Chaz’s account of his trip

Thank you all for praying for me and my family when I was in Mexico at the Translation Consultants’ Development Orientation from April 2-16. The meetings were held at Summer Institute of Linguistics (SIL) facilities in Oaxaca in the southeast part of the country. The state of Oaxaca has many indigenous people groups and that is why SIL’s work in Mexico is based there. There were 17 potential consultants in attendance with about half working in Mexico and the rest from Canada,Panama,Guatemala and Costa Rica. Others joined us in the afternoons so we could practice consulting with Bible translation teams that have some material ready for checking.

The morning meetings dealt with various topics of which translation consultants must be aware in order to be of help to translation teams. These included Biblical languages,textual criticism (using textual evidence to determine to the greatest extent possible what the original Biblical manuscripts are like),computer helps,translation theories,philosophy and politics driving new versions of the Bible in English,and working with teams whose principle translators are not from western cultures.

In addition to being translation checkers,consultants must be good listeners for translators who may be frustrated,discouraged or feeling alone. One has to come prepared to suggest solutions for difficult passages,handle sticky situations and do some training in the short amount of time he has with the translation team.

Consultants are also expected to improve their own personal and professional skills through seminars,academic programs and self-study. I find my weakest area is Hebrew and the best way to shore that up is through personal use of a textbook and by reading articles on the discourse grammar (conjunctions and other signals that hold texts together). The number of computer helps becoming available is beyond my grasp as well. And there is always room for improvement in the department of one’s private life.

I am definitely considering consulting for when our work with the Northern Emberas is finished. God has the final say. But I do not have to wait until then to use my consulting skills to assure that the Northern Embera Scriptures have the best possible quality and are read publicly and privately.

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