PROMPTING THE POETIC MUSE: THE COMPUTER-ASSISTED TRANSLATION OF BIBLICAL POETRY, WITH SPECIAL REFERENCE TO SONG OF SONGS 8:5B-7 IN CHEWA

Ernst Wendland

Abstract


How can the digital mind of the computer come to the aid of Bible translators in the
field as they carry out their work? To be more specific, is this technical resource
and its associated electronic toolkit able to offer any assistance when dealing with
some of the most challenging texts of Scripture, namely those written in the form of
classical Hebrew poetry? I will address certain aspects of these and related issues
by means of a “case study” of the translation of a poetic passage, namely the
climactic little love lyric found in Song of Songs (SoS) 8:5b-7. Several major
respects in which computer assisted technology (CAT) becomes critically essential
for this creative task will be pointed out as we go along. I will focus on the
compositional task – that is, upon demonstrating a progressive and systematic
computer-assisted generation of a poetic translation. This procedure is illustrated
and displayed in relation to the focal passage by means of a number of examples in
Chewa that will hopefully offer readers more of an actual “feeling” for the
experience of this formally dynamic, but semantically controlled manner of Bible
translation in a major Bantu language. In conclusion, I offer several suggestions
regarding the implications of this brief study for translator-training programs, as
well as for further research and testing in the field of computer-aided and guided
translations of the poetic texts of the Scriptures.

Keywords


Bible Translation, Computer Technology, Hebrew Poetry, Song of Songs, Chewa, Translator Training, Discourse Analysis

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.7833/101-0-645

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ISSN 2305-445X (online); ISSN 0254-1807 (print)

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