Proverbs published in the Sakha (Yakut) language
November 7, 2016

One more book of the Bible has been published by IBT in the Sakha (Yakut) language, a translation of the Proverbs of Solomon.  IBT has been conducting Bible translation into this language since 1992. The first edition of the Children’s Bible was printed in 1995.  This was followed by a translation of the New Testament in 2004, a liturgical version of Six Psalms in 2007, the entire book of Psalms in 2009, and the revised edition of the Children’s Bible in 2013.  Over the past several years, members of the translation team have also taken part in translating the liturgical service of the Orthodox Church, and church services once again began to be conducted  in the Sakha language after a gap of almost a century.

The main Sakha translator and exegete for this IBT project is Sargylana Leontieva, with significant contributions from others, including a folk poet, a specialist in Yakut syntax, a Yakut journalist and writer, and a professional Bible translation consultant from Great Britain.

According to the translator, her most productive time working on the translation of Proverbs was that spent in her home town, located in a quiet, untouched part of the Siberian taiga (Eurasia’s sub-arctic coniferous forest south of the tundra). This is especially due to her being able to seek translation advice from her mother, who has an excellent feeling for expressive Sakha words. She calls her mother’s home area “the blacksmith’s forge” because it is there that the Sakha Proverbs were hammered out.

Sargylana was constantly astonished by the interest expressed in these biblical proverbs by non-religious Sakha people who are not in any way involved in the work of Bible translation. “Apparently, it’s because biblical proverbs remind Yakuts of our own folklore with its many proverbial sayings,” she reflects. “The Proverbs contain the kind of wisdom and advice that is vital for all people.”  Sakha proverbial sayings use rhythm and alliteration and are always delicately expressed, poetic, and easy to remember, and are thus close in form to the Proverbs in the Bible.  Furthermore, she noted several examples of Sakha sayings which are strikingly parallel to the Proverbs of Solomon, dealing with topics such as a lazy person’s reputation, the reason for a gossip’s popularity, and the contrasting lifestyles that lead either to success or to utter ruin. (See Proverbs 14:11, 18:8, 19:24, 24:20.)

This long-awaited book has been in process for 5 years. The new publication will be officially presented to the Sakha people on December 13 during the proceedings of the 12th annual Christmas Educational Readings in the capital city of Yakutsk.

The PDF version of this Yakut translation may be found on the Electronic Books page of the IBT website.