Category Archives: News

Languages of Wider Confusion: Cameliously?

Looking through a thesis for a friend at Kagoro seminary I was stumped by one particular word: ‘cameliously’. The context? “The research methods were carefully, cameliously designed…” Are you any the wiser? I wasn’t and I consulted various dictionaries and asked friends. No-one had ever heard of the word. Various possibilities were suggested including things to do with chameleons. That seemed unlikely since the word didn’t really look like that. Finally I gave up and asked the student directly. Grinning he confessed he had actually made it up and intended it to be ‘like a chameleon’.

But what would ‘cameliously’ (or ‘chameleonly’) mean? Continue reading Languages of Wider Confusion: Cameliously?

Languages of Wider Confusion: Of Step Mothers and Aunts

One of the Koro Ashɛ translators sadly just heard he lost his step-mother. I offered my condolences and I really should know better by now than to do this, but I asked somewhat crassly when she had become his step-mother. At that point he looked confused. But of course, I’d asked a silly question. I was thinking that perhaps his mother had died and his father remarried, but no, I was quite off-beam. This was his father’s immediate brother’s wife. All the wives of his uncles are called in Ashɛ-style English ‘step-mothers’, as are co-wives in polygamous households. I guess I would say ‘aunt’ but I get the impression that the relationships just work differently and a paternal aunt by marriage is quite a different thing from a maternal aunt or even a father’s sister.

Colleague Ben has a great blog where he writes rather interesting articles on Bible translation issues sparked by his consulting work. It’s academic in style but very accessible I think. His latest post has some of his own translation of Philippians, and there’s soon going to be something about accuracy in translation.

Ben also is something of a videographer and made our 2015 video about work and life in Nigeria along with some videos for his family and others involved in Bible Translation in Nigeria. The most recent video features my boss (translation coordinator) Mark Gaddis, who I first met in 2001 when he was working on his first translation project and I was working on my first dictionary.

Medals per Million

Update: as for 16 August 2016, Data from BBC, rio2016.com and Wikipedia:

17 August Medals metrics by GDP

Rank

Country

Gold

Silver

Bronze

Total

Popula–tion (M)

Medals per Million

Golds per Million

Medals per GDP $m

61 GRN

0

1

0

1

0.1

9.71

0.00

1000.00

36 ARM

1

3

0

4

3.0

1.34

0.33

371.26

40 GEO

1

1

3

5

3.7

1.34

0.27

358.63

19 JAM

3

0

2

5

2.7

1.84

1.10

355.69

48 FIJ

1

0

0

1

0.9

1.15

1.15

201.45

59 MGL

0

1

1

2

3.1

0.65

0.00

171.64

69 KGZ

0

0

1

1

6.0

0.17

0.00

165.84

69 MDA

0

0

1

1

3.6

0.28

0.00

164.37

22 CUB

2

2

4

8

11.2

0.71

0.18

160.23

48 KOS

1

0

0

1

1.8

0.54

0.54

154.54

54 AZE

0

2

3

5

9.8

0.51

0.00

142.28

48 BAH

1

0

0

1

0.4

2.65

2.65

112.15

12 HUN

6

3

4

13

9.8

1.32

0.61

110.42

37 BLR

1

2

2

5

9.5

0.53

0.11

108.96

18 CRO

3

2

0

5

4.2

1.19

0.72

100.14

30 UZB

2

0

4

6

31.6

0.19

0.06

97.33

16 KEN

3

3

0

6

44.2

0.14

0.07

92.75

38 SLO

1

2

1

4

2.1

1.94

0.48

91.34

20 KAZ

2

3

5

10

17.8

0.56

0.11

86.09

33 UKR

1

4

2

7

42.7

0.16

0.02

83.78

40 ETH

1

1

3

5

92.2

0.05

0.01

74.15

58 LTU

0

1

2

3

2.9

1.05

0.00

69.73

48 SER

1

0

0

1

14.8

0.07

0.07

68.62

43 BHR

1

1

0

2

1.4

1.42

0.71

66.49

14 NZ

3

6

1

10

4.7

2.12

0.64

58.85

69 EST

0

0

1

1

1.3

0.76

0.00

41.93

39 CZE

1

1

5

7

10.6

0.66

0.09

37.78

4 RUS

12

12

14

38

146.6

0.26

0.08

33.55

35 DEN

1

3

5

9

5.7

1.57

0.17

29.82

32 SA

1

5

1

7

55.7

0.13

0.02

26.29

69 TUN

0

0

1

1

11.2

0.09

0.00

22.73

43 SVK

1

1

0

2

5.4

0.37

0.18

22.27

42 ROM

1

1

2

4

19.9

0.20

0.05

21.98

27 GRE

2

1

1

4

10.9

0.37

0.18

20.56

9 AUS

7

8

9

24

24.2

0.99

0.29

19.99

7 NED

8

3

3

14

17.0

0.82

0.47

18.36

2 GB

19

19

12

50

65.1

0.77

0.29

18.11

24 COL

2

2

0

4

48.8

0.08

0.04

15.80

23 POL

2

2

3

7

38.4

0.18

0.05

14.78

21 PRK

2

3

2

7

25.3

0.28

0.08

13.01

6 ITA

8

9

6

23

60.7

0.38

0.13

12.44

8 FRA

7

11

11

29

66.7

0.43

0.10

11.77

34 SWE

1

4

1

6

9.9

0.61

0.10

11.70

25 BEL

2

1

2

5

11.3

0.44

0.18

10.75

11 KOR

6

3

5

14

50.8

0.28

0.12

10.60

31 IRN

2

0

2

4

79.5

0.05

0.03

10.36

48 PUR

1

0

0

1

10.3

0.10

0.10

10.03

43 VIE

1

1

0

2

92.7

0.02

0.01

9.93

27 THA

2

1

1

4

65.7

0.06

0.03

9.76

17 CAN

3

2

9

14

36.2

0.39

0.08

9.57

69 MOR

0

0

1

1

34.0

0.03

0.00

9.25

66 NOR

0

0

3

3

5.2

0.57

0.00

8.18

56 IRE

0

2

0

2

4.8

0.42

0.00

7.86

25 SWI

2

1

2

5

8.3

0.60

0.24

7.67

5 GER

11

8

7

26

81.8

0.32

0.13

7.50

15 BRZ

3

4

4

11

206.5

0.05

0.01

7.17

29 ARG

2

1

0

3

43.6

0.07

0.05

6.85

10 JPN

7

4

18

29

127.0

0.23

0.06

6.57

67 ISR

0

0

2

2

8.5

0.23

0.00

6.53

59 MAS

0

1

1

2

31.0

0.06

0.00

6.47

67 EGY

0

0

2

2

91.5

0.02

0.00

6.05

61 ALG

0

1

0

1

40.4

0.02

0.00

6.03

46 TPE

1

0

2

3

23.5

0.13

0.04

5.90

61 QAT

0

1

0

1

2.3

0.43

0.00

5.85

13 SPA

4

1

2

7

46.4

0.15

0.09

5.63

61 VEN

0

1

0

1

31.0

0.03

0.00

5.39

69 POR

0

0

1

1

10.3

0.10

0.00

4.88

1 US

28

28

28

84

324.2

0.26

0.09

4.53

3 CHN

17

15

19

51

1378.2

0.04

0.01

4.48

55 TUR

0

2

1

3

78.7

0.04

0.00

3.99

48 SIN

1

0

0

1

5.5

0.18

0.18

3.39

61 PHI

0

1

0

1

102.9

0.01

0.00

3.22

69 UAE

0

0

1

1

9.9

0.10

0.00

3.08

69 AUT

0

0

1

1

8.7

0.11

0.00

2.60

56 IDN

0

2

0

2

258.7

0.01

0.00

2.13

47 IOA

1

0

1

2

0.0

Yes, of course USA is top nation at the moment (in terms of Olympic medals) but it’s got a large population. Wouldn’t a fairer comparison be medals per head of population, or rather, per million. Here are the results sorted that way, as of 15 August 2016:

medals per head of population smaller Medals Per Million 15 August

Is translation easy or impossible?

For centuries – probably millenia – people have argued about whether translation is actually possible, whilst doing it and relying on it all the time. Some treat it as a mechanical – obvious – process, just switching words around. But most people who have been involved in meaningful translation realise that it’s a lot harder than that. So what perspective is true?

It’s occurred to me, as someone who struggles with learning languages, that translation maybe is only as hard as learning a language well. What do you think?

That means it’s tough, but not impossible. The hardest bit is probably learning to discard the assumptions and patterns from language A when learning and using language B.

It’s a little unfortunate that the ‘th’ sound in English is comparatively rarely used in other languages. And so it would be far too easy to mis-hear Nigerian colleagues talking about “fate” rather than “faith”. There is a rather important difference of course. Sometimes the context or expectation makes things clear, but other times it doesn’t.

It reminds me of the time in 2001 I set out to buy ‘paint thinner’ in the town of Zuru, in NW Nigeria. I was entirely unsuccessful, but did eventually manage to describe what I was looking for and purchase ‘paint sinner’.

Spelling and Grammar: revealing the insidious occult influence lurking within even Christian curricula

How many well-meaning parents have encouraged their offspring to compete in a spelling bee? How many have insisted on children spending hours learning and practising their spelling? “What is the harm in that?” we may ask.

Would we send our children to a witch to learn sorcery and magical incantations? It may be shocking to learn that the very same ‘spelling’ practised daily in our schools has its origins in the old Germanic word ‘spel’ meaning an enchantment or magical charm. Look in the Oxford English Dictionary and you will have to admit this is clear for all to see. The origin of the word proves that in exposing our dear little ones to ‘spelling’ we are inducing them to experiment with witchcraft.

As if this state of affairs was not bad enough, children then proceed to lessons in ‘grammar’. The word ‘grammar’ has a late Middle English root from Old French gramaire, via Latin from Greek grammatikē (tekhnē) ‘(art) of letters’. This sounds innocent enough were it not for the fact that the word was attested in Scots from early 18th century as ‘glamour’ meaning ‘enchantment, magic’ coming from a lesser-known, but sinister sense of ‘grammar’ meaning the kind of scholarship and learning “including the occult practices popularly associated with learning”. (Again this is all found in the OED.)

So in both these ways we can see that our modern ways of language instruction and literacy are rooted in menacing pagan magic. Whether you recognise it or not, every time you ‘spell something out’, you are invoking shadowy spirits.

So down with spelling and grammar! Let us send them back to their foul, fiendish founders!

International Money Transfer: reliable options

Transferring money internationally used to be risky and expensive, but in the last few years that has all changed. Here are some online options great for people wanting to send money between common major currencies and also to more far-flung places such as Nigeria (where we live). Many people in countries like Nigeria are sent regular support from relatives working in Europe or North America. These services allow bank transfers – and in some cases, mobile phone topup and cash pickup locally, with vastly reduced charges. (However, they typically don’t work for getting money flowing the other way, say from Nigerian Naira to British pounds.)

Best rates (above mid-market rate) for Nigeria, Feb 2016: Azimo.

  • Sign up first to Azimo via topcashback.co.uk to get a nice chunk of cash back on your first transaction.

Others which are good, but give only the mid market rate to Nigeria:

  • Transferwise: Low fees, has worked well for me with > 10 transactions.
  • Skrill.com: Not personally used this myself.
  • XendPay.com: Again not used it, but it gets a good press. Offers a prepaid Mastercard.

Please note that I get some referral fees for some of the links above.