Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Basic monkey knowledge

We had a very productive day today. We have all the terminology fixed for the Bible stories and have started a bit on Mark, somewhat ahead of schedule. I spent the whole morning with Sarah going over unclear terms. She has the number for a lesser chief in Sepopa (in the Okavango Delta) who spends all day at the kgotla and has made his cellphone number available for consultation in the Bible translation process. May I take a moment, please, to point out how incredibly cool that is (there – it’s done). Anyhow, she spent a lot of time with him on the phone today, asking about various words. Here are some of my favorites, given as word pictures:

tiirwa - Monkeys like to come into your house. They will come in through any window that is open just enough for them to fit through. If you have something that a monkey can see on the shelf that he wants, he’ll just come through the window and take it. So, you take a piece of wire and make a circle and hang it in the window so that, if the monkey tries to come through the window to get that thing on the shelf, you will get him. In this scenario, the monkey is tiirwa. (used in Mark 1:13, reminds me of James 1:13-14)

We’re currently having a dickens of a time checking the Shiyeyi phrase in Mark 1:4 for baptisma metanoias eis aphesin amartiohn, a.k.a. ‘baptism of repentance for forgiveness of sins’. It is currently rendered in Shiyeyi as inwengiso ye yi ku ldiikha shi ku patirwa zibi. Roughly back-translated, that means ‘baptism for the purpose/location of repentance related to sins being forgiven’. The phrase ‘Related to’ here has the sense of ‘having something to do with the concept that precedes it in an unspecified way’. It could mean that the ‘sins being forgiven’ is either the purpose or essence of the ‘baptism for repentance’. This would be a nice map for the ‘eis + ACCUSATIVE’ construction present in this phrase which can substitute for a predicate nominative (Wallace, p47). That means that the first thing in the pairing becomes or is essentially the same as the second thing. It could mean that the ‘baptism of repentance’ happens because of or by means of the ‘sins being forgiven’. Basically, though, I think the important thing is that the meaning of shi is as inclusive as the Greek term eis. I like that.

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