Work in Progress

A Rowbory family blog from Nigeria

Village visit

In late April, four of the Ashɛ translation team were in Gardi — deep inside Ashɛ land — to greet chiefs and others, and to participate in an Ishɛ language service on the Sunday. While Arams often complains about how things aren’t as they used to be, many children and adults swamped Moses’ house to …

Go to the ant

In the mid-19th century, the renowned French/Russian entomologist Jean-Marie Syccof discovered and described the behaviour of an intriguing group of ants native to Algeria. These days everyone knows how fiercely ants will defend their queen, but before Syccof’s time understanding of the social behaviour of ants was less clear. The queen herself hides deep in …

Should Mission focus on Salvation of People or on God’s Glory?

An intriguing tweet Mission ceases to be biblical when it is focused more on what humans get out of it (salvation) than on what God gets out of it (glory)… the former is anthropology the later is theology and if you do not properly order these your missiology will constantly go astray. — Andy Herbek …

A warm spring or a dirty swimming pool?

Just after the new year 3 families from our compound (and several singles) went on a short holiday trip to Yankari Game Reserve, about 4 hours east past Bauchi town. It was delightful! The roads to get there were surprisingly smooth, on the 40 mile drive (!) from the gates to the accommodation we spotted …

Ethnotwinning: the latest geekish craze

You’ve heard of town twinning, maybe even of toilet twinning, but have you ever heard of ‘ethnotwinning’? Did you know that every language in the world has a 3 letter ISO639 code? So, as long as you’ve got 3 initials, you can find your own ethnotwin. My initials are DJR and my ethnotwin is a …

Why discourse study makes great translator training

2018 was something of a departure from normal patterns for Ashe and for me. To the surprise of many, I did almost no checking of translation with Ashe, but focussed on studying 6 Ashe stories – some true, some folk tales. I had reasons to think this was absolutely necessary, and even though it’s taken …

Biblish Idioms: Hearts melting

Here’s a challenge: Read this first sentence: Our hearts melted as we saw them approach. Then consider what we expect to come next… Which seems more suitable? The little children looked so cute, we couldn’t be angry any more. The warriors were armed to the teeth and utterly fearsome. They’re quite different aren’t they?

A Host of Problems

In the course of trying to compare the style of natural storytelling in Koro Wachi language with what’s in the Bible, we looked at a seasonally appropriate passage:   “That time, angels that accepted strangers in heaven many appeared and they came with the angels.” Luke 2:13, the Koro Wachi translation draft, as explained in …

The Lord is my Goat Hunter

One of my favourite short articles about Bible translation was written 56 years ago by Constance Naish and Gillian Story working among Tlingit people in Alaska. They reflect on how the interpreters for the first missionaries there 100 years ago (mis-)understood the Bible. It’s comic and tragic and repeated in some similar way every day …

Unpicking Biblish: witness

Abstract: ‘witness’ in the Bible tends to mean telling people about something rather than seeing it. This is not normal English. The following definitions hopefully explain the senses given by the Greek word martys and martureo, and the word they’re often translated by in English. μαρτυς noun 1. one who testifies in legal matters, 2. one …