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by Catherine Rountree and Ralph Hill
From the time we entered the translation world until the 1990’s, Bible translators debated translation theory mainly in terms of literal versus idiomatic translations. It seemed to be generally accepted that literal translations were the “old way” of doing translation and idiomatic translations were the new trend. However, in a recent publication, Douglas Robinson has put together an interesting collection of translations and documents on translation written by people through the years, from Herodotus to Nietzche. The authors were not all translators, but they all had their opinions about translation. And in general, it can be said that there is truly “nothing new under the sun.” The recurring debates have been repeated throughout history. Some ideas that I thought were new were presented several hundred years ago!
However, the discussions and debates are not just reruns of the old ideas. As translators’ knowledge increases in such domains as cognition, communication, and linguistics, they approach the debates from different aspects than their predecessors. Sometimes it seems they only change the terminology, but sometimes they present new information that has important ramifications for the theory and practice of translation.
In October 2005, the SIL International Translation Department and the Graduate Institute of Applied Linguistics sponsored a translation conference in Dallas, Texas, known as Bible Translation 2005. This was the third in a series of ongoing conferences, and was based on the theme of Quality in Translation. In plenary sessions, Dr. Lamin Sanneh of Yale University Divinity School graced us with a series of lectures on the role of Bible translation and the spread of Christianity. Dr. Todd Johnson, director for Center for the Study of Global Christianity discussed the demographics of the growth of the worldwide Church, including who would likely be readers of translated Scriptures in the future. Dr. Robert Hodgson and Dr. Philip Stine provided a banquet presentation on the life and legacy of Dr. Eugene Nida. Sixteen other speakers gave presentations relating to the theme of quality in translation. The papers presented reflected the new debates and trends. We expect that many of the papers will be published in future issues of this journal.
The articles and book reviews in this issue also reflect the debates and trends in today’s world of translation. We trust they will be of interest to you and stimulate your thinking on these issues.
Have a Blessed Christmas and a Happy New Year!!
Anonymously reviewing articles for journals is generally a thankless task. We would like to thank the following individuals who generously reviewed articles for our issues in 2005:
Robinson, Douglas. 2002. Western Translation Theory. Northhampton, Mass.: St Jerome.
The papers are available on CD from the SIL Academic Bookstore, 7500 West Camp Wisdom Road, Dallas, TX 75236 USA.