Linguistics in Tanzania


My name is Helen Eaton and I have been a member of SIL International since 2002. Prior to joining SIL International, I studied at the University of Reading in the UK, completing a BA (Hons) degree in linguistics with German in 1998 and a PhD in linguistics in 2002. I wrote my PhD thesis on the grammar of focus in Sandawe, a Khoisan language, using data collected during fieldwork in Tanzania in 2000.


I continued working on Sandawe once I joined SIL International and was a part of the Sandawe language project from October 2002 until January 2006. In January 2006 I moved to Mbeya, a town in southern Tanzania, and began working on ten related Bantu languages (Bena, Bungu (Wungu), Kinga, Malila, Ndali, Nyakyusa, Nyiha, Safwa, Sangu (Sango) and Vwanji (Wanji)), as part of the Mbeya Cluster Project (MCP). In January 2012 three further Bantu languages (Kisi, Manda and Pangwa) were added to the project.


In addition to my work with MCP, I am a linguistics consultant for the Uganda-Tanzania branch of SIL and also the branch linguistics coordinator. 


Why am I doing this?

The languages of Tanzania are fascinating and worth studying for their own sake. But that is not why I have come to Tanzania! I'm here because I'm a Christian and I want to serve God using the skills He has given me. I'm excited to be part of a work which aims to give Tanzanians the chance to read the Bible in their own languages.