1. How long does it take to train a translation team?

Ideally, at least one week with reviewers present so that the team has enough practice in translation and checking. Training can be done in two days, but there should be follow-up sessions later to allow more practice.

2. How long does it take to translate the NT?

Usually 6 to 10 years to allow adequate time to check and revise the draft, assuming there is a team of native speakers trained to check and revise. It also assumes there is a consultant in touch with the project who can check the translation against the original language for accuracy.

3. How long does it take to translate the OT?

Usually 10 to 15 years to allow adequate time to check the OT and revise the NT after the OT is finished.

4. What is used as the base for translation?

Ideally, the Greek or Hebrew text. If that isn't possible, then a common language Bible version in a language which the translator knows well. In that case, the consultant's job will be to ensure the accuracy of the translated draft against the original language text.

5. What training do consultants need?

Training in Hebrew, Greek, Bible/theology, linguistics, translation theory and principles, as well as hands-on practice in an actual translation project.

6. What qualifications are required of consultants?

Previous translation training and experience, access to translation resources.

7. What qualifications are required of translators?

Salvation, spiritual discernment, evidence of a Spirit-filled life, good knowledge of the Bible and the culture of Bible lands and Bible times, hard worker able to do tedious work, willing to accept correction, desire to serve God through translation work. A translator must also be a native speaker of the target language and know the grammar and vocabulary of both the target and source languages. Training in basic linguistic theory and practice is desirable, but attending a translation workshop is essential.

8. What about unwritten languages?

Translation can be done in the oral language and recorded on audio cassettes. In order to produce written material, a team must reduce the language to writing and develop an orthography before it can start the translation process.

9. What about language groups with no believers to serve on a translation team?

People who have the linguistic qualifications and are hard workers can begin to translate, as WORD and its supporters pray for and aim toward leading these people to salvation.

10. How does WORD prioritize projects?

WORD must take many factors into consideration before prioritizing projects, such as the need for the project, availability of a consultant and qualified mother-tongue nationals, Field Council approval, and funding availability.

11. How do computers help in translation?

In some languages, computers can be used to do a rough draft of the translation, which later must be carefully checked and revised to be sure that the language is natural and conveys the proper meaning. If the target language uses Roman script for writing, or if there is a computer program for the script of a language which doesn't use Roman script, computers are wonderful tools for typing the drafts and making corrections, and for typesetting the finalized drafts. Computers are also helpful in preparing word lists and concordances even during the translation process. Most importantly, many software programs are available now which provide a variety of translator helps and interlinear checking possibilities.

12. How can WORD be sure of the translation's accuracy/quality?

By having its personnel train the translators and checkers, study written back-translations of the drafts, and spot-check passages with the translator and others on the translation team. Testing the draft with native speakers of the target language is another important means of ensuring the quality of the translation.

13. How many members are on a translation team?

There is no hard and fast rule for this, but perhaps the minimum would be one translator and at least three reviewers. Who are the mother-tongue speakers of the target language? The number can be much more than this if qualified people are available. There must also be a project coordinator who oversees the progress of the project even though he/she may not be directly involved in the translation work. The translation team will also include a speaker of the target language who is a mother-tongue speaker (or knows very well) the language of the base.

14. How much does a translation project cost?

This varies greatly from project to project, but one organization which directs translation projects in many language groups has set $10,000 as the minimum that must be on hand before the project can be started. One of the major expenses is the cost of printing.

15. Are only large people groups chosen for translation projects?

No, many projects are being carried on among people groups with fewer than 1000 speakers of a language. If possible, each person deserves the opportunity to read God's Word in his own heart language.

16. What are some good materials we can read to learn more about translation?

Most of the books about translation are fairly technical, but here are a few suggestions:
  • Mission Possible by Marilyn Laszlo with Luci Thomas - The wonderful story of a Wycliffe translator in the jungles of Papua New Guinea.
  • Chapter 13 on "Translation and Linguistics" in From Jerusalem to Irian Jaya by Ruth Tucker.
  • Translate to Communicate by Mary M.F. Massoud - A Guide for Translators, but non-technical and interesting. It has good insight into what is involved in setting up a translation project and translating.
  • Translating the Word of God by John Beekman and John Callow - A technical presentation of the principles of meaning-based translation and a good understanding of what Bible translation is all about.
  • Biographies of Bible translators, such as William Cameron Townsend of Wycliffe Bible Translators.

17. Why are literacy rates so low in third world countries and in the US?

In third world countries, many never have the opportunity to attend school. Those who do may learn to read the national or trade language rather than their own mother-tongue language. In the US, some pass through school without learning to read, while others quit school or attend sporadically. In all parts of the world, adults need classes and materials geared to them, not to children, to motivate and encourage them. Embarrassment or fear of failure keeps many adults from attending literacy classes.

18. How much does it cost to establish a literacy program? To keep it running?

Costs can be minimal, especially when teachers volunteer. Some expense is involved with the workshops to construct primers and to train, transport, house, and feed teachers as well as workshop participants. The greatest expense is usually the printing of primers and new-reader materials.

19. How can I help beyond praying?

Seek training to teach literacy classes wherever you live, whether in the US or overseas. A good source of training is Literacy and Evangelism International in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Search out those around you who cannot read and teach them! You can also financially support overseas literacy workers and programs through WORD Ministries.

20. How Can I request more information?

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