Eugene Nida

Eugene Nida

Infobox Person
name = Eugene Nida

image_size =
caption =
birth_date = November 11 1914
birth_place = Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
death_date =
death_place =
occupation = Linguist
spouse = Althea Sprague (1943 - 1993)
Dr. Elena Fernadez (1997 to present)
parents =
children =

Eugene A. Nida (born November 11, 1914, in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma) is the developer of the dynamic-equivalence Bible translation theory.


Eugene Albert Nida was born in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, on November 11 1914. Nida became a Christian at a young age, when he responded to the altar call at his church “to accept Christ as my Saviour.” [Bankson, Benjamin A. “New Facts in Translations.” "Bible Society Record". February 1969, p. 26.]

He graduated summa cum laude from the University of California in 1936. After graduating he attended Camp Wycliffe, where Bible translation theory was taught. He ministered for a short time among the Tarahumara Indians in Mexico, until health problems due to an inadequate diet and the high altitude forced him to leave. Sometime around this timeframe Nida became a founding charter member of Wycliffe Bible Translators, a sister organization of the Summer Institute of Linguistics.

In 1937, Nida undertook studies at the University of Southern California, where he obtained a Master’s Degree in New Testament Greek in 1939. In that same year Eugene Nida became interim pastor of Calvary Church of Santa Ana, CA, after the founding pastor resigned in 1939. [ [ Calvary Church of Santa Ana, CA, previous pastors] ] In spite of his conservative background, in later years Nida became increasingly ecumenical and New Evangelical in his approach. [George, Calvin. "The History of the Reina-Valera 1960 Spanish Bible", Morris Publishing, 2004, p. 100]

In 1943 Nida received his Ph.D. in Linguistics from the University of Michigan, he was ordained as a Baptist minister, and married Althea Lucille Sprague. The couple remained married until Althea Sprague Nida's death in 1993. In 1997 Nida married Dr. Elena Fernadez, a translator and interpreter.

Nida retired in the early 1980s and currently lives in Brussels, Belgium.


In 1943 Dr. Nida began his career as a linguist with the American Bible Society (ABS). He was quickly promoted to Associate Secretary for Versions, then worked as Executive Secretary for Translations until his retirement.

Nida was instrumental in engineering the joint effort between the Vatican and the United Bible Societies (UBS) to produce cross-denominational Bibles in translations across the globe. This work began in 1968 and was carried on in accordance with Nida's translation principle of Functional Equivalence.

Translation and Linguistic Theories

Eugene Nida has been a pioneer in the fields of translation theory and linguistics.

His Ph.D. dissertation, "A Synopsis of English Syntax", was the first full-scale analysis of a major language according to the "immediate-constituent" theory.

His most notable and most controversial contribution to translation theory is Dynamic Equivalence, also known as Functional Equivalence. This approach to translation aims to reproduce the intention of the original text in the translation, rather than reproducing the actual words of the original. For more information, see "Dynamic and formal equivalence."

Nida also developed the "componential-analysis" technique, which split words into their components to help determine equivalence in translation (e.g. "bachelor" = male + unmarried). This is, perhaps, not the best example of the technique, though it is the most well-known.

Nida's dynamic-equivalence theory is often held in opposition to the views of philologists who maintain that an understanding of the source text (ST) can be achieved by assessing the inter-animation of words on the page, and that meaning is self-contained within the text (i.e. much more focused on achieving semantic equivalence).

Nida and Venuti have proved that translation studies is a much more complex discipline than may first appear, with the translator having to look beyond the text itself to deconstruct on an intra-textual level and decode on a referential level—assessing culture-specific items, idiom and figurative language to achieve an understanding of the source text and embark upon creating a translation which not only transfers what words mean in a given context, but also recreates the impact of the original text within the limits of the translator's own language system (linked to this topic: George Steiner, the Hermeneutic Motion, pragmatics, field, tenor, mode and the locutionary, illocutionary and perlocutionary)

Some who are against Nida's influence have been careless in some of their accusations against him. For example, a recent book claimed without documentation that Nida was a reviser of the controversial Revised Standard Version Bible translation that removed the word "virgin" from Isaiah 7:14. [ [ Review of book alleging without documentation that Nida was an RSV reviser] ] A simple look at Peter Thuesen's book "In Discordance with the Scriptures" reveals that Nida is not included in the list of RSV committee members on pp. 74-75 of the book.


Published Works include the following:
* "Linguistic Interludes" - (Glendale, CA: Summer Institute of Linguistics, 1944 (Revised 1947))
* "The Bible Translator" - (Journal founded and edited by Dr. Nida (retired), 1949- )
* "Morphology: The Descriptive Analysis of Words" - (Univ. of Michigan Press, 1949)
* "Message and Mission" - (Harper, 1960)
* "Customs, Culture and Christianity" - (Tyndale Press, 1963)
* "Toward a Science of Translating" - (Brill, 1964)
* "Religion Across Cultures" - (Harper, 1968)
* "The Theory and Practice of Translation" - (Brill, 1969, with C.R. Taber)
* "Language Structure and Translation: Essays" - (Stanford University Press, 1975)
* "From One Language to Another" - (Nelson, 1986, with Jan de Waard)
* "The Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament Based on Semantic Domains" - (UBS, 1988, with Louw)

Bibliography relating to Nida

*Ma, H. J. 2003. "A study of Nida’s translation theory." Beijing: Teaching and Research Press.
*Stine, Philip. 2005. "Let the Words Be Written: The Lasting Influence of Eugene A. Nida." Brill Academic Publishers.
*George, Calvin. "The History of the Reina-Valera 1960 Spanish Bible", Morris Publishing, 2004. (Contains a lengthy chapter about Nida's life and religious beliefs) Still in print and available through

External links

* [ The Eugene A. Nida Institute for Biblical Scholarship]
* [ The American Bible Society]
* [ The United Bible Societies]
* [ A review of the book: Nida, Eugene A. (2003) Fascinated by Languages]


NAME= Nida, Eugene
DATE OF BIRTH= November 11, 1914
PLACE OF BIRTH= Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

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