Northeast Wycliffe Associates Banquet Tour

IMG_6271
In just a few days we’ll be beginning two and half weeks as the primary speakers at Wycliffe Associates banquets in several cities in the states of New York, Maryland, Connecticut, Maine and Vermont.  We’ll be sharing our stories about how God has been using us and our skills in computers and communications in the ministry of Bible translation.

IMG_6283

If you live in one of the cities where we’ll be speaking, we’d love to see you! Consider coming to a banquet. Here’s our schedule:

- April 22 at 6:30pm at the Salisbury Fire Hall in Salisbury, PA (near Grantsville, MD)
- April 24 at 7pm at the Driver’s Village in Cicero, NY
- April 25 at 7pm at the Clarion Inn and Suites in East Windsor, CT
- April 27 at 1:30pm at The Senator Inn and Spa in Augusta, ME
- April 28 at 6:30pm at Marco’s in Lewiston, ME
- April 29 at 7pm at Keeley the Katerer Banquet Center in Portland, ME
- May 1 at 6:30pm at the Ramada Inn in Bangor, ME
- May 3 at 1pm at the Double Tree Burlington in Burlington, VT
- May 5 at 7pm at the Holiday Inn Albany in Albany, NY
- May 6 at 6:30pm at the Holiday Inn in Rutland, VT
- May 8 at 6:30pm at The Falcons Nest in Falconer, NY
- May 9 at 7pm at the Holiday Inn in Binghamton, NY

To reserve a place at one of these banquets, click on the date of the banquet you can go to, and follow the instructions for making a reservation. These banquets are a great opportunity to learn more about what God is doing through the ministry of Bible translation. And, this time – it’s also a great opportunity for you to hear our story!

Admission and your meal are free. An offering is taken to cover expenses and raise funds for Bible translation projects.  If you are wondering just what these banquets are like, have a look at our blog post called One Day on the Wycliffe Associates Banquet Tour.   This will give you a good overview of what to expect.

Please be praying for these banquets:

  • That God will help us to communicate what He wants people to hear.
  • That God will keep us safe while we travel on the road.
  • That God will protect the equipment used in these banquets and keep it from malfunctioning
  • That God will use these banquets to help us reach our goals for finishing our partnership development goals and new financial requirements (see more about our 100 day goal).
  • That God will provide us with energy for this intensive schedule.

Wycliffe Associates (WA) is a Wycliffe Global Alliance affiliated organization in the US which focuses on recruiting self-funded volunteers, funding special projects and raising awareness for Bible translation.  They are one of several Alliance affiliated organizations which are based in the US.  Click here to learn more about WA and the other Alliance organizations in the USA, including our home organization – Wycliffe USA. 

17

04 2014

Minority Languages in Europe

Europe will probably never win the prize for number of languages. With 234, it can claim just 3.4% of all the languages of the world; in fact, it comes in last among the continents. The grand prize goes to Asia with 2,322 languages, or 34% of the total.

IMG_0476copy

Europe’s lingustic diveristy is greater than you may think

Still, anyone who thinks Europe has just one language per country had better think again. That’s not even true of Germany …. after all, we have Danish, Frisian, Sorbian, three Roma (Gypsy) languages (Balkan, Sinte, and Vlax), and a lot more. Allemanisch in the Black Forest can also, like its relative Swiss German, be regarded as a (separate) language. Then there are the languages of the immigrants: Turkish, Kurdish, Aramaic and others, which by now can be considered established language groups. Even tiny Andorra in the Pyrenees has three indigenous spoken languages: French, Spanish, and Catalan. In Austria, one encounters not only German but also Alemannisch, Bavarian, Slovenian, Croatian, Hungarian, Sinte Romani, and Walser.

20130501-3815
One quarter of the languages of Europe are found in Russia (58). Within the Russian Federation, the region richest in languages is the Caucasus, with about 30 languages. Yet another language-rich area is the Balkans, with over 40 languages. Italy comes in next with approximately 33 languages; in the Italian Alps alone there are several small language groups like Cimbrian, Friulian, Ladin and Piemontese. Germany has 27 languages. France comes close with 23 languages, with minority languages like Auvergnat, Breton, Corsican, Provencal, Vlaams; and at least one sign language.

Very small languages

Some of the minority languages are very small, and there is a possibility that they might soon cease to exist. Cimbrian, for example, is spoken by just 2200 people. There are only 1900 speakers of Mocheno left in the Valley of Fersina in the Tretin Alps. In an isolated mountain region on the Greek islands of the Peloponnes, 1200 people speak Tsakonian, which stems from the language of ancient Sparta. And Istriot is spoken by only about 1000 people on the Mediterranean coast of Croatia. Manx on the Isle of Man between England and Ireland is about to die out completely. Even the two Frisian dialects on the German North Sea coast are spoken by a total of only about 12,000 speakers.

Language death and language vitality

There can be various reasons for the demise of a language. Sometimes politics are behind it. Only a few decades ago, for example, Italy and Spain tried to ban the use of minority languages in an attempt to force the exclusive use of the national languages. But often the influence of the “majority language” is simply too strong. That is probably the reason why Frisian is dying out in Germany. In schools and in the media, in business and on the job – High German is dominant everywhere. Under such circumstances there is a strong temptation to stop using the minority language. Thus many young people in Frisia can still understand the Frisian of their parents but no longer use it actively as their mother tongue.

Other minority languages are more robust and are being retained by the younger generation. There is no need to worry about the various Basque dialects in the Pyrenees. Catalan is still widely spoken and written in the eastern coastal areas of Spain and on the vacation islands of Majorca and Ibiza. In Wales great efforts have been made to preserve the old Celtic language of Cymareg (Welsh). It has been reintroduced as a language of instruction in many schools; there are both Welsh literature and Welsh radio programs. It is estimated that about 20% of the Welsh population can speak it.

Curious facts about European languages

There are some interesting curiosities among European languages. In Greece, ancient Greek is still the language of the Orthodox Church. There is even an Eskimo language in the colourful tapestry of European languages. Since Greenland belongs to Denmark, the 57,000 Eskimos who live there count as Europeans.


The number of European languages is augmented by around 40 different sign languages for the deaf. These are definitely not just visual representations of the spoken languages of the respective countries but rather independent systems of communication with their own grammar and vocabulary. Their vocabularies consist not of spoken words but of signs involving hands, arms and facial expressions. Most countries have their own sign languages. For example, the deaf in Germany use a different sign language from that of Austria or Switzerland.

European languages and Bible translation

Europe does hold one record: there are Bible translations in over half of its languages. By comparison, in Asia only a quarter of all the languages have at least one Bible portion. The whole Bible exists in 60 European languages, 29 more have the New Testament, and in a further 60 there are individual portions. Altogether that makes 149 “Bible-languages” for Europe. One more recent Bible translation is the Gospel of Mark in Letzeburgisch, the everyday language of Luxemburg.

Europe has a long tradition of Bible translation. The first formal Bible translation in the world was the Septuagint, a translation of parts of the Old Testament into Greek, about 300 B.C.. Until the 17th century, Bible translation was done almost exclusively in European languages. Nevertheless, there are still more than 70 translation projects in progress in European languages. In several languages it has to be decided whether a translation is needed.

This story, written by Andreas Holzhausen of Wycliffe Germany in 2007, is an adaptation and has been slightly updated from the original which appears on wycliffe.net

Top photo of family on bike by Zeke du Plessis. 
Photo of St Basil’s Church in Moscow and old Russian Bible by Marc Ewell. 
Photo of Steve Parkhurst praying in a sign language by Wycliffe Canada. 

26

03 2014

Why not just teach English?

One of the most common questions that we hear as we share about Bible translation is why not just teach everyone English. There are plenty of Bible resources available in English, so if everyone would just learn this language, then they would have access to all these great Bible resources.

There are lots of reasons to not just teach everyone English, but let me just tackle one of the more practical reasons.  If you’ve ever studied a foreign language as an adult, then you probably know that it takes a while to achieve any level of fluency.  It is especially challenging for those of us who did not grow up speaking more than one language.

So, let’s say that you achieve an 80% fluency in this other language.  That seems pretty good, doesn’t it?  Let’s look at the familiar Bible verse, John 3:16:

John3-16

This verse has 26 words in it.  For the sake of this exercise, let’s consider what an 80% fluency in English could look like by looking at this verse with only 80% of the words. That would be about 20-21 words, so I’m going to eliminate five words.

John3-16-A

Some words can be difficult to understand in foreign languages, so I’ve taken out some of the harder words: loved, gave, believes, perish, eternal.  Read this verse without those words.  Does it make sense to you?

What if I eliminate five different words?

John3-16B

This time I eliminated world, whoever, him, not, and have. Read it.  Does it make sense this time to you?

OK, one more time with five other words removed.

John3-16C

This time I’ve eliminated God, his, son, him, and life. Do you think the meaning reads clearly without these words?

This is just an exercise, and it’s intended purpose is not to be an exact representation of 80% fluency.  But, it should give you a taste of what it is like when someone doesn’t understand every word they are reading. A lot can be missed.

Some people do have an adequate enough fluency in a language that isn’t their mother tongue that they understand the Bible in that other language.  However, for many, reading the Bible in a language that is foreign to them – for example English – means that a lot of important content is missed due to a lack of understanding.

The Bible translated into your own language – your mother tongue, your heart language – is usually the easiest to understand.  The message comes through clearly. Nearly 200 million people speaking almost 2000 different language are still waiting for the Bible to be translated into a language they can understand well.  Jeff and I are a part of the team working to change this, and you can be too by becoming a ministry partner.

Our friend Eddie Arthur in the UK shares more on this topic on his blog.  Click here to see his post called Why Not Teach Everyone English.

21

03 2014

Brought out of Darkness

Pastor Paul was born into a pagan family and used to serve Satan. But when he came to know Jesus, he was brought out of the darkness and into the light. Now Paul is seeing this transformation happen for other families in his village.

Pastor Paul speaks a language in Senegal called Mandjak.  This language is spoken by nearly 200 thousand people in Senegal, Guinea-Bissau and The Gambia.  While portions of the Bible have been translated into their language, Mandjak speakers eagerly await having the whole Bible in their own language.

16

03 2014

Decoding the message of the Bible

iStock_000000411347Small
Can you read this?

Οὕτως γὰρ ἠγάπησεν ὁ Θεὸς τὸν κόσμον, ὥστε τὸν Υἱὸν τὸν μονογενῆ ἔδωκεν, ἵνα πᾶς ὁ πιστεύων εἰς Αὐτὸν μὴ ἀπόληται ἀλλ᾽ ἔχῃ ζωὴν αἰώνιον.

OK, what if I put it into a script your more familiar with:

Houtōs gar ēgapēsen ho Theos ton kosmon, hōste ton Huion ton monogenē edōken, hina pas ho pisteuōn eis Auton mē apolētai all᾽ echē zōēn aiōnion.

Still lost? Let’s see if you can read this in another language:

Sic enim Deus dilexit mundum, ut Filium suum unigenitum daret: ut omnis qui credit in eum, non pereat, sed habeat vitam æternam.

Let’s try something a little more familiar:

For God louede so the world that he ȝaf his oon bigetun sone, that ech man that beliueth in him perische not, but haue euerlastynge lijf.

Are you starting to understand it? Let me show this to you in a more modern form:

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

Yes – it’s John 3:16!

John 3:16 in an understandable form

The first version was in the original language and script of the New Testament – Koine Greek.  Koine means common, because this was the common Greek used in much of the mediterranean region during the time the New Testament was written. This form of Greek, while common during the time of the Apostles, is quite different from modern Greek.  It is considered a dead language because it is no longer in everyday spoken use.  Ancient and modern Greek have a unique script that is different from what we use in English.

In English we use a Roman script.  The second version of John 3:16 is in Koine Greek, but written in a Roman script. Roman script (also known as Latin script) is based on the letters of the classical Latin alphabet.  It has become the most common writing system in the world.

The third version of John 3:16 is in Latin.  It comes from the fourth century Latin Vulgate translation of the Bible done by Jerome.  It is called the Vulgate because Jerome used the vulgar form of the language, meaning the common and everyday form of Latin.  This version of the Bible was used throughout Europe for hundreds of years. It was used for so long, that eventually only the highly educated and the clergy could understand the text.

The fourth version of John 3:16 is from the Wycliffe Bible of the 14 century.  John Wycliffe believed the Bible should again be available in a common language.  He led a team of followers in England who together translated the Bible into common English.  Our organization is named after John Wycliffe.

While the translation is in English, this old form of the language is quite different from modern English. This is because languages change over time.  Language changes can include new vocabulary, changing meanings of words, and changes in spelling and grammar.  As these changes in languages occur, translation revisions are needed to keep the Bible accessible.

The final version of John 3:16 is in the New International Version – one of the modern English translations of the Bible. Of all the versions of this verse in our list, this is the most accessible version of John 3:16 for English-speakers.

It’s all Greek to me

Imagine if we only had the Bible in Koine Greek – the original language it was written in.  Even in a script I’m familiar with, I still do not understand what the words say.  While I’m thankful for the pastors and teachers that do learn Koine Greek, having to learn a dead language in order to access the Bible at all would be a difficult undertaking for many of us.

Imagine if we continued to only use the old Latin translation of the Bible?  This ancient language, while more familiar to some of us, is still not easy for most of us to understand.  And, what if we only had the Bible in a very old form of our own language like Old English?  Well, it may be easier to pick out some words, but Old English isn’t my language either.

English-speakers can enjoy many available translations of the Bible in modern English – in our mother tongue, in our heart language.  When the Bible is translated in your own language, its message is decoded so that you can understand it.

Almost 200 million people around the world who use about 2000 languages still do not have a translation of the Bible in a language they can understand well. The Bible is as inaccessible to them as the Koine Greek Bible is to an English-speaker like me.

* Photo provided by iStock photo.  To use this photo yourself, purchase it from iStock.

11

03 2014