What do Badyaranke, Mibu, Balanta, Sierra Popoluca, Macu, Imantu, Sawiyano and Northern Kankanay all have in common?
Those names represent a sampling of the languages that we have been analyzing over the past 3 weeks! The first part of our linguistic training has been dealing with the area of phonemics. So, what exactly is phonemics? Glad you asked!
Phonemics is the science of alphabet formation – the process of analyzing and classifying a language in order to reduce it to writing.
It is our goal to someday take the Truth of God’s Word to an unreached tribal group. In most cases these tribal languages have never been written down. In order for the people to be able to read God’s Word for themselves, there first has to be a written language!
Without boring you with too many details, we’ll tell you just a little of what has been filling our days and evenings (and sometimes part of the night too!).
We are given a set of words in a certain language (along with the English translation). We then have to analyze those words, going through several different steps, in order to come up with an "alphabet" that the people will understand and be able to use.
Click on the pictures to see examples of some words from the language we are currently analyzing!
Right now we are feeling overwhelmed and stretched. Letters are swirling around in our brains. Sometimes we don’t see the patterns and the features of the languages as quickly as the others in our class do. But it is encouraging to remember that we have a personal relationship with the God who created all these languages. We are asking Him to give us strength and understanding.
This morning as we were looking at our homework before class, Luke asked why we keep looking at all these funny letters. We were able to share with him again the reason why we want to be tribal missionaries: because there are people in isolated places around the world who have never seen a book and who couldn’t read a book even if they had one. Those people have never heard of the Bible and they have no idea of the life-changing message it contains. What we are studying right now takes us one step closer to being able to give a tribal group the Bible in their own language so they can read it and learn from it just like we hope to teach Luke and Titus to do.