Magazines and Bananas

One of my most memorable experiences working  with the Kouya people in central Ivory Coast came early on while we were trying to learn the language. I wasn’t at all prepared for the answer I got to what seemed to be a simple question. All I wanted to know was the Kouya word for ‘banana’, but I ended up with a list of seventeen different words. Apparently, even a young Kouya child could distinguish different types of banana, but to me they all just looked like bananas!

But if the Kouya had a rich banana vocabulary, when it came to ships and shipping, their store of words was decidedly lacking. When we worked on Acts 27, Paul’s shipwreck, we found ourselves really struggling to get the meaning across. For example, Kouya doesn’t have a word for ‘anchor’, …

This is the introduction for an article which I wrote for the latest Wycliffe ‘Words of Life’ magazine. You can read the full piece and lots more good stuff here.

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1 reply on “Magazines and Bananas”

This reminds me of when, a few years ago, I found myself on the largest boat on the largest body of water (an artificial lake) in the landlocked homeland of a major people group (millions of speakers). On that boat there was no anchor, but there was the clear outline in the paintwork of where there had been one. My conclusion was that that people group did have some concept of an anchor, but that there was most likely no anchor in existence in their area, except perhaps at the bottom of the lake. I pointed this out to my host in the area who was overseeing a Bible translation project. Anyway I guess the missing anchor would have been called by its name in the language of wider communication, and most likely that is what they used in their version of Acts 27.

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