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Central Australia. Credit: Wes Selwood | Bible Society Australia

People of the rock need the word

BIBLE SOCIETY NEWS
Thursday 25 August 2016

This is my work now, till the end of my life,” says Lily Neville. “It is the greatest pleasure for me, really.” She’s talking about translating the Bible into her native Adnyamathanha, the language of the Aboriginal people of the Northern Flinders Ranges in South Australia.

“Adnya” means rock and “mathanha” means people. The Adnyamathanha people are “people of the rock”.

Lily Neville, who is working with Bible Society Australia to translate the Bible into Adnyamathanha. Credit: Wes Selwood | Bible Society Australia

Lily Neville, who is working with Bible Society Australia to translate the Bible into Adnyamathanha. Credit: Wes Selwood | Bible Society Australia

A rock might be a way of describing Lily Neville, too. Her love for the Adnyamathanha language drives her days. She speaks a language that is classified by some Bible agencies as “nearly extinct”. There are no Scriptures published in the language and the younger generation is starting to lose it, as they are encouraged to speak only English. While Bible Society gives priority to translating languages likely to survive, we also respond when people such as the Adnyamathanha ask for the word of God in their own language.

“I really want to leave something for the younger people that’s coming up,” Lily says.

Lily is working with Bible Society on a short book of Bible stories for children called God’s Story for the Outback. It’s a colouring book that features cameo Bible stories in language, designed for indigenous children, their parents and grandparents, who are encouraged to read with them. It’s also for use in Sunday School programmes in Indigenous communities.

God’s Story has been published in eight Indigenous languages so far and has been distributed throughout remote communities.

The book is now ready in Adnyamathanha, but Bible Society needs your support to have it published, along with other publications in the pipeline for the Djambarrapungu, Kunwinjku, Warlpiri and Anmatyerr people.

Kriol speakers have had their full Bible since 2007, but many are not literate. They are thrilled that audio recordings are being made to help them hear the word of God. Four books have been recorded this year but more support is needed to cover more recordings In Kriol as well as two other languages.

Meanwhile, 30 elders of the Pitjantjatjara community are hard at work translating the Old Testament. They are excited and proud to think they will have a full Bible in their own language by 2024.

There are more than 20 Indigenous projects on Bible Society’s to-do list this year.

Central Australia. Credit: Wes Selwood | Bible Society Australia

Central Australia. Credit: Wes Selwood | Bible Society Australia

Lily’s work is the fulfilment of a dream she has had since childhood, when she and her family made a game of translating Adnyamathanha words into English. She would draw objects – a tent, a camp oven, fire – and write the English word and then the Adnyamathanha word phonetically beside it.

Lily published a compilation of her picture dictionary as a way of revitalising and raising awareness of the Adnyamathanha language.

Drafts of the picture dictionary in Adnymathanha. Credit: Wes Selwood | Bible Society Australia

Drafts of the picture dictionary in Adnymathanha. Credit: Wes Selwood | Bible Society Australia

“It is of great importance to me to teach our beautiful Adnyamathanha,” she says.

To help Bible Society produce Bible engagement resources in Adnyamathanha and other Indigenous languages, donate today.

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A picture dictionary completed by Lily Neville as a way to revitalise the Adnyamathanha langauge. Credit: Wes Selwood | Bible Society Australia

A picture dictionary completed by Lily Neville as a way to revitalise the Adnyamathanha langauge. Credit: Wes Selwood | Bible Society Australia

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