Book reviewThe Bible at Cultural Crossroads: From Translation to Communication Manchester, UK & Kinderhook, USA: St. Jerome Publishing, 2006. xii + 280 pp. ISBN 1-900650-75-4 £25.
Reviewed by Lourens de Vries
By elaborating and refining Gricean pragmatics, Relevance Theory (Sperber and Wilson 1986) deepened our insights into the nature of verbal communication as an inferential process guided by relevance considerations. There is a certain irony in the fact that a model aimed at understanding communication was presented in a dense and sometimes impenetrable jargon. When Ernst-August Gutt applied Relevance Theory to the field of (Bible) translation (Gutt 2000), the rather esoteric terminology and style of Relevance Theory still stood in the way of effective communication with both practicing translators and theoreticians of other persuasions. Harriet Hill, however, is a brilliant communicator and in this lucid and extremely well-written book she succeeds in explaining Relevance Theory to her intended audience: ordinary Bible translators in minority languages. The second, perhaps even greater accomplishment, is that Hill succeeds in showing why relevance theory is relevant not only for these ordinary Bible translators. In fact, for anyone who has always wondered what relevance theory was all about or how it could be applied in translation, this book is a must, and the fascinating application to translation in the African context of the Adioukrou will also be of interest to scholars working in the field of cross cultural communication.