Mother Tongue Bible Translation Among Indigenous Groups in India: The TWFTW Approach

Author: Sam Robert (Department of Linguistics, University of Kerala, India)
Speaker: Sam Robert
Topic: Language Revitalization
The (SCOPUS / ISI) SOAS GLOCAL CALA 2020 General Session


Mother Tongue Bible Translation (MTBT) is a text translation approach widely accepted among Bible translators, which aims to rectify cultural and linguistic issues often encountered by translators with a cross-cultural background. MTBT is also seen as a community centred approach.

This presentation seeks to provide an understanding of MTBT methodology, developed by The Word for The World (TWFTW) translation organization in India. TWFTW is an international Bible translation agency that works to empower communities through literacy programs. Dynamic translation, which preserves literary styles, constitutes the fundamental principle grounding their translation policy. The organization aims at translating scriptures only in languages that do not have a writing system. Currently, the agency is undertaking 29 MTBT projects in the subcontinent. The translation projects begin with the basic linguistic structuring of language to develop an orthography for the project languages. The MTBT begins from the sociolinguistic survey of language to the publication of The Bible and related materials. The responsibility of translation relies on community members, where the translation aids and academic support are provided by the Organisation. The ownership of the community enhances the cultural and linguistic authenticity of the translation.

Keywords: Mother Tongue Bible Translation, TWFTW, Indigenous groups, India