Spelling it out

Spelling long words

Most bible translation is into languages which do not have the resources that the developed world takes for granted. Their are few spellcheck programs for vernacular languages in the developing world. It is not unusual for English speakers to have difficulty spelling longer words in English. Wikipedia suggests http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Size_comparisons that the average word length on their English pages is only six letters. Many developing world vernacular languages have much longer average word lengths. 12 letters is not uncommon and some even have average word lengths of more than 20 letters.

Computer-based dictionaries for these languages are few, but BFBS is developing systems which can generate tables listing word stems and word forms automatically from a text. These tables can then be used to create lexica, which can in turn be used to check the spelling of other words in a text. This is an enormous help for translators. Instead of reviewing every word in their text for spelling accuracy, they can concentrate on far fewer words which do not appear to conform to the spelling rules found in the word tables.