Bible Translation Technologists Improve Speed and Quality by Collaboration
Technology experts from all Bible translation organizations met last week at the 2016 Language Software Development (LSDev) Conference to share ideas and software assets.
What can be done to increase the velocity and quality of Bible translation? This question was discussed in Dallas last week by a group of over 100 technologists from all major Bible Translation organizations (SIL International, United Bible Societies, Wycliffe Associates, Biblica, Wycliffe USA, Unfolding Word, Faith Comes by Hearing, Seed Company, Pioneer Bible Translators, New Tribes, Global Bible Initiative, and others).
Attendees set aside organizational boundaries and collaboratively mapped out the current process, identifying the software, data, inputs/outputs, and participants, so they can create a more integrated solution that expedites the Bible translation process.
Bible translators have an enormous task. About 7,000 languages are spoken today, but the full Bible is available in just 554 of them. There are still over 1,700 languages with no known Scripture. While there are over 2,267 active translation projects trying to close this gap, at the current pace it will take well over 100 years to translate God's Word into every language.To a growing number of Christian technologists, this "Bible poverty" is not acceptable. They point to the Great Commission (Matt. 28:18-20) where Jesus gave us the task of making disciples of "every people group," and to Paul's challenge that, "...some have no knowledge of God--I say this to your shame." (1 Cor. 15:34) Their solution is to increase the technology collaboration between all their agencies.
"The revolutionary impact of technology on speed, accuracy and distribution have driven increased interest and investment in technical solution initiatives," said James Cunningham, Senior Director of IT at Wycliffe USA.
"God is removing barriers and increasing unity. I believe this new level of collaboration and vision for an integrated solution will further energize donors to get behind this important work."
For example, Computer Assisted Translation experts Damien Daspit (SIL), Christopher Klapp (WA), and Andi Wu (GBI) discovered an opportunity to accelerate their work significantly through collaboration. Damien presented a functioning prototype, Christopher (previously CTO of Sovee) is currently working on automatic alignment, and Andi contributed in-depth linguistic analysis of biblical data. All three technologists are excited by the prospect of joining forces to provide a more effective and efficient solution to the rest of the Bible Translation community. Cambell Prince (Associate Director, SIL Mainland Southeast Asia) observed that, like Peter stepping onto the water to walk to Jesus, we should all be willing to take risks and get out of our comfort zones to do greater good.