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Fall 2018

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  • September 21, 2018
Tanzanian man reading Scriptures in his language

Bible translation teams use unchurched local speakers to check their work — and the errors they find can be funny in retrospect.

In Tanzania, a group of Lugungu speakers were checking the translation of the Gospel of Luke. The Bible translation team had translated Luke 1:5 in Lugungu as: “Herodi hayaabbereeri mukama wa Buyudaaya, haalingiho nyakatagara gibeetengiZaakaaliya.”

The translation team thought that meant “When Herod was governor of Judea, there was a priest who was called Zechariah.” However, the Lugungu tester understood it as: “When Herod was governor of Judea, there was a stubborn woman who was called Zechariah.”

Thankfully, the translators discovered that the word “nyakatagara” was not a good choice! So, the translation was changed to “mulaami wa Ruhanga,” which literally means “priest of God.” Thanks to the checking process, the Lugungu speakers ensured the translation was accurate — and the team was able to enjoy a chuckle as well.