bugle, trumpet

1 Cor. 14:8 is translated in English as “And if the bugle (or: “trumpet”) gives an indistinct sound, who will get ready for battle?” In the translation into Binumarien this verse resonated deeply with the translators.

Lynette Oates (1992, p. 278) explains: “[Translation team member] Des read the verse from 1 Corinthians, ‘If the trumpet gives an uncertain sound, who will prepare himself for the battle?’

“‘That’s exactly right!’ Sisia[, another translation team member,] commented energetically. In the old days, a fight leader would give a battle call and everyone of his followers would immediately drop what he was doing, grab his bow and arrows and race off with him to battle. If he didn’t give a clear call, people would say, ‘What does he want?’ and not go. But if his call was unmistakable they would go.’

“He paused. Des could tell by his expression he had something else to add. That’s exactly what this work we are doing is all about. The Book in another language, Kate or Pidgin [two larger languages in Papua New Guinea with existing Bible translations that are difficult to understand for Binumarien speakers], is like an unclear call to us. We just don’t understand it. But in our own language it is clear. We know exactly what it is saying to us.’

“They translated several more verses till they came to the words, ‘I’d rather speak five words with my understanding than ten thousand with an unknown tongue’ [in 1 Cor. 14:19].’ Sisia reacted as if he had received an electric shock. He began to bounce up and down on his stool. He rocked his body from side to side and threw his hands about.

“‘That’s absolutely right!’ he almost shouted. If only those who first came had given us this Book in our language, we’d be better people today. Five words in your own tongue is better than words and words and words in someone else’s.’

“He continued to fling himself around. Paul would rather have five words in a known tongue than thousands in an unknown one. Paul’s right! He’s always right! If only we’d had just a few words in our own tongue from the beginning, things would have been so much better!'”

For the Old Testament version of a term that is often translated in English as “trumpet” see translations with a Hebraic voice (Joshua 6:3-5).

complete verse (1 Corinthians 14:8)

Following are a number of back-translations of 1 Corinthians 14:8:

  • Uma: “So also, if a sangkakala [Indonesian for trumpet] is blown to call soldiers to prepare to go wage-war, but if it is blown any-old-way, who will be prepared to wage-war?” (Source: Uma Back Translation)
  • Yakan: “For example also if there is a person beating the agong causing-to-come-see but his beating the agong is not right (lit. does not hit the mark, meaning not the right rhythm), na the people hearing it don’t know what the beating of the agong means therefore they don’t go-to-find-out.” (Source: Yakan Back Translation)
  • Western Bukidnon Manobo: “In the same way also, if there is a soldier who plays on a trumpet because he wants his companions to know that they should come and fight, but the sound of that trumpet is not very clear, they will not understand what he’s trying to tell them by blowing on the trumpet, and they will pay no attention.” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
  • Kankanaey: “Like also the horn that soldiers use, if its blast isn’t clear, what chance is there that anyone will prepare to fight?” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
  • Tagbanwa: “Like that also, if the blowing of the horn which is a making-something-known is not clearly-sounded, well who will prepare to fight?” (Source: Tagbanwa Back Translation)
  • Tenango Otomi: “Or if during a war the trumpeter doesn’t know how to blow, then without effect is the trumpet, it is of no value. Then the people wouldn’t prepare to fight.” (Source: Tenango Otomi Back Translation)