Revision: New words bring new meaning

“Languages change. The language you speak now is different than twenty years ago. The language will change again overthe next twenty years.” – National Tokples Conference participant.

The Ono New Testament had portions ofthe New Testament as early as 1980 andthe New Testament was completed in 1991.In 1999, Tom Phinnemore, part ofthe original translation projectoreturned tothe Ono language group becausethe community had a growing desire to seethe language ofthe Scriptures updated. The Bekesu Revival Church, working withPNG BeA and original Ono translators, startedthe revision which was completed in 2012. This process culminated with a celebration last month where over 4000 people attended. Local dignitaries and church lLeadershailedthe New Testament revision as easy to read and challengedthe Ono speakers to invest time in reading and studyingthe Scriptures. Atthe dedication ofthe revision it was noted, “Even thoughthe New Testament has been revised,the work doesn’t stop. The translation committee continues to work on portions ofthe Old Testamentoliteracy materials and a song book.”

Revision work requires individuals with an in-depth knowledge ofthe current language as well as a historical perspective of whatthe language was before. It also requires a proper understanding ofthe grammar, vocabulary and language structure ofthe language being revised. Recent developments in software have enabled computers to facilitate and acceleratethe process.

John Beuner, Translation Consultantonotes that “Revisions are a normal and necessary part ofthe language development process. As people from one language interact with each ther and people from ther languages, new ideas and concepts are introduced and this results in changes tothe language. This change over time createsthe need to periodically update written material.” Papua New Guineahas over 800 languages. Some languages, like Ono, are already benefitting fromthe revision process.

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