The Bible Society of Malawi (BSM) has revised the Chichewa version of the Bible which is commonly known as Buku Lopatulika ndilo Mau a Mulungu.
According to a press release by BSM published in the local press, the society said the revision—which has taken two years—was necessary because of the changes in the Chichewa language over the years.
“Some of the words and terms used when the translation was first done [between 1900 and 1922], are old and difficult to be understood by most Chichewa readers and speakers today. For this reason, it was imperative that a revision be made to make Buku Lopatulika easier to be understood by its users,” reads the statement in part.
Buku Lopatulika has been known for the difficult language unlike its ‘cousin’ Malembo Oyera, which simplified most of the terms. Malembo Oyera is mostly used by Catholics while Buku Lopatulika is the preferred version by protestants.
The latest revision has taken into consideration the change in the Chichewa orthography. The press release cites changes in spellings such as ‘fuko’ instead of ‘pfuko’ used in the older versions; ‘vuto’ instead of ‘bvuto’ and adoption of ‘ch’ instead of ‘c’ only for words such as chiyambi which was previously spelt as ciyambi.
The revision has also considered replacing archaic words with words that are common in modern times. The new version has also worked on some incorrect translations which were noted in the older versions.
The press statement says the following changes have been effected: “Wordlist (glossary) to explain difficult terms has been added; Table of weights has [also] been added to [help readers] understand measurements; Parallel references have been added to refer to other passages with the same story; Book introductions have been added to each book to explain the theme and outline of the Book.”
The new version, which replaces the 1966 version, comes in a book with smaller dimensions and soft cover, making it portable like some English versions. Another improvement is the additional page marker in the new version. The book has two page markers instead of one as has been the case in the previous version.
The reduced size, however, has also reduced the point size of the print and it is likely to be unpopular among those with sight problems.
The Bible was first translated into Chichewa between 1900 and 1922 at a place called Kaso in Mvera, Dowa by missionaries from the Dutch Reformed Church Mission and Church of Scotland Mission with the help of locals, according to BSM. n