Prompting the poetic muse : the computer-assisted translation of biblical poetry, with special reference to Song of Songs 8:5B-7 in Chewa

Wendland, Ernst (2009)

CITATION: Wendland, E. 2009. Prompting the poetic muse : the computer-assisted translation of biblical poetry, with special reference to Song of Songs 8:5B-7 in Chewa. Scriptura, 101:352-371, doi:10.7833/101-0-645.

The original publication is available at http://scriptura.journals.ac.za

Article

How can the digital mind of the computer come to the aid of Bible translators in the field as they carry out their work? To be more specific, is this technical resource and its associated electronic toolkit able to offer any assistance when dealing with some of the most challenging texts of Scripture, namely those written in the form of classical Hebrew poetry? I will address certain aspects of these and related issues by means of a “case study” of the translation of a poetic passage, namely the climactic little love lyric found in Song of Songs (SoS) 8:5b-7. Several major respects in which computer assisted technology (CAT) becomes critically essential for this creative task will be pointed out as we go along. I will focus on the compositional task – that is, upon demonstrating a progressive and systematic computer-assisted generation of a poetic translation. This procedure is illustrated and displayed in relation to the focal passage by means of a number of examples in Chewa that will hopefully offer readers more of an actual “feeling” for the experience of this formally dynamic, but semantically controlled manner of Bible translation in a major Bantu language. In conclusion, I offer several suggestions regarding the implications of this brief study for translator-training programs, as well as for further research and testing in the field of computer-aided and guided translations of the poetic texts of the Scriptures.

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