thanks to Babel…

If you know me, you are probably aware (at least to a certain extent) that I enjoy languages. Okay, maybe that’s an understatement. I LOVE languages! I crammed 32 credits of Greek and Hebrew into my Bachelor of Arts degree in college, not because I am some sort of nerd, but because I genuinely love languages, and I see how God could use that in the future. I also have a deep love for the Word of God, so my passion is to translate the Bible into a tribal language so that others can have God’s Word in their heart language. Even now, as I write this, I get choked up at the thought of handing a tribal believer their very own copy of God’s Talk (whether the New Testament or the entire Bible) in their heart language. What a privilege that would be!

The catch is, translating God’s Word into another language is no piece of cake, and (thanks to the tower of Babel) there are thousands of languages around the world–most of them unwritten. So how do you translate the Bible into another language when that language has never even been written down? That’s where my training here at New Tribes Mission’s Training Center comes in. After the 3 semesters of church planting training, there is the opportunity to take an additional 1 1/2 semesters of courses in linguistics. The Linguistics training would provide me with the tools necessary to analyze and develop an alphabet for an unwritten language so that God’s Word could be translated into that (previously) unwritten language. Because of my passion for Bible translation, I have been VERY interested in taking the linguistics course here with New Tribes. (though not all those who do Bible translation are linguists, taking the linguistics training would definitely be a big asset for doing Bible translation)

To qualify for the linguistic training, all the students here had to take a test (actually, they called it a “linguistic aptitude assessment application”…but that’s basically a test :-)) to see if they were gifted in the area of linguistics. Though I am not a fan of tests, praise God, the test went well, and I scored high enough to qualify for the linguistics program! The head of the linguistics department here asked me to stay for the linguistics course since it seems God has really gifted me in that area. I am really excited about this opportunity to get specialized training that will really be an asset on the field! Soli Deo Gloria. 

P.S. For you nerds out there :-), here’s a brief description of the classes in the Linguistics course: 

  • Phonology presents an in-depth look at the decision-making process used in determining what the alphabet should be for an unwritten language. The candidate will learn to distinguish significant sounds from insignificant sounds and write up a description of one’s findings.
  • Morphology gives a detailed look into the way that words are constructed. The course will use a variety of languages to present examples of morphemes and their alternate forms. The candidate will learn to correlate language forms with meanings and to organize an explanation of the language in an orderly and understandable way.
  • Syntax looks at the many ways languages can form multiword constructions. Phrases, clauses, and sentences are all studied as preparation for the study of an unwritten language.
  • Applied Linguistics gives the candidate an opportunity to deal with a large set of language data in order to determine its inherent phonological and grammatical structures. The candidate will prepare a paper explaining their insight into the language’s features.
  • Advanced Linguistics Issues combines an introduction to discourse analysis with a look at some less common phonological situations.
  • The Practicum (applied grammar and phonetics) gives the candidate the opportunity to put into practice the skills and abilities developed during the previous courses. Language data will be gathered from native Cherokee speakers and analyzed. The candidate will summarize the findings regarding phonological and grammatical structure and compile them in a paper.


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