Paving the path

Duncan Kasokason finished translating the New Testament in Ubir, his own language, in 1997. In a world of expatriate consultants only, both Duncan and the Papua New Guinea Bible Translation Association (BTA) saw the need to train local consultants for even better translation and sustainability. Now, after pioneering local consultancy, he desires to help train fellow translators.

More than half of PNG’s 820 languages still do not have a single verse of Scripture, making it one of the top countries of greatest need for Bible translation.

Clearing the Bush

To Duncan, the pathway to becoming the first BTA consultant was like clearing the bush. At that time, SIL assigned consultants to help BTA, but no formal consultant training was in place for locals. Instead, Duncan attended a Beginners Translation Workshop, where he observed how consultants did checking. Although asking questions and pointing out problems to the experienced consultants was acceptable, it was not comfortable for a local trainee like him.

Photo by Ling Lam

“I felt I was incompetent because I was lacking sufficient skills, knowledge and ability,” Duncan says. And he could not ask further because he was not trained in biblical Greek.

This experience prompted Duncan to request formal consultant training for Papua New Guineans. SIL’s PNG branch took up the challenge and looked for resource people to provide relevant training.

“I went on doing consultant checks with expatriates. I grew by having difficulties, learning together with others and asking questions.” Duncan says, “But I grew also through praying for God’s help. … After some time, I became stronger and stronger.”

Since 2002, Duncan has helped at least 25 language teams with consultant-checking in the country and beyond. These language teams — with SIL, Papua New Guinea Bible Translation Organization (BTA), or other independent units — include Auhelawa, Tabo, Ogea, Maring, Nobonob and many more.

As virtual meetings became normal, Duncan recently used Zoom to help check with the Sudest, Are and Arosi teams from Solomon Islands. As one of the most experienced and welcome consultants from his country, he also helps train fellow translators and consultants.

Source: Adapted from an article by Ling Lam at

Papua New Guinea is a focus region of Wycliffe Canada.

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