The invention of the computer has greatly increased the pace of Bible translation. While software isn’t able to replace the language analysis work that translators perform, it can greatly assist translators in a number of ways, including storing, sorting, comparing and preparing data for publication. This allows translators to focus on the main challenges, while allowing the computer to handle much of the tedious and repetitive tasks once associated with their work.
Wycliffe’s primary strategic partner, SIL, has developed over 60 pieces of software to help translation and linguistic fieldworkers. See the examples below. Many are available for free download. Around the world, people involved in doing Bible translation are using these extraordinary tools.
Interested in working in linguistic computing?
It’s complicated stuff (linguistics and technology), but here are a few examples with some fairly non-technical descriptions to give you an idea of the impact of this developmental work:
Adapt It is a software package for translating related languages. The user(s) must know both languages being engaged. Because this process doesn’t require linguistic analysis, individuals who have very little linguistic training can use Adapt It. Read more about this software.
Translator's Workplace is a collection of the primary reference materials that Bible translators use. It is a joint project between SIL and the United Bible Societies.
Paratext and related tools are a collection of Bible translation software programs developed by the United Bible Societies and SIL. These tools allow you to input, edit and check a translation of the Scriptures, based on the original Greek and Hebrew texts.
NRSI (Non-Roman Script Initiative) is not a computer program, per se, but rather a research and development team within SIL International. Its mission is to provide guidance, information, research and development for SIL and its partners. It facilitates the use of non-Roman and complex scripts in linguistic study, translation, literacy and publishing.
A linguist must analyze the usage and function of thousands of words in a language. FLEx (FieldWorks Language Explorer) builds and organizes a linguistic dictionary, including components of words. It analyzes sentences, paragraphs, and stories (and their grammar) by utilizing its dictionary. Cultural information is captured as well. FieldWorks is SIL International’s premier language software suite, enabling team collaboration in linguistics, anthropology, and translation.
Phonology Assistant helps analyze the phonetic sounds, variations, and patterns used in a language. It helps determine which of the sounds (and pitch tones) should be represented in the written alphabet for the language.
Wycliffe offers many other opportunities for using your Information Technology skills in support of Bible translation.