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Bible Translation faces writing challenges

By September 6, 2004

International (MNN)– What is the non-Roman script initiative? It’s not widely known by the average Christian on the street. Wycliffe Bible Translators Jim Brase says, “Languages of the world are written in many different ways. We’re used to writing with our abc’s, which came to us from the Romans. A non-Roman script is any other writing system. We estimate that up to 30-percent of the world’s languages may use non-Roman script.”

That means difficulty for Bible translation because computers can’t support the writing systems that use those languages.

Brase has been working with non-Roman script for more than 20 years and he says progress is being made. “I estimated (then) that anything that could be done in a Roman alphabet on a computer, could be done in a non-Roman alphabet it was just 10 times harder to do. Now, we’ve brought that difficulty factor down maybe to a factor of five or three depending on the type of alphabet you’re working with. So, we’ve seen progress, and there have been some significant technological developments in the last five years that have really changed the picture a lot.”

Right now research is need to determine how many different non-Roman scripts there are in the world. If that research doesn’t happen Brase says it will dramatically delay Bible translation. “Evangelists will have to be working through a translated Scripture, rather than in the language of the people.” And, that mean difficulty for evangelism and discipleship.

Funding, computer specialists and prayer is needed to help.

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