For my work as a Bible translation consultant (in training) I am reliant on using languages of wider communication (mostly English, with little bits of Hausa) to discuss the meaning of parts of the Bible and help translators check and improve their work. I am very aware of the dangers and pitfalls that this entails.
(Why is this a reality for me? I’m rather slow and poor at learning to speak languages, and work with far too many languages to attempt it.)
There is a real push amongst some Americans who want to “accelerate Bible translation” to resource and partner directly with local churches around the world and to cut out the missionary middle man, as it were. This is possible because more and more non-Western partners are able to communicate in Western languages of wider communication(English, Spanish, French).
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!
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.
Based on 2 real people I have had contact with, but with names changed. Have a read and a think. Comment if you like below.
Joseph was suffering from some leg pain without any particularly obvious cause. Clearly someone with a grudge against him or envious of him in some way must have caused that pain. Getting medical help won’t deal with the underlying problem, and he’s understandably not very confident that the clinic will do anything much for him. The only real way to deal with it is to visit the traditional healer who can help suggest who might be to blame, and then try to do whatever it takes to send the sickness ‘back to sender’. Surely that’s quite understandable? Continue reading Sickness and Immigration, Revenge and Xenophobia→
David Rowbory, Translation Consultant in Training, SIL Nigeria
A paper presented at the 2015 Bible Translation Conference hosted by GIAL Dallas, Texas, 16-20 October relating to the sub-themes Technology and other Tools, Theory & Practice and Translator Training.
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.
It was on the walk to school this morning. With the clouds rushing towards the low winter morning sun overhead, I looked West and saw a rainbow. Actually it was my daughters who spotted it first and they love a good rainbow. But where they saw pots of gold I saw trouble. It was then that I realised that in the rush to get out of the house with girls suitably attired (no need for waterproof trousers this sunny Monday) I had neglected to bring my own coat. At the same moment I realised that the beautiful bow in the sky was quite likely being produced by rain that would soon engulf us.
I was wrong actually… it was hail. Well, hail at first and sleety rain later.
So that’s why when I saw the rainbow I said, “Run!” And we did.
Grace is one of those words that most Christian kids or young Christians end up being taught is special and has a special meaning. That’s great, but in my role as a Bible translator I’m starting to get a little concerned about words like that.
OK, we all know that grace is… (fill in the blank)*
Grace is an awesome feeling — one we can never experience enough. Outstanding athletes exist in a state of grace, a place where calculation and strategy and movement happen almost unconsciously. Great athletes can focus in a way that, to us, is unrecognizable because through skill, training, and experience their ability to focus is nearly effortless.
We’ve all felt a sense of grace, if only for a few precious moments, when we performed better than we ever imagined possible… and realized what we assumed to be limits weren’t really limits at all.
Those moments don’t happen by accident, though. Grace is never given; grace must be earned through discipline and training and sacrifice.
Some time I may get round to writing a paper on some cross-disciplinary lessons that Bible translators can learn from Software Engineering. (This is essentially trying to integrate my former and current career paths.)
My attention was caught by a slightly overblown headline on favourite irreverent geeky news site The Register: Most developers have never seen a successful project. Let me intersperse some quotes with some comments on how I see this relating to difficulties we face in the Bible translation world:
Most software professionals have never seen a successful software development project, continuous delivery evangelist Dave Farley said, and have “built careers on doing the wrong thing”.