Religious education

21st March 2003 at 00:00
This subject can be used in RE in key stages 2 or 3 in units of work on sacred writings, to explore what religions gain and lose by translating their scriptures into the vernacular. Islam, with its emphasis on reading the Qur'an in Arabic, the language of the Angel, even where this is not the native language of the reader, provides a good example of the case against translation. Pupils can see the translator's power to influence outcomes in any situation, by virtue of the exact words used.

In modern foreign language lessons and in English these examples can be used to explore nuance (a French term not capable of a one word translation!). Difficulties in translating idiom - try the local slang of the pupils - can easily be demonstrated. Secondary collective worship on "The power of words" could use OHP or PowerPoint to present examples, perhaps pausing to reflect that sometimes we should all think before we speak.

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