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vol.60 número4-1New and old treasures: The 2020 Afrikaans translation of the Bible as a retranslationThe Hebrew base text and the 2020 translation of the Bible in Afrikaans índice de autoresíndice de assuntospesquisa de artigos
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Tydskrif vir Geesteswetenskappe

versão On-line ISSN 2224-7912
versão impressa ISSN 0041-4751


VAN DER MERWE, Christo. Another translation of the Bible in Afrikaans: What makes it different?. Tydskr. geesteswet. [online]. 2020, vol.60, n.4-1, pp.892-911. ISSN 2224-7912.

There are currently at least six readily available Afrikaans translations of the Bible. The Bible Society of South Africa has just published another translation at the request of churches that use the Afrikaans Bible. According to the so-called "retranslation hypothesis", retranslations tend to move closer to the source texts on which they are based. However, the history of Afrikaans translations of the Bible over the past forty years does not confirm this hypothesis, as most were, in fact, functionally equivalent translations or paraphrases, subscribing to the principle that understanding the meaning of the source text was more important than formal equivalence to it. It is almost ironic that the most recent retranslation of the Bible into Afrikaans indeed confirms the above-mentioned retranslation hypothesis. It is, namely, a translation that tries to address a need that has been expressed by the churches for a translation that would be as close as possible to the source text. The following problem presents itself: How do the translators of an ancient religious text come "closer to the source text"? The central question that this study addresses is: What makes this retranslation and its attempt to stay close to the source text so different from any other existing Afrikaans translation? Undoubtedly, it can be argued that there are a number of factors that determined the nature of the 2020 translation of the Bible into Afrikaans - notably, the research that preceded it, the extensive negotiations that were conducted with the churches, the number and diversity of the co-workers, and the research projects that guided the translation process. Granting the significance of these factors, the main hypothesis I wish to put forward in this article is that the linguistic and translation models on which this retranslation is based, and their implications for the translation choices made distinguish it from the other Afrikaans translations. Following the introduction, section 2 describes the dilemma created by the request of the churches that use the Afrikaans Bible. On the one hand, it was evident by the beginning of this century that it was no longer possible to assume that a word-for-word translation of the Bible would bring the translation closer to what is said in the source texts. On the other hand, many aspects of the dynamic (also called functional) equivalent model of Bible translation that had enjoyed well-nigh canonical status from the 1960s onwards have since been severely criticised. A new translation model that uses idiomatic Afrikaans but stays as close as possible to the source texts had to be developed. The features of this model, based on the insights of Christiane Nord and Ernst-August Gutt, are summarised in section 3. This alternative translation model sets an almost impossible task for translators, namely, to write the translation as if the original authors were being quoted directly in idiomatic Afrikaans. For this purpose the linguistic model underpinning the translation model needed careful consideration. Section 4 consequently describes the cognitive linguistic model on which the translation model is based. Many of the insights of cognitive linguistics are not completely new. Rather, they represent further developments and/or refinements of the wisdom of traditional historical philology. An example in this regard is the fact that language is deeply embedded in the culture and experiences of the speakers of the language concerned. This implies, of course, that the chances are good that some of the translations of an ancient text could be misunderstood by modern readers, unless they are complemented by explanatory notes. This was what the Reformed fathers of the Statenvertaling had already realised; hence the many annotations in the 1637 Dutch translation. A distinctive feature of the 2020 translation is its supplementary information (introductions to the different biblical books, its footnotes and extensive glossary). Section 5 describes some of the valuable insights gained from cognitive linguistics by showing how the 2020 translation options differ from those of the 1953, 1983 and the New Living translations. With reference to the insights gained from cognitive linguistics, examples ranging from a culturally specific expression and a highly polysemous body part term to a frequently occurring conjunction that is also polysemous are provided. These examples illustrate a) that a distinction must be made between the prototypical and less-prototypical sense of a linguistic expression; b) that sense extensions are gradual and part and parcel of human language, but often difficult to discern; and c) sense extensions can typically be associated with particular co-textual as well as contextual frames.

Palavras-chave : active-zone body parts; Bible translation; code model; cognitive linguistics; communicative clue; direct translation; dynamic equivalent; equivalence; formal equivalent; functional equivalent; historical philological approach; inferential model; relevance theory; retranslation; skopos; translation model; word-for-word translation.

        · resumo em Africaner     · texto em Africaner     · Africaner ( pdf )


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