensed language lesson, the language team walked over to the office.  On the way to the office,  I learned firsthand a bit of Filipino culture.   Before we left, I had been asked if I wanted an umbrella to which I replied, "No thank you."  Who needs an umbrella on a sunny day?   As we left the house, the two other ladies on the translation team, pulled out the umbrellas and started walking.  Ate Naomi invited me to share hers and I agreed as Kuya Graeme explained.  Women use umbrellas to keep the sun and rain off while men only use umbrellas to keep the rain off.   Lesson learned.  Next time I'm offered an umbrella on a sunny day,  I will say yes (if I am in the Philippines).

After a morning of translation work (I helped with exegesis), the five of us returned to the house for lunch.  Kuya Graeme cooked while the rest of us got to know each other a little better.  Soon we crowded around a table and enjoyed rice, hotdogs, and creamy tuna.  I was encouraged  again to listen to the Tagalog being spoken rather than just hearing it.  I tried, but would have to do it a lot more before I started to make sense of it.  Surprise, surprise. :)

Prayer requests for translators: that they would not grow discouraged.  Translation is tedious work that requires commitment over a long period of time.  

P.S. The highlighting is unintentional and due to my lack of formatting knowledge I could not fix it except to make it uniform. 

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