South Korea's Before Babel Brigade launched an interpretation service in Indonesia last week to help foreign visitors communicate more effectively during the 2018 Asian Games. (Antara Photo/Aprillio Akbar)

Before Babel Brigade Launches Translation Service in Indonesia for Asian Games


AUGUST 13, 2018

Jakarta. South Korea's Before Babel Brigade launched an interpretation service in Indonesia last week to help foreign visitors communicate more effectively during the 2018 Asian Games.

This is only the second international deployment of the community-based translation service after it also served visitors during the 2014 FIFA Football World Cup in Brazil. It was successfully deployed for the first time during the 2002 FIFA World Cup in South Korea.

The service, also known as bbb, derives its name from its vision to recreate a time "before Babel," referring to the Biblical event that saw one unified human language being split into many mutually unintelligible variations.

The service carries out its mission by employing hundreds of multilingual volunteers who will be available at short notice either through a call number or the bbb smartphone application.

The volunteers provide immediate, organic translations with an awareness of contextual cues and other intangible communicative devices that mechanical or machine translators often lack. Conversations between natives and foreigners are then arbitrated by a third party, who translates both conversing parties' messages into the relevant language and conveys it to the other.

bbb Indonesia currently has 500 volunteers who are providing translation services in Korean, English, Japanese, Chinese, Arabic, Russian, Thai and Vietnamese.

Several Indonesian organizations, including Muhammadiyah and the National University (UNAS), have facilitated the recruitment of these multilingual volunteers.

South Korean Ambassador Kim Chang-beom and a representative of Indonesia's Ministry of Youth and Sports attended bbb Indonesia's inauguration ceremony in Jakarta on Aug. 8, during which a congratulatory message by K-pop group Momoland was also read out.

The high level of social media engagement by Indonesians may make this the ideal platform to create public awareness of the service.

The Asian Games, which will be hosted by Jakarta and Palembang, South Sumatra, kicks off on Saturday and ends on Sept. 2.