Journal of Translation

The Journal of Translation is an academic journal of translation theory and practice with a special interest in Bible translation and in translation involving minority languages and cultures. Its purpose is to encourage scholarship, enlighten the reader, stimulate thought and discussion, promote appropriate cross-cultural and cross-linguistic communication, and assist translators in developing best practices for their work.

Journal of Translation 15:1

Translation is a fascinating thing. Everybody knows what translation is, but it is hard to define. Some of the obviously key concepts are hard to pin down or are even in doubt, such as equivalence, message, metaphor, and even meaning. There is not just one way to translate, and this is because there is not just one way to say things. This is true within a language, and it is true when going from one language to another. Translation presents a range of possibilities, and in fact, multiple ranges of possibilities. There is word-for-word vs. sense-for-sense (Cicero, Jerome), moving the reader toward the author vs. moving the author toward the reader (Schleiermacher), formal equivalence vs. dynamic equivalence (Nida), foreignization vs. domestication (Venuti), form-based vs. meaning-based (Barnwell), semantic translation vs. communicative translation (Newmark). Every translation approach falls somewhere along these multiple axes or clines or scales. Choices have to be made, based on purpose and audience. While mistranslation is certainly possible—and humorous examples abound—very often when someone says that this or that translation is bad, what that really means is, “That is not how I would translate it.” We welcome dialogue on the subject, and particularly well-though-out scholarly treatises that take the relevant literature into consideration, such as those published in the Journal of Translation.


by Peter Schmidt

abstract: In some places, it is not immediately clear whether the Hebrew demonstrative pronouns of the זֶה zeh paradigm refer backward (anaphoric) or forward (cataphoric). The translator cannot continue without deciding this. Standard resources do not discuss the problem satisfactorily. In this article, an exegetical “checklist” is presented as a guideline for determining the meaning of such pronouns. Then five debatable cases are discussed in detail, with reference to the pertinent literature and including the consequences for translation. The following four points emerge from the investigation: (1) The debatable cases area typically discourse deictic pronouns. These are an element of metadiscourse, and they link paragraphs. (2) General predictions are not possible. Context decides. (3) Nevertheless, there is a higher likelihood for backward-orientation. (4) The translation will guide the reader. Apart from choosing the right demonstrative pronoun, punctuation and layout need attention.


by Christy Hemphill

abstract: Traditionally, the approach to translating metaphor in Scripture assumed that metaphors are descriptive literary devices with an underlying “literal meaning.” Research in cognitive linguistics has challenged this idea, and a new field of study, conceptual metaphor theory, has emerged. Conceptual metaphor theory draws a distinction between image metaphors, where a target is described in comparison to a source, and conceptual metaphors, where an abstract or complex conceptual domain is actually understood in terms of a more concrete or familiar conceptual domain drawn from embodied human experience. This paper examines the importance of identifying conceptual metaphors and analyzing their accessibility when translating Scripture. Translators who encounter figurative language derived from underlying conceptual metaphors that are not culturally conventional may try to convert the mapped elements of the source domain into a series of descriptive image metaphors. This skewing of meaning could be mitigated if translators were trained to identify conceptual metaphors licensing figurative language and consider making them explicit. As a case study, a translation of Ephesian 6:13–17 in Tlacoapa Meꞌphaa (tpl) produced by a translator guided by Paratext notes and trained in the traditional approach to the translation of metaphors (Larson 1984) is compared with a second translation produced after encouragement to make the underlying conceptual metaphor PREPARATION IS GETTING DRESSED explicit at the beginning of the passage.


Reviewed by Dick Kroneman

Cultural translation is about what people do, or are supposed to do, in order to understand and accept other people and other cultures in the broadest sense of the word. According to Maitland, cultural translation of the traditions, inscriptions, and institutions of culture and society is urgently needed in today’s world where....

David B Frank, editor

The Journal of Translation is a publication of SIL International.
For more information about the SIL Journal of Translation, go to