Every Language: Listening To The Multilingual God

“God’s communication with humanity was intended from the beginning for “every nation, tribe, and language.” While all languages are equally competent in expressing the message of the Bible, each language has unique capacities to communicate certain biblical messages in exceptionally enriching ways that other languages cannot. This Bible Plan explores seven of those hidden treasures that will expand how you think about God and his good news.”

Subscribe to the 7-day reading plan on YouVersion right here.

Blessed by ‘The Blessing’ in the World’s Indigenous Languages

“The more than 100 popular videos of ‘The Blessing’ sung by churches as benedictions to their cities, countries, and the world have become a multilingual phenomenon. As one YouTube comment mentions, it’s like a foretaste of the great polylingual choir described in Revelation 7.

“Seven years ago in an article for Christianity Today, I looked forward to language’s ‘crowning achievement’ in the ‘amazing sight and sound’ that Christians around the world anticipate in heaven. But now I wonder whether I actually left out an even more crucial component than sight and sound: meaning.

“When you listen on YouTube to the Malay, Burmese, German, or French renditions of ‘The Blessing,’ you may rightly assume that they are substituting the words of Numbers 6:24-26 from a Bible translation in their language for the original English text. But how does the meaning transfer from one language to another?

“We know from experience that Bible translations within one language can differ widely from each other, and it’s clear that this gap becomes more extreme in translations from one language into another. The words of different languages have different histories (etymologies), and the fields of meaning that words have do not cover exactly identical grounds between languages.

“Why is this relevant?”

Find the rest of this article right here.

TIPs adds language taxonomy

With an ever-increasing number of languages in TIPs, it might feel disorienting to understand what the languages are and how they relate to each other.

So far it has been possible to find a link to the corresponding Wikipedia page underneath each language listing and — if applicable — a link to an online location of the already-translated part or whole of scripture in that language (see image 1 below).

Now (June 2020) we have added a taxonomy (= classification) that allows you to place each language within its language groups and relate it to other languages.

Below each language there are now two immediate language groups shown, preceded by an ellipsis:

Image 1: Immediate language groups

If you are familiar with the language groups, or if you would just would like to find out more, clicking on the ellipsis reveals the complete language groups hierarchy:

Image 2: Complete language hierarchy

Any of the language groups represents a link that leads to a page where the immediate subgroups or associated languages are listed. If you click on “Zapotec” in this case, you will see all the languages that are part of that group and are covered in TIPs, followed by the number of stories associated with each:

Image 3: All languages belonging to one language group

Each of these language listings is also a hyperlink that leads you to a page for that language (which would look like Image 1).

If you click on a language group that has other language groups listed underneath (as in this example “Zapotecan”), you will see all the language sub-groups containing other groups or languages that have stories associated with them:

Image 4: Language sub-groups

Selecting “Zapotec” brings you back to Image 3, and selecting “Chatino” displays all the languages that are part of that language group with stories in TIPs:

Image 5: All languages belonging to another language group

We would be grateful if you could provide feedback on the usefulness of this feature and let us know what we can improve.

A tool that analyses and compares translations of the Bible

At the FIT (International Federation of Translators and Interpreters) conference I had the chance to present a tool I’ve been working on for some time, and I’d like to introduce it here as well. But let’s start at the beginning.

As translators, we’re fascinated by languages, so it’s not hard to convince ourselves that the survival of indigenous languages is important. I also don’t have to repeat the dire statistics concerning the rapid loss of languages that we are experiencing. We know about this, and we care — even though we sometimes feel helpless in responding to the problem. How, though, do we communicate that urgency to others, or how do we at least awaken some interest in the rest of the world?

For about three years I have been working on a tool which I think has the potential to make that possible. It can change the conversation about why everyone should care about indigenous languages and their plight from ‘because it’s the right thing to do’ to if you don’t, you personally will lose out.’

See the rest of the article from the ITI Bulletin right here.

Review of TIPs by Eddy Arthur

“One of the great blessings of being involved in Bible translation is that you get to wrestle with expressing God’s word in other languages and as you do, you begin to see things clearly that were, up till that point, somewhat opaque. Of course, not everyone can be a Bible translator, but thanks to a new website: Translation Insights and Perspectives those who aren’t involved in translation have access to insights from all sorts of languages.”

Read more from this review right here.

What is the Translation Insights and Perspectives (TIPs) website and how can it help your Bible Society?

“The vision of the Translation Insights and Perspectives website was to build something to help Christians around the world understand the value of Bible translation, and also expand their horizons about the biblical text. It does this by exposing them to the different ways other languages express certain concepts in the Bible. Put simply, it curates insights and perspectives about the Bible, gleaned from hundreds of languages and translation projects.”

Read more from this interview about the Translation Insights & Perspectives tool right here.

Is God Male? The Divine Chinese Pronoun

English translations may approach a Bible verse or book in radically different ways—within certain parameters, that is — the parameters set by the English language. And that’s true for any language. While almost everything that is expressible through language can be expressed in any language, it simply won’t be.

Confused yet?

Let me explain with a simple but—when it comes to English and most other languages—oh-so-complex example.

It’s about pronouns.

See the rest of this in the new blog post in Patheos right here.