Technology advances Bible translation work in Indonesia.

By March 25, 2005

Indonesia (MNN)–In the Indonesian province of West Timor, there is a growing hunger for translations of God’s word. Translations are underway for more than 20 of the region’s 80 languages, and there is interest from many of the remaining languages.

The vision of The Seed Company is to help make national translators in Timor and around the world successful. This usually takes the form of mobilizing prayer support and finances, and conducting training workshops. But more recently The Seed Company has begun innovations in the technology area.

John Wimbish develops translation software for The Seed Company. He has just returned from introducing new word processing software to translators in eleven Timorese languages. “It takes the source text that they’re translating from and displays that alongside of the text that they’re translating into in a parallel type of format. They’re able to see that and see other related languages that they’re translating into. It just helps them to have all the data together into one place, and to make good translation decisions.”

A felt need presented itself. “Most of these translators had never touched a computer prior to our workshop,” Wimbish explains. “Our challenge is to develop software that while powerful, is easy to learn and operate.”

The goal of the Bible translator is to be completely faithful to the original languages, and to produce a translation that communicates easily and naturally. A well-done translation should be a pleasure to read, and a natural outgrowth of the cultural context. Wimbish says, “Software should free the translator to concentrate on doing the art of translation, as opposed to having to concentrate on running the computer.”

He does not expect the software to make the process faster, but rather, to help make the translations better. “The computer makes it possible to check things that are otherwise difficult or even tedious. For example, is the word for ‘Spirit’ translated consistently throughout? Is Melchizedek spelled the same way wherever he occurs?”

Wimbish requests prayer as he develops the next version of the software. “Designing powerful tools with a simple user interface can be quite a challenge. And making it bug-free is crucial, because many of these translators spend their time in remote villages where help is not available should something go wrong.”

For information about how you can help with the work of Bible translation, visit their website at www.theseedcompany.org.

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