Science in Christian Perspective



Bible Translation and Linguistics

Summer Institute of Linguistics, Inc.
Dallas, Texas 75236

From: JASA 31 (March 1979): 13-19

The purpose of this article is to acquaint readers with the field of linguistics, particularly as it relates to Bible translation.1 The paper sketches the historical background of Bible translation as a general context into which the description of linguistics fits. The Summer Institute of Linguistics, Inc. (SIL), the largest training organization for linguistics in the world, is described in some detail.

Brief History of Bible Translation2

Bible translation has its origins in the antiquity of the Jewish people whose literature is generally said to date from late in the second millenium B.C. after the conquest of Canaan. The Old Testament was written mainly in Hebrew but there are also portions in Imperial Aramaic and a few words in Persian and Egyptian.
Although writing had been developed by the Sumerians more than a millenium earlier, and although bilingual education in Sumerian and Akkadian had existed during the second millenium (Wiseman 1970, 30), it seems likely that these advances had little direct influence upon the ancestors of the Jewish people. Writing served primarily to record the affairs of state, the exploits of rulers, legal matters, business, and the esoterica of religion. Such writing was confined largely to the centers of power and there were few literates among the interior people apart from formally trained scribes who handled diplomatic correspondence. The language of diplomacy was an Akkadian lingua franca that stretched from Mesopotamia through Palestine, and the Canaanite scribes who wrote the Amarna letters (14th cent. B.C.) reflected their own dialect in their use of it (Moran 1961, 54).

The biblical narrative of Jewish history begins with the patriarchs Abraham, Isaac and Jacob whose language has been regarded as a dialect of Old Aramaic (Black 1970, 1). It is also known as Amorite or East Caoaanite (Bauer 1926, Landsberger 1954). Aibright regards it as one of five distinct dialects, not identical with (South-) Canaanite nor proto-Aramaic (Moran 1961, 57). Moscati (1964, 4) cites its status as being controversial. Although the linguistic data are subject to varying interpretations, it is generally agreed that there were numerous dialects spoken in the fertile crescent and that the dialect of the patriarchs and their descendants was distinct from those of the inhabitants of Canaan. The linguistic relationships as proposed by Moscati (1964) for the Semitic family are shown in Table A.

Black (1970, 4) states that

the relationship between the members of this widely diffused family, each with its own distinctive features, is much the same as that within the Germanic group of languages, German, Nurse, Danish, Swedish, etc., or the Slavonic group, Lithuanian, Russian, Polish, Serbian, etc.

To this comparison one could add the Romance languages (Moscati 1964, 16).

It is well known that the fertile crescent has always been the scene of population movements and economic and military struggle. In the days of the patriarchs such struggles were between small nomadic groups, and theK. J. 

Table A   The Semitic Languages

North-East group             Uncertain                North-West                    South-West group 
(Mesopotamia)                                                  (Syria & Palestine)            (Arabia & Ethiopia)

 Akkadian                         Amorite                  Canaanite                         Arabic
 (Assyrian dialect)              Ugaritic                  Hebrew                             Ethiopic
 (Babylonian dialect)                                          Phoenician and 
(various dialects)    

patriarchs and their descendants until Joshua (ca. 1800-1350 B.C.) have been frequently identified with the Apiru (Habiru) people from which comes the word "Hebrew." Anati (1963, 390) states that the Apiru were bands of people with a way of life similar to that of the patriarchs and that they existed in Palestine throughout the Canaanite period and ultimately took an active part in the conquest of Canaan under Moses and Joshua. Most scholars believe that the Jacobian migration to Egypt involved only a portion of the patriarehial community and that the descendants of those who remained (the Apiru?) joined forces with their invading relatives led by Moses.

The nomadic nature of the Canaaoites resulted in a high degree of culture contact so that by the time of Moses the Canaanites were familiar with at least eight languages recorded in five completely different writing systems (Mendenhall 1961, 50, n.23). These close linguistic relationships and contrasts of the various groups plus the presence of the Apiru undoubtedly enhanced the assimilation of the invaders who very quickly adopted the Canaanite language and alphabet, the latter giving rise to the devlopment of the Early Hebrew alphabet about 1000 B.C. (Diringer 1970, 13).

Moses, who is considered to have written the Penta-teuch, received his education at the Egyptian court (cf. Acts 7:22) and is believed to have appointed officials to keep records during the exodus. The writercompiler of the Pentateuch may have had sources from a number of languages, but the only non-Hebrew words in current manuscripts are Lehan's Aramaic equivalent Jegarsahadutha for Jacob's Hebrew Galeed (Gen. 31: 47), the Egyptian form of Joseph's name (Gen. 41:43), and an Egyptian exclamation (Gen. 41:45). Anati (1963, 389) states that Moses and other names in Leviticus are of Egyptian origin.

Just what sources the writer of the Pentateuch drew from is an open question, and various hypotheses reflect the conjecturer's presuppositions. Conservative scholars would attribute a greater portion to original composition than their less conservative colleagues, of whom some would go so far as to say that portions of the Pentateuch are translations of borrowed literature. For example, Kaiser (1975, 26-7) suggests that as the Jews assimilated to the Canaanite way of life they also entered into the area of major international literature. The chief example is the popular flood epic which is found in the fragmentary Sumerian Airahasis epic and in the Akkadian Gilgainesh epic. Fragments have also  een found in a Hittite translation. A cuneiform fragment of the Gilga mesh epic dating from the 14th Cent. B.C. found at Megiddo led Kaiser to conclude that the Canaanites were the intermediaries leading to the biblical accounts. Accordingly, some can then assert that portions of the Pentateuch are translations (but see Ackroyd's (1970, 71) more cautious appraisal). Until recent discoveries proved the antiquity of the Early Hebrew alphabet, many scholars accepted the arguments that cuneiform was used until 700 B.C. and one, A. Cowley, suggested a theory that Ezra (about 400 B.C.) "translated the cuneiform documents into Hebrew, and wrote the results down in simple Aramaic characters" (Diringer 1970, 12).

Bible translation has occurred in the context of culture contact, often resulting either from people undergoing linguistic assimilation who desire to maintain a basis for their historic faith, or from the attempts of a dominant or victorious people to convert their alien subjects. Neither of these situations arose until after the Assyrian victory over Samaria in 722 B.C. when large numbers of Samaritans were exiled and replaced by people from Babylon and other areas. The nature of the mixed population led to a translation of the Pentateuch into the Samaritan dialect.

When the southern kingdom fell to the Babylonians in 596 B.C., the nobles and wealthy people were taken to Babylon where many, such as Daniel, were educated in Aramaic (the biblical 'Chaldean') for three years. Others fled to Egypt.

As a result of the Babylonian experience many Jews acquired the lingua franca Aramaic as a second language. Translation must have been a regular practice; Esther 1:22, 3:12 and 8:9 record that the edicts of King Ahasuerus were translated into every language, the last reference applying to 127 provinces from India to Ethiopia plus the language of the Jews. Moreover, the O.T, books composed during this period are those that reflect the acceptance of Aramaic; Daniel 2:4-7:28, Ezra 4:8-6:18, 7:12-26, and Jeremiah 10-11 are written in Aramaic, and Daniel 5:25-28 contains Persian words.

The demand for an Aramaic translation probably arose during this exilic period or the Persian period following it, for by the 3rd century B.C. Aramaic had replaced Hebrew. Translation into Aramaic culminated in the Targunts. Those which adhered to the Massoretie text were official and claimed prestige whereas those which were free and paraphrastic were unofficial.

The Jews that fled to Egypt ultimately established their community at Alexandria. As a result of the Hellenic influence, the Alexandrian community produced the Greek Septuagint O.T, which was the first attempt to tranlate the O.T. into a non-Semitic language. There were numerous translators working from texts based upon both Early Hebrew and Aramaic. Generally scholars have focused their attention on the translation with a view to determining the veracity of the readings in the Massoretic text rather than judging the qualitiy of the translation, although that of Isaiah has been regarded as quite inferior.

The next impetus for translation came in the Roman period following the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD., the resulting dispersion, and the spread of the Christian message. As a result of the Christian interest in the Septuagint there appeared a number of minor Greek versions, of which many were attempts to harmonize the Greek text to that of the Hebrew. Aequila's in 128, "was of the most slavish character, rendering the Hebrew word for word without regard for the exigencies of the Greek language" (Suteliffe 1969, 99). Also literalism characterizes the versions of Theodotion (100-33) and Symmachus (174). Origin's Hexapla (c 240) added confusion to the search for the original Greek version, and there was such a proliferation of "vulgar" texts that scholars now speak of "text families".
This textual confusion led to a focus upon reconstructing the precise wording of the putative original text. In time the text was considered to be so sacred that even the word order was thought to be of divine oriin, and many translations were judged to be faithful' t(; the degree that they conformed to the word order of the original language.

As Christianity spread out from the Eastern Mediterranean more major translations were completed. Tatian (160-180) produced the Syriac Diatessaron, the life of Christ based upon a harmony of the four Gospels. Other translations include the Old Syriac (c. 200), the Syriac Peshitta (c. 300), Philoxenian (508), Harklean (616), and Palestinian Syriac (300-500). Latin versions include the Old Latin (200) used in north Africa and the Vulgate of Jerome (405). Coptic versions were the Sahidic (350) and Bohairic (650). Other versions such as the Ethiopic, Nubian, Arabic, Sogdian, Armenian, Georgian, Slavonic, and Persian have been based upon relatively late Creek texts or other translations. Most were markedly literal such as Ulfilas' (350-380) Gothic translation which is said to have followed "a system of imitation which in his time was imposed by respect for the sacred text" (Hunter 1969, 343).

The single bright star during this period is Jerome who was a scholar of Latin, Greek and Hebrew, spoke Syriac fluently and knew Aramaic and Arabic to lesser degrees. He was well aware of the problems of translation and formulated his own principles to lead to a translation of sense to sense, not word to word (cf. Sparks 1970, 519-26). His Vulgate, completed in 405 but not accepted by the Chords until the eighth century became the key to a correct interpretation of the faith after Latin passed not of use, and the hierarchy set tip indices which prohibited any vernacular translations on the fear that they would undermine their authority. 

Consequently in Italy, Spain and France translation was done apart from the Church, usually by the Reformers. Ultimately in the eastern European countries, the Church reluctantly issued authorized translations based upon the Vulgate. As a result the Vulgate which Jerome translated so as to express sense for sense became the basis for more literal and sometimes incomprehensible translations.

There were so many bad translations in Europe during this time that the few good translations came to he revered. Such was Luther's Bible which became the basis for translation into neighboring languages such as Swedish and Danish. Other versions in use for considerable periods were the Dutch version of 1637, the English of 1611, and the Czech Kralice Bible. Such is the conservatism which has affected Bible translation.

The Impact of Linguistics Upon Bible Translation

Waterman (1963, 2) attributes the beginnings of linguistic investigations to the Creeks and the Indians, the former being characterized as those who speculated about language and developed philosophical grammar, and the latter as those who described language in detail both in grammar and in phonology. The Indians, beginning with Panini in the fourth century B.C., concentrated on describing Vedie Sanskrit and clarifying the Vedic hymns. The later influence of these descriptions on European linguistics was in the area of morphological analysis and guiding principles for the paratists (see Rocher, 1975).

The European form of traditional grammar, however, is more indebted to the Greeks. Aristotle distinguished parts of speech and the Stoics carried on Aristotle's study of case relationships. With the exception of two works about Latin, the Greeks did not apply their method of linguistic description to the scores of languages spoken by their neighbors and by those under their suzerainty. Rather it was the Romans who passed on to Europe the grammatical model, in particular Prisciao's Latin grammar which was used during the Middle Ages.
The growth of interest in languages and linguistic description was directly the result of the missionary efforts of the Christian church. As the Bible was translated into the vernaculars, accompanying glossaries were prepared. With the invention of printing, lists of vocabulary were distributed and scholars began to recognize language similarities. At this stage Bible translation was feeding a growing interest among scholars in language study.
The interests of these early linguists reflected the spirit of the age. As biblical scholars were obsessed with determining the most probable readings of a putative original text, so were linguists consumed with an interest in defining the newly recognized relationships of the European languages and reconstructing a protolanguage. This interest in historical linguistics persisted into the twentieth century, and linguists said little that was relevant to the issue raised by the rapidly expanding program of Bible translation.

The growth of interest in languages and linguistic description was directly the result of the missionary efforts of the Christian church.

The main influence of the scholastic world was the allegiance given to the Latin grammatical model in the description of exotic, i.e. non-European, languages. In effect this led the analysts to impose the familiar categories of the European languages upon languages quite alien in both grammatical and semantic sructure. The impact of this model persists today so that some missionaries still follow it although most linguists abandoned it decades ago.

The first really productive influence of linguistics upon Bible translation came as the result of the development of modern structural linguistics. In effect it freed the missionaries and other analysts from the classical model. It was now the responsibility of the analyst to discover the categories relevant to the grammatical and phonological systems of the language being investigated and to describe its structure.

Insights in the areas of grammatical and phonological analysis were soon followed by insights into semantic analysis. The distinctive features of phonological analysis were said to be paralleled by semantic features in semantic analysis. Anthropologists soon began to analyze semantic fields such as kinship systems, color categories, and flora. The goal of this type of analysis was to arrive at an emic understanding, i.e. an understanding of the cognitive order which the vernacular speaker imposed upon his world through his language. From these beginnings developed the field of cognitive anthropology with its emphasis on ethnnstudies such as ethnoscience, ethnobotany, etc.

What this did for Bible translation was to make clear the methodology that good Bible translators had
consciously used throughout history. It gave the translators the basis for an explicit science of translation.

Early Textbooks

In general the methodology of modern linguistics as applied to Bible translation can he traced directly to the early textbooks of Nida (1947 and 1949) and Pike (1947 in particular). Just as these two men received their linguistic structuralism from men such as Sapir (1921), Bloomfield (1933), and Fries (for example, 1952), so thousands of missionary linguists and translators have been influenced over the past four decade, by Nida and Pike.

Several of Pike's and Nida's students have become noted linguists (for example see the works of Grimes 1975, Longacre 1976 and Wonderly 1968) and have continued to teach and conduct field seminars for Bible translators. Pike's general theory of language and society (1967) has not received a wide linguistic audience, but his pedagogical materials continue to be used widely, including the most recent textbook which was written jointly with his wife (Pike and Pike 1977). Recently, Breod has edited a number of Pike's works as well as some major efforts of his students and colleagues (Brend 1972, 1974. 1975).3

It is interesting to note that despite these early foundations in structural linguistics, there were also restrictions. Just as the so-called Latin model caused earlier students of the language to adjust their grammars accordingly, the structuralist model caused later students of language to view non-grammatical meaning cautiously. Although Nida, as we mentioned earlier, has long been a student and scholar in semantics, he has not been an original theoretician. It took transformational grammar (Chomsky 1957) to outline formally the serious limitations of structural grammars based on the analysis of constituent structure. Without the polemics and prodding of later transformational scholars it is doubtful that today's teachers of Bible translation and basic linguistic methodology would have developed their present interest in semantics. Bible translation would be the poorer because key concepts on kernel sentences (Nida 1964:59-62), underlying or deep structure with a generative device for analyzing the process of decoding source text, are based on the work of Chomsky and his followers.

On the other hand good Bible translators and students of the exotic languages have always been good anthropologists. The first courses of the S.I.L. included topics on Latin American and Indian cultures (see the Hefleys 1974). There have been excellent publications dealing with topics related to Christianity across cultures (for example the journals Practical Anthropology (195472), Missiology (1973 to date) and books such as Mayers 1974 and Nida 1960). Enlightened missionaries have always been conscious of their impact on other cultures.

One final area of contribution by linguists and Bible translators should be mentioned: that of language learning. All SIL linguists and many missionaries must learn languages that do not yet have alphabets, grammars, or dictionaries. The frustration of such language learning has led to a series of excellent helps specifically designed for learning a foreign language. One of the earliest and best was by Nida (1957), followed by other books more specific in purpose. Gudschinsky (1967) aids those learning a language to pronounce it correctly; Larson and Smalley (1972) provide a complete learning program; Healey (1975) gives a day-byday field manual with programmed elicitation and numerous practical details; the Brewsters (1976) provide a simple text which gets the learner quickly and successfully into a daily schedule. Each of these books is built squarely on a linguistic foundation, demonstrating again the close link between areas of Bible translation and language study.

Although some linguists have been displeased with the relationship between missionary work (Bible translation) and linguistics,4 others have praised the contribution of missionary linguists.5 In 1955 Professor Kenneth L, Pike, president of the SIL, began field workshops. Pike began to train counsultants on a world-wide scale, visiting virtually every country where SIL worked. On the basis of the consultant training program SIL members were encouraged to study for advanced degrees, returning to staff summer schoools and field workshops and adding an academic dimension that has influenced the whole organization.6

Decisions of a Bible Translator

Any Bible translator who is also a linguist will soon be confronted with several aspects of the work that require a decision: (1) his view of language; (2) the importance of the vernacular or mother-tongue; (3) what type of translation he is aiming for and how this can he checked; (4) the social dimensions of language and translation use; (5) his view of the Scriptures.

Bible translators should have a high regard for language. God expressed himself in a natural, idiomatic language, and his revelation to us in the accepted canon of the New Testament was in Koine Greek, a dialect which developed from the common circles of society and served as a lingua franca. This was in contrast to the then current prestige dialects of classical literature.

It follows that God did not intend his message to assume the status of a literary artifact, retaining all of the obsolete (but often sacrosanct) pronunciations inflections, lexical inventory, and word order of an ancient language. The translator views NT. Greek exactly as any other language: it has a structure particular to the Greek of that period, and the linguistic methodology involved in the study of its structure is in general no different from that in studying, let us say, Kewa of Papua New Guinea.7

From the late 50's the linguist N. Chomsky has had a profound influence on studies on language, linguistics, and the philosophy of language. Chomsky (1968) argued that present day structuralism has grown out of the abandonment of certain important concepts of Cartesian philosophy, in particular the theory of universal principles and rational explanations. This early rationalistic philosophy of language is often most clearly associated with the "doctrine of innate ideas' and contrasts with logical positivism, where man uses words of explanation to somehow adapt to and control the environment. Because the world is seen differently by each person language is not to be trusted. This socalled behavioristic view of language led later to a thesis of linguistic relativity (Whorf 1940), where observers are not led to the same picture of the universe unless they have similar backgrounds. Although many linguists have disagreed with this basic thesis (Longacre 1956), it nevertheless influenced certain early structuralists who, in turn, taught many of our present day peers in Bible translation theory and practice.8 We are now in a post-Chomskyan era of reassessment with an emphasis on bridge disciplines and in general a less hostile view of language data and the work of Bible translators who are also linguists.

Secondly, a Bible translator as linguist must have the conviction that the vernacular is an extremely in]portant and capable vehicle for God's Word. He observes that God's Word in the vernacular not only makes an impression but that the Holy Spirit activates people through its truths. But people have questions, even on the clearest translation, or even to the most apparently obvious statements. Witness, for example, Thomas' response when Jesus said to his disciples, "You know the way to the place where I am going." In other words, all aspects and ramifications on the translation of the Bible-as on any piece of literature-must be capable of discussion in the very language into which it is translated. Naturally, key words (theological primitives, if you wish) influence the development of the folk theology of a given group. God has given every homogeneous group of people the capacity to communicate in a language particular to that group, linguistically unique. To preserve this homogeneity societies and sub-groups purposefully create dialectal features. Translating the Bible into this particular dialect identifies the Scriptures, and consequently the God which they reveal and exalt, with the society or

Good Bible translators and students of the exotic languages have always been good anthropologists.

sub-group. God is no longer alien; his truths are no longer irrelevant to the problems of the group. In short, God speaks to the group in their language. Unless this obvious fact is held as crucial to a Christian's, and consequently the church's development, Bible translation is seen as peripheral to the so-called main task of evangelism. Linguistics becomes an esoteric tool for those somehow gifted in languages, an interesting hobby but hardly of any interest to the main work of the church.

If the above importance of the vernacular is granted, it should be seen at once that the kind of translation that we give to people is just as important as the fact that they receive one. The controversy surrounding the introduction of The Living Bible and earlier translations of parts of the Bible by the same author will bear this out. For various reasons-and Taylor outlines why he began his translations of the Scriptures-this version has been either accepted or rejected like nothing since that of John Wyeliffe himself. There are arguments against the paraphrase on the basis of exegesis, choice of English words and idioms, other figurative language, and so 00, but it is read and understood by all age groups. Most lay people are at a loss to explain or understand the controversy surrounding The Living Bible and resort to the safety of the accepted version of their church or denomination. This illustrates how church society, in particular church leaders, influences the acceptance or rejection of a translation. In the case of preliterate societies without any Scriptures there is no such educated clergy to influence the masses, so the techniques of translation and the methods of checking the translation are of primary importance.9 If the translation is based squarely on linguistic analysis and methodology it can be checked on the same basis. The whole range of types of translations and related technical matters has been treated extensively by Woodcrly (1968). A recent 1)00k by Beekman and Callow (1974), with an accompanying manual (Larson 1975) and additional discussions on discourse (K. Callow 1975) are used in eoursework at the SIL for instruction on the basics of Bible translation.10

Any Bible translator 5000 realizes that there are important social dimensions influencing the acceptability and use of the translation. For smaller language groups bilingualism is an important consideration. Aspects such as acculturation, prestige dialects, cultural centers of communication and information sharing will determine the potential usage of the translated Scriptures. While these are not purely linguistic, they do enter into an important area of study, that of sociolioguisties. Sociolinguistics is one of the so-called bridge disciplines (like psycholinguistics, mathematical linguistics, linguistics and logic, computational linguistics, or educational linguistics) and, in part, uses certain established sociological testing procedures to determine linguistic variables and correlate these with class or community values. There are many recent studies in this area, but for Bible translation, Wonderly (1968) is the best treatment. Applications for Bible translation have included determining attitudes toward languages, often including variables of education, sex, bilingualism, age, and other factors of cultural dynamics.

Finally, we might mention that the view of Scriptures that the translator has will influence his motivation and contribution. The translator's view of the inerraney of the Scriptures needs to be carefully checked. This is an area in which there is potential disagreement on the part of missionaries involved in the translation and distribution of the Scriptures.

The Future

It is interesting that at a time when the linguistic techniques of Bible translation have become quite specialized, more than ever before the national churches have also become more motivated to participate in the translation task. National Christians feel that it is part of their moral responsibility to provide the Scriptures for fellow citizens. Courses are being offered on a regular basis in many countries and in several languages to provide the methodology. A reevaluation of just how much linguistics a national translator needs and just what kind it should be is being made in many countries. This process of evaluation and feedback will influence the nature of the courses offered to nationals. But one thing is certain: national translators want to be involved and can do the job equally as well or better than their expatriate counterparts. It remains for linguists to adapt their materials to the needs of these national translators, not focusing on exotic terminology and elaborate taxonomieal procedures but, rather, on the basic linguistic principles which underlie Bible translation, semantics, orthographies and the study of language in culture and society. This is the challenge of linguistics for the future.


1The historical sketch was written by McElhanon (SIL and the Australian National University) and the outline by Franklin (SIL). We then combined efforts on the revision and synthesis which followed.
2Wonderly and Nida (1963) survey the development of language study and Bible translation from the early church through the twentieth century. They relate, in particular, to the influence of linguists on the language work of Christian missions. Also see the 'Introduction' in Nida (1972).
3Brend did not include authors such as Merrifield (1967) who have deviated from Pike's theory. For a brief history of the development of Pike's theory see Waterhouse (1974).
4For example, Trager (1963, 103). It would be interesting to see Trager's (or other linguists') answers to the questions on language design, God and world view framed by Longacre (1976),
5Charles F. Hoekett (1955) commented on the valuable language materials gathered by SIL people.
6Nida and Pike were the first to complete Ph.D. degrees. Although at the end of 1960 less than 20 SIL members had completed the Ph.D., by the end of 1976 over 100 members had been awarded it. Some 20 of them are no longer with the organization including Nida who in the early years joined the American Bible Society. His departure forms an important dimension of the professional interplay between SIL and the Bible Society, as others have suggested (e.g., Hymes and Fought, 1975). Of course,many very capable linguists and translators have no graduate degree, but this is only one method of quantifying any advanced training program. It should be noted that fully 50% of SIL members serve in non-linguistic capacities as educators, pilots,
mechanics, medical personnel, radio technicians, printers, carpenters, etc.
Wares (1974) lists over 4,300 items published by SIL members ranging from simple prereading vernacular materials through practical suggestions for applied linguistics to complex theoretical statements.
7Although NT. Greek is no longer spoken, the discourse types, sentence patterns, relationship of elements within clauses, range of word building roles, and so on, are not unlike those of every language. Wooderly (1968) outlines the rationale and methodology for translating the Bible into the "common" language of the people. He is concerned that the translation be common to speech of both the higher and lower socio-educational levels. His book is clear and extensive and anyone concerned with the socio-linguistie dimensions involved in the types of Bible translations that exist should consult his work,
8This is not to imply that translators follow "linguistic relativity." Eugene A. Nida has been most influenced by developments in semantics arising out of the early 60's. See the review of his main studies on semantic structures, language structure and translation, and eomponeniial analysis by A. Lehrer (1976),
9There are numerous helps available for translators, particularly in the area of the exegesis of the best Greek texts. Other materials include a series of handbooks on particular books of the N.T., (e.g. Brateher and Nida 1961), as well as commentary compilations, theoretical volumes on translation (Nida 1964; Nida and Taber 1969) published by the United Bible Society, back translations, Notes on Translation, and a textbook (Beckman and Callow 1974) published by the Wyeliffe Bible Translators and the Summer Institute of Linguistics.
10The first text-oriented book on translation was by Nida (1947) in which he established sets of correspondence between languages. For a historical review of translation in relation to structural linguistics, ethnology, mechanical translation, communication theory, psychology, and the philosophy of language see also the work of Nida (1974). Incidentally, Nicla perpetuates a slip when he states ( 1974: 1050 and elsewhere) that the SIL is "also known as the Wyelifte Bible Translators." The two are separate legal entities: both are incorporated, with different charters of purpose, but overlapping membership. They have different presidents and vicepresidents and usually only SIL is legally and formally recognized in the countries where SIL members work. WBT is the home division entity, responsible for maintaining a relationship with the Christian churches and public.


Aekroyd, Peter B. 
    1970 "The Old Testament in the Making," in Aekroyd and Evans (eds.) pp. 67-113.
Aekroyd, Peter H. and Christopher F. Evans, eds. 
    1970 The Cambridge History of the Bible, Vol. 1, From
the Beginnings to Jerome. Cambridge: University Press.
Anati, Emmanuel 
    1963 Palestine Before the Hebrews, New York: Alfred A. Knopf.
Baner, Theo. 
    1926 Die Ostkenoonder, Line Philologiaeh-historische Untersuehung hber die Wenderschieht der              sogenonnten "Amoriter" in Bobylonien. Leipzig.
Beekman, John and John Callow 
    1974 Translating the Word of God. Grand Rapids: Zendervnn.
Black, Matthew 
    1970 "The Biblical Languages," in Aekroyd and Evans (eds.) pp. 1-10.
Bloomfield, Leonard 
    1933 Language. New York: Henry Holt and Co.
Brateher, Robert C. and Eugene A. Nida 
    1961 A Translator's Handbook on the Gospel of Mark. Leiden: H. J. Brihl.
Brend, M. Ruth, ed. 1972 Kenneth L. Pike: Selected Writings. The Hague: Mouton,
    1974 Advances in Togmemies, Amsterdam: North-Holland Pub. Co.
    1975 Studies in Tone and Intonation. Basel: S. Karger.
Brewster, E. Thomas and Elizabeth S. Brewster
    1976 Language Acquisition Made Practical. Colorado Springs. Lingua House.
Callow, Kathleen
    1975 Discourse Considerations in Translating the Word of Cad. Grand Rapids: Zstndervan.
Chnmsky, Nnam
    1957 Syntactic Structures. The Hague: Mouton and Co.
    1968 Language and Mind. New York: Hareourt, Brace and World, Inc.
Diringer, David
    1970 "The Biblical Scripts," in Ackroyd and Evans (eds.) PP 11-29.
Fries, Charles C.
    1952 The Structure of English. New York: Harcnurt, Brace and Co.
Crimes, Joseph E.
    1975 The Thread of Discourse. Janua Linguarum, Series Minor, 207. The Hague: Mouton.
Cudschinsky, Sarah
    1967 Hate to Learn an Unwritten Language. New York: FIolt, Rinehart and Winston.
Healey, Alan, ed.
    1975 Language Learners Field Guide. Ukarumpa: Summer Institute of Linguistics.
Hefley, James and Marti Hefley
    1974 Uncle Cain: The Story of William Cameron Townsend Founder of the Wycliffe Bible Translators and the Summer Institute of Linguistics. Waco: Word Books.
Hackett, Charles F.
    1955 A Manual of Phonology. Indiana University Publications in Anthropology and Linguistics, Memoir Ii.
Hunter, M. J.
    1969 "The Gothic Bible," in C. W. H. Lampe (ed.) pp. 338.362,
Hymes, Dell and John Fought
    1975 "American Structuralism," Current Trends in Linguistics, Vol. 13, Historiography of Linguistics. The Hague: Mouton. pps. 903-1176.
Kaiser, Otto
    1975 Introduction to the Old Testament (trans. John Sturdy). Oxford: Basil Blackwell.
Lampe, C. W. H. ed.
    1969 The Cambridge History of the Bible, Vol. 2, West from the Fathers to the Reformation. Cambridge: University Press.
Landsberger, B.
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