Language Software 2016-11-10T11:59:59+00:00

Language Software

Language software applications help speed up and create quality translations. From the initial creation of an alphabet and grammar description (if both are needed) to compiling dictionaries and cultural documentation, to doing the actual Bible translation and formatting for printing—there’s a software program for each process!

One example is FieldWorks, a complex software suite containing multiple tools. Another is WeSay, a simpler program that enables non-linguists to build a dictionary in their own language. It guides users to think about the words in their language, compile lists, and define them. As a result, this process helps translators greatly.

Staff develop language software in C#, C++, and .NET. They use Visual Studio for the development environment and Mono to port .Net applications to the Linux Ubuntu platform. Also, XML and XSLTs are foundational to several import and export mechanisms and in formatting data for display.

Technological advances such as “distributed version control systems” enable large translation teams who are separated geographically to work together in collaborative ways—with or without the Internet—thanks to USB flash drives or local networks.

Staff test each software program thoroughly so that the translators receive software that will work correctly and smoothly. In addition, they create help files and make these accessible for when Internet is not available.

Training materials are designed to be visually friendly, using arrows to direct each step, so that those with limited English are able to learn the software on their own as well as with an instructor.

Five area language technology coordinators trained in new software and updates cover the various parts of the world where Bible translation is underway. They ensure that the language teams in their areas are trained in the new software. The goal is to identify and train at least one language technology consultant for each country.

Tonal Understanding

One translator in Southeast Asia reported that he didn’t understand why a formerly friendly village chief had become hostile. Later, after receiving and using Speech Analyzer software, he discovered the language he was learning was tonal. He thought back to when his relationship with the chief went sour and realized his mistake.

He meant to say, “I’m going away for two weeks, and I’m taking my wife with me.” Instead, he told the chief, “I’m going away for two weeks, and I’m taking your wife with me.” A little change in pitch or tone can make a huge difference!

Adapt It

After the translation of Scripture into one language, people can open it in a software program called Adapt It. A local translator who understands the language of the translation and speaks another language needing a translation can then proceed.

Using Adapt It, a translator can translate the text into another closely related language, or an unrelated language that has a similar grammar.

The translator decides how to express the text in the target language, typing in the needed words and phrases. As the translator works, Adapt It learns and intuitively inserts words and phrases, which the translator corrects, if needed. As a result, this greatly reduces his or her typing load and productivity increases daily.