We have been on the road since September 9 on a very focused ministry tour. Our flagship translation software, Paratext, is getting ready to release a new version that solves some very important problems for Bible translation teams. Of the 2,217 active language development programs globally, the vast majority are using Paratext for Bible translation. My (Doug’s) Language Technology department at SIL together with the United Bible Societies have the enormous task of training all those teams and seeing that their data is migrated to the new version.
The first step we took was in organizing a workshop in Chiang Mai, Thailand to train our best Paratext support people from around the world. Things were a bit tense leading up to the workshop when the new software was delayed. We acquired it just days before the workshop, nonetheless, we experienced God’s blessing and the training went very smoothly. The participants were enthusiastic about the new features and were up to the challenge of going back to train the translators in their respective countries. We were happy that we could inspire some pride in their role as trainers by supplying them with special logoed Paratext shirts that we brought with from the US.
Here’s a look at just two of the features I get excited about when I’m training people:
- Access to many more resource Bibles. Paratext can now access and download
- resources from the Digital Bible Library which holds an amazing 1,432 Scripture texts in 1,112 unique languages. The rights holders are granting permission for many of those texts to be freely used by Bible translators, to support them as they work in new languages.
- Project planning. From start to finish, every chapter of every book in the Bible goes through somewhere between forty to sixty steps. From exegesis to drafting, to checking biblical terms, to adding footnotes, spellchecking, and the list goes on. In a translation team, the members must coordinate who does what and when. Steps got skipped and delays ensue when the tasks aren’t clearly assigned. So now Paratext has a built-in checklist allowing tasks to be assigned to different people on the team. When“Hamza” finishes drafting chapter two, he checks it off, which notifies“Aya” that she can start proof-reading. Not only does it help the translators stay on target, but it helps the administrators to see progress and more accurately predicts the time it takes to complete the project.
What do you think?
Is this worth getting excited about? We pray our trainers do. Then the answer to training all these teams globally is to keep training trainers. Currently, we are in Singapore, doing a similar training event with the United Bible Societies. After that, the final training on this tour takes place in Burkina Faso in French from November 28 - December 2. After that, we anticipate the trainers taking over, and we can focus our efforts more on making materials that support them in their work.
Thank You and an Invite to Follow Us
We appreciate your faithful interest and support of our nomadic global ministry. We are partnering to enable God's Word to be accessible in all languages. During our ministry tours, we enjoy sharing glimpses into our ministry work using social media sites. Please feel free to find us on Facebook or Twitter, friend us and follow along on this journey.
Partners in the Gospel, (Phil 1:5)
Doug & P.J. Higby
Praise for good health and safety during this extended ministry tour.
Praise for a successful workshop in Thailand.
Pray for the distribution of the audio New Testament. Partners need to be identified and audio devices need to be sent over.
Pray for Doug as he teaches at the global workshops in Singapore and Burkina Faso to train trainers in the new version of the Paratext translation software.
Pray for P.J. as she works through issues in publishing the Applied Linguistics ebook.
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Doug & Priscilla Higby are missionaries with Wycliffe Bible Translators. Doug is the International Coordinator for Language Technology Use, and Priscilla is serving as E-Pub Manager with SIL International.