As good as translation

Alphabet chart in a previously unwritten language – the Lika language of the Congo

Sometime ago we asked people in various parts of Ghana what they liked about the Bible translation program going on in their language. As you can imagine, many responded that they like having the Bible in their language. One person called it an “eye opener”.

Surprisingly, many people felt that something else was as important as the translation. That is being able to read and write their language. Here are the top three answers to the question of what they liked about the translation work being done in their languages, they gave:
#1 Having an alphabet
#2 Having the Bible in my language
#3 Literacy

They love it that their language has an alphabet. They feel that brings their language into the modern era and gives it respect. They see the many benefits that being able to read and write their language brings them in daily life.

Man readying the Bible in his language. Photo GILLBT, Rodney Ballard

We tend to see the development of a writing system for a language as a hurdle to overcome before getting to translation. For us the writing of the language is a kind of beneficial side effect. But the communities where we work see it as a very good thing all by itself. Having grown up with writing all around us, I think we have forgotten how magical it is; whereas they are experiencing it for the very first time.

It’s kind of nice – producing something people love and need as a by-product.

One thought on “As good as translation

  1. Ed,

    Your list reminds me of a prayer by one of my students, probably in January 1981. I was teaching Kindergarten at New Horizons Foursquare Church in Grand Junction, Colorado (our matrimonial home). Being a Christian school, the class was small, only 9 children, 8 boys and one girl. One afternoon Zachariah Robinson prayed, “Thank You, God, for the alphabet.” Having already lived in Ethiopia for three years, teaching third grade for mostly MKs, I realized this was a profound prayer. So many children, a lot more then than now, have NO alphabet to learn! The next day I brought Jim’s copy of Peace Child to class to show the students pictures of other children who had no alphabet. At age 5, when one is learning the alphabet for the first time, it is much easier to appreciate it.

    Thinking out loud, and grateful for our uncomplicated alphabet, Louise Anderson

    Sent from Mail for Windows 10

    Liked by 1 person

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