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Tag: languages (page 1 of 13)

Bible Translation as Subversion

In our current context, where we tend to make a clear division between religion and politics, it is easy to dismiss Bible translation as a marginal activity which is only of interest to religious people. However, the reality is that any activity which involves the promotion of minority languages, as Bible translation inevitably does, is a highly political activity. In the popular imagination, we tend to conceive languages as being functions of nation states. We speak English in the United Kingdom, French in France, and German in Germany etc. However,…

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Jesus Did Not Speak English

It isn’t often that I get called in to referee an argument between the Pope and the Israeli Prime Minister, but last week, I was interviewed by our local radio station about what language Jesus spoke. In what was a pleasant chat, I gave the generally accepted answer, that he probably spoke a number of languages; Aramaic in every day situations, Hebrew in religious contexts and perhaps some Greek or Latin. However, what I really wanted to say was that JESUS DID NOT SPEAK ENGLISH! Whatever those Sunday school posters…

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The Five-Percent

The “world languages” of Europe determine to a great extent how theology is done and which questions are posed. With ninety-five percent of the world’s population having access to at least a portion of Scripture translated in a language they understand the five-percent minority remains significantly neglected. This five percent includes over three hundred million people and more than two-thirds of the worlds languages. From a linguistic perspective, these minority-language speakers are the poor. Not only are they generally poor socially, economically and politically, but they are oppressed religiously by…

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Let The LAMP Die: Missionary Language Learning

Outdated language learning techniques still hang on in the mission community, despite better options being available out there. What does this say about our ability to adapt to the future?

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Words in Context

Translation is simple isn’t it? Just a case of finding the right words in the new language to replace the words in the old language; nothing to it really! Well, of course it isn’t as simple as that. Words combine into phrases which don’t quite up to the sum of the individual parts; has anyone ever really had a frog in their throat? There are many complexities in translation; not least the fact that words change their meaning according to the context. Nataly Kelly, co-author of the excellent Found in Translation, has…

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Land and Identity

The British press has been full of stories about immigration, recently. Depending on the newspaper you read, you may have discovered that immigrants threaten the social fabric of the UK or that they bring nothing but economic and cultural benefits. However, you would have struggled to find much about the way in which moving from one culture to another can have on the immigrant. This song by Gilles Servat captures this side of things wonderfully. It is written from the perspective of a Breton going to live in Paris, but…

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A New Reformation?

Church historians sometimes downplay one of the key planks of the Protestant Reformation; the use of indigenous languages in Bible study, worship and disciple making. A great deal is made of the theological influence of Luther, Calvin et al, but language gets much less attention. However, the Reformation both encouraged and depended on the use of the indigenous languages of Northern Europe. The increasing number of translations of the Bible, prayer books and hymnals encouraged an increase in theological thinking which solidified the break with Rome and led to distinctive expressions…

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Did Pentecost Reverse Babel?

When considering the significance of tongues throughout the pages of Scripture, one may begin to wonder why God desires to hear His praise in every language. Why not just teach everyone Korean, the language of Heaven? Instead, He seems to desire strongly both an array of languages and praising lips from each one. In Revelation 7, readers discover that in eternity, it is not merely one voice that lifts its praise to Almighty God. In eternity, it is one voice in many languages. This excellent quote from Ed Stetzer comes…

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Words….

Consider, therefore, the implications of these facts for speakers of other tongues – for speakers of languages that have only recently emerged from predominantly oral to written cultures, for speakers of “dying” languages  and for speakers of languages and dialects restricted to local use. The very scope of English makes it a ready instrument of empire. It bears within it the imperial history of Britain and America, which includes a highly developed discourse of justification for colonialism and domination (consider terms like “errand in the wilderness,” “new world,” “virgin land,” “manifest destiny,” “advancement” and “progress”) that can’t…

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Books I Have Read: Found In Translation

One of the great delights in life is reading a book by someone who really loves what they do and who communicates it well. Over the years I’ve read some fascinating books on subjects as far apart as quantum mechanics and molecular virology. Popular science writing is hard to do, but when it is done well, it is wonderful. Found in Translation by Nataly Kelly and Jost Zetzsche is a superb example of a book written by practitioners who have a gift for explaning their subject. It is informative without being…

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