Recently Gary and Sam attended some meetings in Ukarumpa, in the Eastern Highlands province. Fred Madden, who works with The Seed Company, came to share about a different medium for doing translation. Oral Bible Translation allows the translators to translate exclusively in an oral manner.
Oral Bible Translation works like this. Initially translators discuss any key words, phrases, or concepts that could be difficult to understand or tricky to translate. Then they listen to a “chunk” of scripture such as a section of a story or a paragraph. When they feel comfortable that they understand the portion of scripture, they figure out how to say the section in their heart language. Speaking into a computer, they will then record the passage using some newly developed Render software that records all that is said. This is repeated until everyone is happy with the translation. Then it goes through a series of checks for accuracy and naturalness. When the team is satisfied that the rough draft is good, it then goes to a consultant who will also add his or her comments orally on the computer and the team can make the needed corrections.
After all the needed changes have been made and the translators and consultants feel it communicates clearly, the recordings can be finalized. When the recordings are ready, they can be placed on SD cards that can be inserted into mobile phones or use other electronic devices to listen to and engage with the translated scriptures.
As literacy rates are low in many of the language groups that SPES is engaging with, Oral Bible Translation seems like a good fit for at least some of these groups. This type of approach would allow more people who know and understand their language, but not necessarily know how to write it, to be involved in the work. It also has a better chance of being used by more people in more places. However, this approach involves potentially more people and therefore more costs. Pray for wisdom to know if this is the way we are to move forward.