Zach Cann

Zach Cann

sent out by Grace Bible Church to plant churches among the Ndo people


Sometimes it is hard to know how to elicit certain elements of a language. For example, you often cannot simply ask: “How do you tell someone to carry something to someone else?” In such instances, people get confused about what you’re looking for and give you the wrong data. It is much better to create scenarios where language helpers can respond to visual scenarios.

This morning I watched Cassidy learn transitive commands with her language helper. A transitive command is what I was searching for in the example above—asking (or telling) someone to do an action to a object or person. Cassidy brilliantly borrowed some of Jude and Oliver’s Lego men to create visual scenarios. Cass would ask her language helper to give commands to the Legos as if they were children. “You give this to them.” Or “You all go get something from her.”

Here is Cassidy in action:

The reason she is adding and removing Lego men is that in Ndo there are two different plural forms. There is a verb conjugation for when 2 people are doing an action and then another for 3 or more people. Makes things fun.

And it’s not the only time we’ve used our kids’ toys to learn the Ndo language. Earlier this month I used some of their colored blocks and marbles to learn both colors and prepositions.

Using a marble and block to learn prepositions. Here I’m learning how to say “near.”

“On top of the middle step.”

Sorry all you lovers of blue. There is no word for blue in the Ndo language. They just use the same word they use for black.

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