Dynamics of African languages translation and Contextualization


The history of translation can be traced back to nearly the first or third century BCE. One of the historical translation work was the Septuagint, a Greek version of the Jewish Bible that was for the Greek-speaking Jewish in the diaspora. It is said that the work was done by seventy or seventy-two Jewish scholars. There is one thing that comes out clearly about the scholars. First, they were Jewish which means they had a good understanding of Jewish culture. Secondly, they understood Greek and therefore they were in a better position to accurately produce reliable work.

Contextualization in Translation


While taking up a translation task, just understanding the language doesn’t make you qualify to be a good translator. Nevertheless, it calls for the translator to have a better understanding of the cultural settings of the source. There are always some unspoken words or way of behaving that can only be understood by contextualization. For example, the Dinka dialect is spoken by Dinka people that make up one of the major ethnic group in South Sudan. In the community, mouth clicking means a way of saying yes. On the contrary, to other communities in Africa, month clicking is an insult.

It is, therefore, necessary for your translator to have a better cultural background to produce a reliable meaning in translation. The translation is not just a matter of changing words from one language to another, contextualization plays a role in translation.

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Bringing Out Emotions in your Translation


Communication is not just about the words that are written or spoken. behind the spoken or written words, there are emotions attached to those words. In spoken content, the emotions can be attached to voice tone while in written words, the emotions can be attached in tenses, moods, or grammatical voice.

unfortunately, it is possible to lose the right emotions attached to words during translation. Thus, a translator needs to have a better understanding of the two cultural background of the source and the target language.


Dynamics of African Languages


Interestingly, language is not static. It keeps changing depending on the changing environment and influence from other languages. For example, a digital age Kikuyu speaking person would understand “ngoma” as satan or devil. Nevertheless, an old age Kikuyu speaking person would understand the same “ngoma” as spirits. As time goes by, the word ngoma would lose its original meaning to a new meaning. A good translator would therefore try to balance the dynamics of the changing language. Therefore, a good translator needs to improve his skills regularly noting the changing dynamics in the culture.

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