Combining Forces: The South African Sign Language Bible Translation Project
AbstractThis paper reports on the South African Sign Language Bible Translation Project, an ongoing project aiming to translate 110 Bible stories into South African Sign Language (SASL). The project started in 2014 and, at the time of writing, 32 stories have been finalised. A team of three Deaf signers are translating the stories from written English to SASL. As signed languages have no written form, the signed translations are video-recorded. The Deaf translators are working with exegetical assistants, a Bible translation consultant with expertise in signed language (Bible) translations, a signed language interpreter who facilitates the communication between the Deaf translators and hearing collaborators, and an editor. Back translations are done by both Deaf and hearing collaborators who are proficient in SASL and English. The Deaf community of South Africa assists the Deaf translators with signs for Biblical names and terms when required. This paper documents the modus operandi of the team as a sequence of different steps. We focus on the many challenges involved in this process, specifically those related to working between the written form of a spoken language (English) and a visual-gestural language with no written form (SASL) and only a short history of institutionalisation. In the literature in the fields of Signed Language Linguistics, Deaf Education, Deaf Studies, etc., the capital D is sometimes used to refer to people or organisations that self-identify as “culturally Deaf”. This allows for the differentiation between “deaf”, which most often refers to the hearing status, and “Deaf”, referring to a socio-cultural (and linguistic) identity. In view of the importance of self-identification, we have decided to only use capital D in this paper to refer to people and organisations when we know for certain that they self-identify as “Deaf”; in all other cases, we use “deaf”.
Copyright (c) 2021 Ananda van der Walt, Banie van der Walt, Myriam Vermeerbergen
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.Authors who publish with this journal agree to the following terms:
- Authors retain copyright and grant the journal right of first publication with the work simultaneously licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License that allows others to share the work with an acknowledgement of the work's authorship and initial publication in this journal.
- Authors are able to enter into separate, additional contractual arrangements for the non-exclusive distribution of the journal's published version of the work (e.g., post it to an institutional repository or publish it in a book), with an acknowledgement of its initial publication in this journal.
- Authors are permitted and encouraged to post their work online (e.g., in institutional repositories or on their website) prior to and during the submission process, as it can lead to productive exchanges, as well as earlier and greater citation of published work (See The Effect of Open Access).