Wednesday, 12 December 2012
I am living a topsey turvy life when a spelling test is a fun community event and a checking party more closely resembles an exam. Labels can be so deceiving.
A checking party comes late in the Bible translation process. It is when the book is nearly ready for the printers, but needs a final check and edit for small details of formatting etc. At the checking party we were looking through thousands of pages checking for consistency. One thing I checked was that headings were consistent in format (bold, centered, no full stop). I crossed out a lot of fullstops in the interest of consistency. We were also checking cross referencing and abbreviations, which meant learning all the books of the Bible in a different language.
Each time we found an error, even something as small as a misplaced full stop, we circled it, put a red line through the whole page and put it in a separate pile. This pile then got returned to someone to enter all the corrections before publication. We checked the Bible book by book, criteria by criteria. As we finished a book and a criteria (ie page numbers are consecutive) we would initial the list to say it was complete.
Bible translation has stage after stage or working, checking, editing and progressing. This has to be one of the most finicky stages I’ve come across, but it is an essential one. A book with inconsistencies in presentation, page numbers out of order etc is not a well produced book. It is the small things like that which people notice and which lead them to ask if the big theological questions have been accurately dealt with or not. From my experience so far, I can say that each stage has numerous checks, and although I am sure a full stop or two escaped my attention, the big issues are the primary focus is and should be done well.
Although the checking party left me feeling a little cross eyed, it also left me feeling encouraged. Here is the fruit of years of work. Here is God’s word in a local PNG language. For me to give several hours to small details is a gift I’ll gladly give to the bigger picture of faith and discipleship. The real party, with singing, dancing, costumes, speeches and food will be when this book comes back from the printers and is dedicated among the people it speaks to.