OurWord is Bible Translation software designed for national translators, who are translating the Scriptures into the world's minority languages, and who typically have not had significant computer experience.

We are coining the term "manual adaptation" to refer to OurWord's process. Software such as Carla and AdaptIt are implementations of "computer adaptation", where the computer replaces words from one language with words in the other language in order to produce an initial draft. With "manual adaptation" the translator still relies on the source language, but rather than receiving word-by-word suggestions from the computer, the translator crafts the translation himself. Thus he is able to address such things as resolving collocational clashes, deciding on appropriate idioms, etc.

We still call this process "adaptation," because of the heavy reliance on a source text. By using a good source text, many man-years are saved that would otherwise be spent on activities such as exegesis and decisions on how to represent concepts within the language family and culture. Adaptation plays a major role in most Seed Company projects.

Download the latest version at http://ourwordsoftware.org.

The OurWord User...

  • typically has little or no previous computer exposure, both in terms of software and hardware,
  • has limited electricity (either limited hours on the grid, or requires an alternative energy source such as solar),
  • has an adverse working environment (e.g., dusty, hot, and/or humid),
  • has limited connectivity with others (e.g., must take a bus for half a day to get to the nearest Internet.)

The OurWord Approach to these problems

  • Limited computer exposure: We are attempting to provide a very simple user interface that concentrates on the translation task; as opposed to providing software with multitudes of features. What features we do provide are configurable, so that the user can start with a very basic setup, and then have features turned on as he gains proficiency and confidence.
  • Limited electricity and harsh working environment: In addition to deploying OurWord on commonly-available laptops, OurWord is also targeting to run on the OLPC XO laptop. This is a low-power computer especially designed for hard conditions.
  • Limited connectivity: Part of this is to remove complicated, error prone activities (such as file management and settings configuration) so that it is more difficult for the user to get into a state where he cannot work (and thus needs help from a computer guru. Another part of this involves creative use of flash memory to transfer information between translator and advisor, whenever a courrier arrives to the village.

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