Geraint

Geraint is a person mentioned in the cover article, “Breaking the Language Barrier” in the third edition of Awake! 2016. Nowhere in the article is his surname mentioned. The reader is only informed that Geraint is a translator based in Britain. However, as the Welsh name “Geraint” is very rare, a quick search of the Watchtower Library helps us find out who he is.

Who is Geraint?

There is only one paragraph of text on the Watchtower Library that provides any details about Geraint. In the Yearbook 2000, on pages 93-94, it reads:

Geraint Watkin is also a member of the Bethel family. In the early 1980’s, he turned down a university education in favor of pioneer service. He supported himself with part-time work on his father’s farm. He enjoyed the pioneer work and hoped that someday he might become a missionary. So why did he apply for Bethel service? An article in The Watchtower in 1989 deeply influenced him. There he read the life story of Max Larson, a member of the Bethel family in the United States. Brother Larson said: “I firmly believe that Bethel is the best place on earth this side of the coming earthly Paradise.” Geraint noticed that, after requesting an application for Bethel service, Brother Larson had kept the matter before Jehovah in prayer. Geraint promptly followed that example. About ten days later, he received a phone call inviting him to become a member of the Bethel family in Britain. In Bethel service, he uses experience he gained on his father’s farm to care for a farm that supplies food for the Bethel family in London. At one time farming was simply a means for him to support himself in the pioneer work. He views the farming he now does as his “Bethel assignment from Jehovah.”

We now know who Geraint is. His surname is Watkin. Geraint Watkin. He was the son of a farmer and was raised and employed part-time on a British farm. He “turned down a university education in favor of pioneer service” in the early 1980’s. He joined the Bethel family in Britain.  And he was assigned to farming.

What does Geraint do now?

We know that Geraint was assigned to farming when he joined the Bethel family in 1989. He was obviously still involved in farming in 2000 when the Yearbook 2000 was released. But what is he doing now? Geraint answers this question himself in Awake! 2016, No.3 page 4:

“I work with a team of translators, so good cooperation is the key. Together we explore solutions to tough translation problems. As we do, we consider not just words but groups of words. We weigh their real meaning and intent, constantly reminding ourselves of the target audience for each article.

“Our goal is for the reader to feel as if the material were originally written in his mother tongue. To that end, we try to use language that is natural. In that way, we will hold the reader’s attention, and he will keep on reading as if he were eating delicious food that is easy on the palate.

Mingling with the local people is a rich resource. Here in the Welsh heartland, we hear the language spoken every day. Plus, we can field-test terms and expressions to find out if they are natural, understandable, and appealing. This helps us convey the real meaning of the original text.”

How interesting. A man who was once a farm boy, with no university education, is now working with a team of translators exploring solutions to tough translation problems.  This leads to a number of questions:

  1. How did an uneducated farm boy become a translator?
  2. When did he become a translator? It was obviously some time between 2000 and the present.
  3. Did he receive a formal education in translation?
  4. Or was it simply a case that he was from Wales and grew up speaking both English and Welsh?

It is unlikely that Geraint obtained a formal education in translation. It is likely that the British Bethel simply made use of a native Welsh speaker. He was taken off farm duty and put to translation. He now helps The Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society of New York translate their literature into Welsh.  Is this how The Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society selects the translators for their articles?