Vernacular scripture use in two Cameroonian language communities: Kom and Bafut

The purpose of this study was to investigate to what extent mother-tongue Scriptures are used for worship, evangelism, discipleship, and personal spiritual growth in two language communities in the North West Province of Cameroon, Africa, where SIL, a faith-based linguistic organization, has been involved assisting these two and many other language communities to put their languages into writing, translate the Scriptures into their heart language, and promote vernacular literacy and the use of mother-tongue Scripture within the Christian community. The study also attempted to discover what factors within a community may interact positively or negatively with vernacular Scripture use and what might be done to promote greater Scripture use within each community. The historical context of each community was examined, especially as this related to the use of language in schools. Historical government policies and missionary practices were examined. The study reviewed the involvement of SIL personnel and members of the local communities in the process of language development. Trained Cameroonian data gatherers surveyed people in the churches in each community. Survey and participant observation data were used to create a vernacular Scripture use profile for each community, and analysis revealed a different profile of independent variables interacting with Scripture use in each community. This study broke new ground by gathering data directly from the target populations rather than using estimates about the extent of vernacular Scripture use from language program workers, and it established a base line for Scripture use to which future studies from other communities can be compared. The individual Scripture-use profiles in each community led to different emphases in the recommendations about how to promote increased Scripture use in each location. To discover generalizations that may apply to other language programs, multiple studies need to be done and compared to learn what language program methods have been successful in particular sociolinguistic and sociopolitical contexts. Identifying practices that have worked or not worked in various historical, political, and sociolinguistic environments will inform the management of current and future language development programs and may result in increased mother-tongue Scripture use.
xvi, 234 pages
Scripture engagement
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