Multi-language Workshops

by Susan Shore

After working for a few years in the Be* language, I felt it was time to expand and begin to work in other languages. The Ba* language is closely related to Be* and although the Se* language is different grammatically, many words are similar to Na*, Be* and Ba*. But how could I expand into these languages, especially when I did not live in the country? The only thing I could think of was to use a workshop approach.

Be* singers in traditional clothing

Be* singers in traditional clothing

When I met Gunawan and shared this vision, he said, “I’ve been thinking about that, too, and my parents have a guest house. They said that you can use that.” So 15 people from five languages met for workshops to establish a foundation for translation: a dictionary workshop focused on how words are constructed, and the function of prefixes and suffixes in their language. For example, a mo-prefix on to a noun turned the word into a verb of transportation: mooto means to go by car.

In the next workshop each language group analysed their own grammar, we played a lot of games and then defined our terms. A noun answers the question: What is it? It can be the subject, object or location of a sentence. Other workshops focused on learning to use the computer, translating books for use in elementary schools, and finally beginning Bible translation. Later, many others helped with exegetical checking and consultant checking, and now the Be* Ba* Se* and Ra* people all have the New Testament plus Genesis in their languages. The Na* New Testament has also been revised.

* These language names are pseudonyms.


Return to Living Words March 2018


John 1:1

In the beginning was the Word

Verse for today

Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.