Archive for the ‘Languages’ Category

The Ethnologue

Saturday, February 28th, 2015

The Ethnologue is the world’s most comprehensive research publication into the languages of the world.

18th edition of the EthnologueIf, like many people, you think that there are just a few languages in use around the world, a few minutes with the Ethnologue will open your eyes to a world of diversity. 7,102 living languages in use around the world, over 2,000 of these in use in Africa alone.

For the past 64 years editors of the Ethnologue have been tracking these languages. Recording their names, locations and where possible the number of speakers.

The publication has continued to grow and more information added. Today, thanks to the internet, everything is available online and much of it is free.

In 1951, the first edition of Ethnologue consisted of ten mimeographed pages of language information. Since that time, it has grown into an active research project involving hundreds of linguists and other researchers around the world. It is widely regarded as the most comprehensive source of information of its kind. – SIL

The new, 18th edition of the Ethnologue, is now available to buy, download or browse. Packed with language statistics, maps and information it gives a small insight into the diversity of humanity in God’s creation.

It also highlights the challenges of Bible translation. For example, there are 17 languages in Syria, 41 in Afghanistan, oh, and Nigeria has 527. Bible translation is underway in many places, for example Nigeria, but there are harder to reach corners of the world that will not be so accessible. Are you up for the challenge of supporting financially or even going, to bring God’s word, his hope and his peace so that all people may know him?

International Mother Language Day 2015

Saturday, February 21st, 2015

Today is International Mother Language Day. What is it? It’s a day founded by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 1999, designed to raise awareness and celebrate linguistic and cultural diversity. Each year on February 21st UNESCO sets a theme; this year is “Inclusive Education through and with Language – Language Matters”.

How fantastic that the diversity of languages is celebrated in the world! But it’s not often that we consider how much language forms an important part of our identity. It helps us to communicate and teach, to share culture and history.  And when languages are developed in a written form, rich cultural heritages are documented and preserved.

However, there are still millions of people whose mother tongue is not developed in a written form. No alphabet. No dictionary.

Help raise awareness and celebrate language diversity by sharing International Mother Language Day with your friends and family. Jump into the action on twitter by tweeting your favorite phrases, greetings and translations in your mother language – find out more at tweetmotherlanguage.org about how to tweet in your #MotherLanguage.

Languages are the most powerful instruments of preserving and developing our tangible and intangible heritage. All moves to promote the dissemination of mother tongues will serve not only to encourage linguistic diversity and multilingual education but also to develop fuller awareness of linguistic and cultural traditions throughout the world and to inspire solidarity based on understanding, tolerance and dialogue. – UNESCO

So much happens when Bible translation gets underway in a language community.  Wycliffe Bible Translator’s commitment that all should have access to God’s word in the language they understand best opens amazing doors, as we celebrate today. Find out more about International Mother Language Day on UNESCO’s website.

Softened soil, waiting for the Word

Wednesday, February 4th, 2015

This year, our spring appeal is focusing on the use of AudiBibles in PNG and how they are helping to prepare the hearts of the Kandawo to receive the New Testament in printed form, which, after 30 years of faithful and painstaking work, is being completed now and will be made available in April 2015.

The AudiBible is wetting the ground, making the soil soft so that they will be ready to receive the written word when it comes.

No bigger than a mobile phone, AudiBibles are robust, solar-powered devices with the recently translated New Testament on them. They are enabling people like Naomi* and her family to hear God’s word spoken in their own language for the very first time.

Speaking recently to the Kandawo translation team, Naomi* said, “I saved up the money I earned selling vegetables and bought one. Now I go to sleep every night with it playing on my chest,” She smiled as she continued, “We listen to it as a family. It has changed us so that we no longer gossip, speak evil of others, or steal.”

Naomi’s daughter, Felicia*, has also seen her life change after listening to the New Testament in her heart language. After her husband left her, Felicia took responsibility for feeding, clothing and educating their two children. When she met the translation team, she broke down in tears and was desperate to make them understand just how much God’s word had transformed her life.

‘I face worries, heavy problems and insults,’ said Felicia, ‘but the AudiBible told me that if I humble myself under God’s mighty hand, he will lift me up. So I came to the Lord and he lightened my load.’

While stories like these among the Kandawo people are very encouraging, there are still almost 300 languages that need a translation project to be started in PNG alone. Every one of these languages represents a significant number of people who have never heard a single verse of the Bible in their own heart language.

Help bring God’s living word to people who are still waiting for it in the language they truly understand.

I want to make a donation!

Thank you once again for your support of this work. We constantly thank God for your partnership and prayers.

* Names have been changed to protect their identity.

No easy answers

Monday, February 2nd, 2015

Bible translation, as well as being an incredibly joyous thing,  is often difficult and challenging, with the people involved carrying a lot of responsibility. Translators have to truly get to the heart of what is really being communicated in Scripture by the writers and then figure out how to best translate it.  This means the message can be communicated successfully in the translation with minimal loss of the original meaning.

In a brilliant article, Sue Arthur gives us a brief look into the world of  being a translator, highlighting some of the challenges and complications that can arise in the process of bringing Scripture to people in their heart language.

Before you can translate something, you have to understand what it means. Understanding the meaning of a verse like this well enough to be able to re-express that meaning in another language will inevitably involve some level of interpretation, because there are always choices to be made.

There are generally no easy answers when it comes to translation, just hard work and lots of decisions… Yet often in the midst of the research, the brain storming, the testing and the checking, God uses the whole process of translation to speak through his word.

Read Sue’s full article Salted by Fire which describes the process they encountered while translating Mark 9:49 ‘Everyone will be salted with fire.’ (NIV). Eddie and Sue Arthur lived and worked for twelve years in Ivory Coast where they were part of the team translating the Scriptures for the Kouya people. Sue is now based in the UK but continues to support translation work in Madagascar. Check out Eddie and Sue’s blog at Kouyanet.

Support the work of Bible translating by finding out how you can get involved. Are you up for the challenge?

A great celebration

Saturday, January 31st, 2015

Do you remember what you were up to 16 and a half years ago? Unless January 1999 marked a big milestone for you, I doubt it. But for Tim Robinson, who is working with Wycliffe in Nigeria, those decade-and-a-half old memories have come flooding back:

In 1998 I took the plunge and went on my first short-term missions trip… On the 14th January 2015, 16.5 years later, I started my journey back to that very same village.

On his blog post, Tim describes the unpredictable and long journey to return to that village in Togo, as well as the warm welcome from old friends. He also describes the walk through the town, speckled with banners and parades, to get to the main event: the launch of the complete Bible in the Ncham language:

The dedication itself was marvellous. There were LOADS of people. There were some very high profile folks out there too. The national director of a denomination, the chief, the Prefet, the representative of the local government, pastors, preachers, most of the Catholic diocese, the church association committee, SIL, Wycliffe, Bible Society, two brass bands and people of literally ALL ages came out to join the celebration.

Ncham translator Samuel with some of the new Bibles. Photo by Tim Robinson.

Read on in Tim’s blog for more about the distribution, the celebration and some of the people who have been involved in the translation project from the very beginning. But the real climax came the next day:

We attended church with Samuel the next morning and it was brilliant seeing so many people clutching their new Bibles…

Happy Bible buyer! Photo by Tim Robinson.

There was a couple who were married 3 weeks before and were brought to the front of the church and introduced (it seems that is customary in this church) and when they came they were clutching a copy of the new Bible. The groom, despite not being a native Ncham speaker, received huge applause as he tried to read a couple of verses. People DO love hearing and having God’s word in their own language!

It’s an exciting day when a new Bible is launched, opening up Scripture for a whole people group. But it’s even more exciting when those books and recordings get used and God starts speaking straight to people’s hearts.

If you have a passion to see Bible words reach people’s hands and hearts, visit our website to explore opportunities to get involved.

Not too remote

Friday, January 16th, 2015

A recent letter from a colleague in Tanzania reads, ‘Pray we would be able to secure funding to start the translation of the Kisi, Manda and Pangwa New Testaments.’  Wondering what had provoked this request, I decided to investigate.

Pangwa Team membersI discovered that whilst translation work has been happening in Mbeya in several related languages since 2003 using a cluster approach* Kisi and Pangwa have not been developed nor had any Scripture published. Manda did have a translation published in 1937 but it is no longer available or adequate for the needs of the community, since the language has changed so much since then.

The need for translation in Kisi, Manda and Pangwa has been clear since sociolinguistic surveys were done in 2002, but the communities are remote and too far from Mbeya where workshops for ten other languages were being held. It simply wasn’t possible for the Kisi, Manda and Pangwa languages to be part of that cluster project.

The good news is that from 2012 workshops have been held for these 3 languages to help them develop a writing system. The district capital, Ludewa, was used as the hub for these workshops. This has worked to an extent, but the Manda, and particularly the Kisi, find travel to Ludewa a challenge, as there are no direct roads from the lake shore up the steep escarpment to Ludewa town. While some Kisi and Manda have made the 8-hour walk up the mountains for workshops, it has become clear that Ludewa is not a viable centre for a language development project involving the Kisi and Manda.

The work that has been done is appreciated by the Kisi. Language development has demonstrated to them that their community and language are valued by the outside world:

‘We don’t have any roads or phone network, and the only motor vehicles we have are boats, but to see these Kisi calendars makes us so happy that our language is being developed!’

However without committed funding, personnel with translation expertise, and creative solutions to the geographical issues faced by these projects, they cannot move forward and start translation.

Please pray:

  • That funding applications will be successful and that God will provide all the necessary finances needed to start translation in these 3 languages.
  • For planning meetings in February that God will give wisdom and guidance in planning for translation to start in these projects
  • For the right personnel to become available to serve the communities as translation advisors and consultants

Find out in this 3 minute video the Big Things God is doing in Bible translation in Tanzania.

*A language cluster refers to languages that may be linguistically related, and/or from similar geographic regions or cultural backgrounds. Speakers of these languages work together, sharing expertise, training and resources, to develop their languages and work on translation into each language.

For unto you a multilingual son is born

Monday, December 8th, 2014

It’s the time of year when we celebrate the birth of Jesus, however, unless you have an insatiable passion for linguistics, we probably don’t think about the different languages and dialects that were in use around Bethlehem when Jesus was born. As it turns out, there are more similarities to the multicultural environments we find ourselves in today than we may have considered.

In an interesting article for the Ethnologue, M. Paul Lewis sheds some light on the multilingual society Jesus was born in to.

The world into which Jesus was born was (and is still) a multilingual one. Jesus, no doubt, grew up navigating a language ecology that included at least four languages:  Aramaic, Hebrew, Greek, and Latin. The Bible tells us that he read from the Hebrew scriptures and it is probable that his conversation with Pontius Pilate at his trial was at least partially conducted in Latin.

Christians believe that in Jesus, God took on human form. That He became a multilingual man is only one of the ways, but an important way, in which that identification with humanity is fully demonstrated.

Have a read of the full article: For unto you a multilingual son is born.

Our God is a multilingual God, but there are still people who do not know this as a reality. That is why it is our vision that, together with partners worldwide, we aim to see a Bible translation programme begun in all the remaining languages that need one. (Find out more about Wycliffe).

God speaks in your language. In what way is God communicating to you as we enter into this Christmas period?

If you feel a prompting to mission, why not check out one of our First Steps events taking place in the new year? (and you don’t have to be a linguist). There are also plenty of other ways you can get involved, have a look.

 

Thinking outside the box

Friday, December 5th, 2014

Sometimes we consider the needs around the world and feel overwhelmed. Maybe we even consider how we can go and make a difference and then doubt that the skills we have would be useful.

Here are the stories of two British teachers who instead of going overseas to be teachers, used their teaching skills to make a difference as literacy specialists.

Barbara tells us:

img87‘I spent over twenty years as a teacher in London. Later I became an advisory teacher leading in-service courses for teachers. Helping children, young people and adults to develop and enjoy using their literacy skills was one of the best aspects of my different roles.

When, in 2002, I stood in front of 25 educators as a literacy specialist, I had had the year-long Wycliffe training in which Literacy was one of the components. However, in order to facilitate the development of a mother tongue education programme I leaned heavily on the experiences I gained from teaching. I used the skills I developed through teaching to help participants to develop their writing ability in the mother tongue and to write stories that would appeal to new and developing readers. Some of those stories became books now being used in schools.’

In contrast, Liz’s story goes like this:

‘I was a teaching assistant (TA) with primary school children for two years before my husband and I went to work in a project in South West Tanzania as literacy workers. There were many differences between my TA work in Sheffield and literacy work in Tanzania, as you can imagine!

In Tanzania I was primarily focused on a Basic Literacy programme with preschool children. I was mainly involved in preparing resources and training teachers to deliver them, rather than interacting with the children themselves as I had done previously. However, I used many of the same skills; preparing lessons and working out how to use the resources available to engage children with literacy. Most importantly, my aims were ultimately the same and I was excited about enabling children to reach their full potential and all the opportunities being literate would open up for them, not least to be able to read the Word of God.’

Please join us as we pray:

  • For God to call many to literacy work, especially those who already have transferable skills.
  • For those who are actively considering if God is calling them to work overseas with Wycliffe. Some of those will be attending First Steps events early next year. Pray they will clearly know what God is calling them to.

See where in the world you could go to make a difference as a literacy specialist.

Christmas Appeal – God’s Quiet Revelation

Thursday, November 13th, 2014

Our Christmas appeal has launched! In it we tell the story of Fatima*, a young Muslim woman, living with her family in Mindanao in the Philippines.

By her own admission, she used to be an angry person and would often act disrespectfully towards her parents. In 2001 she came across portions of the New Testament translations in her own language and for more than nine years continued to read portions of Mark and Luke’s Gospels alongside a major language translation.

“I would read in secret because my parents would get very angry with me if they caught me reading the Bible. One time my mother saw me and forbade me to continue reading.”

Anonymous Muslim worshippers After many years of secretly reading God’s word and seeking the truth of who he really is, he quietly revealed himself to her as she read the words of Jesus, “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30). For the first time she understood that Jesus is not just a Prophet, he is Christ the Lord—and she came to know him as her Saviour.

For Fatima, the transforming power of God’s word in her own language is both personal and dynamic.

“I just live in the way that his word teaches me to live, that’s what attracts my Muslim friends to think differently, even as I have. The change in me is the greatest testimony to the power of God and the truth of his word”.

The dedication and perseverance of the translation team working in her language has been amazing, continuing in their ministry in an Islamic context for so long before they saw the first fruit of their labour. 29 years after the project began, Fatima became the first to believe in her language community. Today her mother and sister are among the growing group of believers who are quietly beginning to form a small church.

The vision of Wycliffe remains steadfast. We want everyone in the world to have access to the Bible in the language they understand best, and are working with partners worldwide to see a Bible translation programme begun in every remaining language that needs one.

Will you make a special financial gift to Wycliffe this Christmas? A gift of just £10 could translate a single verse and change someone’s life forever. Give now.

 

*name changed for security reasons

 

Well Nourished Roots

Tuesday, November 4th, 2014

How often do we actively engage with God’s word? Every day? A couple of times a week?

Scripture engagement is essential for Christians to grow into spiritual maturity. In an interesting blog post on Christianity Today, Ed Stetzer explores Scripture engagement and its impact on our lives as Christians, both individually and corporately. You can read the article in full here.

notes on an open Bible

“Engaging the Bible impacts one’s spiritual maturity more than any other discipleship attribute.” – Ed Stetzer

This article highlights the very real and essential need for Scripture to be easily accessible for us to read. But what about those who do not have God’s word in their mother tongue?

The latest statistics suggest that there are in the region of 180 million people who still don’t have any access to the Bible in their heart language. However, God is at work in amazing ways.  In Tanzania, Daniel shares his reaction to using the Scriptures in the language he knows best:

“I was trying to read the Kuria New Testament like I read Swahili. I was unable to read the Scriptures at all. But now that I’ve been taught how to read the Kuria writing system, I can understand it completely! Now I can read God’s word in my language!”

Find out more about Wycliffe and how you can be involved.