Often people ask us if we are learning language right now in our training. The short answer is “No.” The reason we’re not, we usually explain, is that we do not yet know which people group we will end up among, and that wherever we do end up, the language is probably not going to be a written language, nor is it likely known by anyone outside of that group, so there is no way we can learn the language until we are actually there.
But while we are not studying any specific language right now, we are learning how to learn an unwritten language – how to analyze the structure and patterns of any given language (For example, have you ever considered why an English speaker would say “The big red ball,” instead of “The red big ball?”). We will need to fully understand the grammatical patterns of the language we work among so that we can put the language into writing, translate Scripture into the language, and teach the people to read their language. This is the purpose of our current language training.
One of the classes we just finished was a Grammar class in which we analyzed the general grammatical patterns of dozens of different languages. Some of the languages are pretty complex, but below is a simple example to give you a taste of what we’ve been doing. These words are nouns from the Michoacan Aztec language in Mexico.
|nokali||= my house|
|mopelomes||= your dogs|
|ipelo||= his dog|
|mokali||= your house|
See if you can break apart the words to figure out which part of the word is the noun root, which part of the word shows plurality, and which part shows ownership. The answers are in a comment, which you can access at the bottom right of this post.