I slipped in to sit with the Nigeria team as they were deciding on what name signs to use. How do you make someone’s name visual?! It’s not an easy task as I sat watching their discussion go back and forth and back and forth and….
Some of you may be thinking “Why not just finger spell it?” Well, they do finger spell a name for the first time, but then follow it with a name sign. But fingerspelling each time is not visual in the same sense that a name sign is. Plus, it means memorizing an order of letters…kind of like memorizing a phone number. So, once a name sign is used it stays throughout the Scripture.
Here’s an example of a name sign vs. fingerspelling:
See? Very different. And now I won’t be surprised if some of you use that when you see me next. 🙂
And so the Nigerians debated on David’s warriors and Bathsheba’s father. What should their name signs look like?
Eventually, they decided on consistency so that all soldiers were signed similar and reflected what they were – a soldier. So the sign for soldier is your fists (right on top, left on bottom with space in between) over your chest, to the left, and horizontal to the floor. Uriah the Hittite was your fingers in the shape of “U” and in the position of soldier (but the “U” is upright)….and so it went on. Bathsheba was a “B” with the sign “wash.”
Can you imagine the weight of the responsibility as you decide what someone will be “called” for future generations? It’s not a task these translators take lightly!