Translating General Conference Talks From English Into Another Language

  Ziva Lalari Rakotondrasoa

  • 23 November 2012

Ansa, Aaron, Ezra, and Ziva Rakotondrasoa

Translators fully comprehend that this is a holy work which requires being in tune with the Spirit.

I always look forward to General Conference in April and October. In 2003 I started to work as a contractor for the Translation Department of the Church.  Part of our work is to translate talks during General Conference so “…every man shall hear the fullness of the gospel in his own tongue, and in his own language through those who are ordained unto this power…” (Doctrine and Covenants 90:11).

Translators fully comprehend that this is a holy work which requires being in tune with the Spirit. When a talk is translated into Malagasy, it is not enough that the translation looks like the original text. Look-alikes are not sufficient. After you take the text “through the veil” that separates one language from another, it must literally mean the same as the original.

Before translating a talk, I start with prayer, then read and re-read the full text in English. I ponder the messages and highlight words that are difficult to understand. Through use of dictionaries, research, and explanations from reliable, appropriate resources, the translation begins.

Translators are required to work hard and fast as a team to provide the best translation. Challenges facing translation into Malagasy include: lack of technical terminologies; long words in the Malagasy language; American humor and idioms which neither exist nor make sense in Malagasy. With the help of the Spirit, I feel guided in the translation.

When the work is finished, the translator proofreads and reviews his own translation then asks for a confirmation through prayer.  If the translation is accurate, it is sent to another person for content review.

After the two days of General Conference in the Conference Center, translators continue work on the talks, insert the last changes, and make corrections. We polish, refine and sharpen all talks to be in the Liahona so that the members can read, ponder and study those words from the servants of God.

I am so grateful to be part of the translation team and feel the gift of translation in my life. I have felt so much the Spirit by studying the messages and lessons. I am grateful for the principles I have learned from the talks. It has strengthened my testimony of the truthfulness of the gospel and of the atonement of Jesus Christ.

God is our Father and He lives. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is His Church and the only true Church upon the earth. Jesus is the Christ. He is our Savior and Redeemer. He leads this Church and reveals His words through a living prophet, and apostles.