Language Assessment in Zambia

May 20, 2010 in Prayer, Wycliffe by Mark

On Sunday 23rd May I’ll be heading to Zambia for a couple of weeks, to work alongside an organisation called Worldwide Mission, as they seek to reach out to communities in Western Zambia that don’t yet have access to the Bible in their languages.

As ever, the first stage in any translation project is for the various partners to assess in what language and form communities are most likely to engage with the Bible, and to think through how and where projects should be started. I’ll be spending a week with the team of Zambian and South African missionaries in the town of Mongu, helping them to think through how to help the communities decide on the best way forward for any language project.

We’ll be discussing things like:

  • Planning the research trip, to make sure that we’re asking the right questions
  • What languages people use in their daily lives, and which of these they would be most likely to engage with Scripture in
  • Which communities would benefit from Bible translation projects into their previously unwritten languages
  • Which communities could use the same written materials, and which require separate translations
  • Within a language area, which dialect is best to use for the Bible and other materials
  • Who potential partners are in a language project
  • What the language situation is likely to be like in the coming generations

During the second week I’ll be accompanying the team on a trip to some of these communities as we begin to research some of these questions. The aim is that by the end of the time they will feel confident to continue the research in the rest of western Zambia – a large area about the size of England – working alongside many ethnic groups.

Please pray for the time – that it would be profitable for all involved. I haven’t had much time to prepare the workshop as I’m still working in recruitment for Wycliffe UK at the moment, but my hope is that together we can work through the basic principles of the research and that the team will understand the situation sufficiently to be able to continue on their own over the next few months.

I’d appreciate prayer for safe travel too – both internationally and within Zambia – and for safe non-volcano-interrupted flights each way! Laura will be on here own at home for the first time while I’m away, but has several friends around to make sure she survives!

If you’d like to follow my trip, I’m hoping to be able to continue sending updates on twitter whilst in Zambia, which you can find here.

An estimate of the languages spoken in Zambia from ethnologue.com