Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Eugene Nida, Bible translator: 1914-2011

Eugene Nida passed away last Thursday, August 23rd, at the age of 96. As founder of the Eugene Institute for Biblical Scholarship, and overseer of translations for the American Bible Society, Mr. Nida coordinated the work of hundreds of translators all over the world and helped to make the world's most-published book accessible to the speakers of many of the world's languages.

Mr. Nida, a linguist, is given credit for developing and promoting a theory of "dynamic" or functional equivalence, which he reasoned was a more effective means of providing access to the Biblical text than literal translations which transmit Biblical concepts -- a camel through the eye of a needle, my father's mansions, nothing new under the sun -- into the new language without taking cultural and idiomatic differences. In a remembrance titled "Spreading the Word in Hundreds of Tongues", Stephen Miller writing for The Wall Street Journal notes "The results [of functional equivalence] often worked better than literal translation but can sound odd when translated back into English. For instance 'Love the Lord with all your heart' became 'with all your liver' in some west African languages." ... "But in Japan Mr. Nida encountered resistance to introducing cultural clarity [by using idioms belonging to the target language, rather than importing the idioms of the Biblical source]. They said, 'If we made the Bible that clear, what would preachers have to do?'"

Monday, August 29, 2011

The Cliff Becker Book Prize in Translation

Translation is the medium through which American readers gain greater access to the world. By providing us with as direct a connection as possible to the individual voice of the author, translation provides a window into the heart of a culture.

— Cliff Becker, May 16, 2005
In collaboration with White Pine Press and the Cliff Becker Endowment for the Literary Arts, the has launched an annual publication prize in translation. The Cliff Becker Book Prize in Translation will produce one volume of literary translation in English, annually, beginning in the fall of 2012. These volumes initially will be bi-lingual editions of poetry, but as the endowment grows we will begin to include literary fiction and nonfiction in the prize rotation.
This year's judge is Willis Barnstone.

  • 80-140 pp., bi-lingual manuscripts in original, English translations of poetry.
  • TWO title pages—ONE bearing only the title of the work and name of the non-English poet, and ONE bearing as well the name and contact information of the English translator.
  • A current listing of acknowledgments, indicating permission of the original poet or his/her estate, as applicable, and indicating any previous publication of individual poems.
  • No other indication of the translator's identity may appear anywhere in the submitted manuscript.
  • $20 submission fee made payable to The University of Missouri, with Cliff Becker Endowment for the Literary Arts written on the "memo" line.
  • Manuscripts will not be returned, but you must include a letter-sized SASE for notification of results.
The translator of the winning manuscript will receive a standard publication contract with White Pine Press yielding a bi-lingual edition of 1000 copies of approximately 128 pages. In lieu of an advance against royalties, the translator will receive a prize of $500. Submissions packets should be sent to: The Cliff Becker Book Prize, Department of English, Tate Hall 107, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO 65211. Postmark Deadline: October 1, 2011.