Literacy feels a long, LONG way away, but I’m getting pretty excited about it nonetheless 🙂

We’re still at the stage of speaking in broken, grammatically incorrect phrases, but it’s fun to dream.
I think part of it is our ongoing experience trying to handle all the patients that come to us for medical help; some we can’t help and some we’re choosing not to help because we need to guard our focus and time for the things we’ve come to do.

Daik found a spider. He’s going to eat it.

We’ve spent hours this last week looking at our medical policy again, hoping that it’ll give us clear guidelines on what to do which will reduce the decision burden each time a case comes up.

The very first case following the review was something we didn’t know what to do with! A lady pricked her finger on a thorn while digging yams a month ago. There’s gangrene in the finger now: she likely needs it amputated! (I’ll spare you the pictures). We didn’t have enough antibiotics to give her a full dose and so we sent her on to the Pal team’s clinic.

Perhaps I’m looking forward to literacy so much because it’s one of the things we promised the Kovol people we’d do. We never promised to become the health centre for the region, but we did promise to teach them to read and write and I’m looking forward to pouring time, money and energy into it without feeling the need to restrain myself as we do medically. (We’re daydreaming about providing de-worming treatment for our community, but we need to think long and hard about exactly how that would work. Tapeworms coming out of kid’s mouths are hard to ignore!)

We’re also excited to see how eager the Kovol people are to be literate. This Saturday (We’ve switched to Sunday and Wednesday days off. Here’s our inspiration: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ALaTm6VzTBw)

We pulled out our colouring pens and paper for the kids again. We love doing it, and I think most of all we love seeing the mums and dads colouring away and giggling to themselves 🙂

Mums and kids colouring away

It’s really motivating to continue chipping away at the language. I keep reminding myself that we’re being careful with what we take on so we can ensure that we get to the literacy, translation and Bible teaching parts of our work.

I’ve also dipped my toes into the world of texts – short stories. I’m at the stage where I can start to look at 30-second long stories about familiar topics with the aim of pulling out some new vocabulary and learning the quick and easy way to link things together.
Later on, we’ll be spending quite a bit of effort on discourse analysis and really studying these stories. I’m being careful not to spend too much time on it right now, but it’s been fun.

Below is an example story for your enjoyment:

Free translation

If the mother and baby chickens stay in the village a bird of prey will get them and take them away, so the man takes his chickens with him and the bird of prey can’t get close

Interlinear

    1. nobug
    2. bird
    1. nasim
    2. mother
    1. nobug
    2. bird
    1. undum
    2. child
    1. wog
    2. they
    1. place
    1. ogo
    2. to
    1. itasi,
    2. 3p-f-stay,
    1. nobug
    2. bird
    1. ɛniŋot
    2. sharp
    1. wog
    2. they
    1. ɛβiŋ
    2. 3s-f-get
    1. wog
    2. they
    1. ʔɛb
    2. sh-see
    1. oβoβ
    2. sh-get
    1. liβige,
    2. 3s-p-come_up,
    1. oβoβ
    2. sh-get
    1. manda
    2. 3s-f-walk
    1. moʔis
    2. man
    1. wog
    2. they
    1. ʔɛb
    2. sh-see
    1. nobug
    2. bird
    1. ʔɛni
    2. close
    1. mu
    2. not
    1. ge
    2. can
    1. tɛβiŋ
    2. 3s-f-come_side

I’ve noticed that a few things can be done to our verbs beyond adding the 22 suffixes we’ve identified so far. I can’t seem to get people to use these new endings in short phrases, but they come out in stories. The -si ending is one of them. It could indicate a conditional mode, but I’ll need to see it a few more times before I can conclude anything.

We’re hoping that one day in the near future we’ll see Kovol authors writing their own stories in their own language. It’s so tempting to jump into texts now, but I need to keep on building up my Kovol language foundations first. Exciting times are on the horizon though!


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