Update on the Nyiha translation project, 6 years on…

December 21, 2010 in Prayer, Wycliffe, Africa, Bible translation, Language, Mission, Tanzania

Those of you who have been following our progress for a while may remember that back in 2004 (before Laura and I had even met…) I was involved in a sociolinguistic survey of the Nyiha and Nyika peoples of southwest Tanzania and northern Zambia and Malawi. My diary of the survey trip, which I look back at with some embarrassment from time to time, is in the archives

Several years later, after lots of reviewing by different people, the sociolinguistic report has been published on the SIL International website, along with reports from the Fipa and Sichela language surveys. (Again you can see my diary and some photos from our Fipa and Sichela research trips).

The Nyiha of Tanzania are part of a Bible translation program centered in the town of Mbeya, and have recently translated the first Bible portions in their language for almost 100 years! You can find out more about the Nyiha translation project and those involved here. Some of the other Nyiha and Nyika groups mentioned in the report may be able to adapt these Scriptures into their own languages at some point.

The main question that we were seeking to answer during the Nyiha survey was whether there were different dialects of Nyiha that were sufficiently diverse so as to require separate translations of the Bible. We were able to talk with many people in a variety of villages throughout the Nyiha-speaking area, listening to their opinions and comparing some of the words that they used. Our conclusion was that if the translators were chosen from some of the villages in the center of the area, and stuck to the language used there, then all the Nyiha should be able to understand the Bible well.

It’s exciting for me to see now that not only is the report now available to anyone who wants to know more about the Nyiha people and their language, but more importantly, the recommendations of the research are becoming a reality and the Nyiha are starting to produce Scriptures that can be used throughout the whole community.

Pastor and Retired Pastor reading the Nyiha alphabet chart, August 2004Two Nyiha Pastors reading the newly produced alphabet chart in August 2004

The Importance of Language Assessment

November 29, 2010 in Wycliffe, Bible translation, Language, Mission, Tanzania

From 2004 to 2006 I was working in Tanzania as a Language Assessor, helping to research minority languages so that church and community leaders could make informed decisions about Bible translation projects in their area. I’ve just produced a short video for a Wycliffe Bible Translators UK meeting tomorrow about what Language Assessment is, so I thought I’d share that here…

The Katavi Cluster Project has officially begun!

August 17, 2010 in Prayer, Wycliffe

Thanks for your prayers over the last couple of weeks for the partnership meetings and language survey in the west of Tanzania, exploring the possibility of a new Bible translation programme among language groups there. We were excited to hear that the main partnership meeting yesterday went really well. Louise writes:

After introductions Rev. Mwita led the group in a devotion from 1 Kings 5:1-18. In small groups, they discussed questions together and then fed back to the group about how Solomon and Hiram worked together well on the same project for different purposes. I gave an introduction including to Bible translation and the Church, and what language development and Bible translation projects look like. What is the church’s role. Susi then did a great job presenting the outcome of the sociolinguistic research they/we did.

Now it was the first time the rubber would really hit the road. Mwita asked, “Do you want to cooperate together to be involved in this ministry? The answer – “Yes!” “How can we not?” “This will be a tremendous help to us in our ministries.” “People will understand God and His Word so much better if they have the Bible in their mother tongue.”….

Then the church leaders discussed which languages, and they did so with real understanding and wisdom, taking into account all that they had heard from Susi’s presentation and what they already knew. The discussion was animated and positive. In the end, they decided on the following:

For language development and Bible translation:
1) Bende (to also serve Tongwe)
2) Pimbwe ( to also serve Rungwa)

For distribution, Scripture Use work, and possibly literacy and non-print media:
1) Sukuma
2) Rundi

For more investigation:

1) Lwila

Susi and I discussing language possibilities with the church leaders

They then chose an interim committee to send out the minutes from this meeting and to set up the next meeting, which will be November 3rd. Its members are from the Anglican, Catholic, Lutheran, Africa Inland, and Tanzania Assemblies of God churches. read more

Thank you for your prayers, and please continue to pray for the communities and church leaders in western Tanzania. We’re very excited to see what God is doing there, and to think about how we may be working alongside some of the people in the photos in the next couple of years!