Las orientaciones actuales de la traducción en la dirección general de traducción de la Comisión Europea

Desde varios sitios me ha llegado este correo, no creo que llegue a tiempo el aviso (como tampoco a mí, tengo una reunión fijada a esa hora desde hace dos semanas). Si alguien hubiera ido, agradecería (y publicaría aquí, con su permiso) cualquier información que pudiera transmitir. Me da rabia no poder asistir a la conferencia con Eugene Nida… leyendo su biografía me he acordado mucho de las clases de lingüística de Miguel Vega, que echo bastante de menos.

El miércoles 24 mayo, a las 18 horas, en el Hemiciclo de la Facultad de Letras, Dña. Maria Elena Fernandez-miranda Parra, Directora de la Dirección *C* en la Dirección General de Traducción de la Comisión Europea (Bruselas), pronunciará una conferencia sobre «Las orientaciones actuales de la traducción en la Dirección General de Traducción de la Comisión Europea». Al final del acto, el profesor Eugene Nida (1), iniciador de los estudios sobre la traducción en Norteamérica, mantendrá un coloquio con los asistentes.


(1) Born on November 11, 1914, in Oklahoma City, OK, Eugene Nida and his family moved to Long Beach, California when he was 5 years old. He began studying Latin in high school and was already looking forward to being able to translate Scripture as a missionary. By the time he received his Bachelor’s degree in 1936 from the University of California at Los Angeles, he was well on his way. Having earned his degree in Greek, summa cum laude, he enrolled in the Summer Institute of Linguistics (SIL) and discovered the works of such linguists as Edward Sapir and Leonard Bloomfield. Nida then pursued a Master’s degree in Greek New Testament at the University of Southern California. In 1941 he began a Ph.D. in Linguistics at the University of Michigan and completed it in two years. His dissertation, A Synopsis of English Syntax was, at that time, the only full-scale analysis of a major language according to the “immediate constituent” theory.

The year 1943 was a busy one for Eugene Nida. In addition to completing his Ph.D., he was ordained in the Northern Baptist Convention. He married Althea Nida, nee Sprague, and joined the staff of the American Bible Society (ABS) as a linguist. Although his initial hiring was experimental, Nida was made Associate Secretary for Versions from 1944-46, and from then until he retired in the 1980’s, he was Executive Secretary for Translations.

Upon joining the ABS staff, Dr. Nida immediately set out on a series of extended field trips in Africa and Latin America. On these visits he worked with missionary translators on linguistic problems, and searched for potential indigenous translators, often using his SIL connections. These site visits led him to see that his most important role for ABS Translations’ interests would not be limited to checking translations for publication, but of educating translators, and providing them with better models, resources, training, and organization for efficiency. This he managed to do through on-site visits, teaching and training workshops, and through building a translations network and organizational structure that became the global United Bible Societies Translations Program through which work in hundreds of indigenous languages is constantly in process around the world.

Nida* *was determined to produce a theory that would foster effective communication of the Good News across all kinds of cultural and linguistics barriers. A prolific writer, his book Toward a Science of Translating (Brill, 1964), and later The Theory and Practice of Translation (Brill, 1969, with C.R. Taber) helped him achieve this objective.

These two very influential books were his first book-length efforts to expound his theory on what he called dynamic equivalence translation, later to be called functional equivalence. How significant, revolutionary, and convincing this new approach proved to be can be seen in the fact that hundreds of Bible translations have now been effectively carried out with this methodology. In essence, this approach enables the translator to capture the meaning and spirit of the original language text without being bound to its linguistic structure.

His 1986 publication, with Jan de Waard, From One Language to Another (Nelson) is the summative explication of functional equivalence translation. Over the years his many other books and articles covered such important subjects as exegesis, semantics and discourse structure, and a thorough semantic analysis of the vocabulary of the Greek New Testament – Nida and Louw, The Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament based on Semantic Domains (UBS, 1988).

Nida’s* *work with indigenous language translations had shown that in order to reach people who bring no prior knowledge to their encounter with the Bible, the translation needs to place the highest priority on clear communication in easily understood language and style. Thus, under the leadership of translator William Wonderly, a Spanish New Testament, called the Versión Popular, a contemporary translation, was published in 1966.

At almost the same time, the Good News Bible New Testament, Today’s English Version (TEV), under the leadership of Robert G. Bratcher, a Nida colleague, was published. Both of these books were enormously successful publications, with sales in dozens of millions even before the Bible editions were published in 1976.

The success of these translations led to many churches endorsing the effectiveness of the functional equivalence approach for clarity of communication of the message of the Bible. In 1968, the United Bible Societies (UBS) and the Vatican entered into a joint agreement to undertake hundreds of new interconfessional Bible translation projects around the world, using functional equivalence principles. Again, Nida was one of the principals on this collaborative work.

A scholar, teacher, leader, influencer, conceptualizer, innovator, and influential theoretician, Eugene Nida is very possibly unsurpassed in the history of the Bible Society movement in terms of global impact. His work, his organization, his ideas and the organization he put into place represent a watershed for the movement and for Bible translation. Thanks to him, the world of Bible translation and translation studies has been enriched and challenged into an exciting field of study and discourse. Retired since the early 1980s, Dr. Nida currently lives in Brussels, Belgium.

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