Technology advances Bible translation work by decades.

By June 28, 2005

International (MNN)–Technological advances have changed the pace of Bible translation work.

JAARS is an organization that speeds Bible translation by providing quality services for Wycliffe Bible Translators and others. JAARS’ Judy Bokelman says their VSAT project is a partnership that allows their work to continue when there isn’t electricty to power computers. “We use solar panels to get the power for those, and the VSAT bounces off the satellite so, both are easily accessible and you don’t need electricity or wires to do that. We can set up wireless networks and voiceover IP and things like that.”

VSAT is an abbreviation that stands for Very Small Aperture Terminal. It is totally independent of existing infrastructure and uses small satellite dishes for sending information between two points, or from one point to several others.

Voiceover IP is simply voice delivery using the Internet Provider. It is a term used for a set of facilities for managing the delivery of voice information using the IP. This means missionaries can send voice information in digital form in discrete packets rather than in the traditional circuit-committed telephone networks.

But it’s not all hardware, although alphabet soup might apply. Bokelman says they’re launching a new software program for their translators. The software cuts the translation process down by nearly a decade by creating a ‘rough draft’ of a language based on a related-language. “So, we’re doing ‘adaptation,’ which allows us to start out ahead–years ahead, actually–in the translation because we have a rough draft that we can talk with the people about and see where the language differences are in a related language, so that we begin the translation faster.”

There are other software packages being used on the field that take non-Roman script and put them into workable form for the translators.

Non-Roman script runs right to left, vertically, and written with mulitple shapes and letters that sort according to the character next to them. It’s a complex language system that traditional translation programs have trouble decoding.

It also means it’s hampering language work on four continents: Asia, Africa, North America and Europe. Approximately one-third of the languages that still need Bible translation are written with complex scripts.

So, as the global neighborhood grows smaller with technology, that same technology can be used to build the supports to the Gospel in every language.

Translation of the Scriptures has launched into the world technological wonders to make sure that the hope of Christ will go to every nation.

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