The Typical Process of Bible Translation

Background

In most Bible translation projects, the translators are speakers of the language in which translation is being done. They typically work as members of a team and interact with a Translation Facilitator and Translation Consultant as they progress through typical stages of the translation process.

Preparation

Before translation begins, good preparation is essential. This will include consultation with church and community leaders, other agencies and partner organizations in order to establish goals for the project. The translation team must be selected and plans made for providing appropriate training. The preparation phase will also include thorough analysis of the language and culture of the community where translation is being proposed.

Drafting

Drafting refers to the phase of preparing a first-draft translation, based on detailed study of the source text. The first-draft may be prepared by the team or by one member of the team, depending on the team’s preferences. Once the first-draft is complete, it will be reviewed by the team and tested with other speakers of the language. The first-draft will then be improved in light of this review process.

The time required for this initial phase will depend on many factors. As teams receive more training and gain more experience, the drafting phase typically proceeds more quickly.

Revision and Review

Once the first-draft phase is complete, the translation team continues its process of revision and review. This typically involves extensive testing with other speakers of the language in order to determine whether the translation is communicating accurately and clearly. In many translation projects, review committees are organized to assist with this process.

It is typically during the revision and review phase that a translation consultant meets with the team to check the translation. Following this consultant check, the team will continue to revise and test the translation with the goal of ensuring that it is accurate, natural and communicative.

Publication

During the publication phase, the new translation undergoes a rigorous process established by the publisher. This process includes proofreading the entire text, checking for consistent formatting, and selecting supplementary material such as illustrations and maps.