A spiral development model for Bible translations

(This post is really of interest for fellow translation folk.) More on this later, but here’s an animated diagram coming out of this thinking about Bible translation processes and this post pondering lessons from software engineering that could apply to Bible translation.
Spiral-Smallest
The thinking is that for any passage or book of scripture being tested, there’s generally a lead translator for that section who gets going with the translation. But they need a team of peers (similarly trained) to help them check and improve their work, before possibly getting advice or coaching from an outside consultant. It’s good to gather feedback at an early stage from the community through some kind of limited testing, all of which may lead the translator to revise their work again, take it back to the team, then meet with an external consultant for a more thorough assessment of their translation (including back translation if the consultant needs it). Then the translation reviewers need to consider whether they consider the translation acceptable for publishing, before the lead translator has a final opportunity to edit, and cross-check with peers and then a consultant (possibly a different one) comes to give a final pre-publication check. At this point it may be that the cycle needs to be repeated, possibly with more information gathered from the community (re-checking key biblical terms, working out literacy or linguistic matters, or testing comprehension) and so it’s entirely possible the revise, team-check, consultant cycle may repeat, until finally the translation is issued for general release.

One thought on “A spiral development model for Bible translations

  1. I really appreciate this David. The process is highly iterative. It’s not just one pass through and you’re done. Well, yes we hope that the next time around the spiral brings some new skills and knowledge, but it’s not always like that. What if it’s a whole new set of people? I hope this thinking gets incorporated into “standard” project plans. The software needs to allow us to go back as far as necessary on the next pass.

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