[b-hebrew] Machine translation of the Bible, and a critique of Nida

Peter Kirk peterkirk at qaya.org
Fri Jul 29 15:42:27 EDT 2005

I happen to be reading, for reasons not originally related to this list 
(I am preparing a posting for http://englishbibles.blogspot.com/), a 
paper on Bible translation theory presented to SBL by David Weber, 
http://www.und.nodak.edu/dept/linguistics/wp/2003Weber.PDF . (Warning: 
this includes examples from the New Testament.)

This paper is relevant to James' hopes for machine translation. As he 
realises, machine translation based on the code model does not work. 
Relevance Theory, referred to be Weber, might be a useful framework.

It is also relevant to Rolf's criticisms of Nida's theory. Weber is also 
critical of Nida, but his criticisms take him in a totally different 
direction from Rolf's criticisms. While I don't entirely agree with 
Weber, it seems to me that the direction in which he is moving is a far 
more realistic one than Rolf's retreat towards literalism.

On 29/07/2005 19:42, Read, James C wrote:

> The major reason for their failings is the presupposition that our
> division and definition of words is correct. Current translating
> programs are largely literally based and for this reason they produce
> such poor translations.
> I agree that the project is complex but I have full faith in its 
> possibility.
> The very fact that children can learn a language without having to 
> depend on
> translations shows that the algorithms exist and the program will just 
> as much
> a pyscholgical one as a linguistic one.
> The secret is in finding the algorithms which I believe lie more the 
> minds of
> children than in the prowess of 'scholars'.

Peter Kirk
peter at qaya.org (personal)
peterkirk at qaya.org (work)

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