The BBC is making a big thing about a researcher who is going off to live in the Arctic to study a disappearing Inuit language and culture. Now don’t get me wrong, I think this is fantastic. I’m all in favour of people doing language and culture research. The thing I don’t understand is why the BBC are making so much fuss about a man going off to live with a minority group for a year. I don’t want to blow my own trumpet, but we lived with the Kouya for six years and hundreds of our Wycliffe colleagues have lived for far longer and in far more isolated situations than we did.
I must admit that I don’t envy Dr. Leonard having to live through an Arctic winter, but at least his house will have electricity, which is more than we had. Admittedly, we didn’t have to melt snow to get our water (that would have been interesting in a tropical rain forest) but our water did come from a well that we had to have dug in our garden.
Dr. Leonard is hoping to document a good deal about the Inuit language and culture which is wonderful and I wish him well. We did a fair bit of documentation of Kouya culture too (some of which you can read here) but we also produced reading and writing books and eventually helped to translate the New Testament. And that is the reason that the BBC are making a big fuss about Dr. Leonard and never say anything about the hundreds of people who have lived in equally isolated and difficult situations around the world documenting languages and cultures. Dr, Leonard won’t translate the Bible (he won’t stay their long enough); so he must be okay, while the rest of us are definitely suspect!