In one of my email messages to the TNIV translation team recently, I pointed out that the word “fowler” in Psalm 91:3 is probably not known to a large percentage of the TNIV target audience. For that matter, I didn’t know the meaning of “fowler” until I looked it up in a dictionary. I don’t think the original biblical texts used language that required people to consult the equivalent of a dictionary (perhaps a knowledgeable person) to understand the words used in those texts. So, for a translation to reflect the register of the language of the original, neither should English translations today require that readers consult dictionaries to understand the words in them.
The TNIV, of course, is not alone is using the word “fowler” in Ps. 91:3. So do the KJV, ASV, NKJV, RSV, NRSV, ESV, REB, and NIV.
Some versions which use other terms which can be more easily understood are:
Bishops “hunter” (This version preceded the KJV.)
Geneva “hunter” (This version preceded the KJV.)
HCSB “hunter’s net”
GW “hunter’s traps”
Some might insist that accuracy in translation calls for using the word “fowler” rather than the more general terms such as “trapper” or “hunter.” But we can maintain accuracy by using a term such as “bird hunter” which means the same as “fowler” but can be understood by more people. There is no translation requirement that a single word in the original text must correspond to a single word in a translation text. Many times the words of languages do not align in that way, one-to-one, but accuracy can still be obtained with short descriptive terms.