Multiple language translation projects in Guan District need support

Language Translation

Mr Albert Ofori, Coordinator of a multiple language project in the Guan District of the Oti Region, is appealing for support for the project initiated in 1998 by the Ghana Institute of Linguistics, Literacy and Bible Translation (GILLBT) to help translate key manuscripts into local languages.

Mr Ofori told the Ghana News Agency (GNA) during a visit, that the project suffered some setbacks including funds, and community support.

He said most local dialects in the area had no written forms, and that the project was helping document some, including; the Seelee language of the people of Santrokofi, said to be among the oldest in the world.

The project achieved some significant targets including; the translation of the entire New Testament of the Holy Bible, which was completed in the year 2009.

Mr Ofori said an abridged version of the Constitution, and also church hymnals, and other literary materials on health in the Selee, Siwu, Sekpele, and the Tuwuli languages, had also been produced.

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The coordinator noted however that the translation of the Old Testament suffered a five-year delay for lack of funds following the completion of the New Testament project, until GILLBT approved a proposal funded by Seed Company, a US-based Nonprofit in 2014.

He said the eight-man team working on the project had managed to translate about a dozen of the Old Testament books, and which were being sold to churches for use, and for feedback.

Mr Ofori noted the administrative cost of the project, and said dwindling donor support affected its supply of stationery tools and materials.

“Currently we have no scanner, no photocopier machine and no funds. We have to travel to Hohoe for photocopies,” he said.
The project employs two translators for each language, and the process involves a laborious task of establishing the autography of the dialect.

A literacy component that has so far benefited over 100 people in the District also forms part of the project, and the coordinator asked for logistics to benefit more persons.

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Plans are being considered for the translation of school textbooks and other education material, and documents on traditional customs, and some dirges.

The Coordinator called out the poor interest in the initiative by the various communities, and also the Church.
“Most Churches are never concerned about the project. It helps understand the Bible well and would be of great help in academia,” he said.

Mr Ofori also lamented the absence of Assembly support, and said it was operating from a private rented apartment, and lacked accommodation and a conference facility.

He however noted that traditional authorities had backed the initiative and helped establish an annual fundraising durbar, which had also fallen temporarily to the Coronavirus pandemic.

“Language is dynamic and it must be documented to save it from extinction,”
Dr Ebenezer Ampofo, a specialist linguistics for the Santrokofi Traditional Council and lead advocate the promotion of the Seelee language said to the GNA the project could be developed into a language lab, and hinted on plans to establish a radio station for the dialect.