fragments of an attempted writing.

Eugene Nida, R.I.P.

I don't know how I managed to miss this (see also here) .  Nida died August 25, in Belgium, at age 96.  Nida was a mentor to one of my own mentors.  I still occasionally pick up my copy of The Theory and Practice of Translation.  The theory for which Nida is famous would influence the linguistics world far beyond the relatively small subculture of bible translators, and the implications of dynamic equivalency are difficult to overstate.  Nida's theory was a tool that proved very effective in countering rigid ethnocentrisms - when I think of what effectively ended the reign of the "old style" of white missionaries teaching "natives" to act, dress, speak, and (presumably) think like white people, Nida comes to mind as the thinker perhaps most responsible for undermining that paradigm.  [Rightly or wrongly, I think of Nida's vision as the polar opposite of the well crafted caricature we see in Nathan Price, the antagonist of The Poisonwood Bible.]  The idea that the hearing/reading culture should determine the manner and form that texts and ideas are communicated to them may seem rote and obvious today, but make no mistake, Nida's theory was a radical departure from previous cross-cultural postures on the part of Westerners.

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