SIL – A Modernized Mission?

     A couple of years ago, I had the wonderful opportunity to go to Seattle’s Missions Fest. While there, one thing that stood out to me was SIL’s suite of groundbreaking software.

     Knowing a little about SIL might be helpful;¬†founded in 1934, SIL (originally known as the Summer Institute of Linguistics, Inc.) is basically¬†a group of passionate christian linguists who have come together to organize the translation of the Bible and other books into languages that have no written language and that have often never even been translated before.

Early SIL

     The most impressive piece of software to come out of SIL is SayMore, which has been instrumental in archiving voice samples of new languages and converting them into either a desired established language or entirely new written language.

     One of the innovations I found interesting was the software’s ability to automatically detect when a complete thought was convened and segment the recordings based on those parts. And one of the features they like to point out is that the recording process is designed so that native people who may never have seen a computer can quickly pickup how to enter new pieces of speech, taking a huge load off of the linguists themselves; which means a lot more time to actually transcribe between the languages and get new pieces of media into their hands.

     The other piece of software they have a hand in is ScriptSource, which is a hub for translating books and other media into other languages, especially those that are more obscure.

     In conclusion, while they certainly aren’t Google or Apple, their innovations in language recognition and translation is of significant benefit to missions around the world. There’s not much if anything I can say against them, they’re passionately pursuing isolated peoples and helping to bring the word to them.

     Sorry this post was so short, SIL is just the company that comes to mind first for me after getting to meet some of their representatives in person and getting to see just how passionate they are about bringing language ideas to these remote cultures.

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