BIBLE TRANSLATION – A LIGHTHOUSE AND A LIBRARY FOR THE PROMOTION AND PRESERVATION OF LANGUAGE AND ‘LITERATURE’ IN AFRICA: THE EXAMPLE OF CHINYANJA

Ernst R. Wendland

Abstract


In this article I explore several implications of the thematic metaphorical terms
“lighthouse” and “library” with reference to three translations of the complete
Scriptures that have been made in the Chinyanja language of Malawi, Zambia, and
Mozambique. How did these translations, one begun over a century ago, serve both
to promote (enlighten, show the way, reveal the rocks) and also to preserve (act as a
reservoir and repository for) the language and culture of the Chinyanja-speaking
peoples of this south-central African region? My survey describes some of the
major challenges, difficulties, and setbacks encountered along the way in contrast to
certain outstanding successes that were achieved and new initiatives undertaken
during this long history, which continues to be written in the new millennium.
Several linguistic aspects of this progressive development are briefly examined in a
comparative manner with reference to a number of Scripture passages as they
appear in the most literal and most idiomatic Chinyanja versions. I conclude by
summarizing the potential of mother-tongue Bible translation for enlarging, by way
of preservation and promotion, the overall communication resources of any given
language-culture, especially one that does not have a great corpus of published
literature.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.7833/85-0-938

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

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