Northern Translation Brief: Linguistics Intern Visit to Naskapi 2018

Our Dear Partners,

After the First Nations Bible Translation Capacity-Building Gathering that was held at Prince Albert, Saskatchewan in 2014, there were several projects that were prioritized, including work on Oji-Cree, Cree and Naskapi Bible translation projects, along with activities focused on building the capacity of the local communities to accomplish these translation goals. One necessary part of capacity-building includes the recruitment and training of new Bible Translation facilitator teams to work alongside language speakers in their communities in the north.

A key part of the preparation for these Bible Translation facilitator teams is a period of in-field training and language service with the Naskapi translation project. During this time of gaining experience living in an isolated northern First Nations community, the new teams will serve the Naskapi as Linguistics Interns, taking part in the facilitation of a real ongoing language program there.

To help the new teams with a smoother transition to their in-field training period, they accompany us on one of our working trips to the Naskapi community. In August of 2018, David & Avery Standley (and baby Azariah) came with us to visit the Naskapi community of Kawawachikamach, as their part of their introduction to the situation in Canadian First Nations, as well as a chance for us to get to know them better.

You may remember that in 2015, Matthew & Caitlin Windsor accompanied us to Kawawachikamach on a similar visit. You can read about that trip at this link here <link>.

And then in 2016, Martin & Alice Reed came with us to Kawawachikamach on their first visit there. You can read about that trip at this link here <link>.

Martin & Alice are now serving speakers of the Western Swampy Cree language in northern Manitoba, and Matthew & Caitlin are serving speakers of the Oji-Cree language at Kingfisher Lake in northern Ontario.

On this year’s trip, beginning last August 18, we picked up David, Avery & Azariah at the Buffalo, NY airport, and from there we drove for the next four days together up through southern Ontario and along the north shore of the St. Lawrence in Quebec to Sept-Iles, were we boarded the train to Schefferville. The train ride this time was 16-1/2 hours, arriving at Schefferville near midnight. We were met at the train by Naskapi translator Silas, who brought David & Avery to the Naskapi community of Kawawachikamach in the wee hours of Friday morning, August 24.

Naskapi Translation Team Capacity-Building Workshop

Each workday we met with the Naskapi translation team to work through the various stages of translation for the current active Naskapi Old Testament translation projects, moving them closer to their goals. The team is now working on the books of Deuteronomy (Tshiueten), Joshua (Silas), Judges (Amanda), and Esther (Ruby). They have also just started work on the book of Job as a team project.

We also worked with other speakers and elders on revisions to the Naskapi dictionary, descriptions of the Naskapi grammar and books of Naskapi stories. Retired consultant linguist Dr. Marguerite MacKenzie from Memorial University in Newfoundland was on hand to provide her help and guidance with these projects.

Avery observes Dr. MacKenzie working on the Naskapi dictionary with elder Alma Chemaganish

Silas Nabinicaboo has been working on the first draft of the book of Judges in Naskapi

Tshiueten Vachon has recently begun the first draft of the book of Deuteronomy

Amanda Swappie has been translating the first draft of the book of Joshua in Naskapi

The newest member of the Naskapi team, Ruby Nabinicaboo, is working on the back-translation for the book of Esther

The Naskapi translation team learned more skills in how to use the computer-based translation resources that are available to them, along with reminders of the importance of the several other stages of Bible translation that come after the (1) “First Draft” is made, such as: (2) “Team Checking” of the passage with other members of the translation team to ensure accuracy, (3) “Community Checking” with elders and other members of the community to ensure clarity and naturalness, (4) “Back Translation” so that the text can be reviewed by exegetical consultants, ensuring that the entire meaning of the text is communicated.

David & Avery not only got to be a part of the workshops during the day, but also enjoyed connecting with the Naskapi people in the community outside the office, in recreational sports and community activities.

Avery is a welcome member on the volleyball team!

Azariah got to know some new Naskapi friends as well.

Jaiden, who used to stay with us when he was small, is doing well. He’s 11 years old now and enjoying school.

Linguistics Internships

Some have asked if the new teams that God is sending to work with us are our “replacements”. Well, not exactly. It became clear that God is at work in many First Nations language communities across Northern Canada, and that for us to simply move on to just one other language project after Naskapi would not nearly begin to meet the need,

Tshiueten getting to know Azariah

besides the fact that the Naskapi team still requires continued support. So in answer to your prayers God has called additional Bible Translation facilitation teams like the Windsors, the Reeds, the Scotts and the Standleys to help serve in some of these other First Nations Bible Translation projects. And these are not all, either. See this post for more about these “Next Generation” Bible translation teams: <link>

Since the languages are all closely related, and the values and culture of these language communities share a lot in common, their planned in-field training period serving in a linguistics internship with Naskapi for several months will continue to support the Naskapi project in significant ways, moving the Naskapi team closer to a sustainable level of capacity, while also giving the new teams the practical skills and experience that they will need to work in the language communities that are still waiting for God’s Word in their mother tongues.

This will also enable us to leverage our own experience so that we can support these new teams as mentors, while God continues to use us to assist the other language projects where we still have the privilege to serve.

The Standleys hope to begin their Linguistics Internship with the Naskapi project sometime in the next year or so, and be ready to move on to another related language community, such as Innu, or Cree, who even now are still waiting for the scriptures in their own language.

Prayer Requests

Please continue to pray for David & Avery (and little Azariah) as they continue their steps of preparation and seek adequate support so that they may move to the north and begin their internship.

Pray for us that we will be sensitive to God’s leading and faithful to His call as we provide guidance to these new teams.

Pray for the First Nations language communities that we have already begun to work alongside of, and for those who are still waiting to have the message of God’s love and hope in their own languages.

Pray for the Naskapi team as they work toward their Old Testament project goals and learn to work in their own language program with more and more confidence and ability.

Thank you for your own interest, support and encouragement for this work that God is doing in minority First Nations language communities in Canada.

Serving with you,

Bill and Norma Jean

 

Translation Brief 19Nov2013 “FAQ”-3

Our dear partners,

This is the third follow-up to answer Frequently (F) Asked (A) Questions (Q). Thank you for your response to FAQ-1 and FAQ-2, and for the great questions that you have asked to keep this going!

Another question that (understandably) many people are thinking about is:

(3) “So… what about the Naskapi Translation?

The short answer is that it’s “still going on”… and more of us are sharing the load.

Skype with four3Most of you will remember the remarkable story of “The Fantastic Four”, describing the new “Naskapi Language Specialists-in-training” that were recruited, hired and trained by Bill to work at the Naskapi Development Corporation. They are all young (in their 20s) and enthusiastic about their work, and each one has taken on the translation of an Old Testament book of the Bible in Naskapi. They are following a training plan in which they study translation principles, Naskapi history and culture, history and geography of Bible times, and Naskapi grammar, along with practice in using some of the computer technology that has been set up so that they can type in Naskapi and organize and edit their work.

skype with four2Amanda is assigned to the book of Joshua, Kissandra is working in 1 Samuel, Kabimbetas is working on 1 Kings, and Medora will be starting on 2 Kings soon. These are all stories of the history of God’s relationship with Israel.

In addition, Tshiueten, who has worked as a Naskapi translation intern now for about 3 years, has made significant progress through the book of Exodus, the “prequel” to all those stories, the beginnings of the nation of Israel.

skype with four1Silas is still the senior translator, and besides his own work on the Psalms and his service as deacon at the church, he reads through and revises the work of the younger translators.

Bill interacts with the team several times each week, answering questions and teaching sections of their training plan, and also mentors and guides them into the correct spelling and other translation procedures. But they are gaining experience and their enthusiasm at the translation office at Kawawa is an encouragement to all their co-workers.

reneLabbeAlso, our friend Rene Labbe, a former pastor from Quebec City now works as a science teacher at the Naskapi school. He comes by each week to present an inductive Bible study on the period of history and the books of the Old Testament that they are working on. We are so grateful for his involvement with the translation team.

The very first books of scripture that were translated in the 1990s, the “Walking With Jesus” series, have met an important need for beginning and intermediate readers of WWJ6-cover checkingNaskapi. These are transitional readers that have large print and colorful illustrations, comprising six short (32 page) books that contain highlights of the life of Christ. These have recently been completely revised and the last book of the series “The Resurrection of Jesus” is in the final checking stages. These books make reading the Bible familiar and accessible to children and adults who are motivated to learn to read in their own language. The local radio station also plays audio-book versions of these that Bill produced as MP3s.

The books of Naskapi Lectionary readings, the cycle of readings that are read each Sunday in the Naskapi church, have been through one complete three-year cycle as of the end of this month. Bill worked with Silas to revise and correct the “Year A” book over the past several weeks, and it is now ready for it’s NasLections-A8-5x11frontcover-are-release for the first Sunday of Advent this December 1.

The first book of the Naskapi Legend series, “Kuihkwahchaw: Naskapi Wolverine Stories” was completed this summer, and Bill is working with the translation team and consultant linguists to prepare the second book, “Chahkapas”, which will be completed early in 2014. These books not only provide good quality reading material in Naskapi, but also give a glimpse into the traditional storytelling genres that is such an important part of Naskapi culture. These two latest books, along with several others were illustrated by our daughter Elizabeth, and we have hopes that she will continue to be invited to participate in the development of these literacy materials. While the main location these books are distributed is at the Naskapi Development Corporation office in Wolverine 6x9 frontKawawachikamach, anyone can find them on-line as well at http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/naskapi.

Chahkapas front cover test2Even though Bill keeps pretty busy with his other work [link] our time in British Columbia is giving him some of the margin he needed to bring some Naskapi linguistics and documentation projects further along, like the Naskapi dictionary, grammar, toponyms (names of places in Naskapi territory), maps, the Naskapi Hymnbook revisions, the Book of Common Prayer in Naskapi, and archiving. We are encouraged that there is now a growing staff of Naskapi-speaking language specialist who are gaining some of the skills they need to carry on this work themselves.

Thanks for your prayers for them, and for us.
Serving with you, Bill and Norma Jean

Northern Translation Brief 20May2010

Our Dear Partners,

Here are a couple matters for prayer as you think about us. First, just about a week ago Quebec social services placed a small Naskapi boy named Jaiden in our care. Jaiden is three-years-old, sweet, cute and happy; and we have been friends with his grandparents and his mom ever since we first came to Kawawa. At the grandfather’s request we welcomed him into our family because of a crisis in his own family. We speak mainly Naskapi with him, so it is good practice (and at times stretching!) If it becomes necessary, we are prepared to bring him with us to SIL school at the University of North Dakota this summer, but the details are in God’s hands.

Next, regarding SIL school, I (Bill) must leave Schefferville by this Friday’s train in order to travel cross-country and arrive there in time to begin my Masters’ program there. I will be driving alone, and must arrive by Thursday May 27. Any prayers for a safe and on-time trip are appreciated! Norma Jean stays on in Schefferville (with Jaiden) until school is out on June 23, and then flies out to Grand Forks ND to meet me on June 23 and 24. At the SIL school, after she arrives, Norma Jean will be on full-time volunteer staff serving as the childcare coordinator there for the children of other SIL students. Browse an interactive Google Maps version of this map here.

Norma Jean will continue to get mail at home in Schefferville until June 22, and our mailing address through the summer (until the first week of August) will be:

Bill & Norma Jean Jancewicz
c/o SIL-UND
2901 University Avenue Stop 8217
University of North Dakota
Grand Forks ND 58202, USA

After summer classes we will return to Schefferville via Baltimore (a visit with Ben & Tamika and our grandchildren) and Connecticut (a visit with Nick and Bill’s mom).

Also, keep praying for the translation team staying behind in Schefferville, especially Tshiueten and Silas, and they continue work on bringing the Good Book to the Naskapi in their own language.

Serving with you, Bill and Norma Jean

Northern Translation Brief 08 April 2010

Our Dear Partners,

Thank you for praying for Bill’s trip to the Mushuau Innu community of Natuashish last week. He went with two Naskapi co-workers and they all returned on Friday, April 2.

The remote communities of Kawawachikamach and Natuashish are the two communities where most of the nomadic caribou-hunting groups from the northern half of the Quebec-Labrador peninsula were settled. Their languages and culture are still very similar. But they have been separated from each other now for about 100 years.

So one of the purposes of this trip was to determine whether materials produced for Naskapi could be used for the Mushuau Innu. Since there is a degree of mutual intelligibility, we had hope that this would be the case.

The data we collected, however, leads us to a different conclusion. The Mushuau Innu may be able to decipher some of the Naskapi translation, but that is a long ways from being able to use it. There are differences in not only the sound system of the languages (that being the first thing one notices) but also differences in the grammatical structure as well as a different inventory of lexical items (sometimes, they use different words altogether). So our Naskapi work will at best be of indirect help to them.

On the other hand, many Mushuau Innu individuals expressed a strong desire to have a language project started in their community, and several of them indicated that they would like to be involved. They said that they would like to have a Bible translation project started in their own dialect, so that they would not have to “decipher” (translate from) the existing Bible translations in related dialects.

The Naskapi team then offered to help the Mushuau Innu to form the partnerships that can help them to get started with a translation project in their own language. We can help them find the training and assistance they will need to carry this out. Their local government, their church, and their school leadership all expressed their support for their own translation project.

Now, Bill has to prepare a report for the survey trip for several audiences: The Mushuau Innu community and the Naskapi community would like to use this trip as a catalyst for more cultural exchanges. Wycliffe Bible Translators and SIL International, along with other potential stakeholders, need to have the linguistic survey data that Bill collected analyzed in order to better assess the specific ways that the two dialects differ. And the groundwork needs to be laid for the Mushuau Innu team to begin on their own translation project.

During interviews with Mushuau Innu speakers, discussing the possibility of a translation project in their own language, they said:

“Our dialect is different; why should we have to learn a different language in order to read it?” –Innu teacher at the school

“We would like to be allowed to use Mushuau Innu spelling to write our language.” –Innu office worker

“A Mushuau Innu translation of the Bible is long overdue.” –clergyman ministering to the Innu for the past 30 years

“Forming a committee to work on a Mushuau Innu translation is something that is needed,” and “What do we have to do to get started?” –former chief of the Natuashish community

“I don’t want my children to be speaking only English in the future.” –former band manager

“We would be happy to have help (from Wycliffe) to start our own Bible translation project.” –Mushuau Innu church lay reader

Thank you again for your prayers for this trip.

Keep on praying for Bill as he spends the next few weeks writing the reports, for the vision for a Bible translation of their own to grow in the Mushuau Innu community, for the Naskapi to know what they can do to help them get started, and for God’s continued work among these people in the north.

Blessings, Bill and Norma Jean

Northern Translation Brief 23Mar2010

Dear partners,

I am preparing for my first trip to the Mushuau Innu community of Natuashish on the Labrador coast. As most of you remember, this community is closely related to the Naskapi in the interior; in fact they were once just one loosely-related collection of nomadic caribou-hunting families. Some of these families had been settled in around Kuujjuaq (Fort Chimo) near Ungava Bay and the rest were settled around Utshimassits (Davis Inlet) on the Labrador coast, since the early 1900s.

The Fort Chimo group moved to the Schefferville region in 1956, and they are now the Naskapi of Kawawachikamach.

The Davis Inlet group relocated to Natuashish, a new community built on the mainland in 2002.

In the spring of 2008 we tried to take a trip to Natuashish, but we were hindered by foggy weather on the coast.

Bill will be leaving Friday, 26 March with his co-worker (and former Naskapi chief) Phil Einish. They will take with them Tshiueten Vachon, the new Naskapi language worker trainee.

For an interactive Google Map (zoom in and see the Natuashish village) try this link: <Trip to Natuashish>

This Friday we are scheduled to fly south to Wabush, in western Labrador.
Saturday we fly east to Goose Bay in central Labrador, where we will meet with the Natuashish chief and council (who are also traveling this week).
Monday we are scheduled to fly north to Natuashish on the coast, spending four days there before returning back the way we came on Friday, April 2.

Thanks for your prayers for good contacts, travels, and outcomes, and for Norma Jean as she holds down the fort back in Schefferville.

Serving with you, Bill and Norma Jean