by Eunice Messersmith – PBTPNG Branch Director
Seven indigenous translators, six men and one woman, of the Mum language group have been labouring for about ten years to translate the New Testament into their language. The first draft is nearly finished. It is difficult to describe what a daunting task this has been for these dedicated people who have made great sacrifices to bring the Word of God to their people in the language of their hearts.
As an example of the difficulties, consider that nearly all of the work of translation has to be done at night. The daytime is consumed by tending gardens and caring for their families. How do you do paperwork in the dark? Working by candlelight or the dim beam of a flashlight with nearly exhausted batteries for hours is not particularly good for the eyesight.
Each member of the translation team takes a portion of the New Testament and creates a handwritten first draft. These are studied and discussed in the village to review and improve the quality of the translation. From the handwritten draft, our usual practice is to have a Madang staff member type it into a computer file so that many readable copies can be produced. Then, some of the translators come together in Madang for a final checking of the first draft before it is returned to the village for checking sessions with larger groups of Mum speakers. For the last two weeks, five of the translators have been in Madang at our Translation Center to review the book of Matthew in preparation for its return to the village for checking.
Here is Paul, Kamilus and Daniel, three of the men who left their families and gardens to spend two weeks in Madang working on Matthew.
This process is followed for each of the books of the New Testament. There will be several consultant checking sessions also for each book before they are ready for publication. Those final checking sessions are conducted by our Translation Consultants who have specialized training in exegesis and linguistics. The amount effort that is poured into a translation is staggering. The need for it is obvious. Our goal is to help deliver God’s Word to the indigenous people of Papua New Guinea. This is work that requires patience, precision and love.
The Mum translation team and all of the people of the Mum language group look forward to the day when they will have the published New Testament in their language.