Central African Republic on NBC

Recently, NBC News broadcast a couple of reports about Central African Republic. Besides telling about UNICEF’s work there, the reports also give a good overview of the current political and humanitarian crisis there.

From the Today Show, March 6, 2019 (about 10 minutes long):

From the NBC Nightly News, March 10, 2019 (about 5 minutes long):




One of the languages that I’ve worked with as a linguistics consultant is Ngbugu, spoken by about 95,000 people in the Basse-Kotto prefecture in Central African Republic.

The Ngbugu translation project began in 1994, but it has seen many setbacks over the years, particularly the death of several of the mother-tongue translators. In 2015, the team asked me to help them resolve some issues with the writing system (alphabet and punctuation). It turned out that Ngbugu speakers were having trouble reading the Scripture portions that had been translated. To make a long story short, we revised the way they were writing the vowels and tones in the languages. Subsequent testing showed that the Ngbugu people were able to read the language much better.

The Ngbugu New Testament translation is slated to be completed in 2020. I was very happy that we were able to resolve these issues before they printed the New Testament!

For more information about Ngbugu, check out the following links:

And here is a link to the Jesus Film in Ngbugu:

12 Habits of Highly Healthy People

Tucked away in one artery of the Mayo Clinic subway system is a series of posters put together by Mayo staff entitled, 12 Habits of Highly Healthy People. Here’s the list:

1. Physical activity
2. Forgiveness
3. Portion sizes
4. Preventive healthcare testing
5. Adequate sleep
6. Try something new
7. Strength and flexibility
8. Laugh
9. Family and friends
10. Address addictive behaviors
11. Quiet your mind
12. Gratitude

The posters discuss health benefits related to each habit. I was intrigued by the list, because it includes things that have long been promoted by religion (e.g. forgiveness, quieting your mind, gratitude). For example, forgiveness reduces stress and anxiety, lowers blood pressure, builds the immune system, improves heart health, and reduces the symptoms of depression. Here’s more from Mayo on forgiveness:


I would love to see Mayo publish a book based on the posters. But for the time being, you’ll have to hunt down the list in the Mayo subway!

SIL Tone Workshop

In 2015, we traveled as a family to Yaoundé, Cameroon so that I could participate in a workshop to analyze the tone systems of several languages from Central African Republic. While I was busy studying the intricacies of the Ngbugu language, Jessica worked on producing a 4-minute video about the workshop. Here is the result. Enjoy!

A trip to Bili

From 1993 to 1995, I (Ken) lived in the town of Bili, in the northwestern corner of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (at the time known as “Zaire”). The sojourn left an indelible mark on my life, which I remember with great fondness.

Recently, Heather Pubols traveled to Bili with Marie Yalemoto in order to visit the Mono language community. She did a splendid job of documenting the trip on her blog. It brought back a flood of memories as I viewed the postings. Below are links to the blog entries. If you only have time to read one, read “It Takes a Village.”

I hope you enjoy them as much as I did!

Get Ready for a Real Road Trip–Congo-Style

On the Way to Bili

A Grand Arrival

Many Monos

It Takes a Village

Church in Bili

Reading Your Mother Tongue

Singing In Mono