A little plug for Wycliffe in Nigeria, from a British MP

A search on the internet often throws up surprising results and one was the mention of the work of Wycliffe Bible Translators in Nigeria, by Lib Dem MP Mark Williams, MP for Ceredigion.

In talking about why it’s important for Christians and governments to engage in international aid, page 59, he mentions “Wycliffe Bible Translators teaching literacy, helping to grow local cultures and educating people in their native language.”

I’m intrigued to know how he found out about it since it’s fairly quiet and long-term work.

 

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Newsletter 42: Not in Nigeria!

MM42 Cover Picture

Click to download the high quality version

Here’s some news for June/July 2015 from the Nigeria branch of the Rowbory family (High Quality Printable Version)

With a whirlwind of final meetings, David wrapped up his solo month in Nigeria and returned to the heart of the family at the start of May.  By then they had moved over from Northern Ireland to Glasgow and Rebekah had started at a local primary school. Continue reading

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Research in progress: Making dictionaries serve translation

Here’s an abstract that has been approved for presentation at a Bible Translation conference:

Making dictionaries serve translation

John Roberts has lamented the tendency of Bible translators to ignore lexicography until after a New Testament has been completed and printed. The consequence is that while the translation process necessarily reveals much of the lexical richness of a language, few dictionaries are ever finished and little of the effort of creating such a dictionary ends up benefitting the translation itself. It does tend to be a peculiar minority of people who attack the task of lexicography with relish, but I want to outline the many ways that a working dictionary can and should support better writing. Recent developments have eroded many of the difficulties which have hindered the development and use of dictionaries. There is no need to typeset a full dictionary before it is used; software-based dictionaries can be useful even when incomplete. Rather than throwing knowledge away, every translator or pioneer writer should see the dictionary as a place to store the riches of their language and conserve the fruit of their wrestling with the language. Mother-tongue translators need dictionaries too. Where a diverse range of community members contribute their knowledge of the language to make a good, growing, living dictionary it can provide consultants, reviewers and translators alike with a wider evidence base for their decisions than mere individual opinion. I survey recent developments that make dictionary development more achievable than ever before, and propose procedures for Bible translators to use and maintain a dictionary with examples from projects that have done this.

I thought I’d share some of my rough research and open up some questions and loose ends here in public while I’m preparing the paper.

Current Status of work: Literature & research review

I’m investigating times in the distant past right up to recently where dictionaries have made a contribution to Bible translation, whether positive or negative.

Some interesting stories so far

From translation consultants and translators.

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The Curse of Assumed Similarity

Near-misses are the bane of the translator’s life and work.

In the same way that a falsehood is more dangerous when it contains a large element of truth, terms or thinking that seem nearly similar between cultures create a very dangerous translation environment.

One handy example of this is the term ‘curse’.

What is a curse? What is cursing? Some people (especially certain pastors) are tempted to consult a dictionary to answer this kind of question. As a sometime lexicographer I have a healthy skepticism about the good that can do for this situation, Continue reading

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Don’t look back… but… Kirk Zero by 2037?

It suddenly dawned on me that May was coming round, and for most of the past 8 years that meant there would be some kind of trouble and rumpus regarding the Church of Scotland annual General Assembly. It’s actually a great joy to be able to put all that behind us now. Indeed, Phillip Jensen very helpfully urged us to stop looking over our shoulders and not let the persecution of the past control us (my paraphrase). But I’m afraid I still couldn’t resist wondering what was happening and whether the ‘Kirk’ was actually declining and falling into obscurity as rapidly as we expected it to do so.

IMG_0840So I had a glance through the latest reports and statistics and tried to piece them together when I found that someone (David Robertson of course) had already done a much better job. Continue reading

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When FieldWorks & SayMore installations struggle with a DotNet issue…

Several SIL tools like FieldWorks Language Explorer (Flex) and SayMore depend on the dotnet framework. (That’s a bit like Microsoft’s answer to Java.) Unfortunately it sometimes falls over.

So I found a rather handy blog post that explains what to do when you try installing DotNet 4.0 and it sits still for ages then responds with the less-than-helpful error message “.NET framework has not been installed because: HRESULT 0xc8000222.

It seems that a folder gets corrupted but that you can’t remove the auto-update folder until the relevant process is stopped. So, you really want to remove the directory %windir%/SoftwareDistribution but first of all you have to do this at the command prompt (net stop WuAuServ) to stop I guess an auto-update process which uses that folder. Then remove or rename the folder %windir%/SoftwareDistribution before restarting the relevant process (net start WuAuServ). Then DotNet should install.

Finally, restart your computer after installing .NET and before installing FieldWorks or SayMore. It possibly could work without you doing so but I haven’t had much success with that.

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Akurumi: a new translation team

A fellow translation consultant met with the new Akurumi Bible translation team last week. After checking some draft of Luke together, they made a video for one of their supporting churches. What they say is true for many communities in Nigeria. Well worth a watch:

The Akurumi Translation Project from benandren on Vimeo.

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Some of our music

From time to time we write music. Or maybe that should be we used to write music before 3 lively girls took over our lives and started providing a different soundtrack. I meant to rework the music pages of our old site, but that never happened, so here we go with an interim page of some pieces. We’ll be glad to take the credit if you love anything there and will of course blame your poor taste if there’s anything you don’t like.

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Rebekah on backing babies and wearing headties

We sent some Nigerian clothes, snacks and photos to a British primary school doing a focus on Africa. Here’s a brief video we made to explain how you back a baby with a wrapper and wear a head tie.

  • Head of wardrobe: Julie Rowbory
  • Assistant costume designers: Elizabeth and Abigail
  • Model: Rebekah
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I don’t really understand it so it must be great!

Journalists love writing about themselves and Nigerian journalists are no exception. I came across this gushing report on the Nation’s awesome achievements whilst searching for a turgid (but apparently award-winning) article on threats to Nigerian languages from the dash to English. I’m honestly trying not to be unfair here and to allow for the possibility of Nigerian English grammar and idioms being significantly divergent from British English, but I still would struggle to give this article more than a B–.

“But surely it deserves more,” I hear you cry, Continue reading

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