CLEMENT MARTYN DOKE
Africa presents a field with a vast number of different languages and dialects. It is not yet known with certainty how many; nor have their mutual relationships been sufficiently sifted to judge which should be termed languages, and which mere dialectical forms of a more predominant language. Research to-day is to a great extent being directed towards a grouping, centralizing and standardization in areas where isolated individuals and isolated societies have worked hitherto without an interchange of findings or a pooling of results. The first thing I would observe regarding the African field is the unique position which the Scriptures occupy among a people who had hitherto no books at all, no written language even. . . . A great deal more needs to be known concerning the Bantu languages of Africa before they can become definitely standardized, but the published Scriptures are doing a great deal towards standardization. It is therefore very essential that only the very best should be put into these translations. I have already mentioned the work that is being done towards unifying and standardizing orthography---and in this the International Institute of African Languages and Cultures is taking a leading part. Along with this work it cannot be insisted too strongly that the methods of dividing the words, so diverse in different areas, should receive the most serious consideration. If the Bible translations and other literary works of these days are going to set the standard of literature in Africa, a rational and applicable method of word-division is really the determinative in all grammatical treatment, which must be based upon the literature in each language. Again, discrimination must now be made in the choice of vocabulary to be recognized as standard.
-Clement M. Doke, "Bible Translation among the Bantu", Bible in the World, July/August 1933.