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a statement from the Forum of Bible Translation Agencies, April 26,
updated April 18, 1996; formally accepted April 24, 1997
Translation Skills and Experience
Language and Cross-cultural Skills
Skills in Organization and Planning
Processes of Consultant Development
Formal Recognition of Consultants
One of the ways in which the member organizations of the Forum of Bible Translation Agencies can cooperate is in sharing our translation consultant resources (as local situations and availability permit).
While it is recognized that member organizations appoint their own consultants and may have their own internal required qualifications, in order to facilitate cooperation in the sharing of consultant resources, it was agreed to adopt a joint statement on minimum standards for qualifications for translation consultants. This aims to ensure a standard of qualifications, skills, and experience that is acceptable to all organizations involved. The statement focuses on professional qualifications. It is understood that all cooperating organizations, as members of the Forum, have identified themselves as being within the mainstream of historical Christianity.
This statement has been discussed over a period of three years, has been circulated widely in each member organization, and has been formally agreed upon by the Forum of Bible Translation Agencies,
Some of the most important qualifications for a translation consultant are in the field of interpersonal relations. Consultants must have the ability to relate well with others of different cultural background. Consultants must be sensitive to different situations, tolerant of different viewpoints, able to listen and learn, and also able to give an appropriate lead when needed. They must be good teachers and able to communicate effectively, both in writing and in speaking.
Translation consultants should normally have an M.A. or a Ph.D. or the equivalent in one of the above areas (or a related discipline), and the minimum described above in the others. Formal qualifications may, however, occasionally be waived where the person concerned has other special strengths and/or has demonstrated his or her competence through long service and/or through the publications he or she has authored.
A consultant should:
A consultant should have an understanding of the characteristics of the languages in the area of expected service. Usually a consultant should also understand and be able to speak fluently at least one language of the area, including any major language spoken in the area which is likely to be a medium of interaction with translation teams and church leaders. (Language learning may often be combined with the experience of working with one translation project in depth over a period of time. This could in some cases be a major language of the area.)
A consultant should have had experience of living for an extended period of time in a culture different from his or her own.
A consultant should have demonstrated ability to organize personal study projects and have had personal experience of cooperating in the planning and organization of a translation project.
A consultant should have received training in consultant techniques and orientation to the role and responsibilities of a translation consultant. This will usually be through participating in a consultant training seminar and also through a close association with a senior consultant over a period of time in an apprenticeship or mentoring relationship.
Translation consultants must have a high standard of professional integrity and an ongoing commitment to increase their knowledge and develop their skills in ways that will help them to become increasingly effective in their service as consultants.
The processes that contribute to consultant development will usually include:
For consultants who are to be mutually recognized by all cooperating Bible Translation Organizations, the qualifications listed in the above statement are the standard.
In order for a consultant to be formally recognized, their qualifications will be reviewed by the Regional or Area translation coordinator or equivalent officers for UBS and SIL, and the equivalent officers for whatever other Bible Translation Organizations are active in the area or region concerned. This action is initiated on the recommendation of the local administration of the organization with whom the person concerned is working, and in consultation with that local administration.
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Last modified: 3-Apr-2000