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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Christmas 2014 Newsletter

Download the printable PDF: Monthly Museletter 40

Christmas Greetings from Jos!  Yesterday we had our office Christmas celebration not just with colleagues but with their families too. Our group has certainly kept growing over the last year. Last year’s party met in our back garden. This time we met in a hall (on the compound we moved to in February) to enjoy scripture, songs, carols, prayer, games and food together. We’ll write more about our office and colleagues in the new year. Apart from celebrating Christmas it’s also the end of semester at the Theological College of Northern Nigeria (TCNN) where David has been teaching in the Bible Translation Dept. Continue reading

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“Are you OK?” — Sudden Suffering at Christmas

Sometimes the words “We’re OK” are a little unsettling, in particular when the message comes out of the blue and you didn’t realise anything was wrong or that your loved ones might not have been OK. We sometimes end up sending such messages but a few days ago were on the receiving end.

Having had a twin bomb attack in our city (Jos) a couple of weeks ago, and having fielded  kind enquiries from friends as to our safety, it was a strange reversal to end up hearing “We’re OK” from family in Glasgow after the George Square bin lorry accident. However, from here in Nigeria, the drama of the aftermath seems a little surprising. Perhaps it’s because we drive past horrific traffic accidents pretty frequently and regularly hear of Islamic violence affecting our communities and friends somewhere in Nigeria. And perhaps Glasgow is a much more tranquil place with less suffering.

Inevitably Facebook and Twitter, and the comment sections of news feeds, light up in such times with instant reaction. Leaving aside the ‘shock jocks’ who use tragedy to exhibit their immaturity, it seems you get something of an insight into a society’s religious outlook and their attitude to suffering.

Why – aside from the busier streets – is it particularly bad that this happens at Christmas? Continue reading

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More or less: thoughts on the spread of education in Nigeria

Here are a collection of my observations and insights gleaned from friends and colleagues Nigerian and foreign, regarding the history and the result of the spread of education in Nigeria.

It is frequently observed that there is greater access to education than ever before in Nigeria. Sometimes people claim then that Nigerians are better educated than ever before. Somewhat optimistically and logically then, I and others have concluded that the immense task of developing Nigeria’s languages and translating the Bible should be more achievable now and faster than ever it could have been in the past.

I am starting to think that this is sadly naïve. The true situation is more puzzling and more complicated than the simple narrative of ‘Nigeria is better educated than ever before’. Continue reading

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