February 2, 2008

New Beginnings

The beginning of the year seems to have started off with a bang, with much new activity here at the Bible Society. Before Christmas we held the Gulmancema Deuterocanonical Recruitment workshop, and last week the Lyele Bible Recruitment workshop. The director and I have been busy with candidate selection and establishment of partnership agreements with our new partners before launching the beginning of the work.
Yes, our time in Reo last week went very well. Among the 20 participants were 8 translator candidates. The others will be reviewers once the translation drafts have been produced. It was really good to have my supervisor helping me out and discussing the follow-up training that will be needed by these new teams.
During the workshop we discovered that a couple of French versions (and also a couple of English versions) of the Bible have a translation error!  In Ruth 3:2 ,  NIV, NRSV,  and KJV all say that Boaz was winnowing grain on the threshing floor late at night. But Good News and CEV say he was threshing grain. I don't know who copied whom, but the French Good News version gives the French equivalent of 'thresh' - 'beat' the grain.  Now for the average North American, they may not even notice the difference in meaning, since we are so removed from the traditional ways of harvesting grain, and most harvesting processes now take place within the bowels of a combine.  But here in Africa, there is a distinct difference and everyone knows it! Threshing is literally beating the grain from the stalks and husks on the threshing floor, and winnowing is gathering up the grain along with the loose chaff in a shallow basket, lifting it up and letting the chaff blow away in the wind, while the grain falls alone into another basket.   Anyways, I looked up the Hebrew word in a concordance, and examined the context of each one, and realized the sense of 'winnow' or 'scatter to the wind' is the sense intended. Clearly the ancient Hebrew also had the two separate processes.  Why should we copy those confused westerners?  This is one more good reason why the African translators need to learn Hebrew and refer to Hebrew resources when translating into their own language!
And talking about Hebrew, in fact, teaching Hebrew will be my most important activity for the month of February!  I am completing the evening course that I teach at Logos this month with a final exam at the end of February. In the meantime, United Bible Societies are organising a three week intensive course for translators, in Lome, Togo, on the West African Atlantic Coast.  After some discussion, I finally agreed to teach the third week (Feb. 18-22) to the Intermediate level.
Do keep me in your prayers as I embark on these and other other activities - I am also checking the books of Zephaniah, Obadiah, and Joel in Moore, and really hope to be able to help finalize Siamou and Nanergue phonology sketches this month!
Before I close off, you are undoubtedly wondering how Sarah and Benoit are doing. Benoit is out of the hospital, and healing well. Sarah is still in the hospital. She had complications of high blood pressure last week, so they have postponed operating on her broken leg until this coming Tuesday. Do pray for her rapid healing.
Blessings to all,
Anne Garber Kompaore
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