Wycliffe Associates Develops New Tool for Translating the Bible for Speakers of Languages with No Written Form
(Orlando, Florida, USA)—Wycliffe Associates, an international organization involving people in the advancement of Bible translation, has developed a new tool that enables indigenous Bible translators to translate the Bible into languages that are only spoken and have no written form. Nearly 2,000 such languages are spoken today.
“There are entire massive populations of people who have totally, exclusively spoken languages,” says Bruce Smith, President and CEO of the Orlando-based Wycliffe Associates. “But Jesus died for them, just like He died for you and me. We can’t leave them behind. We’ve got to reach them—and we will.”
Wycliffe Associates has developed a new means of reaching those with exclusively spoken languages: a Bible Translation Recording Kit (BTRK), which national translators can use to translate the Bible using the Mobilized Assistance Supporting Translation (MAST) method. The kit facilitates Bible translation just as quickly for oral languages as it does for written ones.
MAST is a rapid-translation method in which groups of mother-tongue translators work together in parallel to translate books of the Bible while maintaining the highest levels of accuracy and quality.
Wycliffe Associates first tested the MAST method in 2014, when mother-tongue translators in Asia drafted 48 percent of the New Testament in their language in two weeks, compared to traditional translation methods, which can take 25 to 30 years for an entire New Testament.
The following year, Wycliffe Associates conducted 235 MAST workshops, where 66 new language translations were started and 169 existing translations were accelerated.
Each Bible Translation Recording Kit contains a computer tablet, special software, and recording equipment. Wycliffe Associates also provides training for using the kits.
“Our teams are committed to taking recording kits into the most remote areas to establish a foothold for the gospel, to lead people to Christ and ground them in the truth,” says Smith. “We know from our testing that this strategy is tremendously powerful.”
In the next 12 months, Wycliffe Associates hopes to provide at least 950 BTRKs at a cost of $500 each to national Bible translators of languages with no written form.
“These are storytelling cultures, listening cultures,” Smith says. “When they hear the Scriptures, they are hearing them in the language of their heart—the language they think in, the language they pray in, the language they dream in.”
The Bible Translation Recording Kits will be helpful to those with written languages as well. “Bible Translation Recording Kits also will help us reach countless millions of people who have a written language, but who can’t read,” says Smith. “In other words, this kit is a breakthrough of colossal proportions.”
About Wycliffe Associates
Organized in 1967 by friends of Bible translators, Wycliffe Associates empowers national Bible translators to provide God’s Word in their own language, partners with the local church to direct and guard translation work, harnessing their passion and desire for God’s Word, and engages people from all around the world to provide resources, technology, training, and support for Bible translation.
Because millions of people around the world still wait to read the Scriptures in the language of their heart, Wycliffe Associates is working as quickly as it can to see every verse of God’s Word translated into every tongue to speak to every heart. Last year, 6,279 Wycliffe Associates staff and volunteers worked to speed Bible translations in 75 countries.