That’s how many verses have been translated into Nahuatl so far. Each verse goes through a long, careful, (and to be quite frank) sometimes painful process. A passage is studied out, in English, Hebrew or Greek, and sometimes Spanish. An exegetical draft is written and communicated to a native speaker. Questions are asked and answered, clarification is supplied. The native speaker gives the rough draft in Nahuatl, sometimes five or six times in a row until both translator and helper are satisfied it communicates clearly.
This whole process is recorded, so the translator can go back and write it out again, checking constantly for accuracy. Certain words get highlighted and passed along to teammates for re-checking; we’ve been using that term, but what does it actually mean—what does it bring to mind in this culture?
The new Nahuatl rough draft is read to three different people from the village and detailed questions are asked to check for comprehension. “Who was speaking? Who was he speaking to? What did he say? What did it mean? How did his audience react?” Then there are the follow-up conversations, which may not be addressed in the translation, but certainly will be significant during teaching: people’s commentaries on what seemed strange to them about the text, what they don’t agree with, their cultural reaction to people, lands, and events foreign to them.
Any confusion will most likely result in changes and any changes made must, of course, be checked again. Sometimes entire paragraphs are sent back to the drawing board. Re-study, re-draft, re-record, re-write, re-check.
After a fair amount of text is ready, it gets re-translated into English. The Nahuatl-turned-English is read against regular-English passages and a content check is done. Notes like this appear in the margins: “The NASB says ‘the next morning’ and the Nahuatl only says ‘the next day.’” Those notes make their way back to the translator. Re-think, re-write, re-check.
The back translation into English then gets sent to our consultant. (They, of course, cannot be expected to know all the languages with which they work.) They diligently read it through, red-flagging concerns and sending them to the translator. Re-draft, re-write, re-check. They prepare questions and eventually show up on site to ask them to the native speakers. They verify that the translation is reading naturally and ask questions that check for accuracy. If not…well, I think you’re seeing the pattern here.
This final step—the last comprehension check done by our consultants—is slated to happen next month. It is the last “check mark” (unless you want to count proof-reading and formatting) on a very long list. After it is completed, we will begin reading these 1,865 verses to the people of Las Moras during our teaching this summer. Women will have them in hand to read after the tortillas are made and the babies are asleep. Men will be able to take them in their bags with their lunches, to read during a rest break at their corn fields. And in all of Las Moras the very words of God will be understood in the people’s heart language. Pray that it will fall on fertile soil and take root.