I realise that many of you probably have no idea what exactly we are learning during our linguistics year. So, I decided to write this blog to show you some of what we are doing. The difficult thing is however, that if I start talking about “the phonological procedure that allows us to unite the different allophones of each phoneme…” Most people would quickly get lost in the forest of job jargon. So, I will try to keep things understandable for everyone – and hope to give some insight as to why this is such an important part of reaching the unreached.
What are you currently learning?
While last year we had loads of different short modules and the schedule changed day-by-day, this year we have a much more stable schedule. Over the past month we have been working on the same module – phonemics – and we will continue to work on this for at least another three weeks. Today we also started our first bigger project, which will take just over a week to complete.
A healthy body helps to have a healthy mind. Recently I’ve started to go out on some MTB rides.
What is phonemics?
I’m glad you asked! Say the following two words out loud: “ban” and “bank”. It doesn’t matter whether you say them in English, Dutch or Afrikaans. But if you pay careful attention to the location of you tongue, you’ll notice that the two “n’s” in those words are different. In fact, the “n” in “bank”, is the same sound as “ng” in “bang”. This happens because presence of the “k”, makes the “n” move to the back of the tongue.
So far so good, but the real kicker is the fact that you probably never noticed this difference before today. And it is precisely this last fact that phonemics seeks to deal with. If we are accurate in writing down the words we learn in a foreign language, we would write a different symbol for each “n”. But since the speaker isn’t thinking about saying two different letters there, it would be confusing for them to read two different letters for these words. Phonemics then, is the bridge between the “scientifically described sound” and the “sound which the speaker is thinking about”.
So why is phonemics important?
When we understand what the speaker is thinking while speaking, we are able to form a better alphabet. With a better alphabet, it is easier for the speaker to learn to read. When it is easier to read, it is easier to understand what the text is saying. Therefore, doing our phonemics correctly means that people will ultimately be able to understand Scripture better, and therefore learn more about God!
- Thank God for phonemics, because it allows us to better learn about who He is.
- Pray for our first larger project, which we started today.
- Pray for my involvement in ministries at church and on campus.