From the Associated Parishes for Liturgy and Mission: Why New Translations, and How?

Native speakers of Spanish and French have, for over thirty years now, found the current translations of the BCP too wooden and literal. (We do not have a Haitian Creole translation of the Prayer Book). s a parishioner in Puerto Rico said to me recently, “It feels like I am thinking in English but speaking in Spanish.” This is not the translators’ fault, but of those who insisted on a literal translation. For literal translations —especially of poetic texts, cannot be faithful to the original. Translated literally from the Latin original, for example, the Collect for Purity would sound as follows:

God, to whom every heart lies open and every will speaks, and to whom none lies hidden secret, purify by the infusion of the Holy Spirit the thoughts of our heart, that you to perfectly love and worthily praise we may merit, through Lord our Jesus Christ, Son your, who with you lives and reigns in unity of the same Holy Spirit holy God, for all centuries of centuries. Amen.

Clearly we need translations that are both faithful to originals and respectful of the target language.
The SCLM has introduced resolution A070 to address this challenge by calling for new translations of the BCP into Spanish, French and Haitian Creole. Through its Task Force for Liturgical Translations, made up on native speakers, it will supervise the project through various stages along a three year timeline:

Stage I: Hire Professional Translators. Upon approval of the project and its budget the Task Force will publicize it and receive applications from literary translators. We will interview finalists, recommend hiring, and develop contracts.

Stage II: Create a First Draft. Working in stages in close communication with the Task Force, the translators will produce a first draft. The Task Force will review it, seeking second opinions from native speakers as necessary, and reporting to the SCLM monthly.

Stage III: Feedback and Review. The Task Force will send requests for feedback to congregations, clergy, theologians, and literary figures in the target languages. Adding additional native speakers the Task Force, it will analyze and consolidate the feedback and forward it to the translators to integrate into the final draft.

Stage IV: Final Draft, Certification, and Publication. The Task Force will review the final draft, and approve final payment to translators. The Custodian of the BCP will certify the translation and arrange for its publication by Church Publishing, Inc. Finally the Task Force will evaluate the project and issue a report to the SCLM with any recommendations for future translation projects.

By engaging native speakers and professional literary translators in the translation process we will more fully incarnate the beauty of the BCP among Spanish, French and Haitian Creole speaking communities. Please vote YES on A070!

- The Rev. Cn. Juan M.C. Oliver, PhD,
Custodian of the Book of Common Prayer


Popular Posts