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Acta Theologica

On-line version ISSN 2309-9089
Print version ISSN 1015-8758

Acta theol. vol.29  suppl.12 Bloemfontein  2009


Colonial interference in the translations of the Bible into Southern Sotho



T.J. Makutoane; J.A. Naudé

Department of Afroasiatic Studies, Sign Language and Language Practice, University of the Free State, P.O. Box 339, Bloemfontein 9300, South Africa. E-mail:




Bible translation in South Africa was initially conceptualised and executed by either missionary societies or Bible societies. This paper aims to investigate the nature of the translators' encounters and negotiations between the source text culture and the culture of the target audience. For purposes of this study, the translation of cultural terms of two translations of the Bible into Southern Sotho will be considered. The first translation to be discussed was published in 1909 by the Paris Evangelical Missionary Society representing colonial empowerment of the dominated target culture by the hegemonic culture of the translators. The second translation discussed was published in 1989 by the Bible Society of South Africa. It represents a process of indigenisation of the source text culture.

Keywords: Colonial interferences, Southern Sotho Bible translations, Indigenisation, Sesotho

Trefwoorde: Koloniale interferensies, Suid-Sotho Bybelvertalings, Verinheemsing, Sesotho



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1 The authors wish to express their thanks to Prof. Cynthia L. Miller, University of Wisconsin, Madison for her time to discuss certain aspects of this article with them and for her valuable comments on earlier drafts of this article. They also want to thank Ms. Marlie van Rooyen for her input and assistance to edit the text and technical matters of this article.

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