Tuesday, November 01, 2011

"[A]s soon as he knows better the orthography of the language"

So Carlos and Caryn, friends of ours, our family, and our church, a Wycliffe missionary couple in Niger, write of their friend "H," who is helping with the translation:

Last month’s workshop on translation principles was a great help to the team. We recently loaded the translation software in 'H's' computer, so that he can work on translation as well (as soon as he knows better the orthography of his language). Up to now, 'H' has only worked on back translations into the official language, in preparation for meetings with a consultant. However, this would be the first time that he does actual translation. In principle, having two translators working at the same time on different passages will help the work to move along faster. In any case, please be in prayer that 'A' and 'H' would learn the orthography of their language quickly, and that they would work well together as a team.

I will be in prayer. But I am fascinated by the word "orthography." What does it mean?

Ortho, my office Webster's New International Second Edition Unabridged ("WSI") tells me, is from the Greek "orthos meaning straight, upright, right, true, hence, also correct, regular."

Thus, ortho-doxa, orthodox, a right opinion; ortho-dontia, straight teeth; finally, ortho-graphy, writing correctly, or as WSI continues:

"1. The art of writing words with the proper letters, according to standard usage; correct spelling; also, mode of spelling; as vicious orthography. 2. The art of grammar which treats of the letters and the art of spelling. 3. A drawing in correct projection, esp. and elevation."

I know a lot of people who treat spelling viciously. As for my own gifts, I think the "art of spelling" fits nicely.

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