October 2018


Volume XI, Issue 10

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IMPACTING ORAL CULTURES

Alumni Erik and Michele Stapleton and family

Alumni Erik and Michele Stapleton and family

While in the U.S. Air Force, 19-year-old Erik was at church one morning when an older Turkish woman gave him a study Bible and said, “This is God’s Word. Read it and study it.” So he did—in his barracks during cold, dark winters in Alaska. It was when Erik read Galatians that he trusted in Christ! After his enlistment was complete, Erik was encouraged to consider Bible school, so he eventually attended Moody Bible Institute, planning to work with Jewish people. However, Erik was led to Papua New Guinea (PNG) instead. There, he witnessed Bible translation work, which influenced him to change his major to applied linguistics. At Moody, Erik met his future wife, Michele, who had wanted to work cross-culturally since childhood. After getting married and graduating from Moody, Erik and Michele joined a sending organization and started classes at Dallas International (formerly GIAL). Michele completed the Literacy Megacourse, and in 2008, Erik finished his M.A. in Applied Linguistics.

For 13 years, Michele and Erik served in the island nation of Vanuatu, overseeing a translation in the Nafe language. Currently, Erik and Michele and their family are based in New Mexico; Erik continues to work on this project part time, helping the translation team. “We recently created an app with the Nafe New Testament text and audio on it,” Erik writes in his most recent update. “It is a tool that will promote literacy. As people listen, the text is highlighted so they can follow along.”

Full time, Erik serves as the International Language Recording Coordinator for his sending agency. He oversees audio recording projects in PNG, the Pacific, and Indonesia, traveling to these regions four times a year to work with national recording teams.

This past spring, Erik traveled to Australia and participated in an Australian Aboriginal recording, done in the Pitjantjatjara language. Over 40 Pitjantjatjara speakers participated in the New Testament recording, most of them traveling from far away. The project leader, Paul Eckert, shared in a project report, “The Pitjantjatjara readers are doing a great job and are loving it. One lady came out of the recording booth after reading a few chapters of Hebrews and said that she had been so touched by the message that she was almost in tears.”

Erik shared that his studies at Dallas International prepared him well for his translation work, and that the community at the school has become like “extended family” to him and Michele.

Erik asks us, “Please ask the Lord to raise up national partners in PNG and the Pacific who will capture the vision for the impact that audio recordings can have in oral cultures. Ask Him to increase their recording capacity on completed NT translations and translations in process and nearing completion.

MINORITY LANGUAGE LINGUIST

(And Grammar Nerd)

With a knack for grammar and a passion for foreign languages, Erin used the elective allowances in her technical writing undergraduate program to pursue a minor in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages, which required an introductory linguistics course. “After the first class, I was ready to change my major,” she said with a smile. However, since her school didn’t offer a linguistics degree, Erin transferred to Dallas International University (formerly GIAL) immediately after finishing her undergraduate degree. 

IMG_20180821_113416066In 2011, after completing Dallas International’s Certificate in Applied Linguistics, Erin began language learning and data collection in West Asia. In 2016, she returned to the U.S. to complete the courses for an M.A. in Applied Linguistics, then returned to the field shortly afterward. In February 2018, she defended her thesis, then graduated that June.

When asked about her favorite linguistics class, Erin replied, “I’m a big grammar nerd. Grammar, to me, is like a big sudoku puzzle with words.” It’s not surprising, then, that it was Erin’s grammar studies that initially inspired her to conduct linguistic research in a West Asian minority language. “I went [to the field] with only the Certificate, and I had a really hard time. But I went back to the field with Advanced Grammar, and it helped a lot. Being able to know what to look for and how to look at the language was helpful.”

For Erin, learning at Dallas International has been not only about gaining knowledge, but about sharing it as well. For example, based on her field research, Erin published one of her course papers in Dallas International’s electronic publication, Occasional Papers in Applied Linguistics (OPAL).

Erin has also found kindred spirits in the academic community of Dallas International. “Everyone is of the same mind, working toward the same kinds of goals,” she said. “And everyone is so helpful—the professors—even if you’re not studying with them right now—Even when I’m on the field, we’re dialoguing back and forth.” 

Currently, Erin continues linguistics work in a minority language in West Asia and administrates a literacy program in that language. Also, she is revising one of her thesis chapters to turn it into a journal article. One of her strongest motivations for publishing is to further contribute to the body of linguistic knowledge regarding minority languages. Join us in asking for the Father’s continued wisdom and strength over Erin as she serves Him in all these areas!

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