Why Does It Take So Long?

By Tom Castor | September 6, 2021 |

In mid-August 2021, we were able to announce that the Arabic translation of our book, Travel Guide to the Bible, had finally been shipped to our partners. From the project’s inception to its completion, with accurately translated and professionally designed books in shipping, this project had taken a full 18 months.

With the common use of tools like Google Translate, those kind of numbers can puzzle the average reader. Why does something like this take so long when I can get my company newsletter into Russian in less than 30 minutes with SYSTRAN, Babel, or IBM Watson Translator?

I have struggled to provide good answers to that question. Either I get too technical or my answers just take too long. But – I finally found the help that I need.

In the May 1, 2020 issue of the Wycliffe Bible Translators online publication, Emily Lupfer wrote a wonderful article titled, “5 Reasons Why Google Can’t Translate the Bible.” In it, she does what I have not been able to do (but now, thanks to Emily, I can).

After a few introductory paragraphs, she sets out the premise of her article like this:

The work of Bible translation is complex, and it requires teams of passionate and talented individuals working through unique scenarios on a daily basis. Don’t just take my word for it, though! Here are five real-life reasons why human translators, not computer programs, are needed for clear, accurate and natural Bible translations.

She follows that introductions with five helpful subheads around which she shapes her argument.

1. How Complex Can One Word Be?

2. Wait, This Word Doesn’t Even Exist.

3. This Is Why We Edit.

4. Digging Around The Dictionary.

5. Verbs That Are More Detailed Than I’ll Ever Be.

And throughout the entire article, Emily cites clear illustrations from the work that she and Wycliffe Translators have done around the world in multiple languages. Even if you are not a linguist or a writer, you’ll find this piece both interesting and helpful.

So, if you are ever prone to ask me that “why does it take so long” question, expect me to send you the link.

Tom Castor

Thomas Castor, founder of Clear and Simple Media Group, is a seasoned writer and communicator who has been delivering content with clarity and simplicity for 30 years.