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Progressing toward the end of Genesis in Njyem

Terese Noumabouck and I are having a good time translating Genesis into Njyem. We are now lacking only chapters 28:20 through the end of 36. We are using the Nzime text as a starting point. At times, we find that the Nzime text needs a bit of an improvement through what we see in the Word.
The remaining work should take about 3 mornings.


Disciple or initiate?

We have been attempting to adapt Badwe'e or Nzime Bible translations into Njyem. We find that the word we think means "disciple" in Badwe'e and in Nzime has a different meaning in Njyem: "initiated person". Some Njyem say that these groups Anya-Mekwor and Dyoo are still active among the Njyem. Others say that they are relegated to a recent but potent memory. They initiated people into their ranks and these people acquired supernatural powers but also came under complicated rules.
The new term that we are trying to use is mbun. It was proposed by a Njyem speaker in Brazzaville who sees the need to avoid miscommunication through implying that one is initiated into the ranks of a disciple of Jesus Christ, and that one acquires powers.


Corpus of parsed texts

Njyem was once an unwritten language as well as lacking a Bible translation.
We are passionately interested in solving both of these conditions. They are linked, as well, since there can be no good readers of the Bible in progress if there are no readers of general literature and no writers and revisers who can produce the translation.
In order of sequence, people should read untranslated literature before translations, which are always more difficult to read than works arising from ones own culture.
The corpus of texts in Njyem is being built up gradually as people contribute texts big and small to us. We transcribe them and then pass them through a parser, using FLEX, a program written and supported by SIL. Once the texts pass the "FLEX-test", they are distributed for further review and comment.
Nineteen texts are at this point.
Interested parties wanting access to them can contact me.


Genesis in Njyem

Deaconess Therese NOUMBOUK and I are going back to the origins of God's self-revelation to man, translating Genesis. It is sad but true that the families of mankind have largely lost the record of the creative and redemptive purposes of God. Genesis is the account of this work... God's sovereign work in creating and sustaining the Universe, including its redemption.
We are now in the midst of creating a pre-draft through Adapt-It, basing this on the Nzime translation, which has already been consultant-checked and which is being sold and in use among the Nzime.


The catechism in Njyem

People are more familiar with the word "cataclysm" than "catechism". That's where we have gotten as a culture.
The catechism was the original "Guide to following Jesus." This is a way of construing the Gospel from within the worldview of a people-group. Their questions are answered from a biblical perspective. It is a pastor's task.
The structure of a catechism is simple and very profound.
The question: What do you believe about "x"?
The answer: We believe "y".
The scripture text. This is the best part. The part the Holy Spirit promises to anchor in peoples' hearts. Often, they memorize them.
The catechism is now done in first draft, adapted into Njyem from Nzime.
The Njyem people are indiscriminate, always wanting what their neighbors, the Nzime, have. Now they too can read about what the Bible contains and why it matters above all that they should become followers of Jesus Christ... Jesus the Messiah.


Map of the Njyem area

The map shown here uses wavy lines for rivers and straight ones for roads. Ngoyla is shown as "Meko'o melɛl", which means "Three stones", and Souanké is shown as "Nsʉa-nkee", which means "On the other side of the Nsʉa River".
Two ethnic groups are indicated: the Nzime, to the north, and the Fang to the west. To the south, they are in contact with the Bekwel.


Jesus is the Avenger

The Njyem have determined that the right way to characterize Jesus is their "Avenger". That is the translation of mikuna-bʉr. This is made up of a nominalizing prefix mi- (cl.4, which in a few cases refers to a single person), the verb -kuna, meaning "avenge", and bʉr, "people".
Everyone wants an Avenger to defend their interests in the event of an attack by a powerful enemy. The enemy most to be feared is Satan, or the devil.
There is a grain of truth in this attribution of a title to Jesus. The Bible says, "The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil." (I John 3:8) It also says, "Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery." Hebrews 2:14-15
Does this need to be balanced against other texts? I think it might need that, especially given the fact that our sins have created an enemy of God, whose justice requires the punishment of the sinner, or of his perfect substitute.



When a linguist seeks to break out of mediocrity and make headway into expressive power in a new-to-him/her language, often (s)he will look at areas like his/her use of contrafactuals.
Today, Teresa Noumabouk gave me one in an essay she wrote, which I have shown in the window below this one:
ǃYesus-Krist, nye adi, ansye ɨ si nyɔꞌɔ wa, mpe bʉr, bé ankʉ to bee ciꞌ ɨ mih me Nsɛm Sɔŋ.
"If Jesus Christ had not come to this earth, people would not have been able to see life in the eyes of ("before") God the Father."
I have been looking at all the contrafactuals in the New Testament, overt and implied, and have broken them into 2 groups: Those with negation in the first, conditional part and those without negation. The contrafactual shown above is clearly in the first group, since there is negation in the conditional phrase: "If Jesus Christ had not come to this earth..."
The puzzling part is that there are two negations there: the first is before adi, "not remain/stay", and the second is before ansye "not come".
The second part of the contrafactual always begins with mpe, which means something like "then the following would be true, except for the fact that it is not." The truth is that we can "see life in the eyes of God the Father!" I am so glad for Teresa, that she has gotten the message of life in Christ.
I am now attempting to see that all these contrafactuals get the best translations they can. Then the other parts around them will be much easier to fill in.

Yesus-Krist, nye é Mikuna-bʉr

Mʉr, nye ɨ lejala ne lekœꞌ œ́, mpu Nsɛm di ɨ lekwɛl yi, nebe é, Nsɛm a ntɨh mwɔn we é, nye ntaa nse kwɨr bʉr tʉŋʉ lebyeb, nse kœb é, yi kɔbla. Ciꞌ bimpam ga bina, yé a be é, abu mbɨa ciꞌ, nebe é, bé a kœkœꞌ œ́, tʉŋʉ lebyeb ne lekaŋ bensɛm beswih. To kumo ne bʉr be Ɨsraɛl, mbi bʉr Nsɛm a twɔr wi.Nɔ ɔ́, Yesus-Krist a nse jwe é, ɨ lense kwɨr ga mɨna tʉŋʉ lebyeb. Nɔ ɔ́ mɨna bé ɨ lejala je ga nye menyʉl ga mɨna, ne biciꞌ ga bina, ne sa yiyɛh mɨna di é, mɨna sa ga á saꞌ yi, yi beꞌ ɨ dyoo le, nebe é, nye a jwe é, ɨ lɔb ga wina.
Ɨ jɔɔ nye a kwɨr ga mɨna yi, yé a baabe ne mɔnɨ, ngʉ gol, ngʉ byʉʉ bisa biswih é byé bɛm ndama bi. Yé a be é, nfe ne mecio me. Ɨ lɔb waa é mɨna jala ne leje menyʉl ga mɨna ne biciꞌ ga bina, ne sa yiyɛh di é, mɨna sa ga á saꞌ yi, yi beꞌ ɨ dyoo me Yesus-Krist, di Mikuna-bʉr nyɔ. Yé é wasa á, mɨna to bwɨ ga ciꞌ ɨ mih me Da.
ǃYesus-Krist, nye adi, ansye ɨ si nyɔꞌɔ wa, mpe bʉr, bé ankʉ to bee ciꞌ ɨ mih me Nsɛm Sɔŋ.

Térèse Noumabouk, silo Jadɔm