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Tydskrif vir Geesteswetenskappe

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


DU PLOOY, Heilna. Literary aspects of the 2020 translation of the Bible in Afrikaans and the contribution of the literary advisors in the process of translation. Tydskr. geesteswet. [online]. 2020, vol.60, n.4-1, pp.1028-1046. ISSN 2224-7912.

This article discusses the role and function of the literary advisors in the 2020 Afrikaans translation of the Bible. The introductory part of the article puts forward some of the basic requirements and restrictions of the translation. The literary advisors worked as part of a translation team which also included theologians, exegetes, translators and linguistic advisors, and the translation is described as a "direct translation". The team approach, as well as the theoretical methodology, was determined by the commission received from the Bible Society of South Africa. The instructions were to render a translation as close as possible to the source text, but which would also represent a smooth and idiomatically satisfying text in Afrikaans. This proved to be very difficult to achieve, as fidelity to the source text and an idiomatic rendering in the target text are almost irreconcilable objectives. The article takes as a point of departure the fact that the Bible is written in a particular language, that translation involves a series of linguistic actions, and therefore the input of literary and linguistic advisors is indispensable. In this translation, the basic exegesis and first (rough) translation of the biblical texts were done by Hebrew language scholars and theologians. The aim was to reach a satisfactory transposition to the target language of the content of the source texts, which includes the meanings of the words, and phrases and linguistic constructions, as well as any meaningful literary and poetical techniques and structures. The basic responsibility of the literary advisors was to oversee the reformulation of the biblical content in Afrikaans. From a literary perspective, the fact that the Bible is also regarded as a literary text, a text in which religious content comes to readers in literary form, is stressed in the article. It is imperative to understand and be able to interpret the use of different genres and of literary techniques, including narrative structures and poetic devices in the Bible. The article then describes how the Hebrew scholars and exegetes provided the background information, the cultural, political, ritual and social background to the Hebrew texts. It indicates the difficulty of the process in which the initial translation - elaborated by background information which was continually revisited and discussed and checked in a variety of sources - had to be refined by the literary advisors. The aim to render a translation which would be of high quality from both a linguistic and a literary perspective, and which would be fluent and idiomatically convincing in Afrikaans, was not easily achieved. The article also stresses the importance and effectivity of team work in this process. In the last part of the article, examples of interesting aspects, as well as solutions to some problems of the translation, are discussed. After an overview of detailed research on the Psalms, attention is given to specific examples. The examples are taken from the Book of Psalms, because this book not only forms an integral part of the Old Testament, but most of the complex poetic constructions in Hebrew can also be found in the Psalms. Parallelism is discussed in more detail because of the frequency and variety of this poetic device in Hebrew poetry, but attention is also given to other poetic devices concerning sound and rhythm, in addition to syntactical issues, such as word order and the semantic structuring of larger sections of text. The conclusion reached in the article is that this translation came into being through close teamwork; and though the work of the literary advisors was dependent on the information provided by the Hebrew scholars and was executed in and by means of ongoing discussion, it did indeed contribute significantly to the success of the translation.

Palavras-chave : Bible translation; direct translation; interactive translation; translating as a team; literary advisors; the Bible as a linguistic text; The Bible and literature; the Bible as literature; Hebrew poetry; the Psalms.

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