Have you ever wondered what the actual task of Bible translation looks like? As you can imagine, translating God’s Word is time-consuming and requires great attention to detail. Fortunately, we have the Holy Spirit to guide us in this work and one of the ways God provides for Bible translation is by giving people the skills and desires to develop technology.
Since Bible translation is progressing at an unprecedented rate globally, technological revision support is necessary for translators and translation consultants. In order to meet this need, Wycliffe is collaborating with the University of Southern California on an advanced technological project called Greek Room. The project’s name is an homage to the original language of the New Testament, and it also honors the destination of many early missionary journeys.
Greek Room software will provide Bible translators and consultants with tools that strengthen the quality of their translations. Here’s a closer look at how technology is being used in the Bible translation process.
THE IMPORTANCE OF SPELL-CHECKING
Uma Johnson, a Bible translation consultant with Friends of Agape — an organization that trains Christian leaders and accelerates access to the Bible — said, “The need for a smart spell-checker is inevitable in the field of Bible translation. … So a tool that helps them to choose the words and spellings at the drafting stage will be helpful.”
Spell-checking is critical because spelling errors can alter Bible translations and misrepresent God’s Word. Additionally, many translators don’t have reference materials like dictionaries, and creating those resources requires time and effort.
Greek Room uses a smart spell-checker that rates words based on their phonetic similarity and then recommends the best word choice. Testing has indicated strong effectiveness with components, like a punctuation checker, that will be added.
HELPING PEOPLE CLEARLY UNDERSTAND
A word aligner — or, more simply, a word and phrase suggestion tool — is a computer program that compares translated Scripture to its original language source. It reveals inconsistencies and suggests solutions.
The Greek Room word aligner will significantly expand several features of existing aligners by rating content on similarity in several different categories. One of these categories is phrase alignment, which will help teams refine translated verses and even entire passages of Scripture. This will offer substantial help to translation teams as they ensure the effectiveness of Bible translations.
CONSISTENCY IS KEY
Mark Penny, a Bible translation consultant with SIL International* said: “Automatic translation consistency checking is important to support consultants.” Greek Room’s translation consistency checker will offer support to Bible translators and consultants as they write their first drafts. The automatic consistency checker will detect missing or erroneous biblical content and then propose viable replacements. It’ll also compare the language being translated to other similar languages, which will help to advance those related translation projects. These features will provide significant support for translation teams in honing their work.
HEADING FOR THE FINISH LINE
Many factors influence translation quality, and the Greek Room software will provide the necessary support needed to make sure that God’s Word is communicated clearly and effectively. As God continues to move Bible translation work forward, tools like Greek Room will help accelerate the journey so that all people can have Scripture in a language and format they clearly understand.