Where we have been.
We arrived in the US in March 2017, and you may be thinking we have just been vacationing. Au contraire my friends, we have been quite busy. Let me tell you what we have been up to.
STUDY. The majority of our time has been spent in Dallas, TX where we have been studying at the Graduate Institute of Applied Linguistics. The reason we were here is because we knew that we needed more training before we began translating the Bible. At GIAL took the following classes:
- Advanced Grammar
- Advanced Phonology
- Cross-cultural Teaching Seminar
- Discourse Analysis
- Semantics and Pragmatics
- Theory and Practice of Translation
We also both wrote a thesis. Mine (Dave’s) was on the use of tense in Kwakum narrative discourse (304 pages) and Stacey’s was on the tone of Kwakum (314 pages). Though we did enjoy our work, the point of this process was to give us the tools we need to help the Kwakum people translate the Bible. The application of Stacey’s thesis is a proposed writing system. The application of my thesis is a way to select tense markers when translating narratives in the Bible. We both believe that we could not have hoped to produce a faithful translation of the Bible without these insights.
TRAVEL. We spent any off time we had from school touring around the country visiting churches and seeing supporters and friends. We did a total of 42 missions presentations everywhere from California to Dallas, TX to Louisville, KY. We spoke about ministry in Cameroon at The Master’s University, The Master’s Seminary, GIAL, in people’s homes, and at 12 churches.
So, all that to say, the one thing we have yet to do is take a vacation! But we hope to get a week in before we leave (see "Where we are going" below).
A novel idea.
A common refrain in the Bible translation realms is that we really need two translations for every language: one simple translation for those first learning to read, and another for those Christians who want to gain a deeper understanding of the Bible. This is usually said with a shrug and a “wouldn’t that be nice” smile.
The truth is, it would be nice. As we are thinking about translating the Bible for the Kwakum, we know that the majority of the Kwakum cannot read in any language. So, we are planning to work with them on literacy (learning how to read) while we translate. But the Bible is a difficult book and we are certain that it will take them awhile to work up to it. So, we will be producing a number of literacy primers, short books/booklets that are easier to read.
But, we had another thought: why not work on two translations at the same time? Everyone seems to think it is a good idea to have two, so why not go for it? So, we have decided to try. Specifically, we have decided to do two translations in Kwakum:
- A translation with adults, with a target audience of mature believers. This process will look a lot like what we studied in our Bible translation methodology class. We will work with several men who are literate in French. They will be using the French text as a source and Stacey and I will work with the Greek and Hebrew to make sure that we are exegeting the text well. We will have other Kwakum men that will test our translations. But again, the goal of this translation will be to produce something that believers will grow into, a ‘mature translation’.
- The second translation will be much more simple. In fact, we are planning to use children as the translators, rather than adults. This will be a translation for children, but more than that, it will be a translation for everyone as they first are learning to read. The exegesis will be done with the adults, as most of these children will not be able to read French and faithful exegesis is beyond most children. Using the Kwakum translation produced by the adults, we will lead the children to produce a translation. The children will be used to test the translation as well.
Is this model going to work? We are not sure. As far as we know, no one has tried it before. But our heart is not only to translate the Word, but to have people understand it. And as time goes by, we are realizing more and more that the Kwakum children are the future of our work. The children are much more open than the adults, and by the time both of these translations are done, these children will be the ones using it. And so we are trying something novel, something new, with hopes that in doing so, we can help them to better understand God’s Word. And we do so with high hopes, knowing that the better they understand God’s Word, the more it will change them.
We are also planning to incorporate aspects of Oral Bible Translation methodology. See Stacey's blog about it HERE.
Where we are going.
As I write this, we are packing and getting ready to leave Texas. We will head out on July 4th and head up to Colorado. Right Now Media has given us a week at a cabin that they own near Gunnison. After that we will be in Louisville for 4 weeks. Then back to Colorado Springs before we fly out. Here are the exact dates:
- Now-July 4th – Dallas, TX
- July 5th – 12th – Colorado Vacation
- July 13th – August 11th – Louisville, KY
- August 11th – 20th – Colorado Springs
- August 20th – Fly back to Cameroon