Photo courtesy of Stuart Showalter

Bible Translation News

7,000 Words in 10 Days

A new way to gather many words in a short time is being used to produce first-ever dictionaries in language groups, a key product of Bible translation and literacy programs.

Conceived by Ron Moe, a linguistics consultant with SIL International (Wycliffe’s key partner organization), Rapid Word Collection (RWC) is a brief two-week workshop that usually collects 7,000 words or more. It brings together diverse groups of mother-tongue speakers—men and women, seniors and young people. 

RWC is based on the idea that humans organize words in their minds in a giant network of relationships, clustering them as groups around topics, called “semantic domains.” RWC workshops use a series of questionnaires, which prompt participants to note words in their language that are related to 1,800 different domains.  In the household equipment domain, for example, questions are asked about objects used for various functions in the home. 

In Burkina Faso, the Kaansa translation and literacy team (pictured above) surpassed its 7,000-plus word goal, thanks to several dozen participants in a 10-day workshop. The team hopes to offer printed copies of a completed dictionary at a ceremony to launch the Kaansa New Testament, tentatively planned for later this year. The Kaansa dictionary will help sustain the language, support the creation of literacy materials, and bridge generations as young people learn traditional terms and concepts. 

Continuing on After Tragedy

(Photo: Natasha Schmale)

The Wapishana New Testament project continues in Guyana, despite the tragic deaths of Wycliffe translators Richard and Charlene Hicks in 2005 (see story in Word Alive, Spring 2014). Faith Comes by Hearing, a partner organization of Wycliffe, has recorded the Wapishana New Testament in the South American nation. Before the recorded New Testament is distributed to Wapishana villages (such as those pictured above), people will be trained to lead Bible studies.

Kifuliiru Scriptures Embraced 

As the team approaches the end of translating the Old Testament into Kifuliiru, it is encouraged by the impact Scriptures are already making among the 400,000 speakers.

The New Testament has been feeding the people since it was released in 2000 in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Africa.

“Many are already saved through the Word of God transmitted in the language of the heart,” reports the team. “Especially our old people who do not understand other languages. We have young men doing open-air and one-to-one evangelism producing similar results.”

Church choirs everywhere are singing Kifuliiru hymns, the team adds.

“Our language was in danger of being gobbled up by Swahili and French. Now it has life. Praise God!” 

AIDS-awareness Book Gets Signed

(Photo: SIL Photo)

As sign language Bible translation efforts for the Deaf around the world continue to grow, translation of other important materials is also advancing. 

In Africa, for example, staff from Wycliffe Benin and the Global Sign Languages Team (GSLT) of SIL International (Wycliffe’s key partner agency) recently taught translation principles to Deaf translators from Benin and Togo (pictured, right). To gain hands-on experience at the workshop, participants translated Kande’s Story, a popular AIDS-awareness book created by SIL (see Word Alive, Summer 2012) for use among minority language groups.

The Deaf in the two African nations can understand each other well, but there are some important vocabulary differences. As key terms from Kande’s Story were translated at the workshop, it was discovered the Deaf in each country use a different sign for AIDS. In Togo, the Deaf use the generic word for “illness” and modify that sign with the hand shape indicating “s,” the first letter of the French term for AIDS (SIDA). The sign used in Benin is based on the international symbol for AIDS, a red ribbon.Since this term is central to the story, the group decided that two separate translations were needed.

It’s estimated that up to 400 sign languages are used by the Deaf throughout the world.

Hope at the Morgue

(Photo: Michael Janke)

The New Testament in the Oku language ministered to hundreds of mourners at a morgue in Cameroon, Africa, recently. Following the local custom, they were waiting for the release of the body after a colleague of Wycliffe’s David Anderson lost his wife.

The Oku Scriptures were read by one of the women attending so others could listen and be encouraged. The woman had never read in her Oku language before but agreed to try. 

“As we sat under the overhang outside the mortuary,” Anderson recalls, “she had her first literacy lesson in Oku.”

The woman began by reading 1 Corinthians 15:20, which in English says, “But in fact, Christ has been raised from the dead. He is the first of a great harvest of all who have died” (NLT). It was a great encouragement to the mourning Christians gathered around—a reminder of eternal hope in Christ.

The woman then read Revelation. 7:17: “For the Lamb on the throne will be their Shepherd. He will lead them to springs of life-giving water. And God will wipe every tear from their eyes” (NLT).

Finishing the verse, she said, “Reading this took away my tears.”


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