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Clickbait Old Testament — thanks to Wrong Hands September 30, 2016

Posted by P, J, or J in Uncategorized.
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via clickbait Old Testament — Wrong Hands

Not only do I like many of John’s cartoons I like his Creative Commons license that explains how you can use them in your own blog or presentation as well as just hitting share of facebook. See https://wronghands1.com/about/

More on the joys of copyright, licenses, and clear labeling from me later.

Celebrating 1000 (and 3000) languages with scripture August 23, 2016

Posted by P, J, or J in Bible Translation, Statistics.
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You Version have just sent an email declaring that “The Bible App is the first app in history to offer 1000-languages-email text content in 1,000 languages!” …which makes a good headline even for those not impressed by the fact that scripture is available in an app in so many languages.

I’d mentioned in an earlier post that Faith Comes By Hearing was approaching the same milestone of having audio scriptures available in 1000 languages.

I also said that 2016 would be the year that marked publication of at least a portion of scripture into the 3000th language. This week I may learn whether that has already happened. Of course publishing scripture doesn’t always mean people know it exists even for those that are online. Often announcements on the facebook pages of YouVersion and Faith Comes By Hearing are met by requests from people wanting to see scripture available in their language only to be told that it already is.

Translation and publishing are vital steps towards promotion, distribution, and engagement with scriptures.

Meanwhile, far too many people are still in that ‘small’ percentage of the world’s population who still have no published portions of the Bible in their language. Many have translation work in progress, some communities have decided for themselves that they can access what they need in another language, but many still don’t even know what they are missing

…and too many of us don’t appreciate what it is we have!

Late News: Life of Jesus in 34 languages June 22, 2016

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The two million copy of the Life of Jesus, a 16-page four-color picture script booklet rolled off the presses of the David C. Cook Publishing Co., In Elgin, Ill., last September.*
Highlands of the Life of Christ are told pictorially in the booklet adapted from Sunday Pix, Cook’s weekly Sunday School take-home paper for youngpeople. The latest order—for 300,000 English copies was printed for the Assemblies of God Mission for door–to door–evangelism in Nigeria. To date this mission has used 600,000, copies of the booklets.To date the Life of Jesus has been translated into 34 languages including Dani, Enga, Huli, Pidgin English, Police Motu, Wahgi, and Wala. Additional language translations are underway.”
*Interlit, December 1966

sojappAs I said this is late news – something I found in an archive from 50 years ago.

Newer comic books telling the story of Jesus have in many places replaced the 1960’s version and have been printed in many more languages, but for too many people any news of “The Life of Jesus” is still new.
Translation and publication of scripture and scripture based resources is obviously an important part of getting the message out, but so is letting people know about the existence of materials.

One public site that attempts to list and link to translations of the Bible is https://find.bible/ (also linked to from http://wycliffe.net/ where stories of work in languages around the world are acompanied by details of available scripture). Find.bible are doing a great job but still don’t have links for translations all 3000+ languages in which something has been published.

I have the privilege of working with another group who are looking at creating an index of some of the other scripture products in current use. More on that in months to come.


Picture of “Life Of Jesus”, David C Cook Foundation Paperback, 1964, Iva Holt, Andre Le Blanc at https://www.ebluejay.com/ads/item/5700237

Why the chicken crossed the road… June 3, 2016

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Is this church real? Is the church real? This will answer at least one of those questions for you. You can also learn why the chicken crossed the road …and what he found there!
You may have seen the photo on the left tagged as “Church of the confused Chicken”. It’s been retweeted over  9000 times in the last three years. At 4000 beetweeted someone checked it out.


Is the church that looks like a Chicken real? Apparently so, and the link provides you with the church’s website and a street view picture.

Meanwhile in Indonesia I also found http://www.thisiscolossal.com/…/indonesian-chicken-church/

I’d love to know a bit more about this Indonesian church. Who built it? Why? What caused it to be abandoned? So far my curiosity hasn’t taken me any deeper but in this hi-tech super connected world it wouldn’t take much googling to learn more.


This week we’ve been on holiday and visited the island of Skomer where we got to see and photograph puffins. Sometimes live is better than Google.
Here’s the photographic evidence that we were there.1-IMG_2937

(Some of you know us and like to know what we’re up to.) Of course you may have clicked the link to this blog post simply because you liked the chicken picture. It’s funny, and you might have wondered if it was real?

While you’re here I could tell you about  and how I stumbled on the Indonesian one while using google image search for the first. (lots of added value in knowing what that cool feature can do)

Perhaps I could get you to stop and think about the difference between the two buildings, one apparently unintentionally chicken-like , one deliberate symbolism (but it’s meant to be a dove).

I could use it for a brief message hey, you know a lot of people only stopped to see what Jesus was doing because they were curious but they stuck around and found something amazing.

When I was nine I stopped going to church. When I was 20 I got curious again, some of my friends believed in that stuff and seemed to have found something meaningful. It shouldn’t have been but it was a bit nerve wracking walking into a church building by myself for the first time.

Most of the regular visitors to this blog are Christians but if you’ve never voluntarily been though the doors of a church building, or at least not the ones you’ve walked past recently why not give it a try. Don’t be chicken, some of those buildings are a bit empty and neglected but others are alive with people who once took that step themselves.


Audio Bibles in 1000 languages April 29, 2016

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Bible Resources: how to find and how to share them

In January Faith Comes by hearing announced the release of audio Bibles in 9 more languages along with that was the realization that 2016 will be the year that they reach 1000 languages.

2016 will also be the year when at least one book of scripture will have been translated in 3000 of the 7000 languages used on earth.


Pray for Faith Comes By Hearing and others working to translate and distribute scripture.

Join them when they celebrate releasing scripture in the 1000th language.

and start praying for the 2000th, 3000th and 4000th!

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How to find Gospels in Greenlandic …and why it matters April 18, 2016

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Just because a Bible is translated it doesn’t always mean people know it exists or where to find it. Just because you put it on the web, or even in a phone app, doesn’t mean that people will stumble across it.

GreenlandicPart of my job involves “Digital Engagement” which means, among other things, that I help people who translate or publish Bibles ensure that others will find and connect with the scriptures.

Greenlandic isn’t a language I’ve been asked to help with but I hope the few people who now read this blog post in Greenland knew that the translation of the Bible that the Danish Bible Society published in 1999 can be found online at http://old.bibelselskabet.dk/grobib/web/bibelen.htm and I’m hoping it is soon available on their phones too if it’s not already. (I know a few people who could help with that.)

I found it via https://find.bible/languages/kal/# but I also found mention of it on Wikipedia from where I grabbed the text for John 3:16 and googled, thus finding the picture below on facebook

There are lots of places that people can find information and lots of ways that people can use social media to let people know about the cool things they find.

find.biblehttps://find.bible is a great website for finding Bibles but their assumption is that it will still usually be people who point others to the scriptures. The site has been around in an earlier form for the last ten years. Did you know it existed? Have you told anyone?

Does it list Bibles you didn’t know about in languages that you or friends of yours speak?  (Do you know about any that aren’t yet listed)?

Scripture Speech Search April 13, 2016

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–six stages towards the not yet possible


Peter Brassington , April 12, 2016

Speech recognition already exists for several major languages converting audio to text and then searching for the text. I was not aware that anyone has yet built this into a Bible app but within 1-5 years I expect 60-80% of the planet to be able to search their text or audio Bibles just by asking “OK Bible where does it say…” or “what does the Bible say about…”.

Speech recognition for minority languages may take another couple of years but I fully expect audio materials to be searchable by voice, so that languages may be fully searchable in digital media without needing to be written.

A new addition to Scripture App Builder allows for rapid automated comparison of text to recorded speech so that text can be highlighted along with an audio Bible.

My simplistic understanding is:

  • Text is converted to machine generated audio (not good quality text to speech but good enough for the next task)
  • The machine generated audio is compared to recorded audio Bible
  • Original text can then be matched phrase by phrase to the audio Bible

So my question was. Can a similar process be used to allow the users speech to be compared to the audio Bible and used to find passages or references?

And can data used in the text to speech and audio comparison be used to create ‘profiles’ with which to easily do the same with other text and audio books, allowing further applications to be developed and increasing the amount of data for a language.

Perhaps that’s not quite so easy yet, but here are some other things that are happening now.


Which of these are already happening or are currently possible but not yet widely implemented

Stage 1: Phone app learns to distinguish up to six separate commands

Eg prerecorded audio says (in target language). “Please say RUN”, records and compares user saying “RUN” and is able to distinguish that from other recorded/compared commands. Picking words in the target language that sound sufficiently different to each other this was possible to a degree with speech recognition software in the 1980’s running on machines with less than 64Kb of memory.


  • Simple games eg commanding a donkey to walk along a track and do simple tasks (slower reaction needed than for a racing game).
  • Navigation through a menu to locate a passage in the Bible. Similar to working through a phone menu
  • Responding to multi-choice audio quiz


Stage 2: User repeats phrases and phone extracts keywords. Audio samples are reduced to simple digital form for fuzzy matching. Rather than a match for the whole phrase app builds up a library of 20-100 words or distinguishable phonemes. Comparison may be based on probability

Uses: search of a collection of stories/scenes.

Eg after a scene the audio prompt says “if you want to find this scene again say ,‘JESUS CALMS THE STORM’ please say now ‘JESUS CALMS THE STORM’

Assuming you used some of the small selection of words to be compared perhaps the app decides there is an 85% probability you said “Jesus”, 40% probability you said “calms”, 58% probability you said “storm”. Given the combination from the 50 scenes/stories  available in our collection you want the one labeled “Jesus Calms the Storm”

Stage 3: Collect and crowdsource data from apps 1&2. Is their sufficient similarity not to need to ask user to supply their own initial recording, unless it needs to clarify, “did you say…”
Uses: stronger sense that phone ‘understands’ a few words of you language. Ground laid for gathering more data for larger recognizable vocabulary.

Stage 4: Crowdsourced larger library of words and phrases through activities that require users to repeat phrases.

Uses: Audio Quizzes / Story Memorization eg “What happened to the blind man? Either say ‘JESUS TOLD HIM HE WAS CURSED’ or ‘JESUS HEALED THE BLIND MAN’”

If include geographic data does variation help to map different dialects and regional variation?

Stage 5: Significant database of keywords allow search of larger content set, eg seach through 50-500 scenes based on probability of key words (without the need for the user to record them after each one as in stage 2)

Stage 6:  With future advances in Google voice technology over the next five years how many searches from how many speakers will it take for it be possible to search for audio content in the language from the entire audio Bible, or even on the public internet?


30 years ago 16 and 48K computers could be taught to understand speech (badly)

Some of this may not be possible yet but how likely did it seem back in the 1980’s that your phone would be a powerful computer or that the first speech recognition software would lead to being able to ask your phone all the things you can ask now.

How many of these ideas are already reality? How long until the next 1000 minority languages can make use of such technology?

Happy màthair cànan latha (Mother Language Day) February 21, 2016

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Ann an 2006, Google thoirt a-steach inneal ionnsachaidh stèidhichte air eadar-theangachadh eadar Beurla agus Arabais, Sìonach is Ruiseanach. Deich bliadhna an dèidh sin, tha iad a ‘tabhann 103 cànanan a tha iad a’ cumail a-mach a ‘còmhdach 99% den àireamh-sluaigh air-loidhne. agus a-nis airson an fheadhainn aig nach eil a ‘bruidhinn Gàidhlig seo a’ Bheurla. In 2006, Google introduced machine learning-based translations between English and Arabic, Chinese and Russian. Ten years later, they offer 103 languages that they claim cover 99% of the online population. and now for those who don’t speak Scots Gaelic here’s the English.

 Just in time for International Mother Language day 2016 Google added 13 more languagesnew-languages-animation to Google translate. These are Amharic, Corsican, Frisian, Kyrgyz, Hawaiian, Kurdish (Kurmanji), Luxembourgish, Samoan, Scots Gaelic, Shona, Sindhi, Pashto and Xhosa. As with previous translation results are likely to vary considerably between language pairs.

Find out more at the Google Translate Blog which gives a few insights into how machine translation is possible. This includes “the basic criteria that it must be a written language, we also need a significant amount of translations in the new language to be available on the web”.

Of course, as regular readers of this blog may already know, as many as half the world’s 7000 languages are not yet in any kind of standard written form, and many others that have been written down aren’t used widely on the web. Over 900 languages now have at least some part of the Bible online via YouVersion.com and other partners in the Digital Bible Library. Some have there own growing wikipedias. Some have virtually nothing.

That can change. Technology is sometimes part of the barrier and can be part of the solution but a greater barrier is often one of attitude. So often people have been told that there traditional language has no place in the modern world, but attitudes are shifting. The UN and UNESCO have been promoting International Mother Language day since 2000. Depending where in the world you are you may (or may not) have spotted references in national media as well as responses from major corporations such as Google. So in another 10 years will Google be offering some degree of translation between a 1000+ commonly used languages on the web? Will YouVersion be able to offer scripture in 3-5000 languages?

Will I still be tracking data on such things? Stay tuned. Read a few more things on this blog about our part in the world of languages and Bible translation. Thanks for reading.

…or as they say in Scot’s Gaelic (if Google translate has got it right):

“Taing airson leughadh!”

mld2016 infographic header

Part of Unesco’s Mother Language Day infographic click here for the full graphic and lots more

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