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Pitjantjatjara Old Testament Workshop II

Katrina Tjitayi

I want to say that I am very, very pleased that I was able to take part in this workshop and learn about translation. It’s the first time I’d heard about how to translate properly from English into Pitjantjatjara. I watched and listened and learnt that to  translate correctly we need to understand how our language, the language we speak, works and fits together because that’s the language into which we translate.  We learnt how to make a good clear translation, you know, with the right words and the right endings for our language, so that children and everybody can see and understand this wonderful message. 

As we were translating Psalm 61, some wonderful meanings came clear to me, about how we are to worship God in spirit, and trust him, and always stand strong with him. As we do this, he is always with us, with his strength. It was so uplifting. 

As this workshop was approaching I was thinking to myself about what to translate. It seemed that God directed me in my spirit to translate the Book of Numbers, so while I was waiting for the workshop I thought I’d give it a go. When Paul Eckert arrived and started the workshop I brought along what I’d written down from Numbers. When Paul saw it he was surprised because he said, “Numbers is one of the books we are going to be looking at translating this week.” I too was very surprised and thought, “It really was God showing me to do this. Yes, God really is working amongst us and revealing his plan for us.” It made me very happy and I couldn’t stop thinking about it. As I came along each day to the workshop I’d remember it and be filled with joy over this plan of God’s. 


During the workshop Paul showed us a video promotion in which many of us were interviewed about the Old Testament Project. I remember one part where some women were talking together about the Bible translation and one of them read from the introduction to the little bit of Old Testament in the current Pitjantjatjara Shorter Bible. It said  something like, “Maybe later on others will translate the rest of Old Testament.” When I heard this it touched me deep inside and and I cried in my spirit, because here we are, doing it now. My heart is filled with joy. 

Umatji Tjitayi

This was the first time I'd been to a workshop like this and I totally enjoyed it. I learnt many things about translating from English into Pitjantjatjara. And more than that, I learnt many new things about God’s Word that make my whole heart really rejoice. 

Makinti Minutukur

Yes, I too want to tell you how happy I am that we were able to be in this workshop – this is the first time we’ve been together to learn about translating the word in the Old Testament especially Psalms & Joshua. 

We know something of many of the  main stories of Old Testament, about Moses taking the people out of Egypt, and Joshua conquering Jericho, and other stories in other parts of the OT. But there are lots of other important things said in and around those stories that we don’t know –  things that they did, how God instructed them, what they did as a result, and so on. As we started to learn how to translate some of these stories from English into Pitjantjatjara we began to see all these things that were previously hidden from us and we thought, “Hey, these stories are there in the Hebrew and in the English and now we’re putting them into Pitjantjatjara. They are like new stories to us, but they’ve been there all the time, just not in our language. They’re really wonderful stories, and significant, about God talking to his people, about him caring for them and working amongst them.

We also learnt that there is a lot to our language. To do a good translation we have to make the story very clear in our very own language, so that as we  read these wonderful words of God from his Holy Bible, our hearts might be touched by them. Truly this word is really touching my heart and making me think deeply about it, and want it. 

We learnt that translating from the English into Pitjantjatjara involves not just putting the surface words across, but finding the true underlying meaning and putting that down, so that the translation into Pitjantjatjara is true and strong. We also learnt that Hebrew is the language of the Israelites, the people of God, and that it was they who first wrote down this good strong story in their language. We want to put this same good strong story in our language so that it  will be strong and meaningful for our people to read, so that reading it they also may be filled with joy in their hearts knowing, “This is really what it’s saying. It’s the true meaning, and God is touching our spirit through his strong & mighty word. As we hear it in our hearts, and take it in, he's teaching us." 

Thank God for his word, and for  the encouragement and joy shared by people translating together. 

Pray that the local church may encourage & support the translation team members. 

Pray that translators will be available for workshop III, April 9-13 2012 Pray that workshop  articipants would understand, and be able to use the translation principles taught. 

Pray for the team of non-Pitjantjatjara people preparing helps for the Pitjantjatjara translators.