This is the cover of the new practical dictionary for the Lagwan language of North Cameroon. There are around 12,000 speakers of the Lagwan language, and their language has never been written. Before we work on a Bible translation for an unwritten language, we usually need to do a linguistic analysis and work with the people do create an orthography (written alphabet) for the language, which we can then use to start translation and to begin designing literacy materials for adults and schools.
One of the products we often create is an initial dictionary of the language. This is the first dictionary (and book) ever produced of the Lagwan language, and I am glad to have been a small part of its development. Much of my time is spent consulting on linguistic software, and helping the linguists and translators use it to create things like dictionaries and educational materials (as well as, of course, Scripture).
I remember my parents reading to me before I was old enough to go to kindergarten, and I had favorite stories I wanted to hear over and over. Now I can learn just about anything I want to by picking up a book or going to Google (when I have internet). Have you ever tried to imagine life without literacy? Growing up with no books, no sources of information other than the spoken words of those around you. Often no way to access all the information that exists concerning the diseases that are killing your loved ones, or how to prevent and treat them. No way to find out ways to improve your harvests, or the nutrition that your family is getting. No way to read the Bible, and really understand it.
And the king went up to the house of the LORD, and with him all the men of Judah and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem and the priests and the prophets, all the people, both small and great. And he read in their hearing all the words of the Book of the Covenant that had been found in the house of the LORD.
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). (2 Ki 23:2). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society. (emphasis mine)