Archive for the ‘Languages’ Category

Belt and Braces

Monday, March 30th, 2015

Did you know that Scripture is not only translated once, but twice when bringing Scripture to a people’s heart language? It would be completely rational for you to assume that once Scripture has been translated there is no further need to translate the material. But did you know that Scripture is then translated back into English?

Back Translation, as it is called, is a word for word process. These words are then re-arranged to make sense in English. This is due to differences in sentence structure found between languages.

A class in Papua New Guinea being taught Back translation Principles. It’s hard work and requires a strong grasp of both languages involved.

 

Why do we do this? To help ensure that the translated text is faithful and accurate to the original and that none of the meaning is lost in translation, an essential belt and braces process. People are learning these principles in classes through out the world, including in Papua New Guinea.

“Pray for wisdom as this training is very important to the accuracy of the translation.” – PNG Experience

Read about this and more of what’s happening in Papua New Guinea on the PNG Experience website.

Being a translator is just one of the roles needed to bring Scripture to people who need it the most. Find out how you can be involved in this amazing work or you can read another back translation example in our latest edition of Words for Life.

The Bible for the unreached

Friday, March 27th, 2015

Did you know that there are about 400 sign languages in the world and none of them yet have the whole of the Bible? Deaf Opportunity Outreach (DOOR) International, which has a centre in Kenya, is working to change this.

One of their translation consultants, Josh, explains his work:

Celebrating portions of the Bible in Kerala Sign language

Celebrating portions of the Bible in Kerala Sign language

‘Today I have been working on a commentary piece on the fruit of the Spirit, specifically joy. After I have done the study I will sit with one of our Deaf translators and work to explain what the Bible teaches about joy so that he can sign it in a way that is clear and easily understood by the Deaf in their own language. It is exciting and fun. I love my job.

But you know what is so frustrating? Psalm 16:11 says, “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” But that hasn’t been translated yet. 1 Peter 4:12-13 says, “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.” Wow! But that isn’t translated either.

Praise God for the work that has been accomplished! It is impacting lives. Deaf people in Kenya are turning to Jesus and growing in their faith.’

Please pray:

  • Pray for the translation teams working at the DOOR centre in Kenya.
  • Pray for the translators as they do the difficult work of taking meaning from one language and communicating it clearly in another.
  • Pray for those working with the teams to help them understand what the texts mean so they are able to do that work.
  • Pray for those who will be checking the translations for accuracy.’

Watch the need for sign language Bible translation, an inspiring video that explains how deaf communities are being impacted with God’s word.

I Understand This!

Monday, March 23rd, 2015

Moving meaning from one language and culture to another is a technical process. It’s something that translators spend a lot of time on in order to prevent loss of meaning from the original text. The fruits of their labor, however, are more than worth it.

Almost in tears in his enthusiasm, Ezra, a translator working amongst his people, shared with his fellow translators the exciting moment when people who had recently asked for Scripture materials exclaimed, “I understand this!

People in Ezra’s and Nehemiah’s culture are used to not understanding Scripture.

“But when they actually read something in their own language and suddenly have the experience of Jesus or Paul or Moses speaking as it were to them, it’s God’s Word to them in a significantly different way. They are sometimes amazed. “I understand this!” It’s an announcement of something grand. It’s something stupendous. Ezra and Nehemiah live in a non-reading culture. They get excited when someone understands by either reading or hearing.

That’s why we’re doing this job. For starters at least, we’re working for the ones and twos who announce this new thing to anyone who will listen.”

Read the full post on wycliffe.net which goes on to share some of the very real challenges they face in translating the Lord’s prayer, here.

Find out how you can help Bible translation: be involved either through prayer, financially or by going.

Biblical Sheep became Chukchi Reindeer

Monday, March 16th, 2015

How do you bring Bible stories to a people group in their own language? For nearly two years Zhanna, a Chukchi woman from the village of Kolymskoye in north-east Siberia, has been working on crafting Bible stories in to her own language. Two translators, Michal and Geneviève, have been assisting her. Now, with 25 stories completed, it’s time to take them to the Chukchi people for some feedback.

Geneviève writes,

“When the villagers saw our helicopter coming they thought there must be some Very Important People on board. Rumour had it that a group of Canadians were coming. In fact there were two Chukchi students, Zhanna and just one Canadian – me…”

In this great article, Geneviève tells us how the initial stages unfolded – from having the drafts checked and improved by two Chukchi ladies to having the stories recorded by a Chukchi language school teacher. Then finally they put down the papers, picked up the recordings and sat down with Chukchi villagers.

“In the process of crafting the stories from the biblical text, we made them more streamlined, made sentences shorter, anticipated questions that Chukchis would ask, made some adaptations to Chukchi culture… And so it was that biblical sheep became Chukchi reindeer. This made the ladies laugh. We wondered whether… But they said they liked it very much. It made the story real to them…

“They had heard about the Bible, but these stories in their very own language brought it all alive!” (Read Geneviève’s story in full on wycliffe.net)

The next stage of this project involves a consultant who will look over the text. Her task is to ensure that the stories are still true to the Bible, even when retold in different words. Revised stories may be tested in another village trip. Eventually there will be the final, definitive recording which will be circulated around the Chukchi villages and reindeer camps.

It’s encouraging to read about the work that is happening among the Chukchi community, however, there are still over 1,860 languages that are yet to have any Scripture in their own language. Find out how you can be involved in the work of Bible translation.

 

Softened soil, waiting for the Word

Wednesday, March 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.

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.

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.