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Hundreds of languages in Africa are still unwritten or do not yet have Biblical literature translated into them. Many of these belong to the linguistically similar family of Bantu languages which covers most of central, eastern and southern Africa. To help meet this need, translation degree programs for training Africans in linguistics have been developed in several countries across Africa. However, these programs have largely been adapted from Western training programs. For many African students, this formal training has not adequately prepared them for working in their own languages, in particular in analyzing and representing orthographically phonological processes, especially those which neutralize the distinctions between sounds.
The central research issue addressed in this study is to determine how to adjust existing theory in order to develop new contextual approaches to intercultural training in phonological processes for Bantu language mother tongue translators.
I first researched the analysis and representation of sound processes that occur in Bantu languages, key principles of intercultural training, their interaction and their impact on mother tongue Scripture programs.
Building upon this background research, I designed and conducted three case studies of translation degree programs in two Anglophone African countries, using several methodologies, including focus groups, archival research, participant observation and ethnographic interviews.
The findings of these case studies indicate there is a need for more than just revising the present programs. Instead, because of significant cultural differences in dominant learning styles and preferred trainer-student relationships, as well as the distinct needs of those who study their own languages as insiders rather than as outsiders, there needs to be a new contextualized translation of the training program—transcultural training—in order to more effectively prepare Bantu language speakers for their contribution to mother tongue Bible translation, literacy and Scripture use.[ In the interest of making this work available without further delay, we are posting it as it was accepted by the institution that granted the degree without further peer review.]