Scott and Lois Youngman went to Southeast Asia in 1987 and began studying the T* language in 1990. Translation work for the T people started in 1995. Because of visa considerations, they found it necessary to live outside the language area and make frequent trips carrying on their translation work.
The day-to-day task of translating the Scriptures was under the primary care of their colleague, Pastor B*, a T speaker gifted at understanding the intricacies of his language and translating Scriptural truths.
The team has now completed the New Testament and Genesis. While the Scriptures were being printed, Scott and Lois came to Orlando, Florida, and shared their story with our staff. Using examples from their translation work, Scott illustrated meaning-based, dynamic equivalent translation and explained how they handled divine familial terms**.
Over dinner at our home, Scott explained how he and the T team used ParaTExt*** software to maintain consistency in their translation of key terms. The program allowed them to input a draft of the text and check the draft against the original Greek and Hebrew texts, modern translations, and resource materials. Using its tools, they were able to determine the best choices for key terms, find inconsistencies, and quickly edit their document.
One of our other guests at dinner exclaimed, “Wow! Cheaper, faster, with no loss of quality!” (One of my favorite ways to describe Vision 2025 strategies for Bible translation; it’s also about faster and deeper engagement with the Scriptures. Reaching the last people group, and the last person in the last people group, with the truths of God’s Word and the life-changing message).
Without hesitation, Scott replied, “No, cheaper, faster, and better quality.” His experience validated the fact that computer technology is helping translators improve the quality of their translations.
In addition to improving quality, technology is also increasing the speed at which translations are completed, meaning that people groups without Scripture are gaining access to God’s Word and having the opportunity to engage with it more quickly than in years past.
At the dinner table, the conversation migrated to the use of mobile technology to enhance engagement. I tell people frequently that Dallas and I live in an area of Orlando that has very poor cell phone reception. When I travel to extremely remote parts of the globe, I generally get a better signal than I do here at my home in Orlando!
Scott laughed and said that nearly every T person has a mobile phone, and many are better than the simple “dumb” (his term) phone he uses. The expansion in numbers and quality of mobile phones in that area of the world is dramatic! Worldwide, in fact, there is a proliferation of mobile phones.
Our conversation moved to the creation of the Digital Bible Library—an ever-growing, secure yet accessible, collection of quality Bible translations,**** and what the availability of Bible text means to these remote communities.
Imagine what can happen when the T people are able to download an app containing the T Scriptures, or insert a mini-SD card containing all the T Scriptures into a slot on their phone. There are multiple audio and visual opportunities like the “JESUS” film now available. Everyone who wants to will soon be able to carry the T Scriptures with them, access them at will, and engage with them.
Cheaper, faster, better quality. God is permitting us to use these technologies to get Scripture into the hands of people in record time. More people with more access and opportunity to engage with Scripture than at any other time in history!
**Divine familial terms are, for example, “Son of God” and “God the Father.”
***ParaTExt and related tools are a collection of software programs developed jointly by the United Bible Societies and SIL International that allow translators to input, edit, check, and publish a translation of the Scriptures, based on the original texts (Greek, Hebrew), and modeled on versions in major languages.
****The Digital Bible Library™ (DBL) was the vision of Every Tribe Every Nation (ETEN)—a partnership of philanthropic donors, Wycliffe/The Seed Company/SIL, the United Bible Societies including the American Bible Society, and Biblica. Creators of websites and applications for mobile devices can download Bible texts from this library to provide the opportunity for people everywhere to experience the power of God’s Word in their heart language.
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