Archive for December, 2008

I heard this statement made often in my linguistics studies this summer.  We would examine a particular statement that was formed into a particular structure, and that statement would often be made, mostly by those who espoused ‘reader response.’  This would then give justification for altering the source text in the translation process.  I was quite frustrated because, my instincts–though quite novice, led me to believe otherwise.  I’ve been pleased to have those instincts confirmed by Eugene Nida, the key figure who, ironically, popularized ‘reader response.’  He says in his book The Theory and Practice of Translation that ‘anything that can be said in one language can be said in another, unless the form is an essential element of the message.’ 

He brings up the popular objection to this statement: how do you translate ‘snow’ for a culture that doesn’t experience snow?  He gives three ways to get around that (for those who are interested, I’ll give one way–even if they have not experienced it, it’s likely that they have heard of it).  He also cites the Hebrew word hesed and the Greek word logos as two words that cannot be adequately translated into English without loss of meaning (because of the multiple components of meaning for both words that do not have a corresponding English word). 

But the key point is that if a translator works hard enough, he can almost always find a way to say in his language what the original says.  Dr. Bernard stressed this point as we were working with the translator of the Haitian Creole OT a few weeks ago.  As consultants, we often have to guide the translator until he arrives at a translation that corresponds more closely with the form and meaning of the original.  Sometimes this requires persistence, because the translator may feel that he has already exhausted all the possibilities, when in actuality he hasn’t.  Our ‘modified literal’ philosophy usually takes more work than the ‘reader response’ philosophy, because it requires uncovering all the possibilities before settling on the final translation, but it results in a translation that maintains a higher regard for the form and meaning of the message that God has given us. 

On a deputation note…  I look forward to getting back into the swing of things this Sunday as I head down to West Ashley Independent Baptist Church, pastored by Tom Sims, in Charleston, SC.  Please pray as I shift back into that gear.

Read Full Post »

Trip to Haiti

Though the trip had a rough start, the rest of the trip went quite smoothly.  We were supposed to leave Charlotte on Saturday (Dec. 6) and arrive in Haiti on the same day.  But because of mechanical problems with the plane, we were delayed a couple of hours, and that caused us to miss our flight to Haiti.  So we had to stay in Miami for the night.  That proved to be a real blessing for me because it let me get caught up on sleep and work.  I was fighting a cold at that time and was still trying to get rid of a parasite.  So a good night’s sleep after a short, rough sleep the night before was very welcomed.  Plus, since we received the backtranslation of Jonah and Ruth only a week before the departure, it gave me more time to work through that.  Also, it saved me from possibly having to preach in French that first Sunday I was there.  I hadn’t heard of any plans to have me preach, but I try to expect the unexpected.  But I wouldn’t have been ready for the unexpected because I have been out of a French-speaking culture since May.  So missing that Sunday gave me a week to get immersed in the culture before having to preach in French. 

We arrived on Sunday afternoon and were able to relax in preparation for the next day.  Since we didn’t have our own wheels, we weren’t able to attend church anywhere.  The people who housed us were extremely gracious.  They both work, and they are basically in the middle class of Haiti.  They had internet access and satellite TV, so we enjoyed doing emails in the evening and watching sports.  I loved the juices from freshly squeezed tropical fruits every day.  It wasn’t the hottest time of year, so the temperatures were bearable.  Interestingly, the days were better than the evenings.  I think that’s because the concrete house absorbed the heat of the sun throughout the day and then radiated it throughout the evening.

The translation workshop got off to a good start.  We spent most of the first day orienting ourselves to the work that Daniel Telfort (the Haitian translator who received some of his training from Bob Jones University) had done so far.  At 11:34am we began the translation consultation of the Haitian Creole OT.  We began with Jonah 1:1 and spent about an hour talking about the first three Hebrew words, translated into English as “Now the Word of the Lord came….”   We wanted to preserve this important theme of “the Word of the Lord came”, but it is difficult to figure out how to say that in Haitian Creole.  A much more natural way would be “the Lord spoke”, but obviously that loses the formulaic way of saying that God gave revelation to a prophet.  We assigned Daniel to work on this to arrive at a good solution.  Pray that he does!

The pace picked up some, but not too much.  I believe the average time spent per verse was 20 minutes.  Therefore, we got through Jonah and only part of Ruth.  But that covered most of what Daniel had sent us by way of backtranslation.  We plan on continuing the work in April–either we will go back down, or Daniel will come up.  Port-au-Prince is a difficult city to move around in (because of many poor roads and hectic traffic), so I wouldn’t mind if Daniel came up here.  We are planning on doing consultation twice a year.

It was a blessing to experience Haitian culture.  I learned much about my director, Hantz Bernard, through this trip.  He showed me where he grew up with his uncle, where he went to school to train for the priesthood, where he got saved, where he began pastoring, where he began translation work, where his second pastorate was, where he and his wife met, where some of his children were born, where he taught on the seminary level, where he lived before moving to the US, etc.  It was a joy to see his reuniting with those whom he pastored in the past. 

I praise the Lord for the trip–for the work accomplished and for protection.  It’s such a blessing to see the Haitian Creole OT on its way!  And it is a blessing that the Lord confirmed His calling of me into this ministry.  I was concerned that I wouldn’t like translation consulting (it is very tedious work).  But I loved getting into the Hebrew in preparation and then discussing with Daniel the best ways to word the translation in Creole.  What a joy to have part in the provision of the Word of God!

See photos of the trip at http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=68488&l=873ac&id=613716245.

Read Full Post »

After having to travel so many miles to PNG, it’s going to be a blessing to take the short jaunt to Haiti this Saturday.  However, though the trip is going to be short, there are other complications that require your prayer. 

First, pray that we can actually go and accomplish all that we need to.  When I tried to go in April, I had to cancel the trip because of unrest.  There has been no news of unrest so far.  But the country is very volatile and dangerous, so pray for safety.

Second, pray that I will regain full health soon.  I picked up a parasite while in PNG (not the kind of souvenir I wanted!).  I went to a doctor on Tuesday and am taking medications.  My appetite (which was the only thing affected) seems to be almost back to normal, but I still have a bad cold (not directly because of the parasite, but probably linked in some way). 

Third, pray that we will be able to accomplish all the work that needs to be done.  The translator, Daniel Telfort, has translated Jonah, Ruth, Song of Solomon, Psalms 1-10, and part of Genesis.  But the editors, stylists, and backtranslators have completed only the first two.  And I have been able to work through only 2/3s of Jonah.  Pray that much work will be accomplished between now and Sat and also while we are in Haiti.  Dr. Bernard will be overseeing the consulting work and helping me learn how to do it, so we should be able to accomplish more since there are two of us.  A pastor from Quebec, Claude Jutras, will also be with us.  His main purpose in going is to learn more about the ministries in Haiti. 

Fourth, pray that the Lord will resurrect my French-speaking abilities.  I haven’t had to use them since my trip to Quebec in May.  I’m not sure if I will be preaching, but I need to be ready.  But where will I find time to get ready for that?  Thankfully, I can pull out a couple sermons from the file, that are already in French.  But now I need to remember how to preach them in French.

Thanks so much for your prayers.  The Lord gave me good meetings at Anchor Baptist Church in Myrtle Beach and Grace Baptist Church in Columbia.  Both were positive about wanting to support me.  No more meetings until January 4.

Read Full Post »