The need for fine-tuning an easy-to-read English translation of the Bible is long in coming.

By November 5, 2003

USA (MNN)–The World Bible Translation Center first put out its Easy-to-Read English Bible 30 years ago. Since then, they added a special version for the Deaf (EVD), a more simplified English text.

According to the Center’s Ervine Bishop, the text for the deaf or EVD was created following a study in how the deaf communicate. Bishop explains the needs are different, “because they’ve never known a spoken language. When a deaf child starts school, they have very little English knowledge. They haven’t spoken English, and so they don’t have any experience with it.”

For example, according to their research, the hearing impaired were at a significant disadvantage. ‘To learn to read the word ‘dog”, Bishop says, ‘a hearing child already knows what a dog is, knows the word in English, (he) just has to learn that those alphabetic symbols represent that spoken word. The deaf child doesn’t have that yet.’

The Center’s research indicated a hearing child has about 80-percent of the vocabulary that they’ll have the rest of his life. Bishop says they found that, “A deaf child maybe has four or five words. They don’t have the background. As a result, the average deaf person reads on a very low grade reading level. That doesn’t relate to their intelligence, it relates to their experience with language.”

Today, those who read the Center’s basic English text and those who read EVD need different challenges. The Center’s Ervine Bishop explains the need for fine tuning.
“There’s too much redundancy, there’s a lot of repetition, (and) the sentences are very short. This is not a bother for people who are just learning English, but it’s really unnecessary for them. We’ve learned that we can do it in a much more ‘normal’ English.”

Bishop says one of their greatest difficulties is keeping the vocabulary simple yet communicate the hope of Christ. “It’s a challenge to not increase the difficulty of communication, to make sure it’s just as easy to get the meaning from it and still have a smooth English style. That’s the real challenge.”

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