June 21, 2015:
Christ is in the world, and because of that, science is a spiritual, religious, eminently Christian endeavor. For some years, I harbored some guilt for not wanting to do such an ostensibly spiritual activity as Bible translation, preferring instead the allegedly unspiritual activity of linguistic science. But God has been showing me again and again that he is aware of, cares about, and blesses my linguistic work. I can relate two examples now:
First, one day I was trying to match Ik bird names with bird species. It was difficult because the mens’ descriptions left a lot to be desired. They were usually focused on the bird’s behavior rather than its appearance. One particular bird I really wanted to identify. It’s one that is often heard making a mournful, haunting cry in the bush. But we had nothing more to go on than its sound. The very next morning, down below our homestead, what did I hear but that very bird call! Not only that, but the bird in question flew up the hill straight at me and landed on a branch in plain view not twenty feet away. It stayed long enough for me to clearly identify at as a chin-spot batis:
Second, God has been helping me make neural connections as I’m trying to find English equivalents for Ik words. Often the perfect word will just pop into my head at random times throughout the day, usually when I’m not even working on the dictionary. Yesterday I was faced with the word mazimazon. It was glossed as ‘sweet-sour’, which I knew was far too generic. It referred to the taste of millet beer at the onset of fermentation and of some medicinal plant concoctions. But I just couldn’t think of the right English word! And my thesaurus wasn’t helping. It wasn’t until later when I saw the jar of TANG on the countertop that the word ‘tangy’ popped into my mind! With its near-synonym ‘tart’, ‘tangy’ was the perfect English gloss for mazimaz-!