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

15 hours a week

One of the basic building blocks in our marriage is spending quality time together. No TV, no distractions, just face-to-face undivided attention (usually with a cup of licorice-mint tea; it’s really quite good!). Quality time is Jessica’s main love language, and she is most happy if she gets lots of it. It’s hard to fit it into a busy schedule, but it is oh so important! Willard Harley, in his book His Needs, Her Needs, puts it this way:

If a husband seriously wants to meet his wife’s need to feel close to him, he will give the task sufficient time and attention. I tell male clients they should learn to set aside fifteen hours a week to give their wives undivided attention. Many men look at me as if they think I’m losing my mind, or they just laugh and say, “In other words, I need a thirty-six-hour day.” I don’t bat an eye, but simply ask them how much time they spent giving their wives undivided attention during their courting days. Any bachelor who fails to devote something close to fifteen hours a week to his girlfriend faces the strong likelihood of losing her. (Harley 2001: 65)

Some things are just plain worth prioritizing!


  • Harley, Willard F. 2001. [1986] His needs, her needs: Building an affair-proof marriage. Grand Rapids, MI: Revell.

How to fight fair

There are a handful of resources that have been particularly helpful to Jessica and me during the course of our marriage. One of those resources is the following guidelines for resolving conflict.

Every now and then, when things get a little heated between us, we have what we call a “stool talk.” We each sit down on a stool facing each other. Then we read aloud through the guidelines below before we start talking about the issue at hand. It really helps us to work through the issue in a fair and respectful way. At first, I used to break each and every one of the guidelines. Now I’m doing a bit better. I know Jessica appreciates it!

How to Fight Fair and Help Your Relationship Even in Conflict

No matter what we call it—conflict, fighting, arguing, quarreling or disagreeing—most families need more honest resolution of conflict and less suppression of feelings. This can be accomplished in a fair and positive way by following these nine guidelines.

1. Be Respectful. Don’t call names, use sarcasm or belittle your mate. Never put each other down—know that to hurt one’s partner is to hurt oneself. If you relapse into harsh words then immediately apologize.

2. Keep the problem the problem. Do not personalize it. Attack the problem not the person. Maintain ownership of your part of the disagreement. Use “I” or “we” statements instead of “you” statements.

3. Stay on one subject. If the fight is about a mother-in-law, then stay on that subject until there is some kind of resolution. Don’t bring in other problems like money, drinking, etc. Handle one problem at a time.

4. Use time-outs as needed. If tempers are flaring and you find yourself losing control put the argument on “hold” or call a “time-out” and agree to meet back at a specific time when things have calmed down a little. It may help to do some physical activity like walking around the block or taking a shower to calm tempers.

5. Listen for understanding. Make a real effort to try and understand each other. Remember all of us want to be listened to. We want and need to feel that what we have to say is important and that our thoughts and opinions are of value.

6. Don’t mind read your partner by assuming that you know what they are thinking or feeling. Always ask your partner what they think and feel because feelings and thoughts change over time.

7. Try to see things from your partner’s point of view as if you were walking in their shoes with their feelings and background. It doesn’t mean you have to agree with them. When you validate your partner’s feelings by acknowledging his/her viewpoint you open the door for the same in return and then both of you will be more willing to solve the problems together.

8. Seek to solve the problem. Work as a team. Don’t bring in others (family, friends, etc.) to gang up on your partner. Use this phrase during an argument: “What can we do together to solve this problem? I am willing to do the following…” Then state what you are willing to do and then do it.

9. Forgive and accept each other. Truth can be spoken in love, when partners are bound together in forgiveness. We all need and want forgiveness. Remember the disagreement belongs to both of you.

Work on your own self-esteem. The better you feel the more love you can give and receive.

Words do hurt. They can be the life or death of a relationship. Learn to replace hurtful words with words that build and strengthen the relationship. Tell each other how much you care. Praise and compliment your mate often.

Give each other a sense of personal worth by speaking and acting affectionately.

Note: Unresolved conflicts may shatter a marriage. Please don’t hesitate to seek outside help from people who can be objective. These people may be therapist, pastors or counselors.

Source: http://www.positive-way.com/howto2.htm.

Adapted from: Martin, Steven C. & Catherine A. Martin. 1997. Talk to me: How to create positive, loving communication. Positive Publishing. (ISBN: 0-9659328-0-X)