Would you like to translate Bible Fluency into another language and offer it for free on a website you set up? (Everything must be offered for free.) We encourage such translation projects. Here are the recommended steps to make sure you can accomplish this service.
- Check to be sure that funds are in place before you begin. (Note that you must come up with all your own funds.) We cannot suggest a budget, since it depends upon whether you plan to do the project with volunteers or whether you will pay people to do it (or a mix of both), and how much things cost in your country. Here are the potential expenses:
- Translator/re-composer of songs
- Translator of other materials (workbook, teaching notes, student notes)
- Studio time
- Graphic artist
- Computer person
- Website hosting
- Website address
- Website set-up
- Videographer (if you are re-recording the teaching sessions) or video dubbing translator plus speaker (if you are dubbing Ken Berding’s teaching sessions).
- General operations
- Local musician who can recompose the songs into a local musical style as a separate musical track. This would require quite a bit of money for recording of the songs. This could be done either as a second stage after the first stage is completed or at the same time.
- We recommend that you set up a translation oversight committee of at least three people (separate from the project manager) who are well-respected and theologically able in the Christian community of the target language who can function as an oversight board for the project. This board will make sure money is used with integrity, check for theological accuracy, and have the authority to intervene if a problem occurs. Otherwise, the board will not carry out the actual project themselves. This board can continue to function as overseers for the project in the future if you desire. If a member needs to step off, it is wise to replace that person.
- We recommend that you set up a separate board of three quality musicians (separate from the main song translator) who can oversee the quality and style for the song translations.
- Set up a website. The English website was set up with Clover Sites. You do not have to use Clover. Your website also does not have to look like the English website, though you should make your website as attractive as possible. If you are working with non-Latin script, you will need a web-hosting site that can handle whatever scripts you need. This all will be up to you. You are welcome to copy anything that appears on the original site. You do not have to include everything that is found on the original site.
- Please work with one skilled editor (or two or three!) to edit everything. No one wants to see errors on a website, teaching materials, or…anywhere.
- The responsibility is entirely yours. We do not promise technical support from our end, though you are welcome to ask us questions.
How to Translate the Songs
Translating a song is somewhat different than translating a story or a letter. A translation of song lyrics requires the translator to pay attention to the following:
- Content to be transferred
- Agreement with the rhythm and meter of the music
- Poetic attractiveness and emotional strength
The ideal translator will possess all (or most) of the following qualities:
- Has a good musical background (and thus is able to understand how musical lines fit together). Someone who writes music would be ideal.
- Is a native speaker of the language and has full command of that language.
- Has a strong compositional ability in the target language. For example, he or she should understand (and probably be able to personally write) poetry and/or music.
- Already has experience as a translator from English into the target language.
- Understands that the goal is to produce a dynamic translation that approximates the kind of dynamic language used commonly in Bible translations in the target language.
- Knows the Bible well.
- Is personally committed to helping people attain fluency in the Bible.
- Doesn’t easily give up (since this will take some hard work to accomplish).
- Is flexible enough to allow revisions to his or her translations.
The central goals of each translation are:
- Biblical and theological correctness
A Real-Life Translation Example
Let us offer an example to help you think about the process. Following is a song that was translated from Turkish into English. The original Turkish song is an artistic rendition of all the concepts in the Lord’s Prayer. It uses some of the specific words found in the Turkish Bible, but it does not simply add music to the words found in the Bible. It is a well-conceived song in Turkish and is emotionally strong in that setting. The goal in translating the song from Turkish into English was to accomplish the same thing with the English translation of this wonderful song.
The left column of the chart below shows the words of the original Turkish song accompanied by a literal English translation underneath each line. The right column shows line-by-line how the song was actually translated into English at the same musical moment. The chart is followed by notes on the translation to help illustrate the process of translating a song.
(with Literal English rendering)
Ey göklerdeki Babamız
Oh, our Father who is in the heavens
Our Father in Heaven
Kutsal olsun senin adın
May your name be holy
Hallowed be your name
Kırallığın gelsin senin
May your kingdom come
Here on the earth your kingdom come
Gökte, yerde arzun olsun.
In heaven, on earth may your will take place
As up in heav’n your will be done
Our daily bread...
Give us today our daily bread
Bugün bize sağla yine.
today provide again for us.
Forgive the wrong we’ve done and said
Bize borçlu olanları
Those who are indebted to us...
As we forgive our debtors’ sin
Affetik biz, sen de bizi
we have forgiven, so you also us...
Pardon our guilt and lead us in
Aynen öyle, affet yine.
in the same way again forgive
From all that lures, lead us away
Bizi koyma denenmeye.
Do not place us into temptation
Remove us from temptation’s sway
Kurtar bizi kötülükten,
Save us from evil
Deliver from the evil done
Kurtar bizi kötülükten,
save us from evil
Defend us from the Evil One
Çünkü krallık ve kudret
For the kingdom and power
Yours is the kingdom endless days
Yücelikler hep senindir
and glory are all yours
Yours the authority and the praise
Sonsuzluktan sonsuza dek. Amin!
From eternity until eternity. Amen!
Forevermore and evermore. Amen
Notes on the translation:
- Notice how the English of line 2 ended up using “hallowed be.” It worked for this song because there is a long tradition in English where the word “hallowed” has been used in the Lord’s prayer, even though the word itself is archaic. And it was needed for the musical line to work.
- The English translation of lines 3 and 4 moved the order of the ideas around in order to make it more artistically pleasing.
- In Turkish, lines 5 and 6 required only one English line to render, so that’s what was done on line 5. So the English translation started the forgiveness concept on line 6.
- The forgiveness section spanned lines 7-9 in Turkish, but in English it spanned lines 6-8, since it was conceptually ahead of the Turkish at this point in the song.
- Turkish only required one line, line 10, to communicate the temptation issue, but the English used two lines, lines 9-10, to communicate the same idea. This meant that English had to expand quite a bit on the Turkish. (But it is almost always easier to expand something than to condense it.) The expansion to two lines brought the concepts and the music back together again.
- Lines 11-12 were a simple repetition in Turkish, which allowed an interesting opportunity in English. There is considerable disagreement among New Testament scholars about whether this line in Koine Greek should be translated as “deliver us from evil [as a concept]” or “deliver us from the Evil One [that is, from Satan].” The decision was made to include both concepts on lines 11-12. This also allows the song to be artistically attractive.
- Lines 13-14 are similar in Turkish and English, though there was some attempt in English to make it artistically pleasing.
- Line 15 is more-or-less the same.
Notes on translating the Bible Fluency songs (for recording with the same musical tracks):
- You should roughly follow the order of the biblical presentation of the materials as the English does. But you can, and might have to occasionally change the order. But try to keep it as close as possible to the order that is found in the biblical book being translated.
- You may have to add or remove some items. If you have extra lyrical space (which will be far less common), choose another event, character, or theme from the book you are studying that is important, and add in that event, character, or theme. More commonly, you will find that you lack enough syllables and have to remove something. Try to remove the least important event, character, or theme.
- Don’t give up when you find that a particular line is difficult. Brainstorm with lists of possible lines (actually write them down). It may take you writing down 30 or 40 versions of a line before you actually can find one that works well in the short space you have to communicate a concept.
- Once the translation of a song is complete, contact a local graphic artist to make the corresponding learning icons fit with what is actually in the song. This may mean removing items, changing items so that the image makes sense, or adding new images.
Please let us know if you’ve decided to start working on such a project. We will be praying for you!
Click HERE for the Bible Fluency Songs, Instrumental Only. You’ll need them for recording.