The wind was blowing rain clouds over the mountains and tossing Malinda’s hair, but she merely leaned forward to ensure she was heard as she said, “[Teaching] is a service to God. It’s a way for me to give something back to my country.”
Malinda, from the Melpa language group, is one of several instructors for the Translator’s Training Course (TTC). National translators from all over Papua New Guinea gather for five weeks to learn about translation principles, Bible background, alphabets, and personal spiritual growth. Since 2010, Malinda has been teaching the language discovery courses, where many translators learn for the first time about the inner workings of their own languages, such as grammar and phonology, and how to apply that knowledge to Bible translation.
“Teaching language discovery means they think about their languages in a different way than they have before,” Malinda explained. “It encourages them to go back and do a better translation… Now we’re looking at a lot of technology coming into the country and a lot of English and Tok Pisin are being spoken, and it’s making people think, ‘Should we do translation in our mother tongue or not?’ But we as educated Papua New Guineans can teach them and show them, ‘Your language is still good because this is the language God gave you.’ It’s one way of encouraging them.”
Originally, Malinda didn’t expect to work with languages—but now she finds the application through teaching at TTC fascinating. “I think it’s God doing it,” she said, laughing. “My education was mostly theory, but now I’m sitting with [the translators] and asking questions. It amazes me how they can pick these things out, but they need someone to guide them along so they can figure it out.”
Malinda smiled. “I’m not actually translating the Word of God, but I’m helping by training translators, which causes the Word of God to be translated into the different languages we have in PNG! That’s why I was inspired to teach with TTC!”