Jehovah’s Witnesses are well-known for their translation work. By November 2014, we had translated the Bible into 125 languages and Bible-based literature into 742 languages. Our translation work also embraces video. As of January 2015, the video What Happens at a Kingdom Hall? was available in 398 languages, and the video Why Study the Bible? in 569 languages. Why and how was this accomplished?
In March 2014, the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses directed branch offices throughout the world to prepare audio content for videos in as many languages as possible in order to promote Bible study.
Translating a video requires several steps. First, the local translation team translates the script. Next, native speakers are selected for each voice in the video. Then, audio/video teams record audio in the translated language, edit the recording, and process any on-screen text. Finally, the audio, the text, and the video are combined to produce a finished file that can be uploaded to the website.
Some branches had recording studios and trained personnel to care for this work. What, though, about languages that are spoken and translated in remote locations?
Around the world, audio technicians with portable recording systems went to work. Using a microphone and a laptop computer with audio recording software, a technician would set up a temporary recording studio in an office, a Kingdom Hall, or a private home. People who spoke the native language served as readers, coaches, and checkers. When the recording was finished and approved, the audio technician packed up his equipment and moved on to the next location.
With this approach, videos were produced in three times as many languages as they had been previously.
The response to these videos has been outstanding. For many people, our videos are the first they have ever seen in their native language.
One of the languages recorded was Pitjantjatjara, spoken by more than 2,500 people in Australia. The language was recorded in Alice Springs in the Northern Territory. “The videos were received extremely well,” said Callan Thomas, who helped produce the audio recordings. “The locals were absolutely glued to the tablet and kept asking where they could find more of these videos. Literature in this language is rare. When they hear it—and especially see it—they are in awe.”
Two Witnesses in Cameroon were traveling upriver in a dugout canoe. They stopped at a Pygmy village and spoke with the chief, who was a teacher in a local school. After learning that the village chief spoke Bassa, the brothers used a tablet to play the video Why Study the Bible? for him in his native language. The chief was greatly impressed and requested some printed literature.
In a village in Indonesia, the local religious leader opposes Jehovah’s Witnesses, and he burned all the literature that they had distributed in the area. Others in the village threatened to burn down the Kingdom Hall. Afterward, four policemen went to the house of a Witness and interrogated her and her family. They wanted to know what goes on inside the Kingdom Hall, so she showed them the video What Happens at a Kingdom Hall? in Indonesian.
After watching the video, one of the policemen commented: “Now I see that people misunderstand you and do not really know about you.” Another policeman asked: “Can I have this video so that I can show it to others? This video gives the correct information about you.” The police now have a positive view of the Witnesses and provide protection for them.
If you haven’t yet seen these videos, why not watch them in your own language?