Category Archives: Minority Languages

Why Dictionaries Matter in Bible Translation

Here’s a disclaimer:
I first came to Nigeria in 2001 on a short term trip to help people finish off a dictionary as part of a Bible translation project. I thought that might be the last of my dictionary-making, but even though it’s not really my job now I reluctantly find myself drawn back to it.

Bible translation projects require a good foundation of linguistics to work out a decent writing system and to help writers stay as faithful as possible to the natural grammar of the language whilst staying as faithful as possible to the meaning of the biblical text. Along the way some translators and advisors collect words into a dictionary. Most are never completed, never published. Some Bible translators eventually get round to working on a dictionary after the Bible has been published. Well surely that priority is right for a Bible translator, isn’t it? Yes and no, but mostly no, I reply. Continue reading Why Dictionaries Matter in Bible Translation

WeSay: Dictionary-Making For New Linguists

There is a fantastic program called WeSay for facilitating dictionary development. It’s particularly aimed at helping people gather and describe words in their own language even without strong computer experience or traditional linguistic training. It doesn’t replace analysis tools like FieldWorks, but presents a complementary approach and is interoperable. Where Fieldworks lets you document a word at a time completely, or organise lists of all your entries in whatever way you like for analysis, WeSay concentrates on doing one kind of task at a time, whether gathering words, adding meanings, adding example sentences, etc. One particularly exciting feature is that as many computers as you want can work on the same database and merge changes together. This – combined with the fact it has the Semantic Domains/DDP4 list of questions built-in – makes WeSay the best way of facilitating Rapid Word Collection, by far. Continue reading WeSay: Dictionary-Making For New Linguists