Archives for category: Uncategorized

End of week ten, and the training phase is over. Altogether we’ve trained 68 volunteers in four different versions of the orthography.

The daily visit to the pool is paying off in more ways than one. Yesterday I dived in and found a 5000 cfa note (£6.50) on the bottom.


…in the course of one afternoon’s shopping, ten people say ‘sorry’ to you.

Still piecing this culture together bit by bit after 21 years. Today I learned that as long as I have no beard it would be considered presumptuous for any of my employees to grow one.

From closed systems of thought
And self-referential sub-cultures
Good Lord deliver us.

Wikipedia kabiye 500

This week the Kabiye Wikipedia topped 500 articles, which means we’re half way through the official list of “the 1000 articles every Wikipedia should have”. Some of the most recent articles posted are: Three Gorges Dam, Venezuela, Walt Disney, Trombone, Basketball, Emerald, Nobel Prize, The Beatles, Milky Way…  Well done to all the contributors!

Facebook feeds you news based on what you “like”. That’s fine when, for me, it concerns Baroque countertenors, rollerblading and the Cornish coastpath. But it ill-serves the democratic process, because the more I liked “Remain” posts, the more I got. And because I was not prepared to like a “Leave” post, Facebook never exposed me to the other viewpoint: I had to go elsewhere for that. Consequently, from my angle, it looked as if a massive majority was in favour of remaining in the run-up to the election. I’d be interested to here how other Facebook friends manage this imbalance.

I’ve just spent three wonderful days catching up with good friends in Paris. Also had a meeting with Valentin at the lab I used to work at to plan my next field trip to Côte d’Ivoire and gave a talk about my Kabiye research. You can read it (in French) here.  Taking the TGV to Lyon this afternoon.

This afternoon there was a fire in the village. Pauline was brewing millet beer in her kitchen, when some sparks from the fire flew up and caught the thatched roof alight. We’re a very long way from the nearest fire station here, so all the neighbours rushed over to help put out the fire. Fortunately there’s a well near the house. It took us about half an hour to put out the fire. They’ve decided that it’s a good opportunity to replace it the thatch with a tin roof.

Just got some encouraging feedback from the Gworog team whom I helped at the tone orthography workshop in Jos (Nigeria) back in May:

“The workshop was a huge help. Before, it was hard to read our language — harder than English or Hausa. But the way we learned to write in the workshop makes reading so easy — now we can read fluently! We are writing that way every day now as we do translation.”

Benedict Goni and Raymond Hassan, Gworog translators.

On Saturday, we attended the ordination of nine priests in Cové (Benin). It was by far the longest mass any of us had ever been to: five and a half hours, and since we arrived early and it didn’t start on time, we were in church for a full seven and a half hours.
A sign of the times: I noticed that several of the young African seminary students in the seats around me were accessing the Latin text of the Veni Creator Spiritus on their smartphones and tablets.