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Rebuilding Babel – three tools for translating text

Now the whole world had one language and a common speech…Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves and not be scattered over the face of the whole earth.” But the LORD came down to see the city and the tower that the men were building. The LORD said, “If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.” So the LORD scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city. That is why it was called Babel —because there the LORD confused the language of the whole world. From there the LORD scattered them over the face of the whole earth. Genesis 11

The place was named Babel because that was where God dismantled our common language, and now with tools of the same name, we are reversing this action.

Babel Fish from Yahoo! was the first online translation tool that I heard of – allowing you to type in text or a web address, and the ‘to’ and ‘from’ languages, and bingo – your text or web page is translated into a language you can understand.

Google offers a similar tool with Google Translate, that offers four times the number of languages to translate to and from. Both Google and Yahoo! also provide free tools to translate your website into other languages. This means that your website can be intelligible to people to who don’t speak your language. Think of the possibilities, for example, for church websites in regions of Sydney where a wide variety of languages are spoken. was developed by “to communicate with people around the globe…everyone from international church partners to individuals attending our Church Online.” They’ve made this tool available for free. allows users to ‘chat’ (using text) online with people who don’t speak your language. 45 languages are supported (it appears, using the technology of Google Translate), and as you and your conversation partners type, your words are translated. Pretty nifty, don’t you think?

Imagine the possibilities here for mission – a family is preparing to do mission work in France, but their French is still very basic. They’d like to get to know the people they’ll be working alongside, so they have a conversation online, without the need to invite along a translator.

Can you think of any other ministry opportunities for these Babel-reversing tools?

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