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Bible Translators look out! Taking translation resources to the next level.

November 2019

Dear Friends,

From October 18-22, over 500 Bible translators, consultants, and scholars from all over the world got together at the SIL center in Dallas, Texas for the biennial Bible Translation Conference.  When such an event happens, my (Doug's) department settles in like bees on lavender. Our mission is to harness technology to expedite the translation of God’s Word.  Where Bible translators are gathered, we have an opportunity to do just that. So for the first day of the conference, the software developers planned the release of Paratext 9 with some amazing new features for Bible translators.

The set of resources for Bible translators keeps growing, and as of this moment, we have 1,446 translations as reference texts!  Bible translators from developing countries who haven't had training in Greek and Hebrew rely heavily on these in a language they understand.  While that may seem OK, have you ever played the telephone game?  As a phrase is communicated from one person to another to another, it gets distorted.  And that game is usually played without any translation—by speakers of the same language. Add a different language into the mix and things would really get interesting.  In the same way, translating the New Testament from Greek to Spanish to a third language is going to introduce some errors that we can only hope will later be discovered and corrected.  Rather than to accept this reality, my colleague Reinier de Blois (American Bible Society) pioneered a solution called “Enhanced Resources”.  Both he and I presented it at the BT Conference.

Let’s say a translator who understands French is translating from a French Bible into their mother tongue. The Enhanced Resource links the words to the original Greek text so that when the translator looks at the word “justice” in 2 Thes 1:8 (in the screenshot below), the lower pane of the window shows the Greek word and explains the meaning to be "punishment" in that context.  Looking up “justice” in a French dictionary would show quite a different meaning! Why? Just like the message in the telephone game, the French dictionary doesn’t understand the nuances of the Greek word or the context. And so, without the help of the enhanced resource, the translator would have trouble producing an accurate translation.

Not only available in French, today we also have them in Portuguese, Chinese, English, Spanish, and Tok Pisin.  Work is ongoing to translate these resources in more languages, and we are excited about the global impact this will have on Bible translation. My team is preparing training videos to show translators how to use these resources well.

Speaking of resources for translators, P.J. has been asked to supervise SIL’s academic publications department.  The department is transitioning to an XML publishing process, whereby the same files are used for both print and digital publications—saving a lot of time by not duplicating efforts for both formats.  In early December, we'll be in Texas for her to attend a week of training to further hone her skill set in this process.

As always, we appreciate your partnership as we reach the Bibleless people together!

Partners in the Gospel,    (Phil 1:5)

Doug & P.J. Higby

Prayer & Praise

  • As of this writing, Doug is in Cameroon at a language technology workshop.  
  • Praise God for the release of Paratext 9 (Bible translation software) and the "Enhanced Resources".  Pray for translators around the world using these tools in their projects.  May they be encouraged in their work!
  • Doug's Language Technology Department has an exciting opportunity to present at a three-day international conference at UNESCO as part of the 2019 | International Year of Indigenous Languages. Pray for the team as they travel to France and present on such an international platform!
Your gifts enable the Higbys' continued ministry with Wycliffe.
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    • Payable to: "Wycliffe Bible Translators"
      with the memo: "Doug & Priscilla Higby"
      Mail to: Wycliffe Bible Translators, P.O. Box 628200, Orlando FL 32862-8200

Doug & Priscilla Higby are missionaries with Wycliffe Bible Translators. Both are serving SIL International: Doug is the International Coordinator for Language Technology Use, and Priscilla is supervising academic publications.

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