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God Doesn’t Leave, But He Surely Lives

Rusty - October 7, 2007

The speakers in General Conference should be allowed to give their talks in their native languages rather than broken English. We should deal with the translation issues in the same way that all international members deal with it. Enough of the English-centric nature of our Conferences, especially considering the international nature of the Church.


  1. In our branch out in Far Rockaway, New York, we switch every other Sunday from English to Spanish.

    I wholeheartedly agree with you, Rusty.

    Comment by Dan — October 7, 2007 @ 10:33 am

  2. How are we supposed to unite the world under one language and rule the world if not through English? Is that not the next step to Adamic?

    Anyway, then all the people in the Conference Center would need headphones and I don’t think they have 21,000 of them and I don’t want my tithing to pay for that!>:)

    Comment by Bret — October 7, 2007 @ 11:44 am

  3. When in Nicaragua I met a member who insisted on reading the Ensign instead of the Liahona, because he said English is the “language of the prophets”. I don’t think I agree with that, but I thought it was an interesting perspective. I agree that since we have so many international members, we ought to have a multi-lingual conference also.

    Comment by Mike — October 7, 2007 @ 11:57 am

  4. Sorry Rusty, but this one is a dumb idea.

    Bret pointed out just one of the many, many, logistical issues.

    Comment by Ryan — October 7, 2007 @ 12:16 pm

  5. Yeah, and imagine having a translator FOR every language TO every language … I agree in theory, but in practice it’s a mess.

    Comment by Norbert — October 7, 2007 @ 12:32 pm

  6. Ryan,
    Bret’s solution is dumb, not my idea. We’re adults, we can sit through a couple talks that we don’t understand, just the same as the adults in other countries who sit through an entire conference in another language. We’re smart people, we can come up with a way to be accomodating.

    Comment by Rusty — October 7, 2007 @ 2:02 pm

  7. The other languages get the conference translated into their language as it’s being presented. To make conference the same it would mean that when the speaker speaks in their own language that the audio portion of our conference be broadcast in the translated english version.

    If that could eaisly be done, then I’ve got no problem with it. But sitting thru 1 or 2 talks in a language I don’t understand isn’t what conference is all about. Foreign language speakers aren’t asked to do that and neither should I.

    Comment by don — October 7, 2007 @ 3:12 pm

  8. Aren’t there big screens in the conference center? Any way they could show subtitles on those?

    Comment by Maryanne — October 7, 2007 @ 4:41 pm

  9. Since I sit through three or four sacrament meetings a month in which I understand about 1/3 of what is said, I don’t have the problem that Don has with speakers in a foreign language. Listen to the Spirit, try to catch some of the words and do the best you can.

    And, if the speakers did speak their native language: Outside the Conference Center there are no problems–just have the technicians run the English translation feed over the main U.S. channel and the podium feed over the Spanish or whatever language channel.

    And, inside the Conference Center, run subtitles on the big screens as Maryanne suggests. If there are people there who cannot see the screens, drop one down (or pop one up) in the center of the hall that the folks there can see.

    Think how you’d feel if you were a native of Mexico, and suddenly you were hearing the actual speaker’s voice, instead of a translator! It’s about time all those folks have that chance.

    Comment by Mark B. — October 7, 2007 @ 5:55 pm

  10. by the way, it works at the UN.

    Comment by Dan — October 7, 2007 @ 6:04 pm

  11. I didn’t realize that members in other countries go to conference for eight to ten hours and listen to it in a foreign tongue, as Rusty suggested. First of all, how stupid would you have to be to do that? Secondly, I was on a foreign mission and I never saw a single member sit through conference in a foreign language.

    As far as that branch in Far Rockaway, NY, it is doing a huge disservice to the Spanish speakers. They need to learn English. That would solve the problem, plain and simple. Serving a foreign mission, I would’ve been offended had the small branch I attended decided to switch off in English.

    Respect the country you decide to live in. First, live there legally. Why is the Church baptizing illegal immigrants? Why is the violation of the laws of the land overlooked in the worthiness interview? How many non-members would love the Church to overlook the ban on tobacco so they could join?

    Comment by John Cline — October 7, 2007 @ 6:32 pm

  12. John,

    As far as that branch in Far Rockaway, NY, it is doing a huge disservice to the Spanish speakers. They need to learn English. That would solve the problem, plain and simple.

    Um, well then we’d have only 15 people coming to church every Sunday, as about 70% of the branch is Spanish speaking. While in principle I agree with you, that we should learn the language of the country we reside in, it’s just not practical.

    Frankly, I really don’t care what language church is in, no matter where I happen to be, whether in America, or visiting in Europe, etc.

    Comment by Dan — October 7, 2007 @ 7:09 pm

  13. I think Mark B is right, that would work and satisfy everyone.

    I also think people who choose to live in the USA should learn English, just like I had to learn English to serve a mission in England. If you choose to live in a particular country you should expect to learn the language, no matter what country.

    Comment by don — October 7, 2007 @ 8:20 pm

  14. I will try really hard not to get angry about John Cline’s comment, since I already feel guilty after Pres. Hinckley’s talk Saturday night.


    First of all, Rusty did not suggest that foreign language speakers listen to 10 hours of conference in a language they don’t understand. He said that translation issues for English-speaking members in the U.S. should be handled the same way that they’re handled for non-English speakers.

    Second, I am sick to death of the wrong-headed assumptions people make about “they don’t want to learn English.” In the first place, data regarding the current crop of immigrants and their rate of learning English show that they are making the transition faster than previous waves of immigrants. Secondly, stop assuming that your experience as a missionary in learning a foreign language (or a limited part of it) can somehow be replicated in others’ lives. As a missionary you had many hours available each day, whether you wanted it or not, for the learning of the foreign tongue. Consider how much time an immigrant has for language learning–a mother, for example, who spends most of each day at home with her small children, and how much opportunity she has for practicing.

    Third, if you really believe that holding services in people’s native tongues is a disservice to them, you should consider instead the numbers who would attend and be able to participate if the Church were only run in English. And, I suppose that it offends you that there are English-language branches (and even wards and stakes) in foreign countries. If you are an equal opportunity offendee, I guess I’ll give you credit for consistency, even if you are, in my humble opinion, consistently wrong.

    Fourth, your comments about “illegal” immigration are a threadjack, and are best ignored (see my opening comments about anger, etc.)

    Comment by Mark B. — October 8, 2007 @ 6:59 am

  15. Yeah John Cline, I think you’re way off on this one man. Sorry. Like Mark said, I never said they should sit through conference not understanding the whole thing, I just said that I think it would be nice if different people of different languages could hear some talks in their own language, rather than a translation of it with someone else’s voice. Why should we English speakers get the privelege of hearing all the talks in our native tongue and nobody else? Because the Gospel was restored in English? Pish posh, that’s a load of garbage.

    Comment by Rusty — October 8, 2007 @ 9:10 am

  16. I have to agree… it was heartbreaking on my mission to listen to French-speaking general authorities being _translated_ into French — instead of hearing them express themselves as they would naturally. The intonation, their native grasp of idioms… all would be a blessing for those who have been promised to “hear the Gospel in their own tongue”.

    As for logistical problems: we are, perhaps, the most qualified body on the planet — except, maybe, the UN — do it… so why not?

    Comment by Silus Grok — October 8, 2007 @ 10:57 am

  17. As a legal immigrant who became a US Citizen and have lived in this country for the past 15 years I am sad and dissapointed with the wave of hatred towards illegal immigrants, one of the most vulnerable groups in our country. This is especially sad when coming from LDS people. Of all of the people that I have encountered throughout the years that have come to this country illegally, most of them have come because of financial need, to be able to support their families with their basic needs. If we were in the same situation they’re in, we would probably choose to do whatever it’s necessary to feed our kids. We can’t judge them, especially if our circumstances are so different. Let’s follow the Savior and be more compassionate towards those people in such needy situations.

    Comment by Geannina — October 8, 2007 @ 2:14 pm

  18. I didn’t mean to sound so confrontational.

    I didn’t mean to threadjack either. But may I try it again?

    One thing, related to all of this, that does bother me is that on my mission to Japan, mission conferences were in English. Granted, most of the missionaries were English speakers, but we were in their land, and there were Japanese Elders and Sisters present.

    If I am ever called to serve as a Mission President in Japan, I will never speak publicly to my missionaries in English, unless there are no Japanese missionaries present.

    Comment by John Cline — October 8, 2007 @ 2:31 pm

  19. John,
    That’s something that I certainly agree with. In Guatemala all of our conferences (in fact, all of our formal meetings) were in Spanish and the ideal was to always speak in Spanish when any native Spanish speakers were around (of course that didn’t always happen).

    But even though GC is broadcast from the US it doesn’t mean everyone should have to have it translated from English.

    Comment by Rusty — October 8, 2007 @ 3:06 pm

  20. What if the foreign speaking GA’s just pre-recorded their talks in their language and then broadcast those recordings to the appropriate meetinghouses.

    Comment by Ryan — October 8, 2007 @ 4:02 pm

  21. And Rusty, I was saying you are dumb in the friendliest way possible, I realized afterwards that you can’t hear my intonations when I type.

    Comment by Ryan — October 8, 2007 @ 4:04 pm

  22. Actually, Ryan, you said my idea was dumb, but now that I know what was in your heart…

    Comment by Rusty — October 8, 2007 @ 5:44 pm

  23. Rusty-
    I have to admit (although sheepishly, because for some reason I don’t really agree with you) that when Sister Allred spoke at the RS broadcast I thought: “Wouldn’t it be neat if she could just speak in Spanish?”

    However, Bret, I think, made an excellent point about the logistics of the people present in the Conference Center.
    I just don’t think it’s logical at this point. Doesn’t mean it can’t be logical in the future, though, nor does it mean I think it would be wrong if they could do it.

    Comment by Cheryl — October 8, 2007 @ 6:12 pm

  24. Think how you’d feel if you were a native of Mexico, and suddenly you were hearing the actual speaker’s voice, instead of a translator!

    (#9 Mark B)

    What if the foreign speaking GA’s just pre-recorded their talks in their language and then broadcast those recordings to the appropriate meetinghouses.

    (#20 Ryan)

    A few years ago I was in the Primary room watching General Conference on the Spanish channel. (Trying to polish up the ol’ mission language, I guess?) When Elder Amado stood up to speak, a hidden voice announced that he had pre-recorded his talk in his native tongue for the Spanish-speaking people to hear. I was so excited for all my friends in Central America who knew him! How fluid and beautiful his talk was! (Incidentally, his Spanish version ended a couple of minutes earlier than the live English version.) So from then on I’ve just imagined that’s what all non-English speaking GAs do.

    What’s wrong with a “solution” like that?

    Comment by Amy — October 8, 2007 @ 7:46 pm

  25. Gee, I originally made my comment very lightheartedly. Guess my ethnocentricity is coming out.

    I hear Elder Scott records all his talks in Spanish first, so yeah, I like that idea for all the rest. That way my tithing isn’t wasted>:p

    Comment by Bret — October 8, 2007 @ 10:35 pm

  26. Cheryl,

    However, Bret, I think, made an excellent point about the logistics of the people present in the Conference Center.

    Logistically speaking it really isn’t that hard at all. The UN does this every single day.

    Comment by Dan — October 9, 2007 @ 10:24 am

  27. Dan, the U.N. wastes money on a lot of things, they sit at modified desk and you don’t have 21,000 of them there at one time. I think Bret’s consern about wasting tithing to put earphones and jacks at 21,000 seats and connecting them all and making it work IS a waste of tithing.

    Amy’s solution: have the GAs record their talks in their native language and then the natives can listen to it, easy live over the internet or thru regular church broadcast media.

    Comment by Don — October 9, 2007 @ 1:04 pm

  28. Don,

    Who said you have to pay the translators? Do they get paid right now to translate the talks? If I recall correctly they are done on a voluntary basis.

    Comment by Dan — October 9, 2007 @ 1:48 pm

  29. Who says 21,000 headjacks is the solution? What’s wrong with subtitles on the big screens?

    Comment by Rusty — October 9, 2007 @ 2:19 pm

  30. Thanks Rusty, I do think my subtitle suggestion was pretty good, and only my dad seems to have acknowledged it as a reasonable and pretty easy solution. And need I say that I agree with Geannina about how shocking it is to hear the anti-immigration crap coming from members of our church. I haven’t read Pres. Hinckley’s talk yet, so I don’t feel constrained to try to adhere to it yet. :)

    Comment by Maryanne — October 9, 2007 @ 5:37 pm

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