A couple months ago, a group of riotous, drunken village leaders threatened us, “If you do not choose our dialect for your Bible translation, then we will not read your Bible.”
We had heard about such threats in linguistics school, but now here we are on the brink of having to make a decision about which dialect to make “the standard” as we can only choose one to write down. So which one do we choose?
So, for the next two weeks we are going to gather as much linguistic data as we can in order to make an informed recommendation to the language committee as to which dialect we believe would be the best choice.
What we have done is put together a collage of 200 different images and when we go into a village we will point to picture and say “What is this?” or “What is he doing in this picture?” in Bakoum. We have an excel document which has the names of 24 villages on it. Once we collect this list of 200 words from every village we will then compare the words and look for different pronunciations. Fun! Fun! We also plan to reiterate our vision for this project…in Bakoum! We want to show the different village leaders that we have been hard at work to study their language.
So, we write this just to update our friends and family and also to ask for prayer. It may sound easy to go to a village and collect 200 words but in fact it is not. Often times we have the whole village come out, with goats, chickens and all to come see the “white people.” This is good for promoting the project but very bad for trying to collect words. We often ask ONE person the Bakoum word for something and have the entire village respond and start yelling at one another about who is right or who is wrong. We have close to 5,000 words that we need to collect and thus want to stay on task. So please pray that we would get the data that we need, that the people would have renewed excitement about the project, and that we would communicate well in the little Bakoum that we do know.