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N$1 million a year to translate the Bible

It’s a very slow and costly process of translating 10 to 14 verses per day

After recognizing the need for modern Oshikwanyama and Oshindonga Bibles, the Evangelical Lutheran Church (ELCIN) and the Roman Catholic Church, amongst others, approached the Bible Society of Namibia to take up this task, but the exorbitant cost of a Bible translation has prevented the actual implementation until suitable sponsors can be found.
This tedious task will take about 12 years to complete, at a rate of N$1 million per year per translation, that amounts to about N$25 million all together. This translation project for both languages will hopefully start in 2017.
“Many of the current Bibles are still in literal translations, except for Khoekhoewoegab which is being done now into a meaning-based translation, so the translation of these bibles are important for the younger generation to understand” stated Dr Schalk Botha, Programmes Manager at the Bible Society of Namibia. “After knowing what specifics are required for translation, we begin the process by actually advertising for translators. We look for people who are well-trained in computer literacy, Bible literacy, as well as the background of the culture and the language. The candidates go through a selection process that is lead by our translation consultant from the Netherlands. They then go through a very thorough training process that happens here and elsewhere in the world” he said. Concerning the cost of the entire project he explained that there are about three people doing the translation. They will work on a full-time basis and require a salary. They are sent for continuous training in Kenya and other parts of the world twice a year. The translation consultant visits twice a year to view their progress and provide some more training, all of which is not cheap.

He also mentioned “they use a specific highly advanced computer programme for the Bible translation which is called Paratext,” The software comes with a handbook and displays original texts of the Bible in Hebrew and Greek, which help the translator to acquire the full meaning from the source languages of each Bible text, and then translate that sentence into the target language.
“Its a very slow and costly process of translating 10 to 14 verses per day.” he added.
“They have a specific schedule to follow to meet the deadline. Every three months we invite external reviewers from the community and members of the churches, who are also going through training, to come to the Bible Society and read the finished texts to see if it is on track. They communicate with the translation consultant and the translators and are responsible for the finalization of the translation.” After the translation process is complete, the texts are sent to Malawi for typesetting. The texts are returned for some more thorough proof-reading which takes a few months, and are then sent to China for printing. “The funds for this project will be provided by the churches who requested it and also through donations from the United Bible Societies from other parts of the world, who invest in such translation projects, and also from our side through our fundraising projects” he concluded.

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