Translation of unseen material

Translation of unseen material

Building Vocabulary for Unseen Translations

  • Dedicate regular time to vocabulary expansion. More words you know, smoother your translation process will be.
  • Develop a good understanding of root word structures - a key aspect of learning Biblical Hebrew. Recognising roots can help you decipher the meaning of words you haven’t encountered before.
  • Use flashcards or digital tools to aid memorisation of new words and their meanings.
  • Recognise that words often have multiple meanings based on their context. Be prepared to select the most appropriate meaning based on the broader passage.

Recognising and Understanding Verb Forms

  • Strive to understand verb forms in their Qal (simple), Niphal, Piel, Pual, Hiphil, Hophal, and Hithpael stems. This will enrich your understanding and competence in translation.
  • Remember that verbs not only tell action but also indicate the actor (subject) and the acted upon (object). Ensure to correctly identify these elements in a sentence.
  • Understand verb tenses and moods (such as imperfect, perfect, imperative, jussive), and how they influence the meaning of a sentence.
  • Note that changes in verb forms can markedly shift meaning and tense. Be attentive to these subtle changes.

Syntax and Sentence Structure

  • Practice understanding Biblical Hebrew’s unique sentence structure patterns, which typically follow Verb-Subject-Object (VSO) order.
  • Get comfortable with construct chains and their function in Hebrew sentences.
  • Pay special attention to prepositions, as misuse can alter the intended meaning.
  • Become familiar with the conjunction ‘waw’ which can carry various meanings (e.g., ‘and’, ‘but’, ‘then’, etc.). Its conversive usage can also change verb tense.

Context and Cultural Understanding

  • Understand how cultural and historical context can influence the proper translation of a text.
  • Remember that some Hebrew expressions don’t have direct equivalents in English, in such cases always aim for understanding the underlying thought or meaning.
  • Learn about common idioms and metaphors used in the Biblical Hebrew, as these can seem confusing if taken literally.

Checking and Refining Translation

  • After completing a first pass of your translation, review and revise to improve fluidity and accuracy.
  • Utilise a dictionary and a grammar reference to check uncertain translations.
  • Practice thinking beyond a literal word-for-word translation. Instead, aim for a thought-for-thought translation to capture the original text’s meaning in a way that makes sense in English.