Teaching Translators in Sierra Leone July 28, 2023

LHF translation work isn’t simple. Aside from knowing basic vocabulary and grammar, translators need to thoroughly understand the Lutheran meaning and teaching behind the theological terms.

Even more challenging, when in a country where Lutheranism is new to the people, translators may need to create new vocabulary for Christian concepts previously unknown to them, such as “original sin” or “justification.”

Sierra Leone: a new area of LHF’s work

To provide better training for translators, two LHF staff members recently traveled to Sierra Leone to lead a seminar on theological translation.

Rev. Dr. Dinku Bato and Rev. Mark Moss spent 3 days leading classes at the Lutheran Seminary in Jembe, attended by Rev. John Bundor (president of the Christ Lutheran Church in Sierra Leone – see his thank you letter here!), Rev. John Yasse (seminary principal), and 6 other participants from the Mende and Temne language groups.

“For the national translator who is working in his indigenous (heart) language, understanding and gaining competency in the source language he is using is critical,” said Rev. Moss, LHF mission engagement associate. “The students were taught to work with simple metaphors, similes, etc. – some of the most common figures of speech in Scripture. It’s interesting to try to convey the idea of being made ‘white as snow’ to men living in the tropics.”

“This visit also helped us realize the urgent need for Lutheran literature in local tongues like Mende and Creole, in addition to Kisi and Kono, which LHF is already working in,” added Rev. Dr. Dinku Bato, LHF’s coordinator for African projects. A dozen projects such as the Small Catechism and A Child’s Garden of Bible Stories are underway in these 4 languages.

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