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Making Sense of Translation

Why do you need to own a car? Why do our kids go to school for 12 years? You probably haven’t thought deeply about these questions. They’re just part of the background of the way our society and culture work, although both of those are fairly recent innovations. Why does “the gray ugly big monster” sound weird and “the big ugly gray monster” sound better in your head? It’s your built-in understanding of the rules of the English language.\

The Solos people, culture, and language complex is also full of these background rules, norms, and innovations. There is a lot going on behind what happens in everyday life, and just like most of us, most of the Solos people haven’t really explored the “why” of every little thing.

When translating the Bible, these kinds of background things come up all the time. It can be a struggle to get all the thoughts and nuances in a particular verse or sentence or story into the right order to make sense and still mean the right things with the right cultural connotations. Whole passages can be very confusing if just a little bit of phrasing is wrong.

These types of background issues need to be clear, not just for Larry as the advisor, but also for each Solos translator as they’re working on this difficult task day after day. So the work Larry is doing now on writing up cultural studies and details of how the language works is a vital part of getting a good translation that is clear and natural sounding, as well as accurate.


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