Bible Translation Seminars
As part of its ongoing and expanding program of professional development services, the Institute provides training seminars for several Bible agencies' translation staff: United Bible Societies, SIL International, The Seed Company. In 2011 three such seminars convened.
Increasingly, mass media, pop culture, and digital technologies have changed the communication strategies and channels available to Bible agencies and churches. To address the particular case of Bible translation in this new communication and information culture, the Nida Institute has convened a series of seminars on intersemiotic translation. The Institute chose this topic because it believes that modern semiotics offers Bible agencies and their translation staff a valuable tool for developing and assessing translation in a post-print environment. Crucially for working Bible translators, semiotics opens new avenues for recognizing, prioritizing, and selecting signs and meaningful structures.
This proposed third research seminar continues the trajectory set by the previous two in that this seminar will also investigate innovative interdisciplinary approaches into the research and production of Bible translation “beyond print.” In this seminar, semiotics will remain an important theoretical support, however, the current seminar aims to complement the gains of semiotic theory through the inclusion of two other related areas of research and theory: Oral Tradition and New Media. These two seemingly disparate areas of research have been linked by the research of John Miles Foley who initiated the Pathways Project. “The major purpose of the Pathways Project is to illustrate and explain the fundamental similarities and correspondences between humankind’s oldest and newest thought-technologies: oral tradition and the Internet.” This third research seminar sets its starting point at the research done by Foley and his colleagues and then moves on to ask how this research and related newer developments inform Bible translation theory and practice.
In the language of ancient rhetoric, media translating in all its aspects (text, audience, production, evaluation) asks of Bible societies an investment in ethos, logos, and pathos. An investment in ethos is a reaffirmation of the character of Bible societies and their commitment to presenting Scriptures in multiple languages and formats; an investment in logos is a reaffirmation of the need to critically study the audience and its requirements with the same diligence as we study the source text; and investment in pathos is a reaffirmation of the need to treat engagement not as a hoped-for consequence of Bible translation but as a feature designed into every project thanks to an appreciation of the complex nature of “text,” a enlarged understanding of audience understanding, an acceptance of production steps far different than those in the print medium, and a willingness to trust assessment tools and processes that measure success in media presentations of the Bible.
The work of two renowned Italian semioticians (Umberto Eco and Paolo Fabbri) as well as recent work in cultural studies helped shape the semiotic presentations. Lectures by the other subject matter experts looked at translation in a wide variety of contexts, disciplines, and media: communications, linguistics, text criticism, and skopos as well as ethnomusicology, performance studies, sign language, and recent research on orality and media.
Translation Resources Seminars
Increasingly, the resources and skills needed for effective translation are becoming more sophisticated and diverse. In an effort to address the need for such resources and skills, the Nida Institute has convened a series of seminars around the challenges that the search for such resources presents.
Experts in the field of Bible translation (biblical studies, consulting, software and Web technology) met in October 2012 to discuss the future of Bible translation resource development. Clearly the 21st century is posing new, healthy challenges to Bible translation:
The majority of Bible translation work is being carried out by people who are from the Global South.
Indigenous languages are their first or second languages. So existing (English) translation resources are rather limited, if accessible at all.
Most existing translation resources were produced by Western scholars for people with graduate-level English and knowledge of Western culture.
Distance learning, just like traditinal classroom learning requires content that is up to date and refreshed on a regular basis. The Nida Institute's approach to content development, called Modular Aggregation of Principles for Bible Translation. At this stage of its evolution, MAP is largely being imagined in two intersecting layers:
Modular Principles: A dynamic and modular resource for principles of bible translation, extending the rich tradition of bible translation handbooks and manuals into new media ecologies, a more distributed team of content developers, and an ongoing lifecycle of curation.
Aggregation: Selection and organization of these modular principles intertwined with existing and imagined local resources in ways that fit the culture and ethos of local translation communities.
MAP strives to find sustainable ways to put the best of current and cutting edge academic research into conversation with the theory and practice operative in local translation teams in hopes of creating networks of learning communities that will enrich the future of bible translation worldwide. It is envisioned that MAP will not only provide resources in English but also other world languages.