finishing a translation

working on Nya Huba translation

The Nya Huba translation project was started several years ago–I am not sure how many–but I got started as their consultant two years ago. This my fourth trip to work with them, and they have reached an exciting stage. As of this trip, their entire New Testament translation has been consultant-checked. On this trip we have already checked the last handful of short epistles, and since then we have been working together on checking over the whole Nya Huba New Testament for consistency in spelling and phrasing and in formatting. You don’t want your New Testament to go to press with spelling mistakes or incorrect formatting in some places, so it is a big job to go over it all and look for any problems. When working on a translation over a number of years, it is quite likely that the way the translators express certain things would get refined over the years, so it is important at this stage to go over it all and check for consistency in key Biblical terms such as “disciple,” “apostle,” “scribe,” “temple,” “Kingdom of God,” “glory,” “righteousness,” and so forth. They are also checking parallel passages to make sure the wording is the same in the different gospels where it should be.

Before I came to work with them, I arranged to have their whole draft New Testament printed and bound to look fairly close to how it will look when it is finished. You will see the three translators–Emmanuel, Bello and Peter–below, holding their draft Taɗǝr Mbandǝr.

Taɗǝr Mbandǝr

Taɗǝr Mbandǝr

A problem was that I wasn’t sure what title to put on the cover when I was arranging for the printing and binding. I had to search the translation to see how they said “new testament/covenant” in their language. I wasn’t confident I was finding the right thing because I was seeing some inconsistency, but I guessed that taɗǝr mbandǝr was the way to say it. It turns out they had settled on alkawal instead of mbandǝr as the word for “testament/covenant,” and now we have made that wording consistent, and they will call their completed New Testament Taɗǝr Alkawal.

Even though the whole Nya Huba translation has been consultant-checked, the translators still have a lot of work to do over the next several months before it will be considered ready to go to press. We have started the consistency checks, and they will continue with this after I leave here. Nya Huba doesn’t have a standardized writing system, much less a spell-checker, and the translators will have to continue trying to spot any spelling mistakes or inconsistencies. They have to continue getting every book reviewed, meaning that they give the books to committees who have agreed to go over the translation to see if the language seems comprehensible, like good Nya Huba, or if anything doesn’t seem right. The translators sometimes make refinements to the text based on this input. Then once it seems the whole translation is as it ought to be, they have to do a final group read-through of the whole New Testament, where some people who were not part of the translation project just listen as it is read to make sure everything is right.

We hope the Nya Huba New Testament will be getting printed by a year from now, or possibly will be back from the printer.

About David Frank

descriptive linguist, linguistics consultant, translator, editor
This entry was posted in Bible translation, travel. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to finishing a translation

  1. Martin Lonski says:


    I bring David Frank (and all of the people involved in the Nyu Huba project) before you.

    I ask that they would remain clear-headed in MAKING sure that they can get everything done correctly in getting this translation done correctly. As they work together I also ask that hearts and minds would be drawn together in unity……that they would be able to encourage one another… “come along side” each other for mutual encouragement. May You be honored in this venture. Thanks for not only hearing my humble request but in what I believe will be a wonderful response.

    Thanks for listening.



  2. Newton Frank says:

    Does that mean you can’t help them any more?
    Sounds like you are proud of those three men.

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