complete verse (Psalm 143:4) in Gbaya

Psalm 143:4 is translated into Gbaya with the help of the two ideophones lasak and kaŋiŋi:

See-am gɔna lasak,
ɓɛɛ mi ŋgai kaŋiŋi nɛ̀ kíì.

which back-translates to

“My liver stopped lasak (=abruptly),
and I harden kaŋiŋi (=become rigid) with fear”

Philip Noss (in The Bible Translator 1976, p. 100ff. ) explains: “A descriptive device common to Gbaya oral literature that is often found in translations of the Psalms is the ideophone. The ideophone may be identified with onomatopoeia and other sound words frequently seen in French and English comic strips, but in Gbaya and other African languages it comprises a class of words with a very wide range of meaning and usage. They may function verbally, substantively, or in a modifying role similar to adverbs and adjectives. They describe anything that may be experienced: action, sound, color, quality, smell, or emotion. In oral literature they are used not only with great frequency but also with great creativity.

Conforming to Gbaya literary style, the team used ideophones in its translation of the Psalms, although an average of less than two per psalm is a considerably lower rate of occurrence than in Gbaya narrative. There were two reasons for this limited usage. The first was that the Psalms are poetry rather than action narrative where their occurrence would be more common. The second was that in a tale being performed for artistic reasons, the ideophone may predominate over the action, whereas in the psalm the ideophone must complement without dominating or overshadowing the message. However, since the ideophone is an integral part of Gbaya literary expression, it could not be omitted. To do so would have rendered the translation colorless and unliterary.”

calamities

The interconfessional Chichewa translation (publ. 1999) uses the ideophone phu (“poof”) to emphasize calamities like death or exposure in these verses. (Source: Wendland 1998, p. 105)

Philip Noss (in The Bible Translator 1976, p. 100ff. ) explains the function of an ideophone: “The ideophone may be identified with onomatopoeia and other sound words frequently seen in French and English comic strips, but in [many] African languages it comprises a class of words with a very wide range of meaning and usage. They may function verbally, substantively, or in a modifying role similar to adverbs and adjectives. They describe anything that may be experienced: action, sound, color, quality, smell, or emotion. In oral literature they are used not only with great frequency but also with great creativity.”

log

The Greek that is translated as “log” in English is translated in Gbaya with the ideophone (a word that expresses what is perceived by the five senses) kpíŋgíí-te, imitating the sound of a heavy crash. (Source: Philip Noss in The Bible Translator 1985, p. 423ff. )

wait with eager longing

In Gbaya, the notion of “eager longing” is emphasized with lɛk-lɛk, an ideophone “that is often used to describe the flames of a fire. The ideophone is therefore used in this context as an image associating the burning of a flame with the burning in their hearts.”

Philip Noss (in The Bible Translator 1976, p. 100ff. ) explains some more: “A descriptive device common to Gbaya oral literature. The ideophone may be identified with onomatopoeia and other sound words frequently seen in French and English comic strips, but in Gbaya and other African languages it comprises a class of words with a very wide range of meaning and usage. They may function verbally, substantively, or in a modifying role similar to adverbs and adjectives. They describe anything that may be experienced: action, sound, color, quality, smell, or emotion. In oral literature they are used not only with great frequency but also with great creativity.”

dancing, shaking, trembling

The interconfessional Chichewa translation (publ. 1999) uses the ideophone njenjenje (“shake-shake”) to emphasize movements like trembling, dancing, or shaking in these verses. (Source: Wendland 1998, p. 105)

Philip Noss (in The Bible Translator 1976, p. 100ff. ) explains the function of an ideophone: “The ideophone may be identified with onomatopoeia and other sound words frequently seen in French and English comic strips, but in [many] African languages it comprises a class of words with a very wide range of meaning and usage. They may function verbally, substantively, or in a modifying role similar to adverbs and adjectives. They describe anything that may be experienced: action, sound, color, quality, smell, or emotion. In oral literature they are used not only with great frequency but also with great creativity.”

exceedingly

In Gbaya, the notion of “exceedingly” is emphasized with lɛk-lɛk, an ideophone “that is often used to describe the flames of a fire.”

Philip Noss (in The Bible Translator 1976, p. 100ff. ) explains: “A descriptive device common to Gbaya oral literature that is often found in translations of the Psalms is the ideophone. The ideophone may be identified with onomatopoeia and other sound words frequently seen in French and English comic strips, but in Gbaya and other African languages it comprises a class of words with a very wide range of meaning and usage. They may function verbally, substantively, or in a modifying role similar to adverbs and adjectives. They describe anything that may be experienced: action, sound, color, quality, smell, or emotion. In oral literature they are used not only with great frequency but also with great creativity.

Conforming to Gbaya literary style, the team used ideophones in its translation of the Psalms, although an average of less than two per psalm is a considerably lower rate of occurrence than in Gbaya narrative. There were two reasons for this limited usage. The first was that the Psalms are poetry rather than action narrative where their occurrence would be more common. The second was that in a tale being performed for artistic reasons, the ideophone may predominate over the action, whereas in the psalm the ideophone must complement without dominating or overshadowing the message. However, since the ideophone is an integral part of Gbaya literary expression, it could not be omitted. To do so would have rendered the translation colorless and unliterary.”