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What does a linguist do?

Working alongside members of a language community, a linguist will work towards:

  • The formation of local language committees, who will guide and promote language development
  • Identifying gifted mother-tongue speakers and training them to participate fully in the project
  • A thorough linguistic analysis of the sound system
  • A practical alphabet that is approved and accepted by the community
  • A detailed analysis of the grammatical system and language structure, which will help translators produce a high-quality translation
  • A language database, often leading to a more fully developed dictionary.

How can I become a linguist?

The School of Language and Scripture provides training in linguistics. Applicants for linguistic work:

  • are usually – but not always – educated to degree level
  • have well-developed analytical abilities
  • sometimes have a background in linguistics or languages – but we also welcome enquiries from those who have studied mathematics or any other analytical subject.

Why linguistics?

Linguistics lays the foundations for Bible translation by analysing the building blocks of languages.

We wouldn’t commission a builder to build a new house without first ensuring that the foundations were solid and the ground well-prepared. Likewise, before translation and any other language-related work can start there is a lot of groundwork to be done in understanding how a language works, and then developing the language – like designing a writing system for an unwritten language.

Many of the 2000 languages where Bible translations are still needed do not yet have a written form. The majority have never been analysed or documented. In many cases, language communities are keen to see their language developed, but lack training and encouragement.

Source: Wycliffe UK