A translation error at a UK prison labelled an exercise yard as an “execution yard” in the draft of an information booklet for Russian inmates.
An inspection report mentioned the faux pas at Lincoln Prison in a section on foreign prisoners.
The translation was spotted by a member of staff at the proof stage, the Ministry of Justice said. …
Nick Hardwick, Chief Inspector of Prisons, said: “This is an example where actually making sure prisoners have properly translated material is important.
“You could treat it as a bit of a joke unless you were that prisoner and you didn’t understand how the British prison service worked and came from a country that still had execution yards. It wouldn’t be a funny thing for him.”
Indeed. What is important for a matter of life and death in a prison on this earth is surely even more important for a Bible translation, which is about matters of eternal life and death.
But how many errors potentially just as serious as this have crept into published Bible translations?
The English word “execution” is a good example of why concordant translation is dangerous. In many contexts it means little more than carrying out an action. But if the same word is used in a different context it can have a completely unintended and misleading meaning. A similar example in a published Bible translation might be “charity” in Way’s translation of Paul’s letters, as I mentioned in a comment on a previous post. Can anyone think of examples of this in major modern Bible versions?