Archive for the ‘Languages’ Category

Issues facing Scripture films

Monday, July 7th, 2014

Taste and see that the Lord is good! Watching a Bible-based film in your own language is a wonderful way to see how good the Lord is.

Watching the JESUS Film

Watching the JESUS Film

Among the most used Bible-based films are the JESUS Film and the Luke Film, which are both based on the Gospel of Luke. If a team’s already done the translation work on Luke, what could be more obvious than recording the translation and dubbing it onto a film? Of course, it’s much easier said than done!

This prayer request, from Guyana in South America, highlights a handful of the problems you might face…

When preparing for the dubbing of the Luke video or other Scripture, many challenges arise. How do you choose the right person to read the words of Jesus, Mary, or Paul? How do you get verses that take 45 seconds to read in the local language down to the 30 seconds used in the English version of the film? How many practice times are necessary for the readers to learn to read with expression and clarity?

The team are in the process of preparing the script and casting people to read the parts for the film. Stand with them in prayer.

One thing that would make the process much easier is if enthusiastic people joined the team – people who are passionate about film and about sharing God’s word: wherever you long to serve God, there is a need for people with these passions and skills so that more people can hear Jesus speak their language. Find out about ways to explore roles with Wycliffe.

What makes me me? These answers might surprise you

Monday, June 30th, 2014

What makes me who I am? The answer to that question is bound up in where I live, what I do, what I wear, what I eat and, yes, what language I speak. It even affects how I feel about myself.

Wycliffe member Matt has been asking this question too. He tells us how people answered this question at a discussion he was at, and what that has to do with working with minority communities:

At one of our community of practice events last year we asked participants that very question: What makes you part of your ethnolinguistic group? These were some of the responses:

And so what? Why does this matter? Well, what would happen if those factors were suddenly no longer around? What if you couldn’t live in a certain place, eat a certain food, wear certain clothes, speak a certain language? Would you still feel connected to others who have similar features? Would you still be you?

These are the kinds of questions many marginalised communities around the world are having to face right now. Key elements that make up who they are, are being challenged, looked down upon, outlawed and even destroyed. Their traditional ways of celebrating, their traditional foods, the language they speak, and often the very land they live on is changing and they must decide how to respond.

At its heart, this is what we are working to support. To help communities who have been looked down upon and devalued, to define their own identity and to be proud of it.

Go to Matt and Liz’s blog to read the whole post. If you’re passionate about what they are doing, you can join this work by supporting them.

Find out more about how Wycliffe works with marginalised communities.

What language did Jesus speak?

Thursday, June 19th, 2014

Many of the challenges of Bible translation, in English and in other languages, come down to the fact that it’s not just languages that are different. Cultures are too. Wycliffe’s UK director Eddie has been pondering this lately, after being asked about Jesus and languages.

It isn’t often that I get called in to referee an argument between the Pope and the Israeli Prime Minister, but last week, I was interviewed by our local radio station about what language Jesus spoke. In what was a pleasant chat, I gave the generally accepted answer, that he probably spoke a number of languages; Aramaic in every day situations, Hebrew in religious contexts and perhaps some Greek or Latin.

However, what I really wanted to say was that Jesus did not speak English!

Whatever those Sunday school posters might indicate, Jesus was not a blue-eyed, Englishman. He was a first century Jew and his life and teachings are rooted in the history of his nation. Right down to which languages he spoke in particular situations. If we try to take Jesus out of his historical, linguistic and cultural setting we will fail to fully understand his teaching or the significance of his life, death and resurrection.

But – and this is amazing – Jesus does speak English!

Because the Gospels have been translated, we can read and hear Jesus’ words in contemporary English. This is so much a part of our lives that we don’t fully appreciate the strange wonder of it. The two-thousand year old story, rooted in Jewish life and culture, can be read and understood in modern English and in thousands of other languages for that matter. Though Jesus was a Rabbi, who lived in a particular context, his message is for all peoples in all times. It’s a simple fact, but a wonderful one.

Through Bible translation, Wycliffe and partners are trying to share that message with all peoples around the world. You can be involved by giving, praying, considering an job with Wycliffe or sharing the need with your community.

This post has been edited. The original appeared on Eddie’s blog; read it here.

I was willing

Wednesday, May 28th, 2014

While in high school, Bev stepped forward at a Billy Graham crusade. Soon after, in a discipleship group at university, she heard about the need for people to go and make disciples. That information changed her life.

“I thought, ‘Who wouldn’t [do that]?’ To me, it was strange that anyone wouldn’t tell God they’d do anything he wanted.

I was more worried there wouldn’t be any work left by the time I finished college,” she explains, “because everybody would be obeying Christ, going wherever he wanted.”

As eager as she was to head out on the mission field, Bev was able to buckle down and complete her four-year education degree. During that time, she learned to take her own advice about telling God she’d do anything he wanted.

“I had to get to a point in my life where I told Christ … if his will was for me to stay home, live in the suburbs and work there, I was willing.”

Bev Dawson in Guyana (photo by Natasha Schmale for Wycliffe Canada)

It wasn’t just the passion of a young Christian. Bev continued in this commitment: after failing a Spanish class, Bev made up her credits at a Wycliffe summer camp and has now spend 40 years serving the Wapishana in Guyana. The Wapishana New Testament was published in 2012. Read more of Bev’s story here.

Maybe Bev’s commitment sounds astonishing, but it does prompt us to ask ourselves: am I saying to God ‘I am willing’?

If you want to explore more about the possibilities of serving God overseas, get in touch. We can talk to you about what you could do with Wycliffe or another agency (more than you think!) and what opportunities there are coming up to explore with others what obeying God looks like in your life. Get in touch.

This quote was first published in Wycliffe Canada’s excellent magazine, Word Alive, and subsequently on Wycliffe Global Alliance. Some formatting was changed.

Bible translators need wisdom

Wednesday, May 21st, 2014

It’s not surprising that those involved in translating the Bible need a lot of wisdom as they make decisions – after all, these are important choices. In this diary extract ‘Aquila’ explains one of the difficulties they had on the Glossa translation, and why it’s not a word-for-word translation.

Photo by Heather Pubols

1 Corinthians 12.8: “To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit.” Glossa speakers talk about knowing or understanding something, but what is wisdom?

So we had a good time this morning trying to think clearly the difference between wisdom and knowledge, the concepts we need for that verse in 1 Corinthians. That brought in related concepts like intelligence and mind.

Glossa translator Ezra is excellent at pushing me to define for him words he kind of knows in the national language but doesn’t have in Glossa. We talked about concepts in the national language for starters and then looked for a Glossa way to express that idea. This is not word-for-word translation, because no there is no corresponding word in Glossa. The way to do it is to think of experiences and actions in which wisdom and knowledge occur in Glossa society and then think how [the Glossa translators] would describe those experiences and actions using Glossa words. It was work but a fun conversation.

  • Knowledge. No noun in Glossa, but there is a verb – to know.
  • Wisdom. Again no noun, but we can use a verb with a modifier – to think deeply.

Read more from the diaries of the Glossa translators.

‘If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.’ James 1.5

Ask God for wisdom for Bible translators: sign up to Standing in the Gap, our weekly prayer blog, and explore our website for more details about praying for Wycliffe.

How to make a little go a long way

Monday, April 14th, 2014

Chris and Marina are working in Senegal with the Manjak community. Their work is incredibly important for Bible translation, as this video from Wycliffe USA shows, but they aren’t Bible translators – that work is done by Manjak people. So what do Chris and Marina contribute?

Chris and Marina are literacy specialists, working with Wycliffe’s linguistic partners SIL International. Watch the video to see how their work helps a little Scripture go a long way:

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The Power of Bible Translation and Literacy from Wycliffe USA on Vimeo.

‘It wasn’t as if I wanted to translate the Bible into Manjak. It was that I needed to translate the Bible into Manjak. God’s word is something of greatness, and it’s for all the Manjak people. If the word of God was translated and nobody was able to read, that would make me very, very sad.’ Pierre Nassadiou, Manjak Bible translator

Working with local communities to develop literacy programmes allows many people to access God’s word for themselves for the first time. It also opens up doors to education, health information and legal rights in communities that have been denied these in the past.

If it’s something you feel passionate about, find out more about literacy roles in Wycliffe and the literacy work SIL does.

Do you translate the Old Testament too?

Sunday, April 6th, 2014

A lot of translations start off with the shorter projects. They translate Jonah or Luke, maybe combining the translation of Luke with an audio recording and dubbing the JESUS Film into their language. ‘Shorter projects’, yes, but they still take four or five years.

Photo: Tim Scott at thepngexperience.wordpress.com

It’s why it’s not surprising that it’s a big step for a translation team to move on to a New Testament. New technology and ways of working can often speed up a New Testament translation, but it’s still not unusual to hear of New Testaments taking 20+ years! You can understand why, given the size of the undertaking, we don’t hear as much about Old Testaments.

Max and Johnny, Papua New Guineans who speak Wuvulu, attended a five-week course to prepare them to translate the Old Testament. Why?

Max Benjamin helped translate the Wuvulu New Testament for his people… He hoped that he could one day also help translate the Old Testament. When his co-translator, James Hafford, sent him a text message to asking if he would like to attend an upcoming course on the Old Testament, Max didn’t hesitate, “Yes! This is what I’ve been dreaming of!”

When Max travelled to the course at the Ukarumpa Training Center, he brought along another Wuvulu man, Johnny Namor, who also wants to help translate the Old Testament for his people. Johnny explained, “When a passage in the New Testament refers back to the Old Testament, sometimes the meaning isn’t clear. We need to know the background so we can better understand the teachings in the New Testament.” Read the full story here.

As mother-tongue English speakers, we are blessed to have the whole Bible. We’ve had it for 400 years. We have hundreds of versions. But many people don’t know about God’s creation, miracles, merciful character and promises, because they don’t have the Bible – any of it – in the language they know best. Do something to help.

You search the Scriptures…

Monday, March 31st, 2014

Bible Gateway, the ubiquitous Bible website, has released statistics about which countries have been searching for which Bible passages. It turns out that the whole world isn’t searching for John 3:16. In fact, some countries search a lot for chapters that we might sometimes forget.

Ed Lauber, who works in Ghana, looked at the research from a Bible translation angle:

A snippet of Bible Gateway's infographic.

A snippet of Bible Gateway’s infographic

[The research] shows that people from different countries had very marked differences in the attention they gave to different verses and books of the Bible…

While the relevance of the Bible is universal, the perceived relevance of different parts of the Bible varies according to one’s culture. World-renowned historian of Christianity, Professor Andrew Walls, notes that for most Western Christians some parts of the Bible might as well not exist. When was the last time you read Numbers? On the other hand, when the Bible was translated into some languages, the people found the genealogies to be significant, while another group was brought to faith by Acts 17:26-27 when it was first translated into their language.

… Many peoples without the Bible in their language also live in places where they suffer severe economic, political and social oppression. Parts of the Old Testament speak directly to that. We should not be surprised or condemning when they read, study and get comfort from those parts more than an affluent American. During the civil rights movement in the United States, many African-Americans drew solace and strength from the parts of the Old Testament that address social and economic oppression. In fact, during the reformation, many Europeans developed their stance against the monarchy, for religious freedom and for the rule of the people from the Old Testament recently translated into their languages. More of this blog.

The Bible gives comfort for those who are refugees, far from home and feeling lost, because many people of the Bible had that experience. It gives hope to those facing famine, because famine isn’t foreign to the Bible. It can strengthen those in prison as they read about Bible-writers themselves imprisoned.

But not if they don’t have it.

Help get the Bible translated for those who haven’t got it in their language.

Why learn to read Manjak?

Sunday, March 30th, 2014

In Senegal and much of the west of Africa, the official language is French. French is what you learn at school, the language of official documents and what the news on the main TV stations is read in. So if everyone wants to speak French, why worry about teaching Manjak speakers to read their own language?

This was the question that a lot of Manjak speakers had when linguistic specialists started helping to plan literacy work among the adults and mother-tongue lessons at school for the children. In the video below from Wycliffe USA, some of those who’ve been part of the literacy programme, including UK Wycliffe members Chris and Marina Darby, speak about why learning Manjak is worth it:

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Marina says she keeps speaking to people who, explaining why they want to learn to read Manjak, say, ‘It’s our language!’ and that one woman explained that it’s like seeing by her own lamp now.Literacy helps members of minority language communities embrace and use their language, learn other languages more easily and have access to a wealth more information. It’s a crucial part of the Bible translation ministry. Find out what you could do to be involved.

Hands on in Paraguay

Wednesday, March 19th, 2014

Wycliffe partner LETRA Paraguay don’t mind getting stuck in. Among the communities they serve are the Ache: alongside literacy and Bible translation, they encourage other South Americans to serve the community in practical ways. Two groups have recently returned from doing just that:

bible lesson - cerro moroti February is a full and busy month for LETRA Paraguay, a time when groups of volunteers visit  different Ache communities. This year a team of Chileans visited the village of Cerro Morotï for 3 weeks and another group from Uruguay visited Arroyo Bandera for one.

The Chilean team was made up of 10 young people, between 18 and 26, all from the same church. The Uruguayan group included 15 volunteers and 2 paid drivers, aged between 18 and 64, and from 13 different churches.

medicalDespite these differences, the two groups engaged in similar work. The Uruguayan team built a dining room and kitchen for the school in Arroyo Bandera, while in Cerro Morotï the Chilean volunteers extended the church building. Both groups also did lots of work with children, with Bible lessons, games, snacks and songs in abundance, as well as a day of hair washing, cutting and brushing for all the children. There were also daily Bible studies for the women.

The Ache people received these visits enthusiastically. In Cerro Morotï, 5 Ache men worked on the church extension, while in Arroyo Bandera, 7–10 men came to help with the construction of the kitchen/dining room.

LETRA Paraguay was blessed by the work of both groups, and took advantage of this time in the communities to begin Chäbeta (the Ache word for glasses), a new initiative involving the production and distribution of reading glasses to help the Ache people read the translation of the New Testament, as well as other books.

This report was written by Rocio Gomez, and translated by Ruth Gaved, a UK student in the middle of a Spanish and linguistics degree, who is serving with LETRA for part of her year abroad.

Letra team

Ruth (right) with new team member Megan and LETRA directors Cristina and Victor Gómez

If you, like Ruth, want to use your skills to serve Bibleless people – whether they are in language, IT, writing, teaching or anything else -  the Two Week Stint is the event for you to find out how. It’s two weeks in the South of France immersed in finding out how your skills could fit in mission. Find out more about why it’s the event for you.

Find out more about LETRA on their Facebook page (it’s in Spanish).