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The Start of Work

July 30, 2012

For two and a half years, the Nsenga people have been talking about translating the Bible into their own language. It started with some discussions with the Bible Society of Zambia. It continued with a visit by two men from Lutheran Bible Translators. It got a little more real when one of those men brought Chris to Zambia in August of 2010 and introduced him as the potential Translation Advisor for the project. Promises were kept in August of 2011 when Chris returned, with his family, and started “setting up shop” in Petauke. All the while, members of the Nsenga Bible Translation Project committee were hard at work, telling people about their plans and building local interest and support.

After two and a half years of talking, the Nsenga people are now translating the Bible into their own language.

The Translator Selection Workshop that was held in June was a success. Canon Father Fasten Tembo, Mr Stansilas Lungu, and Ms Fanely Phiri were chosen as Nsenga Bible Translators. (You can read about them in our June newsletter.)

The new translators spent June gaining some basic computer and keyboarding skills at a local internet café. We began July in the office with a look at basic translation principles and an introduction to Mark, including the “pre-translation” of about 400 key vocabulary items.

In mid-July we went to Lusaka for a week-long workshop at BSZ. At this workshop, the translators were taught how to use ParaTExt, a powerful and sophisticated program for Bible translators that allows research, drafting, file-sharing, and proofreading functions to be carried out within the team as expediently as possible.

For the week after the workshop, we were back in Petauke at the office, orienting to our new laptops, reviewing translation principles yet again, and practicing the things we had learned about ParaTExt.

Today, Monday, July 30th, is the first “official” day of translation work. This is the day that we, in effect, “begin the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God” (see Mark 1:1) for the Nsenga people.

We have Mark divided into thirds. Each translator will make a draft translation of his or her section, and then read and edit the sections of the other two translators. We will then give this “internally-reviewed” copy of the manuscript to various outside reviewers – from different denominations, different Nsenga-speaking regions of the province, and different ages – for their input and suggestions. After making those edits, we want to “test” our translation for clarity and naturalness with other mother-tongue speakers. Finally, after more editing and proofreading, we want to publish the Gospel of Mark in Nsenga as a stand-alone booklet.

Our goal is to have this done by the end of 2012, so that by Christmas the Nsenga people can actually hear and read the Word of God in their language, instead of just talking about it.

What a blessing for the Nsenga people, to move from “talking” to “translating” – from “dreaming” to “doing” – in such a (relatively) short time. Thank you for the part that you play in this work!

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. William Christopher Tembo permalink
    July 30, 2012 6:21 am

    We thank God for the good work you are doing. Chris are you going to translate the whole bible i mean Old and New Testament? It would be nice if we had both old and new testament Translated. William

  2. July 30, 2012 6:40 am

    William — Thank you! We are starting with the New Testament, and it is the usual practice of Bible Society to publish the NT and see how it is received before moving on to the Old. But the Committee is intending to translate the entire Holy Bible for the Nsenga people, if the Lord continues to bless our work.

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