“‘We hear them declaring the mighty works of God in our own languages!’ They were all surprised and bewildered. Some asked each other, ‘What does this mean?’” (Acts 2:11-12)
So ‘what does it mean’, to hear information in one’s own language? It means someone cares!
A person’s mother-tongue, or first language, is the language that a person has learned from birth. It is the language of that person’s ethnic group. Hence, language is the basis for one’s identity.
Interestingly, Bangla-desh means “the land of Bangla”, Bangla being the language that the people here fought for freedom to speak.
Translation into mother-languages means we value the person and ethnic group. When a people group cannot understand another prominent language, they’re trapped. They suffer severe limitations in education and social interactions and jobs. So we with AOB work on 2 levels, translating materials into their mother-tongue and offering second-language education.
Translation also means that we value their language. We acknowledge that Almighty God is the Author of each language. So Cultural Research workers study the many languages of the districts in which we work. The workers help people develop scripts, literacy programs, and dictionaries. Alongside the Bangladesh government, AOB encourages multi-lingual education for tribal children.
Translation also means that we value the information enough that we will work hard to produce it in another language. Three AOB programs translate valuable resources: Media Production, Cultural Research, and the Literature Division.
Media Production searches for health films and audio-recordings that can address issues here. Cultural Research celebrates each language for its beauty; it enables Bangladeshis to develop reading books and oral stories in each language. Literature Division works alongside national authors so that they can hone their writing skills and produce helpful books.
In our translation process, we culturally adapt materials, with permission. Translators develop their skills under careful supervision. Translated literature is reviewed multiple times. Our teams use computer programs that also help with proof-reading, formatting, and printing.
Words: Written. Spoken. Heard. Read.
As we look back to the historic event of Pentecost, we thank God for the gift of understanding. But as we look at our current situation and into our future, we ask God for wisdom to liberate those limited by language and to enable them to use their languages for His glory.