You’re looking at a draft of the translation of the book of Ruth in the Mono language. I’d say it’s about half-way through the translation process. A lot has happened to get to that point, and a lot has yet to be done.
How the Bible gets from it’s original languages (Hebrew and Greek) into another language is a process that involves many people and lots of checks and revisions. You can see a slide show of the process here.
Here’s a little about what’s happening in the Mono project:
The Mono Bible translation project, like many translation projects, began by the request of Christians in the Mono language community. For a few years, some foreigners came to live in the community. They helped to develop an alphabet and documented the sounds, grammar and structure of the language. They left after just three years because of the war in the area.
The community did not lose hope and continued to pray that God would help them to have the Bible in their language. Several years later, Gaspard and Marie Yalemoto were selected by their community to continue the project. They went to Bible college and seminary to receive training in theology, linguistics and translation principles.
They joined ACOTBA-SUBO, the local Bible translation organization in this area. ACOTBA-SUBO provides infrastructure for resourcing Bible translation projects and accountability for the people involved in each project.
The five member Mono translation team does much of their translation work at the ACOTBA-SUBO office in Gemena, DRC. The team is lead by Pastor Gaspard Yalemoto. It also has two full-time translators (including Marie Yalemoto) and one person who helps to type the text into the computer. All of the team members are mother-tongue speakers of Mono, and the team members involved in translating the text have all received training in Bible translation principles.
Special computer software provides the team with exegetical and linguistic helps and makes drafting and revising the text simpler.
The Mono language community is estimated to have about 100,000 people. Several of the main villages have a translation committee. These committees play an important role in general promotion of their language including encouraging literacy classes and the use of available scriptures.
But, a very important part of their job is to coordinate the testing of each passage of scripture as it is translated. The testing process involves seeing how well people comprehend the meaning of the passage. If something is unclear or misunderstood, they offer suggestions to the translation team in Gemena for how to correct it or make it clearer.
Testing is done with a cross-section of people from the community including pastors and church members from different denominations, men and women, young and old.
The translation committee in Bili is distinct from the others. Bili is considered by the Mono language community to be the linguistic center of their language, or the place where the purest form of Mono is spoken. Sometimes important key terms can be challenging to translate and the translation committees may have differing opinions as to how to advise the translation team. When this happens, the opinion of the committee in Bili carries the most weight in how to advise the translation team. With feedback from the translation committees, the translation team makes revisions to the text.
Another part of the checking process is for the translated passages to be checked by a translation consultant. Consultants have advanced training in theology, linguistics, and biblical languages. They also must have previous experience in a Bible translation project. Consultants ensure that what is translated is accurate to the meaning of the source languages (Greek and Hebrew). After consultant checks, translation teams have more revisions to do, and more testing.
Goma is one of the ACOTBA-SUBO staff that is completing training to be a full-time Bible translation consultant. When he completes the program, he’ll serve as the primary consultant for ACOTBA-SUBO translation projects, including the Mono project.
Some scripture is already available in Mono. Mark 10 was read in Mono in the church we visited in Bili. I loved seeing this man’s smiling face as he heard God’s word in his own language.