Language in the Star Trek Universe
The amazing thing about the 23rd century is that when Captain Kirk shows up on a planet, the overwhelming majority speak English. Higher class aliens speak British English, and the really nefarious ones have Russian or German accents. Except tribbles. I’m not sure that they actually have language at all. I think they just trill or chirp or something (I mean, when they’re not busy multiplying).
When the Enterprise crew occasionally runs across a language other than English, they simply run it through the Universal Translator (some kind of device on the ship and every translators dream). It can translate any language. This computer program is so impressive that it could even translate completely unknown languages. Google translate has nothing on this thing. Without even C3PO to help, it gets it done.
Even Bones (Dr. McCoy) couldn’t compete with this level of technology. As he sometimes declares so eloquently, “I’m a doctor, not a miracle worker, Jim!” But this machine borders on the miraculous.
The reality in the 21st century is that there are still around 1600 languages needing a Bible translation. Hundreds of millions of people still live and die without one word of the Bible in their mother tongue. And there is no computer program that can translate the Bible. Translation can only be done by people, for people.
People may ask, “Why translate? Why not just teach them English?”
I understand why this question emerges. I mean, if there is an easier, faster way to do this and really help people connect with Scripture, let’s do it!
But have you ever actually tried to teach someone English? I have. Having worked as an English second language teacher, I can assure you that teaching millions of people English is not a quick or simple solution.
Besides, would you want to have to learn another language to read the Bible? How’s your high school Spanish or French?
Regardless, I think it’s best to show people that God speaks their language and cares about their people group by going to the trouble of translating God’s Word for them.
That is the vision and mission of Wycliffe Bible Translators. End Bible poverty. Help people connect with the Bible in their own language. It is more wonderful than a trip through outer space.
Next week: The Bible for Klingons