Laying the foundations for Bible translation through understanding rules and structures of the language.
Many of the 2,000 or so languages where translation is still needed do not yet have a written form. The majority have never been analysed or documented. In many cases language communities are keen to see their language developed, but lack training and encouragement.
Terrill and Amber Schrock live in northeastern Uganda and have written about some of the highlights of their work helping the Ik people to develop a written form of their language:
'Tone is one of the aspects of the world's language that many people (namely speakers of non-tonal language like English) find mysterious. People often think tone is exotic, and students of language often say they are "tone-deaf" . Both perceptions are myths. In fact, as many as 60-70 per cent of the languages in the world are tonal. That means that non-tonal languages like English are more exotic, if by "exotic" we mean unusual. Moreover, if we are "deaf" to "tone" we wouldn't be able to speak or understand English very well! Take the following example:
- "You are going."
- "Who is going?"
- "Me." (or "Me!") '
Working alongside members of a language community, a linguistic team will work towards:
- The formation of local language committees, who will guide and promote language development.
- Identifying gifted mother tongue speakers and training them to participate fully in the project.
- A thorough linguistic analysis of the sound system.
- A practical alphabet which is approved and accepted by the community.
- A detailed analysis of the grammatical system and language structure, which will help translators produce high quality translation.
- A language database, often leading to a more fully developed dictionary.
Linguistic work is usually carried out under Wycliffe's partner organisation, SIL International and in partnership with other national and international Bible translation organisations.
Training for linguistic fieldwork is provided by the European Training Programme. Applicants for linguistic work are usually but not always educated to degree level, and have well-developed analytical abilities. Some will have a background in linguistics or languages, but we also welcome enquiries from those who have studied mathematics or any other analytical subject.
If you are wanting to go overseas to do linguistic work, you may also want to consider enrolling on the 3-year MA Field Linguistics, which includes a 2-year overseas internship.
In This Section:
- First Steps
- The Next Step
- Two Week Stint
- One-to-One (6wks-1yr)
- Medium/Long Term (2+yrs)
- Specific Roles