WIRED FOR LINGUISTICS
Bringing his Word to the people who don’t understand it YET
A Bible translation documentary sparked a desire in 12-year-old Elaine to pursue cross-cultural service. During her high school and college years, she worked short-term with children in Romania, Ethiopia, and Kenya. Later, at a Wycliffe TOTAL It Up she attended around the time of her college graduation, Elaine realized that her brain was wired for linguistics and that this was tied to the childhood desire God gave her: to bring his Word to people who couldn’t understand it yet. At 21, she joined Wycliffe, completed two summers at the University of North Dakota’s SIL training, and then attended French school. Afterwards, she worked six years as a linguist in Cameroon, before various security issues led her to decide to transfer to SIL Chad. As finishing her master’s would help her secure a work visa in Chad, Elaine began classes at Dallas International in 2016 and graduated with her MA in Applied Linguistics in December 2017. Currently, Elaine serves in Chad as a linguistic specialist and is currently learning Chadian Arabic. Her long-term assignment will be to conduct various linguistic projects among the 28 languages of the Guera region to assist both regional translation and literacy partners. So far, this work has involved training national workers in linguistics. Someday, it may also include orthography testing, dictionary development, and discourse analysis for oral Bible storying.
“I haven’t been in Chad very long yet, but I have been impressed by the motivation people have to develop their languages,” Elaine shared. “This is a country with a very low literacy rate (less than 30 percent) and people are seeing the advantages of learning to read and write in the vernacular before trying to read and write in French and Arabic.”
Elaine is especially grateful for the Principles of Literacy course she took at Dallas International. “It helped me see the connection between my phonology research and what I recommend for orthography development,” Elaine said. Her Tone Analysis course prepared her to work with the languages in her region, most of which have tonal contrasts. “Having a good foundation in tonal analysis will help in deciding as to whether orthographies need to mark tone or not,” Elaine explained.
At Dallas International, Elaine also benefited from being a teacher’s assistant several times for Field Methods. “This gave me practice in facilitating linguistic analysis with beginning students in a way that is similar to how I will be training nationals to analyze their own languages here,” Elaine shared. “I also developed several strong friendships with other single women in similar situations that have continued to grow even long-distance, and those prayerful relationships have been a great encouragement to me and have helped me feel less isolated.”
Please ask God to give Elaine health, rest, and healing for her back pain. Also, pray that her literacy work will open doors to serve among completely unreached people groups.
Preparing to Meet the Need
Growing up in Niger, Josiah saw firsthand the need for Bible translation being met through various Bible translation organizations. God used Josiah’s understanding of this need, the Spirit’s work through scripture, and his interest and abilities in linguistics and translation to lead him into cross-cultural service. Consequently, he focused his undergraduate studies at Moody Bible Institute on applied linguistics and biblical Greek. To complete his training, he attended Dallas International and graduated in June 2015 with an MA in Applied Linguistics (Bible translation concentration).
Currently, Josiah and his family are finishing partnership development in the US. “This has provided us with chances to remind our partners about the centrality of God’s Word to the establishment and ongoing vitality of his Church throughout the world,” Josiah shared. “God has used this process to personally encourage us by the many brothers and sisters who have joined us in the work through faithful prayer, financial partnership, and encouraging words.”
Once they reach their intended field in Africa, Josiah’s responsibilities will be “language and culture learning, developing and organizing a team of local translators, helping these translators by handling exegetical work based in Hebrew and Greek, involvement and facilitation throughout the translation process through publication, [and] ongoing linguistic work related to translation needs.”
For Josiah, all his Dallas International courses were enjoyable and helped prepare him for his planned work. Josiah shared that his favorite classes gave him, “The points of reference, categories, and methods/tools to be able to confidently analyze languages, delve into the nuances of meaning, and thoughtfully determine how to express accurately in a second language what was originally written or spoken in another language.”
Writing a thesis was a joy for Josiah. During this process, he practiced what he had learned in his classes and benefited from the friendship and expertise of three wonderful professors: Drs. Kroeger, Boutin, and Parker.
“Pray for faithfulness to the Lord and to each other as spouses, parents, friends, and Christians,” Josiah asked. Pray for the Lord’s provision in finishing their support raising, for sustaining strength and good planning as they prepare to move to France, study French, then move to Africa.
LEAVE A LEGACY
Dallas International pours well-educated workers into the Bible translation movement.
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