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Kamus Saluan - Saluan Dictionary Project

Tzi Ping and Heidi, our missionaries in Luwuk, update us on the Saluan dictionary project. We are so encouraged by how God is opening doors for them to bless the Saluan community and we are very excited for the launch of the Saluan dictionary app – Kamus Saluan.

Ping & Heidi  (4)The Saluan Dictionary Team.

After months of preparation, Heidi and I, along with our local team presented a dictionary application before the Regional Governor and his ministers from Education, Culture, Police, and Military. Altogether there were about a hundred attendees most of whom were school teachers.

It has been 3 years since we arrived in Luwuk and on the very first day of this year, we were requested by the governor to meet him personally. He has heard about our dictionary project and was very keen to support us in different ways. The government wants to begin a literacy drive to promote reading, as well as an education campaign to reintroduce the regional Saluan language in schools. Recently, we were given an award from the government during the Banggai Literacy Festival to recognise our contribution to build up a local language and culture.

Ping & Heidi  (1)Our team receiving an award from the governor during the Banggai Literacy Festival.

The Saluan dictionary originally started as part of the Saluan Bible translation project but the Lord Himself has clearly opened so many doors for it to be a blessing to the entire region. The government not only recognises the importance of speaking in our mother tongue but also realises the huge amount of work needed to move the Saluan people ahead. The Saluan dictionary app will be one way to promote and teach the Saluan language in families, schools and offices.

While Luwuk is still a remoter area compared with other bigger towns, many people are increasingly connected by an ever improving telecommunications network that even includes fiber optic technology. Smartphones are becoming more affordable and more powerful. Considering these obvious practical reasons, we decided to develop an Android dictionary application instead of a regular printed dictionary.

Making any dictionary is not easy at all, especially for an unwritten language. Realistically, it can take up to 20 years to compile a satisfactory and complete dictionary. Hopefully, technology can speed up our progress and help us to be more efficient. In 2015, we organised a 2 week language workshop in which we obtained 8000 Saluan words. Besides this, we collected over 200 audio recordings of Saluan stories that have been transcribed and are an additional source for our dictionary and concordance to check words within context. With these collected words and texts, our team has been working tirelessly with patience and many cups of coffee to organise and re-check every single Saluan word. The dictionary work also includes adding grammatical, semantic and anthropological information. We have included sentence examples to clarify the usage of words in context, as well as pictures for words for birds, insects, plants and tools made by the Saluan people themselves. All these should make the dictionary more user-friendly. In addition, Indonesian glosses and definitions have to be verified and the English and German translations added.

Since January, we have also had many encouraging visits from friends, churches and field leaders. Without their love and faithfulness, we would be unable to be a blessing to the Saluan all these years. In a result-driven world, even missionaries can feel the pressure to produce instant fruit. In reality, we have more scars than results to show. We are pressured but we are not crushed because we can do all things through His strength.

As requested by the governor, the Saluan dictionary app will be launched on 8 July on the national day of the region. Much of the app has already been compiled and developed but there is still a lot to be done. Some of us in the team will plant and others will continue to water. And God in His time will glorify Himself.

Ping & Heidi  (11)Screenshots of the dictionary app that is currently in development.

We thank God for:

  1. our Singapore and Swiss churches,
  2. Wycliffe Singapore and Switzerland,
  3. our Indonesian Mission Partner,
  4. our Indonesian Church,
  5. the Indonesian government,
  6. our co-workers and local team mates, and
  7. the Saluan people;

and we pray: 

  1. that we will have a close personal walk with the Lord,
  2. that we will grow in understanding of Scripture,
  3. for wisdom to apply Scripture to daily life,
  4. that we will be godly spouses and parents,
  5. that we will be humble and teachable,
  6. that we will be able to teach others,
  7. that our dictionary team will be one,
  8. that we will continue to learn the Saluan language,
  9. for our relationship with the government,
  10. for God’s protection,
  11. for God’s provision,
  12. for God’s patience, and
  13. for our transformation to be more like Him.

We appreciate your support and prayers, 

Ping & Heidi with Benaja and Esra


Ping & Heidi  (2)Our team meeting with the Department of Culture and Education.

Ping & Heidi  (3)The Saluan Language Seminar which was held from the 16 till 18 May 2017.

Ping & Heidi  (5)Ping is making a presentation on the Android App which will be launched in July.

Ping & Heidi  (6)Heidi shares about the language collection method and dictionary-making process.

Ping & Heidi  (8)Attendees of the workshop singing a Saluan song.

Ping & Heidi  (9)
Explaining and showing synonyms in the dictionary application.

Ping & Heidi  (10)An example of 6 different words to describe ‘to hit’ in the Saluan language.

Ping & Heidi  (12)Preparing seminar kits for distribution.

Ping & Heidi  (13)Working with our co-workers Bob and Cecilia Brown.

Ping & Heidi  (19)Our mother tongue language helpers Lian and Grace.

Ping & Heidi  (15)
Checking and rechecking Saluan words in the village.

Ping & Heidi  (16)Our church from Singapore visited us recently.

Ping & Heidi  (17)The Saluan Dictionary Seminar reported in the local newspapers.

Ping & Heidi  (18)Rejoicing that the Saluan dictionary will have an Android App.