Where’s the Small Jerusalem?

During my course in Gloucester, we covered a course called “Discourse Analysis”. This was essentially a study of how languages say what they mean, and how different languages can say the same thing different ways (and sometimes mean different things from the same thing!).

Let me explain with some examples …


One of my teachers has worked in Mexico.
In one of the languages she works with, there isn’t a separate word for village and city. So to describe Jerusalem, they thought they’d try a phrase “big village Jerusalem”, to emphasise that Jerusalem wasn’t a small village.

However, when looking at the translation with mother-tongue translators, the translators genuinely wanted to know, “Oh, where’s the small village Jerusalem?”.

In their language, if you say there is a “big Jerusalem”, then that necessitates that there is also a “small Jerusalem”!!


In English, adjectives can be used either to describe, or to differentiate:

If you say, “Oh, I like those red shoes”, it does not necessarily mean that you don’t like the other not red shoes. You could just be giving more descriptive detail to the shoes.

But, if you say, “The blue bin gets collected today”, you might mean that today it is the blue bin, and not the black bin, that gets collected.


Back to the language in Mexico:

This discovery had huge implications for Bible Translation!
Consider the following phrases, which in English we might read without thinking:

‘The Good News about Jesus’ – this would mean there was also bad news about Jesus!

‘This is my son, whom I love’ – this would mean God also had a son whom he didn’t love!

‘The one true God’ – is there also a not true God?!

‘He is the God who saves’ – i.e. as opposed to the God who doesn’t save …!


Wow! I was completely amazed at all the examples we were discussing, and the implications if this hadn’t been discovered!

It turned out that the translators had misunderstood parts of the Spanish Bible they had read, because they were not aware that Spanish (like English) could use adjectives and relative clauses just to describe.


I don’t think this is the case for the languages I work with in Tanzania … but it goes to show how careful we need to be to check things are understood in the correct way.

Just one more reason why Linguistics is an essential part of Bible Translation!


Celebrating the Old, Welcoming the New.

We had much to be thankful for last week here at our translation office.

We were celebrating one of the Simbiti translators, Pastor Julius Waynse, who has now completed the lengthy training to become a Translation Advisor (TA). He will still continue to work part-time as a translator for the Simbiti team, since it is a dream of his to see the publication of the New Testament in his mother tongue. But now he will also be helping and advising the translation teams for other languages. Waynse is the first Tanzanian to become a Translation Advisor here in the Mara Cluster!

The training was certainly lengthy: a certificate of study through a course in Kenya called iDelta; a Bachelor of Theology  with SATS (South Africa Theological Seminary); as well as a lot of in-house training, which will still continue as he transitions into this new role.

Praise God for Pastor Waynse’s passion and commitment in his faith and work.

There are also a number of other translators here who are currently in the middle of their training to become TAs – please pray for perseverance for them, and that God would bless them with wisdom and knowledge.

We celebrated this achievement with speeches, prayer and special cake during our morning chai break:


Another translator and the Partnership officer praying for Waynse.



The same day we also welcomed a new translator to the Kabwa team, John Kirati.

Praise God for Kirati joining our team, and please pray for him as he learns a huge amount over the coming weeks and months.

Please pray for all of our team, that we would help Kirati to feel welcomed and we would develop good relationships.


Waynse, Kirati, and Lucy, Waynse’s wife.

P.S. If you were surprised by my use of “old” in the title, it is a complement to be called an “old person” (‘Mzee’) in Tanzania!

(Thanks to my colleagues who had their cameras at the ready).

A celebration of Genesis in Kabwa

This week we were very pleased to attend the celebration of the book of Genesis being published in another of the languages here, this time in the Kabwa language.

The last time I attended a celebration like this, it was for the book of Genesis in the Ikizu language, 6 months ago. I really enjoyed being able to follow more of the Swahili this time around!

The celebration was held in a very large church in the village of Bukabwa:

Many people gathered in the church:

There was a lot of singing, including some dancing from the choir. A number of speeches were made by bishops and other local Christian leaders:

When the time came for the books to be presented, the Kabwa translators carried the box, dancing with it up the church, followed by others from our office. The bishop then prayed for the books.

One of the Kabwa translators read aloud in Kabwa from a section of Genesis:


After some food together, we were pleased to be able to sell some books, both Genesis and some other books already printed in Kabwa, as well as some Kabwa Calendars for 2016 recently printed.



Please be praying for the Kabwa community, that the book of Genesis would be used by God to speak deeply to the hearts of Kabwa speakers, and that it would bring them to know more closely their wonderful and powerful Creator God.

Jesus speaks Simbiti and Jita!

Last week our team had the joy of launching the Jesus Film in the Simbiti and Jita languages!

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For those who haven’t heard of it, the Jesus Film is a two-hour film detailing the life of Jesus Christ, based on the gospel of Luke (the name kind of gives it away!).
The film has been translated and dubbed into over 1,300 languages worldwide!

And now, it has been released in two more of the languages we work with here: Simbiti and Jita (click on the names to view the Jesus Film in those languages!).

Crowds of a few hundred people turned up both evenings, with a couple of hundred people standing up at the end wanting to give their lives to Jesus.

Praise God that more people are praising him today in their heart languages!

These are some pictures of the Simbiti premier:

Simbiti JesusFilm1

Simbiti JesusFilm2

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The book of Genesis in Ikizu.

Last week I had the huge privilege of attending the official celebration of the book of Genesis in the Ikizu language!


“The book of Genesis – in Ikizu and Sizaki”

There were a number of speeches, and songs and dances from the choir:


This was a great celebration for the Ikizu translators. They have been working on this for over three years!

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People were able to hear the book of Genesis read in Ikizu in public for the first time:

There was the opportunity for people to buy their own copy of Genesis, as well as some other books already printed in the local languages.

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It was wonderful to see so many people of all ages engaging in God’s word in their mother tongue.

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Please be praying for the Ikizu, not only that these books of the Bible would be used and read, but that they would bring people into a closer relationship with their Creator God.