Back to listing

Lecture: Studying the vernacular in the vernacular by the vernacular speakers, 27 November

Australian National University, Summer School

Date: 26 September 2018

Public Lecture: Studying the vernacular in the vernacular by the vernacular speakers - the case of the Kulu Language Institute In The Solomon Islands

Speaker: Dr Alpheaus Graham Zobule, Founder and Executive Director of the Kulu Language Institute and Islands Bible Ministries 

When: Tuesday 27 November 2018, 6.30pm

Where: Copland Lecture Theatre, Building #25a, 25 Kinglsey St, Australian National University

Register via Eventbrite


It was either by necessity or accident or by both that a vernacular literacy program was started way back in the late 1990s among the Luqa speakers of the Western Province in the Solomon Islands. When a young man of the Luqa language, who had just graduated with a Masters Degree majoring in Bible and Linguistics, came up with the idea of translating the Bible into the vernacular language, the Luqa speakers were no doubt thrilled about the possibility of having a very important but foreign book written in their own vernacular.

For the young man and the other speakers of the vernacular, the goal of translating a foreign book into the familiar vernacular is so that the vernacular speakers could understand it. However, achieving that goal seemed doubly remote and the hope of reading the book in their own vernacular seemed unrealizable when it became obvious that most vernacular speakers themselves could not intelligibly read the first book, the Gospel of Mark, even when it was translated and trial published in their own language. They all wanted to understand the book that was important to them, hence the need to translate it into the vernacular. But when it in fact was translated a greater practical difficulty became obvious: the young and adult vernacular speakers needed to be taught to read and understand their own language first. So was born the literacy concept which later formally became Kulu Language Institute.

This presentation will summarize how a vernacular program established by a vernacular speaker for the vernacular speakers, and has gone for about 20 years, has developed a vernacular metalanguage and continues to develop critical vernacular grammars that engage both young and adult vernacular speakers in an analytical study of their own vernacular.

Dr Alpheaus Graham Zobule is:

A Luqa Speaker. Bible Translator of the Luqa language. Translation Consultant to several Bible Translation Projects in the Solomon Islands and in Papua New Guinea. Founder and Director of Kulu Language Institute that focuses on the vernacular literacy program relating to Luqa and Kubokota languages on Ranonga Island in the Western Province in Solomon Islands. Founder and Executive Director of Islands Bible Ministries which administers Bible translation projects and other ministries in the Solomon Islands. Founder and Principal of Islands Christian College (the training arm of Islands Bible Ministries) which organizes Bible courses, Biblical language (Greek and Hebrew) courses, English Grammar courses, and it indicates a strong interest in designing a linguistic program that will equip nationals to study their own vernaculars.

More information about the Summer School

  • Australian Government
  • The University of Queensland
  • Australian National University
  • The University of Melbourne
  • Western Sydney University