The Kovol test

Steve and Gerdine Stanley’s (and their co-worker’s) goal is to communicate at a high level in the Kovol language. They want to teach Bible lessons so that they do not tire their audience out because they are putting effort into understanding the accents and ways of speaking. Perhaps it is partially inevitable, but they are still doing all they can to learn to communicate as clearly as possible.

They have learnt that the Kovol language is not particularly descriptive. As they look forward to teaching Bible lessons they are thinking about how to go about introducing new concepts. How do they describe new things? How do they introduce unfamiliar settings?

Steve showed a Kovol man a video about making a traditional laminate bow. Kovol people themselves make bows, but these are carved from a single piece of wood. The video was something familiar, but with a twist. Steve then asked the man to describe what he saw. Steve took the text and wrote it out. In the photo you can see what he said transcribed. Red is for words that are not in the team dictionary, green for words in their dictionary but not marked as checked and black for words marked as team-approved. As they transcribe text, they are working to gradually add new words into their dictionary and they are agreeing on spelling for entries that already exist. It is getting there!

The Kovol team want to learn to speak the language like a Kovol person, but at the same time, they naturally actually want to speak differently. The Gospel has never been taught in the Kovol language before and so they are pioneering a new way of speaking in the language.

Unfortunately the description Steve elicited of making the laminate bow didn’t unlock any new language secrets, but maybe tomorrow’s session will be better?