RE word-play

24th January 2003 at 00:00
As RE co-ordinator in a Church of England primary school, I was searching for a way to make the origins of the Bible interesting for Year 6 pupils.

We were looking at different translations and how mistakes could be made moving from one text to another. I drew up a completely fictitious language and culture, similar to Anglo-Saxon. I explained that some words had not yet been deciphered in a letter that was written by a dying nobleman. His spelling and handwriting were not perfect, and some of the words were partially obliterated.

I also gave them copies of a dictionary that had been prepared of nouns and adjectives and asked them to complete the letter to the best of their ability, using common sense and guesswork. What the children did not know was that the dictionaries were not all the same, with words like "crow" in the first version being replaced by "cow" in the next, and so on. Subtle differences of one letter or reversal of two meanings gave us a wide variety of translations. The results were sometimes very funny, and the children realised how difficult the task of translation could be.

When we moved on in the next lesson to changing the Lord's Prayer from the Book of Common Prayer into (a) modern day English and then (b) mobile phone "text-language" we began to get a really good understanding of the intricacies of language and translation.

Sarah McIver is RE co-ordinator at Diocesan and Payne Smith C of E Primary School, Kent

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?

Subscribe

To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers

Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
 
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar, Buyagift.com, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today