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The Tagalog Project: The Tagalog project in the Philippines continues to go very well.  Tod Allman and Ephraim Rey meet three or four mornings each week in order to develop their Tagalog lexicon and grammar.  They’ve finished the book of Ruth, and it’s now being tested for quality.  They will begin working through the book of Luke in early June.  As has been mentioned in previous newsletters, the pace of their translation work continues to accelerate.  As the Tagalog lexicon and grammar become more developed, they’re able to work through larger passages during each two hour meeting.  Please pray that God will protect this work from all hindrances, and that Tod and Ephraim will be able to finish the book of Luke quickly.  Then Tod will begin working in a related language that doesn’t yet have any part of the Bible.

If you speak Tagalog, you can see our software’s translation of “Ruth” and “Infected Eye” on the Texts page of our web site (http://www.thebibletranslatorsassistant.org/TBTAsTexts.aspx).  Select “Tagalog” in the language dropdown, and you’ll see the texts produced by our software.

Analyzing the Entire Bible: Our semantic representations are the source documents that our software uses when producing translations of the Bible.  While we continue to make steady progress in developing our semantic representations using the traditional method, we would like to develop a more efficient technique. We have received permission from Mission Assist (formerly Wycliffe Associates, UK) to use their Easy English (EE) translation as a starting point for building our semantic representations. Mission Assist has already produced the entire Bible, a set of commentaries, and Bible study materials using their Easy English vocabulary and sentence structures.  You can see their materials at http://www.easyenglish.info/.  EE uses some of the same restrictions that we at TBTA employ. For instance, their texts are composed using a restricted set of simple English vocabulary, they use only simple English sentence structures, they convert all rhetorical questions to statements, etc. Our prayer is that by using EE’s texts as the starting point for building our semantic representations, we will be able to develop the necessary representations for the entire Bible in much less time than would be required otherwise.  In order to do this, we want to automate as much of the process as possible for converting the EE texts to our semantic representations.  So we’re developing software that will perform word sense disambiguation, identify clause and phrase boundaries, and resolve pronoun references.  We are currently investigating rule based approaches and statistical techniques to perform these steps of the conversion process automatically. We hope to have positive results within a few months.  If the process works well, we will be able to build semantic representations of EE’s Bible, commentaries, and Bible study materials very quickly.  Then our software will be able to help produce initial draft translations of all these materials.

TBTA-Philippines: The Tagalog project in the Philippines is going very well, so we at TBTA have decided to form TBTA-Philippines.  We’ve begun the legal process of incorporating in the Philippines so that our organization will be recognized by the Philippine government.  Developing this organization will help us establish relationships with Filipinos who are interested in Bible translation.  Three board members have been selected, and we’re looking for two more.  After incorporating, the board’s first task will be to develop a strategy for maximizing the benefits of our translation tool amongst the languages in the Philippines.  Our hope is that after the Tagalog grammar is well developed, we’ll be able to easily modify it to accommodate the other structurally similar languages spoken throughout the country. Please pray that God will give us wisdom as we assemble our board of directors, and that we’ll develop good relationships with people who long for the Bible in their own language.

A Request: Tod Allman and his family do not have sufficient financial support for living in the Philippines long term.  They have received many generous one time donations, but they need monthly income to work there long term.  If you believe that computer-assisted Bible translation is valuable, and if you’d like to see many different people groups in the Philippines receive God’s Word in their own language, would you please consider supporting Tod and his family through small monthly donations.  If twenty new families or individuals would donate $25 per month, Tod and his family would be able to make ends meet in the Philippines.  We appreciate your consideration.  The most convenient way to donate is at TBTA’s web site on the Donations page (http://www.thebibletranslatorsassistant.org/Donations.aspx).  All donations are tax deductible and greatly appreciated.  You will receive a receipt for every donation.

   Tod Allman and Pastor Ephraim Rey             Tod, JungAe, Tayne and Shane Allman
 building a Tagalog Lexicon and Grammar

 The People of the Philippines: There are a little over 100 million people living in the Philippines, and that number is growing rapidly at a rate of more than 20,000 people per day.  The country consists of more than 7,100 islands, and is home to some of the world’s most beautiful beaches and spectacular mountain views.  At the time of World War II, the Filipino economy was the second largest in Asia, behind only Japan.  However, during the past six decades, the country’s economy has gradually deteriorated for a variety of reasons.  The Philippines’ poverty line is set at an annual per capita income of just $378 (about $1 per day), but more than one fourth of the country’s population is living below the poverty line.  Severe poverty is a significant social issue throughout the country, but no one has any viable solutions.  Numerous organizations from other countries are pouring their resources into the Philippines with a hope for a brighter future.  Please pray that God will somehow help the millions and millions of people here who are living in severe poverty.

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Introducing a New Consultant: We at TBTA are very pleased to introduce Dr. Jeremiah (his last name won’t be revealed for security purposes) as a new consultant and advisor for our computer assisted Bible translation work.  Jeremiah has been a member of Wycliffe Bible Translators for more than 20 years.  He guided a team of mother-tongue translators on Santo Island in the South Pacific, and they translated the New Testament into Merei.  Jeremiah’s vision is now to re-engineer the Bible translation process using the latest technology available, and to engage the laity, particularly Asian diaspora.  He will be developing both formal and informal relationships between TBTA and other organizations and schools interested in Bible translation.  We are very pleased to be collaborating with him in this work.  Please pray that our collaboration will bear much fruit.  Already he has found people who are in the process of translating our web site (www.TheBibleTranslatorsAssistant.org) into Chinese and Korean.

The Tagalog Project: Tod Allman and Ephraim Rey continue to make good progress in the book of Ruth.  The Tagalog translation of Ruth chapters 1 and 2 is now finished, polished, and being checked for quality.  Ruth chapter 3 is finished, but not yet polished.  Tod and Ephraim hope to complete the book of Ruth sometime in May, and then they’ll begin working through Luke.  As the Tagalog lexicon and grammar become more developed, the pace of the translation work is significantly increasing.  When Tod and Ephraim first began this project, each verse required several hours of work.  Now they typically work through half a dozen verses in a two hour session.  As the pace continues to accelerate, they should eventually be able to produce initial draft translations of multiple chapters in a two hour meeting.  Please pray that this project will produce a Tagalog translation of Luke that millions of people will be able to easily understand.  Please also pray God will protect this work from all hindrances and obstacles.

Before working in the Bible, Tod and Ephraim first used TBTA’s software to produce a Tagalog translation of a short story that describes how to prevent eye infections.  The purpose of that project was to determine whether or not the software is capable of producing high quality Tagalog translations. Four sets of experiments were performed with the computer generated Tagalog translation of that story to determine its quality.  The results of the first experiment indicate that the computer generated draft is of such high quality that it more than triples the productivity of experienced mother-tongue translators.  The second experiment indicates that the edited computer draft is of the same quality as a manually translated version.  For the third experiment, three Tagalog speakers were asked to backtranslate the computer’s translation into English, and their backtranslations were perfect.  For the final experiment, five people read the computer’s translation, and then answered comprehension questions related to the story.  All of those participants answered the questions correctly.  So TBTA’s software is now clearly generating high quality Tagalog texts.

Analyzing the Entire Bible: For the past 15 years, we’ve been manually analyzing the Bible in order to build the semantic representations that our software needs in order to produce high quality translations in a wide variety of languages.  In those 15 years we’ve analyzed Genesis, Exodus, Ruth, Esther, Daniel, Nahum, Luke, Acts, and six Pauline epistles.  We are presently exploring various options to increase the rate of our analysis.  A graduate student named Alex Mercado is studying natural language processing, and he has offered to help us build semantic representations much more quickly using statistical techniques and the Easy English Bible as a source.  So Alex, Steve Beale, and Richard Denton are all involved in developing a process to rapidly analyze the remaining books of the Bible, and also commentaries and devotional materials.  The potential for this project is enormous, so please pray that God will guide their efforts, and they’ll be able to develop a technique to convert the Easy English Bible into the semantic representations required by our software.

The Spanish Project: Steve Beale is continuing to develop a Spanish lexicon and grammar. His goal is to have a model language that 1) can be used in many languages that are similar to Spanish, and 2) can be the basis of instructional manuals for people who want to use TBTA.

   Tod Allman and Pastor Ephraim Rey building                       Alex Mercado
           a Tagalog Lexicon and Grammar

The People of the Philippines: There are a little over 100 million people living in the Philippines, and that number is growing rapidly at a rate of more than 20,000 people per day.  The country consists of more than 7,100 islands, and is home to some of the world’s most beautiful beaches and spectacular mountain views.  At the time of World War II, the Filipino economy was the second largest in Asia, behind only Japan.  However, during the past six decades, the country’s economy has gradually deteriorated for a variety of reasons.  The Philippines’ poverty line is set at an annual per capita income of just $378 (about $1 per day), but more than one fourth of the country’s population is living below the poverty line.  Severe poverty is a significant social issue throughout the country, but no one has any viable solutions.  Numerous organizations from other countries are pouring their resources into the Philippines with a hope for a brighter future.  Please pray that God will somehow help the millions and millions of people here who are living in severe poverty.

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The Tagalog Project: Tod Allman and Ephraim Rey meet three or four mornings each week to build a Tagalog lexicon and grammar using TBTA’s software.  When they first started meeting, each sentence they translated required several hours of work because many grammatical rules had to be developed.  But the work has been progressing very well, and now they can work through two or three Bible verses in a typical two hour meeting.  As the lexicon and grammar become more developed, this process will certainly accelerate.  The software is now capable of producing an initial draft translation of a short story that describes how to prevent eye infections.  This short story was used before working in the Bible so that the quality of the translation could be checked with mother-tongue speakers.  Tod is currently performing the quality tests with approximately twenty Tagalog speaking adults and junior high children.  These tests consist of asking the participants to answer comprehension questions related to the text, and also to backtranslate the Tagalog text into English.  Tod and Ephraim have also started working through the biblical book of Ruth, and hope to have a draft completed by the spring.  After its quality has been checked, Tod and Ephraim will begin working through Luke.  Please pray that God will protect this work from any and all hindrances, and that their progress will continue to accelerate.  After the Tagalog lexicon and grammar are well developed, Tod will work with a speaker of a closely related language and modify the Tagalog grammar to accommodate that language.  The potential for Bible translation here is enormous. 

Richard Denton’s Insights – in Plain English: Recently we’ve been working on the semantic representations for Titus. Titus begins with a long sentence that extends through the first four verses of the book, “Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ for the faith of God’s elect and the knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness… To Titus, my true son in our common faith: grace and peace from God the father and Christ Jesus our Savior.” In TBTA, we broke this sentence up into 18 sentences! There are two reasons for this. First of all, there’s no guarantee that every language will allow an extended sentence structure such as this. But also, in TBTA we have to represent the meaning precisely so that there can be a precise translation into each language. In the original text, it is not always clear how one phrase connects to every other phrase in the sentence. Here’s how we translated the first part of this sentence: “I am Paul. I serve God. And Jesus Christ chose me to be his representative. Jesus Christ sent me to the people that God chose so that I would help those people trust in God. And Jesus Christ sent me to those people so that I would help those people to know true things. God caused me to do these things so that those people would please God.”  By breaking up the original sentence and making the relationships between all the phrases very clear, we’re able to produce clear and accurate translations in many languages.

The Spanish Project: Stephen Beale has begun working on Spanish with TBTA.  This version will be useful as a teaching tool, not to mention its potential use in the Spanish-speaking world. He would appreciate your prayers as he transitions from full-time university work to part-time TBTA work: both financially and, more importantly, that he could manage his time well with his many other responsibilities.

Robert Appleton: Robert has recently volunteered to help us manage our financial records.  We greatly appreciate his time and effort.  In the future, when you make a donation to TBTA, the emailed receipt will probably be sent by Robert rather than Richard Denton.
  
             Tod Allman and Ephraim Rey                                        Richard Denton
The People of the Philippines: There are a little over 100 million people living in the Philippines, and that number is growing rapidly at a rate of more than 20,000 people per day.  The country consists of more than 7,100 islands, and is home to some of the world’s most beautiful beaches and spectacular mountain views.  At the time of World War II, the Filipino economy was the second largest in Asia, behind only Japan.  However, during the past six decades, the country’s economy has gradually deteriorated for a variety of reasons.  The economy has been growing, but it is not able to keep pace with the rapid population growth.  The Philippines’ poverty line is set at an annual per capita income of just $378 ($31.50/month), but more than one fourth of the country’s population is living below the poverty line.  Severe poverty is a significant social issue throughout the country, but no one has any viable solutions.  Numerous organizations from other countries are pouring their resources into the Philippines with a hope for a brighter future.  Please pray that God will somehow help the millions and millions of people here who are living in severe poverty.
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The Tagalog Project: Tod Allman is working with a Filipino pastor named Ephraim Rey to build a Tagalog lexicon and grammar so that TBTA’s software can produce simple, easy to understand Tagalog translations of several biblical books.  Pastor Ephraim was a missionary and church planter for many years, and recently has been translating Bible study guides from English into Tagalog.  Pastor Ephraim and Tod meet three mornings a week, and they’re making good progress on the Tagalog grammar.  Soon they will start working through the book of Ruth in order to produce a translation that is easily understandable for children and adults who have at least a sixth grade education.  Pastor Ephraim is not aware of any translation intended for Tagalog speaking children, so the translation produced by TBTA should be very beneficial to many children and adults throughout the Manila area.  Please pray for Pastor Ephraim and Tod as they develop this new translation.  Please pray that God will help Pastor Ephraim choose appropriate words and constructions for the translation, and please also pray that Tod will be able to analyze the Tagalog grammar accurately.
Pastor Ephraim would like to do some of this work at home, but he doesn’t have a computer.  If anyone would be willing to donate a laptop to TBTA for Pastor Ephraim, TBTA would send you a tax deductible receipt.  Any laptop that runs Windows XP or later would be fine for this work.  If you have a laptop that you don’t use much anymore and would be willing to donate it to TBTA, please send Tod an email at Tod.Allman@TheBibleTranslatorsAssistant.org.

Richard Denton’s Insights – in Plain English: There are many phrases and passages that we read in our English Bibles, and we vaguely understand them, but can we say clearly what they actually mean? For example, what does Paul mean when he opens and closes his epistles with “Grace be with you”? When I’m analyzing the Pauline epistles and I encounter a sentence like this, I consult Wycliffe’s Translator’s Notes and other commentaries, and I try to figure out a simple way to communicate the same idea using TBTA’s simple grammar and vocabulary. I’ve translated this particular sentence as, “I pray that God will treat you kindly.” The “I pray” portion captures the “may it happen” implication. The word “grace” is a noun, but grace is not an isolated thing; it is a blessing that comes from God.  So Paul’s prayer is that God will do something good for the people Paul is writing to. Some people think of grace as something that we don’t deserve. Grace is God treating us kindly even when we don’t deserve it.  That’s a good thing to keep in mind as we live our lives day by day.

The Spanish Project: Stephen Beale is beginning work on Spanish with TBTA.  This version will be useful as a teaching tool, not to mention its potential use in the Spanish-speaking world. He would appreciate your prayers as he transitions from full-time university work to part-time TBTA work: both financially and, more importantly, that he could manage his time well with his many other responsibilities.

Amazon Smile: TBTA has enrolled in Amazon’s Smile program.  AmazonSmile is a website operated by Amazon; they have all the same products and all the same prices as Amazon.  But when you shop through AmazonSmile, they will donate .5% of each sale to a non-profit organization of your choice.  If you’d like to help contribute to TBTA’s Bible translation work while shopping online, you can go to TBTA’s web site at www.TheBibleTranslatorsAssistant.org, and go to the Donations page.  There you’ll see a button for AmazonSmile.  When you click on that button, you’ll automatically be enrolled in Amazon’s Smile program.  Then when you shop online at Smile.Amazon.com, Amazon will contribute part of the sale to TBTA.  So you can shop for your family and friends during the holidays, and contribute to Bible translation at the same time.
 
            Tod Allman and Ephraim Rey                                          Richard Denton
The People of the Philippines: There are a little over 100 million people living in the Philippines, and that number is growing rapidly at a rate of more than 20,000 people per day.  The country consists of more than 7,100 islands, and is home to some of the world’s most beautiful beaches and spectacular mountain views.  At the time of World War II, the Filipino economy was the second largest in Asia, behind only Japan.  However, during the past six decades, the country’s economy has gradually deteriorated for a variety of reasons.  The economy has been growing, but it is not able to keep pace with the rapid population growth.  The Philippines’ poverty line is set at an annual per capita income of just $378 ($31.50/month), but more than one fourth of the country’s population is living below the poverty line.  Severe poverty is a significant social issue throughout the country, but no one has any viable solutions.  Numerous organizations from other countries are pouring their resources into the Philippines with a hope for a brighter future.  Please pray that God will somehow help the millions and millions of people here who are living in severe poverty.
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The Philippines Project: Tod Allman and his family moved to Manila on August 1st so that he could use TBTA’s software to produce initial draft translations of parts of the Bible in several languages there.  He’s currently developing a lexicon and grammar for Tagalog, the language spoken in Manila, in order to demonstrate the project to the people there.  He then plans to develop lexicons and grammars for several other languages which don’t yet have any part of the Bible.  Tod and JungAe are still seeking prayer and financial partners who are interested in this work.  Would you please consider supporting them through your prayers and finances?  They have raised 90% of their required monthly support.  They also need some one time donations to help cover the costs of moving to the Philippines.  If you’d like to support them, you can go to the Donations page of TBTA’s web site (www.TheBibleTranslatorsAssistant.org/Donations.aspx), or you can send an email to Richard.Denton@TheBibleTranslatorsAssistant.org.  All donations are tax deductible and greatly appreciated. 

Old Testament Semantic Representations: Steve Beale would appreciate your prayers as he begins a new stage of his work for TBTA. Steve recently retired from his university position to focus on TBTA. He will initially be checking his previous Old Testament semantic representations to ensure consistency and accuracy. He will also be working on methods to improve and speed up the process that a missionary/linguist goes through to enter data for a new language into TBTA to enable it to produce high quality translations. Steve will also be writing a grant proposal that would enable him to keep working over the next year. 

New Testament Semantic Representations: Richard Denton and his wife Mary have moved to New Smyrna Beach, Florida, where Richard will continue to work as a research physicist for Dartmouth College.  As his grants gradually wind down, he hopes to spend more time working on semantic representations for the New Testament.  He just completed the first draft of 2 Timothy, and is now working in Titus.

Corporate Sponsors: TBTA is currently seeking corporate sponsors who would consider supporting our semantic representation development work, and also the workshops that will be held for linguists and Bible translators in the Philippines.  So we’re looking for someone who would be willing to visit potential corporate sponsors, and talk to them about our Bible translation system.  We’d also like this person to demonstrate our software at events such as the Code for the Kingdom Hackathons (http://codeforthekingdom.org).  TBTA will pay the associated travel expenses.  This person would need to become familiar with our software, and know a bit about the Bible translation process.  If you’re experienced with marketing and would be interested in this position, please send an email to info@TheBibleTranslatorsAssistant.org.  We can’t pay a salary, but we will cover all reasonable travel expenses.

 

   Tod’s Family at their condo in a suburb of Manila                    Steve and Eileen Beale
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The Philippines Project: Tod Allman and his family will be flying back to the Philippines on July 31st.  Please pray that they will have a safe trip.  For the next three years Tod will be working on Bible translation projects, and his wife, JungAe, will be working with other Korean missionaries at an orphanage and school for Filipino children.  Tod and JungAe are seeking prayer and financial partners who are interested in this work.  Would you please consider supporting them through your prayers and finances?  They have raised approximately 80% of their required monthly support.  They also need some one time donations to help cover the cost of moving to the Philippines.  If you’d like to support them, you can go to the Donations page of TBTA’s web site (www.TheBibleTranslatorsAssistant.org/Donations.aspx), or you can send an email to Richard.Denton@TheBibleTranslatorsAssistant.org.  All donations are tax deductible and greatly appreciated. 

Semantic Representations: Richard Denton continues to work on the semantic representations, the source documents that our software uses when generating translations. Since February he has finished the initial drafts of 2 Thessalonians and 1 Timothy, and is now about half way through 2 Timothy. Richard and his wife Mary are currently trying to sell their house in Hanover, New Hampshire. They hope to move to New Smyrna Beach, Florida. Richard will continue to work as a research physicist for Dartmouth College, but as his grants gradually wind down, he hopes to spend more time working for TBTA. Please pray that their house sells.

Grant Proposals: Stephen Beale will be leaving his university position in September to work full-time on TBTA and Linguist’s Assistant. Please pray for him and his family as they make this transition. Stephen will be submitting several grant proposals over the course of the next few months that are directly aimed at enabling our work in the Philippines. Please pray for him as he prepares these proposals, and that God will smooth the road for them as He sees fit.

 
    Tod, JungAe, Tayne and Shane Allman                         Richard and Mary Denton
The Languages of the Philippines: There are 181 languages spoken in the Philippines, and most of them do not yet have any part of the Bible.  Almost all of the languages spoken there are classified as Malayo-Polynesian, and structurally they are very similar to one another.  While Tod was there, he worked with speakers of Tagalog, Bikol, and Bisakol, and he developed partial lexicons and grammars for those languages.  During that process, Tod found that he could easily modify the TBTA grammar for Tagalog so that it accommodates the other two languages.  When Tod and his family return to the Philippines, he plans to develop a thorough lexicon and grammar for Tagalog, which is the national language and spoken throughout the Manila area.  After TBTA is able to generate initial drafts of multiple books of the Bible in Tagalog, Tod plans to modify that grammar to accommodate Bikol, which is morphologically the richest major language spoken in the country.  Bikol has more pronouns, more case markers, more verb forms, etc., than the other major languages.  After the Bikol lexicon and grammar are well developed, Tod hopes to produce initial draft translations of multiple biblical books in Bikol.  After that process is completed, the task of  modifying the Bikol grammar to accommodate many other languages should proceed fairly quickly. 
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The Philippines: Tod Allman and his family spent January through April in the Philippines, and it was a life changing experience for all of them.  The majority of the people there live in unimaginable poverty.  Tod and his family are planning to return to the Philippines as full time missionaries for the next three years.  Tod will be involved in Bible translation, and his wife, JungAe, will work with other missionaries to build a new orphanage and school.  After three years they’ll evaluate their progress and decide whether or not they should continue, or return to the U.S.  They are seeking prayer and financial partners who are interested in this work.  Would you please consider supporting them through your prayers and finances?  If you’d like to support them, you can go to the Donations page of our web site (www.TheBibleTranslatorsAssistant.org/Donations.aspx), or you can send an email to Richard.Denton@TheBibleTranslatorsAssistant.org.  All donations are tax deductible and greatly appreciated.

Association for Computational Linguistics: Stephen Beale will be presenting a paper on June 26th at a conference dealing with the application of computational techniques to the study of endangered languages.  Steve will present some of the techniques we’ve developed at TBTA, and discuss their application to the process of documenting endangered languages.

Semantic Representation Development: Richard Denton continues to make steady progress on our semantic representations of the Pauline Epistles.  Since our last newsletter, he has completed the initial drafts of 2 Thessalonians and 1 Timothy.

Missions at Biola Univeristy: Ken Nehrbass, one of the Bible exegetes who helps develop the semantic representations for TBTA, has accepted a new teaching position as an assistant professor in the Intercultural Studies department at Biola University, and he’ll also be the program director for the Doctorate of Missiology.Sydney, Australia: Ross Webb, a translation consultant with Wycliffe Bible Translators, is currently a “missionary in residence” at Sydney Missionary and Bible College.  He and some of the students are checking TBTA’s semantic representation of Ruth for accuracy, content, and clarity.  We’re hoping this project will serve to both refine TBTA’s semantic representations, and also increase the students’ interests in Bible translation.

 
The Languages of the Philippines: There are 181 languages spoken in the Philippines, and most of them do not yet have any part of the Bible.  Almost all of the languages spoken there are classified as Malayo-Polynesian, and structurally they are very similar to one another.  While Tod was there, he worked with speakers of Tagalog, Bikol, and Bisakol, and he developed partial lexicons and grammars for those languages.  During that process, Tod found that he could easily modify the TBTA grammar for Tagalog so that it accommodates the other two languages.  When Tod and his family return to the Philippines, he plans to develop a thorough lexicon and grammar for Tagalog, which is the national language and spoken throughout the Manila area.  After TBTA is able to generate initial drafts of multiple books of the Bible in Tagalog, Tod plans to modify that grammar to accommodate Bikol, which is morphologically the richest major language spoken in the country.  Bikol has more pronouns, more case markers, more verb forms, etc., than the other major languages.  After the Bikol lexicon and grammar are well developed, Tod hopes to produce initial draft translations of multiple biblical books in Bikol.  After that process is completed, the task of  modifying the Bikol grammar to accommodate many other languages should proceed fairly quickly.