mili, dogi, vigi, pogili, or chii?

Bible translators encounter a multitude of linguistic complexities.

For example, how should Galatians 6:2 be translated in the Konni language of Ghana?

The text says, “Carry each other’s burdens….” In the Konni language, there are five different words for ‘carry’:

  • mili = carry on the back
  • dogi = carry on the hip
  • vigi = carry on the shoulder
  • pogili = carry in front of you
  • chii = carry on the head

To best answer the question, a translator must dig deeper and ask, “What do Konni people carry on these different places?”

  • ‘on the back’ is always a baby
  • ‘on the hip’ is always a small child
  • ‘on the shoulder’ is usually a piece of firewood or a hoe
  • ‘in front of you’ is something light
  • ‘on the head’ is something heavy

Chii’ is the right word to use because they carry their heaviest burdens on their heads.

Finding the right word, the right phrase is an important part of the linguistic work of Bible translation. Linguistics is not the only work involved in making sure that every people on earth has access to God’s Word in the language and form they understand best.


Want to join in this great–sometimes complex–work of God? There are many ways you can be involved. I’ll list a few:

  1. PRAY for Bible translation.
    Praise  Subscribe to the Wycliffe Prayer Blog (today’s text served as the source for this blog post) with an RSS feed and pray for a different aspect of the work each day.
  2. PRAY for me as one of many serving full-time in this movement.
    The PRAY tab above will give you some specific ways to pray–I intend to update that at least monthly.
  3. SHARE your RESOURCES with an individual missionary…like me.
    You can make an occasional or regularly scheduled gift to Wycliffe that supports my ministry with Wycliffe on-line or by phone or by writing a check.
  4. SHARE your RESOURCES in support of a project.
    Visit Wycliffe’s website. There is a Christmas catalog online that is filled with exciting ways you can invest.
  5. GO.
    I’m serious. Contact me. I’d love to talk with you about short- and long-term opportunities of all sorts.

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