I had a great vocabulary word, but my mother tongue taper wouldn't let me use it that way. Often, as we hit bumps or walls in our translation work, our helpers have a difficult time telling us why things don’t work or how to overcome or get around a difficulty. This is one of those stories.
Miscommunication still happens, even when we are trying our hardest for it not to happen. This story is an excellent example of why we have so many steps – and so much checking – built into our translation work! True, it will take many years to get the whole Bible translated into Lusi, but, by the grace of God, there will be the fewest errors possible.
To communicate God's Word clearly in another language, sometimes we have to slow down the information rate. One of the challenging things in translation is that two languages can have two very different ways of handling the same information.
People ask us why we're attempting to translate the whole Bible and not just the New Testament. When we were young missionaries in training, we thought, "Hey, PNG has the whole Bible in the trade language, so we only need to translate the New Testament into the heart language." We have since needed to repent of that.
Languages just take time – particularly when you are dealing with the shades of meaning level. I mean in English can you explain to someone else the difference between raise and lift? They are very similar in meaning, but we use them in different contexts. Raise your hand. Raise the bar. I want a raise. Raise the roof. Lift your hand. Lift the bar. I want a lift. Get in the lift. (I could go on . . . raise a crop, raise kids, raise . . .
Recently we went almost 8 weeks without measurable rain. Fortunately we still had some in the tanks. But what if there was no water? What if you saw others readily able to get a drink, but you could not? In many ways we westerners are like people who when we are thirsty for God's word, we can turn to the scriptures at any time.
This is challenging as many times we can’t just substitute a Lusi word for an English word: there is not a one-to-one correlation as both languages see the world differently. I check the content because we don’t want to leave any meaning out, nor do we want to be adding in information that was not in the original. This takes some time, but it is very important because both mistakes can and do happen.
The second step of many in the process of translation has big names like “transfer” and “Mother Tongue Draft.” What we do is sit down with our exegetical draft where we’ve made our best attempt at Lusi, a Lusi speaker, and a voice recorder. . . .Translation is a painstaking job of a 1000 decisions.