(And I thought to myself, “Cicero, the statesman of translation.”)Wayne later just as publicly accused me of caricaturing Nida. Wayne made what he claimed was a “safe” assumption that I had not read Nida or Nida disciples very widely or deeply. His evidence for his rather flimsy claim was the fact that I had quoted early Nida (because nobody else had quoted Nida in his very own words); I used direct quotations and had applied these statements by this "statesman" to actual examples of Bible translation that others in the comment thread were bringing in. And Wayne went even further, to say, to me, not to you, rather pointedly, directly, and even repeatedly: “I would, again, refer you to the actual writings of the Bible societies people, people trained by Nida, to find out that they are concerned with the very things you are concerned about, but which you claim DE people are not.” And so Wayne directed me, not you, to some books, as if this would help me get them and read them faster, presuming, by his claim, that I have not already read very deeply or widely the disciples of Nida who have moved on from their teacher; Wayne linked to the first-published jointly-authored book by Lynell Zogbo and Ernst Wendland and two other books by Wendland.
(And I thought to myself, “I wonder why didn’t Wayne mention and link to Zogbo’s and Wendland’s more recent book, Prophetic Rhetoric: Case Studies in Text Analysis and Translation.”)[Please do note, dear reader, the comments below here, the on-going exchange between Wayne Leman and me. He's wanting you not to see my comments here about him, in this post here above the comments, to be the first ones you read. And, agreeing with him, I'd actually advise you to go back to the BBB comment thread to read it for yourself if you are interested in how different it might be from how I've framed here in my post what he wrote at the BBB. In fairness to Wayne, he's continued to appeal to me, saying, "Again, I would encourage you to revise your first comments about me in your post, especially since they are the first things people read in your post. And you know how important the first and last things are for readers in terms of memory retention of the contexts of something they have read." This is Wayne's caution to you, my dear reader. Please read as you will, critically if you can.]
The conversation at BBB is winding down. Wendland has contributed frequently, constantly pressing everybody to move on beyond Nida. More than that, Wenland has made two recent comments in which he even “steers” BBB readers away from his “own stuff” – his publications, even the two with Zogbo, that move on from Nida – and Wendland goes on to “recommend just five older, (I would say) classic works, for starters.” He recommends three books by Robert Alter, including his Literary Guide to the Bible with Frank Kermode, and two books by Leland Ryken, including his Complete Literary Guide to the Bible with Tremper Longman III. Then Wenland agrees with Wayne on one final point, finally saying the following: “[M]uch more interdisciplinary work is necessary in the field of Bible translation. Intra-disciplinary as well, I would say—that is, interacting with the field of secular translation studies.” He urges BBB readers to go to the SIL center in Dallas next month for “Bible Translation 2011” after he’s made this final, parting comment: “Secular translators need to keep up with what’s going on in the theory and practice of Bible translation—and not remain with their eyes fixed, for good or ill, on Nida and his works.”
(And I thought to myself, “Eugene Nida only died 10 days ago.”)This is now my fourth post in a series of four on Nida. Wendland’s final comment, dividing “secular” translators from “Bible” translators got me wondering how he’d classify Eunice Pike and Naomi Seidman and Lynell Zogbo and Willis Barnstone.
(And I thought to myself, the following:Nida has left all of us and is now silent. Like Cicero, the translation statesman, he’s left us with a theory perhaps dynamically equivalent to that of the Roman rhetorician. As we all know, Nida loved to quote, and even at times misquoted, Cicero. We have their words.
I wonder how Jin Di would find himself classified by Ernst Wendland. Have the two ever met? What they have in common – regardless of some strict middle-exclusionary divisive “secular” v. “Bible” translation categorization made by Wendland in a parting comment at BBB – is that both Jin and Wendland have met Nida and want to move on. Wenland wants to move on with Bible translation, now with a more literary focus. Jin wants to move on with secular translation and with Bible translation but with a notable difference from Nida.
Jin, of course, is perhaps best known in the USA for his translation of James Joyce’s Ulysses into Chinese. But I think he wants me, and you too, to know that he’s moved on from Nida.
In 1984, Jin and Nida co-wrote the book, On Translation: with Special Reference to Chinese and English. And then in 2006, Jin annotated and republished their entire book as Part 1. In the same 2006 volume, he added his own Part 2, several of his own essays, to explain just how far from Nida he then was.
Jin describes the difficult parting between himself and Nida. He’d disagreed with Nida over his famous and repeated appraisal of the J.B. Phillips’s translation as exemplary DE translation, a sort of watershed in the progress of Bible translation, as evidenced by Nida’s most-oft quoted example, the line: “give one another a hearty handshake all around” as opposed to the more literal “greet one another with a holy kiss.” Jin began to appeal to what works better for “a literary piece as a work of art” and began to question Nida’s linguistics as serving purposes for merely “religious translation” [see page 211 of the 2006 edition.]
In the Appendix for On Translation: An Expanded Edition, Jin publishes and comments on an interview he’d granted to John Kearnes. One section of the interview transcript is entitled, “Translation Theory and Eugene Nida.” There, Kearnes asks Jin if he would comment particularly on his work with Nida, particularly on their book, On Translation: with Special Reference to Chinese and English. Jin replies:
Sure, that was a really important link in my work on translation theory. You must have noticed that my relationship with Dr. Nida, mainly in regard to my theoretical approach to translation, was a main theme for the talk, “Literature and Exoticism” that I gave at the ceremony two days ago. . . Because of my three decades of experience in translating, I had been asked to serve at my university as a translation consultant for a group translation project and to work as a translation teacher at its new graduate school. . . . and toward the end of those 1970s I was writing first drafts of what eventually evolved into On Translation. I was giving lectures based on those drafts, and an American professor by the name of Tom Scovel found, when he attended one of my lectures, that my views were very close to Dr. Nida’s. Professor Scovel was not translator or translation theorist and did not know Dr. Nida personally but, being a warm-hearted Christian, he got in touch with Nida’s American Bible Society and helped make arrangements which enabled me to meet Dr. Nida in the U.S. in 1982. . . [D]uring the year, and for each chapter of the book I traveled to Greenwich, Connecticut where, in Dr. and Mrs. Nida’s very hospitable house, he and I discussed my draft and brought it into shape.That Nida never replied to Jin was most difficult. Neither man was trying to reconcile the difference in their [Bible] translation theory. Jin’s theory departed from Nida’s. But, more importantly, Nida left Jin in silence.)
The discussions were very thoroughgoing. . . . I was and am still extremely grateful to him for the time and energy he generously put into this close collaboration, and in particular for the theoretical orientation based on the concept of equivalent effect that he had treated in his books . . . .
I believe On Translation, published in 1984, was and remains a sound exposition of the principles of translation and has been particularly useful for translation practitioners and students with the examples it provides. In the mid-1908s I began to deviate from Nida’s teachings in one particular aspect of the concept of dynamic equivalence, as I explained in my talk “Literature and Exoticism.” I don’t think we have time to go into that in this interview, but . . . in 1987 I sent Dr. Nida a copy of my typescript of the very first article I wrote which indicated that deviation. Obviously he did not like it, for he never replied to my letter . . . . [pages 304 – 305].
(And I thought to myself, I’m not so sure we all need to rush to leave Nida behind. I’m not talking about embracing his theory now that he’sgone.
But I’m not talking about going with his project full force either. It’s the missionary ethnocentricism that is embedded in Western logic, yes even Aristotle’s and Cicero’s who were not Christians but were missionaries for their own causes, that those who would abandon Nida now still embrace. What I’m talking about is the arrogance of presuming one’s own cultural and tradition is normative for everybody else.
Let me just say again what I’m finding about translation. I’m saying this again as an evangelical Christian missionary’s kid still growing up as a third-cultural kid. I’m saying this as somebody who continues to talk with SIL/ Wycliffe Bible translators after having done lots of reading and having completed a Master’s oF arts degree in Linguistics, which involved many lectures and articles and books by Bible translators, some secular translators too, including Nida. I’m saying this as someone who will try to make it over to Dallas to SIL for their Bible translation conference next month, because a BBB contributor, David Frank, is giving a paper there and as invited me to hear his talk. I’m saying this as somebody who applies his linguistics training to higher education work every single work day of the year. I’m saying this as someone who has a ph.d. in language, in rhetorics and in Aristotle’s Rhetoric of Athens and now of the West and in its reception and its translation.
What I’m finding is that Nida’s dynamic translation theory is too reductive. It’s complicit in what Nancy Mairs sees as the “fundamental structure of the patriarchy”: the binary. Good translations do many different things. They engage, alternatively, in what Robert E. Quinn has called, in a far different academic context, the “telling strategy,” the “forcing strategy,” the “negotiating strategy,” and the “self transforming strategy.” Statesman Nida, I believe, engaged in the “forcing strategy.” That is, he forces receptors of Bible translations to stay in their own cultures and prevents them from engaging in the Other. This post is already going way too long to explicate this any further. [Elsewhere, there's another 4-part series on something like this that went on something like that: part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4.]
I do want to acknowledge, nonetheless, that although Wayne has accused me of being ignorant of Nida and of his later disciples and of failing to read, he’s also apologized at BBB to me in a sense. I have no hard feelings. And I do want you to know that I believe that Wayne, despite his entrenched views on missionary Bible translation, is one who engages nonetheless in “self transformative strategies.” And that is, in fact, a very very good thing.
Wayne, in comments at another BBB post, made these precious statements. In email, he has given me permission to repost them here:
"Similarly, I believe that Jesus set new patterns for treatment of women. He treated them with greater respect and honor than they were typically accorded in his day. We did not see abolition of slavery within Bible times nor specific calls from any biblical authors for slaves to be emancipated. Yet I believe that God has been pleased whenever emancipation has occurred, especially if it was done in a way that accorded dignity to freed slaves and helped them become financially independent.The only exception I take to Wayne's precious statement above is that I do not think that "Jesus set new patterns for treatment of women." I strongly believe that Jewish women and men long before Jesus, who was a Jew and was not a Christian, were the ones who actually set the patterns for good treatment of women by men and by women. Jesus, in fact, did recover them. And that also is, in fact, a very very good thing. Eugene Nida's DE theory and practice, I'm afraid, may have contributed to burying the good and the Jewish cultural patterns of good treatment of women.
Similarly, I don’t believe that God has been pleased when men have owned their wives. But God has tolerated inferior social systems rather than calling for changing everything within them all at once. I personally believe that a marriage model that focuses more on a woman’s submission to her husband than a husband’s duty to sacrificially love his wife is inferior and, yes, even unbiblical. I grew up in such a household. My mother had to submit to my father or else he would beat her. He beat her anyway when she did something that displeased him such as accidentally scorching potatoes when she was cooking them."
Wayne did want me to let you know who he is by name. He said to quote him by name when I reproduced the quotations. And he added this:I hope I’ll remember Eugene Nida and his dynamic equivalence theory for the rest of my life. Not because I believe in his missionary project. I do not. But because he’s contributed to our thinking and practices of translation, secular and Bible, theory and work that we who are still alive may and do need to continue to study. When we stop changing, when we quit remembering, when we cease from learning, we die.
“BTW, Kurk, since my father has died I now feel free to have my Al Johnson poems under my own name.I’d told him I wanted to link to an older post where, also with Wayne’s permission, I reproduced one of his poems. Here it is:
I’m telling you all of this because I have a missionary evangelical Christian patriarch, my own father, who is in the final stages of what his doctors have told him is inoperable and incurable cancer. He was, in some unfortunate respects, like Wayne's father. In some fortunate turns for my father and for my mother and for all of us in my family, my father has rethought things and has made amends and has given much and has received much requested forgiveness. There is restoration and reconcilation. The translations are coming. The transformations and self transformations are already happening.)