‘Don’t worship golden idols’ – the preacher from overseas said in English.
‘Use your gold to worship God’ – the translator said in Myanmar.
Live translation from English to Myanmar, and Myanmar to English is very difficult as the thought patterns are very different and the words are arranged very differently. So, many times we hear these sorts of translation errors. Some are really not a problem. But sometimes – like above – the meaning can be quite significantly changed.
Oftentimes I wonder what the Myanmar audience actually understand when I know the speaker is only halfway through a sentence and the translator has already lost the thread. Loss of face issues mean the translator will seldom ask for clarification, and never more than once. If they still doesn’t understand, they are still forced to say something.
Praise God for the many people who have a heart’s desire to come to Myanmar and build up the local church.
- Pray that some of those who come on a brief visit will decide to come back and learn the language and culture to make their input more effective.
- Pray for better translation practices (such as submitting transcripts in advance, use of the best, not the most senior translator and a willingness to clarify).
- Pray for the development of (and recognition and acceptance of) local resources, training and speakers.