Help offered for Low German-speaking addicts
Alcoholics Anonymous book translation especially needed in Bolivia, MexicoBy Ashleigh Viveiros The Winkler Morden Voice
WINKLER, Man. — Thanks to Ed Zacharias, Low German speakers around the world struggling with alcoholism will now be able to learn how to take it een dach opp eemol (one day at a time).
Zacharias’ translation of the Alcoholics Anonymous handbook, informally known as the “Big Book,” was published by the global organization in December.
The book outlines the famous 12-step program that forms AA’s path to recovery, as well as personal stories of those who have wrestled with and beaten the addiction.
Zacharias said he was approached by a person involved with AA about the idea of translating the book — which has been published in dozens of languages — in 2005.
“People who are in Canada, who are comfortable in English, can’t really understand” how hard it can be to try and read a book like this when seeking help, Zacharias said. “This is really for people that Low German is their first language.”
It took Zacharias just a few months to get the first draft of the translation done, although there were a few challenges.
“There are technical terms you need to have an expression for, so we had to invent a few,” he said. “It was hard to come up with equivalents.”
This isn’t Zacharias’ first foray into codifying what has traditionally been an oral language. He has also translated the Bible into Plautdietsch and published a Low German dictionary and a hymn book translation.
“A lot of people say it is a dying language, but it’s not, especially not in the world at large,” Zacharias said, noting he grew up speaking Low German and has always maintained it as a working language in the home.
Ron Neisteter has seen the need for this translation first-hand among Mennonite communities in Central America and Mexico. He recently spent three years working in Mexico with Mennonite Central Committee.
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