Winter 2022-2023 Newsletter on the Kurdish-Kurmanji project
The full Bible in the Kurmanji dialect spoken by Kurds in Armenia and Russia is in the final stages of work, and we at IBT hope that it will be published already in 2024. At this last stage of work, the figure of the philological editor becomes particularly important. This is the translation team’s mother-tongue Kurmanji speaker who improves the translation in terms of grammar, spelling, punctuation, and naturalness, and together with the other team members assesses corrections suggested by reviewers. In the course of the past several decades of work, the IBT/SIL/UBS Kurmanji translation project has had several philological editors, and a highly professional new language specialist joined the team in 2017 – just in time to pull together the work on the full Bible...
Synaru, a member of IBT’s Altai translation team, recently visited IBT Moscow office and shared her joy with us: she had just defended her Master’s thesis in theology on the topic of Bible translation into Altai. However, the time to relax and celebrate was very short: Synaru was now facing her next challenge – to revise the Altai NT Epistles so that they would be more easily understood by Altai believers.
Synaru’s university education was in philology (language and literature studies), and as already mentioned above, her graduate studies were in theology. But what a long path she had to tread to attain her degrees! “I was born in the mountains and grew up in a shepherd’s family,” she started her story. “Our settlement on the Kazakh-Mongolian border was the most remote village from the capital in Gorno-Altaisk and therefore the furthest from civilization in the entire Republic of Altai...
Karachay Bible translator Lyudmila came to the IBT Moscow office from the village of Kyzyl-Pokun in the Karachay-Cherkessia region of the North Caucasus in order to audio record her first translated Bible portion – the book of Jonah. Her younger daughter Farida, who lives in Moscow, read the translation aloud while Lyudmila listened and made suggestions for improving the reading. At the end of their two day working session, I asked the translator to share how she joined the Bible translation project.
“I grew up in the Soviet era, when our Muslim people didn’t particularly flaunt their commitment to traditional religion. Nevertheless, Muslim rituals were present in my childhood in one way or another, and two things always struck me about them: the need to repeat prayers in Arabic without understanding their meaning, and the tradition of standing up respectfully when pronouncing the name of the Prophet Muhammad, even though there was no similar custom to do the same when pronouncing the name of Allah Himself. One more thing I was curious about as a child: what is this mysterious word Amen that is used at the end of Muslim rituals (as well as at the end of Christian prayers)?
Winter 2021-2022 Newsletter on the Khakass project
The land of Khakassia in south Siberia is unique in many respects. It is rightfully considered the “archaeological Mecca” of Siberia, a land of rich history and ancient culture. More than 30,000 archeological remains have been preserved there. Khakassia is also called “the land of 1,000 lakes” and is well known for the healing properties of the mineral water in several of these lakes. Lake Tus (“salt” in Khakas) is even called “the Khakas Dead Sea.” As in the Dead Sea in Israel, you can float on its salty waters without sinking.
The contemporary Khakas people are descendants of the Yenisei Kyrgyz, who ruled Khakassia in the 7th century A.D. and were later conquered by Mongolian tribes. Today’s Khakas are neither Muslim, like the Kyrgyz of Central Asia, not Buddhist, like their neighbouring Tuvans, who were also dominated by Mongolia for part of their history...
The 1st edition of the Tuvan Bible was highly appreciated by reviewers and the Tuvan public. However, it was recently decided to start a Bible revision project at a meeting of the translation team with Tuvan church representatives. Why is this necessary? The Tuvan project exegete, IBT’s director Vitaly Voinov answers this question:
“Whatver a human being can produce is never perfect. Even if you are highly professional in what you do, there is always the chance that time and a new perspective will show you what could be improved. Moreover, language and culture are never static, so translation too needs to keep up with ongoing developments. As the ancient Greeks used to say, πάντα ρεῖ – ‘everything flows’ – including language and culture. And we as Bible translators need to accept this and adapt to it. Many Bible scholars believe that ideally every generation should have its own Bible translation.”