Original Research - Special Collection: Bible 200

Translation types and niche translations: Comparing five Afrikaans translations

Sebastian J. Floor
In die Skriflig/In Luce Verbi | Vol 55, No 3 | a2743 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ids.v55i3.2743 | © 2021 Sebastian J. Floor | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 08 March 2021 | Published: 24 November 2021

About the author(s)

Sebastian J. Floor, Wycliffe Bible Translators, Johannesburg, South Africa


Before the introduction of the dynamic-equivalent translation method by Eugene Nida, most Bible translations, in terms of translation type, were literal and formal correspondence translations. With the expansion of Bible translation globally over the past 60 years, alternative translation types started to appear – sometimes claiming uniqueness and even superiority. That, in turn, led to a reverse situation where ‘literal only’ or ‘literal-superiority’ claims were made. This has been a cause for significant debate and controversy. The purpose of this comparison of translation types is to indicate how translations differ from each other on a continuum and to determine if some versions in Afrikaans align with translation typology. The method followed in this article is to classify translation types in two main groupings: more literal and more dynamic; and four subtypes: corresponding translations, resembling translations, clarifying translations, and simplifying translations. In light of this classification, five publications of the Bible in Afrikaans are compared to Bible publications in English and Dutch. This study has found that each of the five Afrikaans translations does fit under one of the four types for which the criteria were laid out. The finding was that the typology applied to Bible versions in English, Dutch and Afrikaans. This typology implies that translations from different types are not necessarily in competition with each other, but that they complement each other. Each version in Afrikaans has then been compared to each other in terms of an end-user market niche and, based on that, there seems to be a continuing need for versions in all the different types. Translations do improve over time as translation theory and source-language scholarship evolve, but the validity of each type and publications in each type argue for versions of several types to endure.

Contribution: This article is not the first attempt to describe translation types. Several translators, as well as some functionalist translation studies did important scientific work in this regard. However, this article’s principal contribution to translation studies is to propose a simplified yet adequate model of four translation types with new terminology, terms which do not overlap but are descriptive of function. And then secondly, to align each type with scripture engagement and the translation niche.


Bible translation; translation studies; Scripture; translation type; style; niche


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