Multilingual Computing

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Computer support in Europe means needing to navigate operating systems in different languages – at least 14 of them!  That’s how many languages are used by the Wycliffe Global Alliance organizations in Europe supported by the IT team Jeff is on.

He’s had to learn a few translation hacks to work on computers across the continent.

  • Google Translate: This is an obvious one.  While Google translate usually isn’t a great tool for translating complicated texts, it does fairly well with operating system terms like “start”, “menu”, “continue”, and the like.  And, it also helps with simple text conversations with users who need computer help.
  • Word Lens: This is the program Jeff is using in the photo.  Using the camera on your phone, Word Lens will translate the text on your screen in real time.  It’s not perfect, but good for the simple stuff. This has recently been incorporated into the Google Translate app.
  • Google Chrome web browser: Translation is one of the built in features of this web browsing application. Again, if you expect a rough translation, it can be fairly useful to help you get the gist of things you may need to view in other languages on websites.

These tools are great when you are working in languages that have software written for them.  But, for the many small language communities where Wycliffe works translating the Bible, these tools simply wouldn’t work.  That’s because the Bible may be the first piece of literature these communities have ever had in their own language.

Along with the translation of the Bible, many communities will work on dictionaries, writing down their history, folk tales, poetry, medical or farming information, educational curriculum and more.  As a matter of fact, the more literature a community has in their language,  the more likely literacy is to take hold in a community. Who knows – someday, some of these communities may have their own translation of the Windows operating system, too!

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