Post 103 / The Next Language

Epicenter of Languages

Indonesians love their languages. And there are lots of them. According to Wikipedia Indonesia is second in the world only to adjacent Papua New Guinea for sheer quantity of indigenous languages. Our archives show 728 languages with the story of Jesus available. These are waiting for anyone with a cell phone or wifi access to listen through the free app 5fish.

This sounds good until you dig into to data that confirms another 785 languages that are confirmed unrecorded. On top of that add another 579 languages that are documented but have yet to be confirmed. ( Our experience in Mexico and Nigeria taught us that most of those “unconfirmed” languages did exist and that those that proved extinct were usually offset by discovering new languages that were not in anyone’s database.)

When I say Indonesians love their languages I mean all of them. Indonesian is easily the most spoken language and the language of trade and education for close to 250,000,000 people but is not the first language to most inhabitants. Most Indonesians speak a local language at home. A recent survey showed that less than 20% of Indonesian families actually speak Indonesian in the home. To an American that is unbelievable. Google tells me that 75% of Americans are monolingual.

A popular Indonesian joke. Someone that speaks three languages is trilingual. A person that speaks two languages is bilingual. A person that speaks one language is American!

Since coming to Indonesia I have asked a lot of people if they know a single person that only speaks one language and so far no one has been able to identify a single acquaintance that is monolingual. The family where we are staying are educated Indonesians but their first language at home is Javanese.

The implications for translation ease in this pluralistic environment are many. Bridging from one language to another is a daily exercise. One might question whether translation is even necessary when most of the people speak a common national language. Indeed, some mission endeavors in the past in other similar situations have assumed that communication through the broader common language was more efficient and sufficient for communicating the Good News. Generations later they learned that the important Good News had never been able to shake the perspective of being an imported alien.

The existence and persistence of all these indigenous languages actually suggests a need that the gateway language is not going to satisfy. The deepest and most intimate communication needs and the sense of social identity and cohesion are not served by an outside language. The ability to buy bananas with a second language does not answer the communication load to carry the pathos or feelings involved in human relationships or feelings.

Did you ever wonder why the King James New Testament reverts to the Aramaic in a few places? We are told that Jesus primarily used Aramaic in His teaching though we know He quoted the Greek Septuagint and probably handled Hebrew with the scholars.

Why then when the documentation was translated from Aramaic to Greek did these direct quotes of Jesus persist in Aramaic? I can’t find a commentary that speaks to that but my suspicion is that in the intense pressure of talking to a dead corpse in the presence of a grieving family, and talking intimately (Daddy) to his own Father pleading escape, and finally again to the Father with His dying breath on the cross the mother tongue carried meaning that was not to be found or to be felt appropriate in Greek.

“And he took the damsel by the hand, and said unto her, Talitha cumi; which is, being interpreted, Damsel, I say unto thee, arise.” [Mar 5:41 KJV]

“And he said, Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from me: nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt.” [Mar 14:36 KJV]

“And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? which is, being interpreted, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” [Mar 15:34 KJV]

Thus, with no apologies, we will take the most important news in all the world and in all of history into the intricate language varieties that are today’s equivalent to the obscure Galilean dialect that Jesus and the apostles spoke.

God Bless,

Larry DeVilbiss | Executive Director

Global Recordings Network USA

If you are interested in learning how to share links on social media that will promote use of our recordings and the Gospel in general, please contact RolandHeck@GlobalRecordings.Net

Previous “The Next Language” posts
Holy Envy – Post 102
Watchman – Post 101
First the Blade – Post 100
Marghi – Post 99
Talents – Post 98
Berom – Post 97
God is my Wit(h)ness – Post 96
Scarlet Chested Sun Bird – Post 95
Fountains of Water – Post 94
A Glorious Landing – Post 93
Tale of Three Sisters – Post 92
Collaboration – Post 91
Pick Your Fears Carefully – Post 90
Mixteco del Progreso – Post 89
Go – Post 88
Those Word Lists – Post 87
Altars – Post 86
Oh, for a Thousand Tongues – Post 85
Voices in the Wilderness – Post 84
Nigeria – First Impressions – Post 83
From the Land of Nod – Post 82
Tribute to Mexico – 1967 – 2022 – Post 81
Miniaturization – Post 80
Knowing The Times – Post 79
God Comes to a Dirty World – Post 78
Corn in Mexico – Post 77
When the Church Says No – Post 76
War – Post 75
Theirs Is the Kingdom – Post 74
The Hippie Era Lives On – Post 73
Genesis of a Recording Set – Post 72
Back Tracking – Post 71
Witnesses- Post 70
Who Is Your Owner? – Post 69
An Unsolicited Endorsement – Post 68
Oral Tradition – Post 67
Works of  Man – Post 66
Deliverance – Post 65
New Discoveries – Post 64
The Wall of Pain – Post 63
Is There a Place for the Gospel in Your Story – Post 62
The Love Pyramid – Post 61
Obsession – Post 60
Verb Tenses in Hebrews – Post 59
The Unseen Weapon – Post 58
The Gospel Arrives in Zapoteco:Elotepec – Post 57
Fishing – GRN Style – Post 56
A New Day in Mexico – Post 55
Seeking – Post 54
Pick Your Battles – Post 53
How Big Is Your God? – Post 52
A Muted Gospel? – Post 51
Dedication Service for Marcos – Post 50
Two Weeks, Two Months, Two Years – Post 49
What Will You Give to Jesus – Post 48
Special Assignment – Post 47
The Good and the Best – Post 46
How Many Languages Are There? – Post 45
Verifying Speech Varieties – Post 44
Those God Things – Post 43
Meet Notch, the Desert Cottontail – Post 42
The Lost Languages – Post 41
The Rest of the Yoke – Post 40
What About Those Last Languages – Post 39
A Yoke That Fits – Post 38
The Other Side – Post 37
It Is Finished – Post 36
On the Ground in Culiacan – Post 35
I Will Go With Thee – Post 34
Unseen Warfare – Post 33
God of the Gaps – Post 32
The Father of Faith Missions – Post 31
WAIT – Post 30
Our Ultimate Weapon – Post 29
What Are You Doing Here – Post 28
Recordist Training Course Update – Post 27
Still Shameful – Post 26
Numbers Update – Post 25
The Gospel and Idolatry – Post 24
Could Ye Not Pray – Post 23
John the Baptist and the New Normal – Post 22
Genesis of a Script – Post 21
Embena Experiences – Post 20
An Easter Like No Other – Post 19
Go Or Stay Home – Post 18
The Next Language – Post 17
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