LiFE-Style Translating-3

In order to develop the literary component as a special focus of the translation approach practiced in this workbook (see two preceding posts), I have adopted an eclectic, threefold theoretical model of communication that combines the following:

1. A broad text-based semiotic-code framework, since translation involves the selective substitution of one system of verbal sign-signifiers with another within the context of their respective inventories of cultural codes that give language motivation and meaning;
2. A cognitive-relevance approach to the interpretation process, one that promotes an inferential, multiple “frames of reference” conceptual approach to the study of the source-language text and its re-creation in a contemporary target language;
3. A contextualized functional methodology involving a practical set of procedures (e.g., via “speech-acts”) that encourages translators to apply what they are learning to specific biblical texts in their current setting of communication.

My general aim with regard to the study of biblical texts may be summarized from a cognitive-poetic perspective as follows:
A concern for ‘literary analysis’ includes the complex consideration of the connections between the particular texture of literary works, their relationship with other patterns in the literary and linguistic system, as well as effects derived in the process of literary reading.… Cognitive poetics aspires to encompass emotional and motivational dimensions of reading as well as the monitoring and negotiation of propositional content. (P. Stockwell, Cognitive Poetics, London: Routledge, 2002:60, 158).

A LiFE strategy applies significantly to both text analysis (in the source language) and synthesis (in the target language). It favors a situation-sensitive, form-functional, sociolinguistic methodology with respect to all types of communication, and translation in particular. There is thus an emphasis on speech in action — language operating in everyday life as well as in genre-shaped literary discourse — a method that will hopefully offer some new insights and possibilities when applied, in turn, to Bible translation. My main premise is that we can, with determination and practice, do more to reflect the vibrant verbal life of the excellent instances of literature that we confront in the process of transforming the diverse texts of Scripture. This would seem to be an appropriate thing to do, if the circumstances are right — that is, if we have the necessary perception, understanding, experience, resources, staff, and, above all, a willing receptor community of active Bible hearers and readers.

About ewendland

I am currently an instructor at the Lutheran Seminary, Lusaka, ZAMBIA (since 1968). My academic training has been in biblical studies (BA, Northwestern College; MST, Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary), Bible translation (several SIL courses), linguistics (MA, University of Wisconsin, Madison), and African languages (PhD, UWM). I am a “retired” translation consultant for the United Bible Societies (having worked with projects in Malawi, Zambia, and Zimbabwe). I currently still serve as an external examiner in Zambian languages (University of Zambia) and as visiting professor in OT, NT, and Ancient Studies at the University of Stellenbosch, South Africa, with an affiliation to the Centre for Bible Interpretation and Translation in Africa ( My research and writing interests focus on the literary (structural, poetic, rhetorical) analysis of biblical texts and their oratorical translation, especially in southeastern Bantu languages (
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