A broad understanding of different language structures enables a consultant to support translation teams in finding ways to express meaning in natural ways in their context.
Here are some resource suggestions to help your mentees grow in their skills related to language structures:
1. SIL-validated courses in morphology and syntax
There are a network of training providers that offer courses to meet SIL standard learning objectives for morphology and syntax, which give a broad understanding of different language structures around the world. Visit the SIL International website to find a training programme in your area that covers these topics.
2. Introductory books on language structures connected to morphology and syntax
These are some recommended introductory books about different language structures:
- Payne, Thomas. 2006. Exploring Language Structure. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
- Kroeger, Paul. 2005. Analyzing Grammar: An Introduction. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Tip: Choose one of these books to read in a book group with other colleagues, and discuss the examples given and any similar structures in languages you are familiar with.
3. World Atlas of Language Structures
The World Atlas of Language Structures (WALS) provides introductory chapters explaining different features related to language structure. Each chapter is accompanied by maps of which languages in the world display these features. This can help you guess which sorts of features to expect in the languages where you are working.
Tip: Begin by looking at Chapter 81 and reading about the variety of orders of Subject, Object and Verb in different languages. Explore the map to see what is the most common order in the area where you are working. Then explore chapters and maps on other features that interest you or are recommended by your mentor.
4. Youtube channels
There are several Youtube channels that provide good introductions to the structures of different languages. Try some of these:
- Nativlang (look particularly at the ‘Introduction to Morphology’ and the ‘Introduction to Syntax’, or videos about languages of the area where you work)
- Virtual Linguistics Campus (Begin with some of the videos from ‘Linguistics Fundamentals’ or look for videos on particular languages of the area where you work)
- LangFocus (has introductions to a wide variety of different world languages)
- Wikitongues (listen to people speaking different languages from around the world)
- DrPhilDKing (has a small set of videos connecting language structures to translation, aimed at Papua New Guinean translators, but relevant more widely)
- CrashCourse on linguistics (17 lessons of less than 15 minutes each introducing major aspects of linguistics)
Tip: Start with some of these videos as recommended by your mentor, then look for other videos on similar topics.
Further resources that might interest you
- Do you know of a good resource that should be listed here? Please let us know.