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Putting Language into Words

2017-04-07

When she travels to Africa this summer, Brantford’s Kathryn van Wyngaarden will help put an oral language into words for the first time in its history.

The linguistic student at Tyndale University College in Toronto will volunteer her time with Wycliffe Bible Translators for a three-month internship in Cameroon, one of the most linguistically diverse countries in the world. Cameroon’s official languages are English and French but it is home to another 278 languages.
 
Van Wyngaarden, 21, is currently completing her BA in linguistics with a minor in French.
 
“All of my professors, before they became professors, worked with Wycliffe, which is doing language documentation, literacy development and Bible translation across every language that is an active language; a language that’s being taught to children and passed down and still in use,” van Wyngaarden said.

When a professor approached her last January and said an internship was available with Wycliffe, van Wyngaarden jumped at the opportunity.

“It’s using everything that I’ve been studying and learning practically in the field,” she said. “Just this semester I’m taking a language and acquisition course, so we’re looking at different methods for learning language and culture and it is so intriguing to see the importance of it.”

Van Wyngaarden will work in the Ndop Plain where there is a cluster of 10 Bantu languages.

“The language I’m working on is only spoken, so over the next 10 years the goal is to create an orthography, a writing system or alphabet, so that the community can send their children to school where they actually learn in their first language,” she said.

“All the research (I’ve done) shows that children learn better and take it in more if they start in their first language and then switch over to a second language."

 

Read more at brantnews.com


RELATED CONTENT:

Wycliffe Canada internships

Tyndale University College

Stories from the Ndop Plain in Word Alive magazine

 

 

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