The Eugene A. Nida Archives are a gift from Elena Nida, his wife. The Archives include books, personal papers, correspondence, his writings and lectures, and the most comprehensive bibliography of his work. In addition, memorabilia from his long years of scholarship which were in his Brussels and Madrid residences where he resided with Elena are included. Simply stated Nida had a long and enormously productive life that impacted many across the globe.
Eugene A. Nida (11 November 2014 – 25 August 2011) transformed several dimensions of the enterprise of understanding and doing translation. Nida understood that there was no simple way to bring the expressions, words, and culture of one language into the expressions, words, and culture surrounding another language. He led 20th and 21st century translation theory in understanding and demonstrating that a single word or phrase from one language cannot "live" in another language by simply translating word for word. Words and phrases, whether written or spoken, modern or ancient, live in complex cultural surroundings. Translation is an act of care that struggles to bring understanding between two linguistic contexts. The road between them is a two-way street.
Nida’s contributions were to translation theory; the teaching of the theory and practice of real life translation, and the pedagogy of translation. He knew the way to bring translation alive for all levels of students from native speakers with little theoretical training to post-doctoral researchers steeped in theory, and sometimes with little practice of real translation.
The Eugene A. Nida Archives are housed at the Fondazione Unicampus San Pellegrino in Misano, Italy. The Archives will provide generations of translators and translation theorists with a growing wealth of data to continue to better understand translation.
Nida said in one of his early books:
« [...] Translators must deal with a medium of communication which is constantly in the process of change. To be a useful instrument for social intercourse, language must be able to admit new knowledge and new organization of knowledge. In a sense, it must fit reality or it is useless; but it cannot fit reality too closely, or it would be equally unserviceable…for language cannot equally specify all the infinitely different events…. Language must be able to classify and group experiences. Moreover, it must have sufficient generality of utility to be employed by… people, and not merely by some small coterie of initiates… Language is not a private code but a public system of symbols, constantly, if slowly, being remade to fit the exigencies of a changing world. Translators themselves are responsible for a good deal of the change that does take place within languages, for as Julio Casares (1956) has so aptly said, "Translation is a customs house through which passes, if the custom officers are not alert, more smuggled goods of foreign idioms than through any other linguistic frontier." [...] »
The purpose of the Eugene A. Nida Archives is to enrich the understanding of translation for years to come.