Communities developing resources and competencies for using their languages
Foundational understanding for language development work of all kinds
Publications, fonts and computer tools for language development, translation and research
SIL offers training in disciplines relevant to sustainable language development.
7,099 languages are spoken or signed. CLICK for map of world languages & regional websites.
SIL's dedication to language development past and present
From 1992 to 2000 I led the Kambari Language Project in developing and promoting
new terms in three languages of the Kambari language cluster in Niger State, Nigeria.
The three languages are Cishingini (Agwara Area Kambari), Tsikimba (Auna-Wara Area
Kambari) and Tsishingini (Salka Area Kambari). The Kambari co-languages are
classified as Niger-Congo, Benue-Congo, Kainji. We sought to create indigenous
terminology in four domains: government/political terms, medical terms, religious
terms and metalanguage/literacy terms. In this work I have documented and critically
analyzed the factors contributing to the success or failure of term development and
promotion in the four domains.
I have examined the theoretical foundations of terminology development, largely
based on the work in Yoruba as delineated by Awobuluyi and Bamgbose, and introduce
a new term in the discipline, neoterms. Neoterms form the distinct subset where
terminology and neologisms intersect. Neoterm development is viewed as a unique
form of translation, wherein the translator is not attempting to convey an entire
message, but only a single word or concept, and thereby loses control of the discourse
context in communication. The study contributes to solving the problem of neoterm
development by proposing methods of enhancing first-exposure recognition of the
terminological meaning of the neoterm, drawing on the work of Lakoff and others in
set formation theory, and by selecting term strategies based on the profiles of the
projected user groups. I have provided a set of need-based decision matrices to guide
language development decisions in the area of neoterm formation. These matrices
contrast the factors of communication setting, the percentage of the population
expected to use the neoterm, and the nature of the concept being conveyed.
All language developers face the challenge of promoting the newly developed
terminology. In addressing this challenge I introduce a sociological distinction between
text-oriented and oral-oriented communities, and explain Sperber and Wilson’s
Relevance Theory of human communication (as presented by Gutt) which emphasizes
the role of the communicative context in comprehension. These theoretical
considerations lead me to propose Kambari oral literature forms as a vehicle to publicly
promote the developed neoterms. I trust that documenting this pioneer effort will
provide other language developers with an innovative model they can replicate as part
of their program to achieve public acceptance of their work.