Why We Translate Into 10 Languages
The Philadelphia Church of God (pcg), publisher of the Trumpet, produces a television program, magazines, booklets, websites, videos, radio and other media, primarily in English. Its Bible prophecy-based commission is to publish a message about and principally directed toward the modern descendants of Israel. These descendants mostly speak English.
However, there are six times as many people on Earth who don’t speak English as a first or second language. The Church is making a strong effort to reach as many of these individuals as possible with a translations department that renders English-language media into 10 other languages.
The most remarkable part of this effort is that it is powered mainly by dozens of Church members scattered across four continents. These men and women volunteer their time after work hours, on weekends, or in retirement to take on the task of converting the original English into Afrikaans, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Norwegian, Portuguese, Spanish, Italian and now Hebrew.
This army of volunteers cheerfully shoulders the inherently tedious, detailed process of selecting words that retain the original meaning of the source text while reading as if produced by a native speaker.
The pcg’s first translations were produced in 1991, less than two years after the Church was incorporated. Many of these volunteers have contributed thousands of man-hours, and some have sacrificed their time for more than 25 years.
As of the end of 2017, the Church has approximately 2 million words available in its English literature library and approximately 7 million words in 250 pieces of literature in nine other languages. Staff members at the Church’s headquarters in Edmond, Oklahoma, print, pack and mail these materials around the world to those who have requested them, free of charge.
Over the past few years, the translations department increased the manpower and resources devoted toward this effort. It launched its first four websites in 2016 and added five more in 2017. It also brought one of its longtime volunteers on board full-time at headquarters to edit literature translations and manage the new websites. A graduate of Herbert W. Armstrong College also now serves on the staff to help produce foreign-language videos and provide German translations.
The department strives to produce one new post per business day for each of the Dutch, French, German and Spanish websites. It also offers YouTube channels in these languages, with an emphasis on producing Gerald Flurry’s Key of David program. Short videos are also available, some of which have been viewed tens of thousands of times.
Over the past year, the translations department has expanded its reach online. For Dutch, French and German, the department now maintains regular Facebook and Twitter feeds. It also offers e-mail newsletters in nine languages, advertises online in three languages, and is examining digital marketing strategies for all languages.
In the first 11 months of 2017, the department recorded 300,000 page views across its Dutch, French, German and Spanish websites and fulfilled online and in-print orders for 10,000 pieces of literature.
The translations department is excited by the growth it is experiencing. Our websites garner large surges in traffic during elections, terrorist attacks and other major world news developments. The department is now reaching larger numbers of people online than it did previously with print magazines.
But the goal for pcg translators will always be the same: to produce more words, more books, more booklets, more videos, more website posts, more social media updates, more e-mail newsletters and more advertisements—more Bible prophecy-based insights, warnings and hope, reaching more people. The goal of the publisher of the Trumpet will always be to reach the largest audience possible.
Edwin Trebels is the foreign language translation department manager at the Philadelphia Church of God regional office in Edstone, United Kingdom.