Trip so far: 31hr 09min, 2189.7 mi
Friday: 1:20pm CST to 5:47pm CST
Seven weeks down, three to go! Our final language session with Jerry ended at 1:00pm on Friday, and we immediately piled into the car with Missouri in our sights. Our final week of Cherokee live-language study went wonderfully, revealing most of the information we sought while providing a few helpful surprises along the way. It was done, we were drained… and we were ready to be off!
Our time in Oklahoma was full of hard work and tons of fun. Gathering Cherokee language information was harder than we’d expected… in many ways, and to a fair degree. Yet our time was also way more fun than we’d have expected! Amidst the work we found a lot of joy in fellowshipping with our classmates, and encouraging one another on with the discoveries we made. We found friends in our language helpers and members of the Cherokee church, and will miss these dear people greatly as we go on from here.
So, what’s next? The final three weeks of our Cherokee practicum! Now is where we take the data we’ve collected, processed, and refined… and put it to the test with the linguistics techniques we learned in the classroom last semester. Our work will be more difficult with ‘raw’ data, which hasn’t had inconsistencies and irregularities smoothed over for us… but this part of the process is as much about defining what we don’t know as it is about writing up what we do know. Learning to do this will help us continue to progress on the mission field, since fully understanding a language’s intricacies is the work of decades rather than years.
This week’s goal is Phonemics: two interlinked processes called Interpretation and Analysis. My task will be to determine which sounds are significant to Cherokee speakers, and find a way to predict when and how the actual sounds they say will vary from the ‘alphabet letters’ they think. If I can wrap this up by Friday, I should be in pretty good shape for the two weeks that remain. Let’s see how it goes… God may have some different objectives of His own along the way!