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

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 20April2013

God is doing lots of good things here in Kawawa this spring, I just want to highlight a couple of them. Back in February, I received some remarkable news from the directors of the Naskapi Development Corporation (NDC), where I have been working with Silas over the past two decades plugging away at Naskapi Bible translation, and other Naskapi language development projects (New Testament, Naskapi children’s books, church lectionary readings, Naskapi dictionary… such things).
The directors decided that to better serve the community, they should increase the translation staff–they decided to quadruple it!–and so, I was invited to recruit and hire persons for two to four new “Naskapi Language Specialists-in-training” positions to continue the Naskapi translation work beyond the projects we already have underway. So, in February, we posted the positions, that carry a modest (for Kawawa) salary, but include the possibility of becoming a life-changing career for the recruits with “the right stuff”. On the last week of the posting, I interviewed four bright young Naskapi people: two women and two men, all of them between the ages of 25 and 30.
After testing their baseline skills in Naskapi, I prayerfully decided to hire and train all four of them, and began to work with them at the office on March 1.IMG_5041
Since then, Amanda Swappie, Kabimbetas Noah Mokoush, Jimmy D. Shecanapish and Kissandra Sandy-Dominique have made tremendous progress surviving my instruction and applying themselves with daily practice, as they are learning to read Naskapi fluently, type and transcribe Naskapi syllabics into the computer, learn the various computer-based translation tools that help us today in language work (parallel Bible tools, dictionary and digital audio tools, commentaries and grammars), and study the structure of the Naskapi language.
The NDC office has been regenerated with the youthful enthusiasm of these new recruits, and we have started to refer to them as the “Fantastic Four“. They are learning to work both as a team and independently, and have improved on many levels during their current probationary period of employment.

IMG_5040aFor the first three weeks of April, I was once again given the wonderful opportunity to serve as the guest instructor for the Naskapi-McGill teacher training program, teaching another section of the Naskapi Language Foundations course (Naskapi IV) to the cohort of about a dozen undergrad Naskapi students enrolled in the McGill University program. I was able to bring the “Fantastic Four” with me into the classroom to audit the grammar and literacy training that is being provided to this bright group of students.
And now, this week each of the “Four” will be starting on the adventure of translating a portion of the Old Testament into Naskapi–they are each beginning on a different “historical” book (Joshua, 1 & 2 Samuel, and Kings), which, Lord willing, they will all be working through for the long-term, as they continue to learn the skills and art of crafting a translation of the Bible into their own mother tongue.
All this while at the same time I am in “thesis mode” as work through the write-up of my own MA in linguistics final project. Our plans are to leave Schefferville at the end of this week as we begin to make our way over to SIL at the University of North Dakota where I am scheduled to defend my thesis this summer. If a candle had more than two ends I guess I would be burning those as well.candle-both-ends
But I am so deeply grateful for the privilege of working with our new “Naskapi Language specialists-in-training” (the Fantastic Four) as well as the Naskapi-McGill teacher-training class. Seeing God at work in the lives of so many people here in the Naskapi community is exciting and humbling at the same time.
We know that you will want to remember to pray for each of them by name, but even if you can’t remember their names, just bring the Fantastic Four working on the Naskapi Old Testament to the Lord, and He’ll know who you are asking about. Remember us too, as we have many thousands of miles to travel in the next month or so (and all the loose ends to take care of, and a thesis to write…)

Serving with you, Bill and Norma Jean