While in Mexico, Hugh has been doing a lot of audio and video recording of wordlists, stories, and cultural events. One of the big questions is “are these varieties which we are recording separate languages or are they lectical variants of the same language?” Locals and the Mexican government divide them into 9 languages, while the ISO 639-3 divides them up into 4 varieties. To complicate matters some varieties want their own set of written materials which reflect “the way they speak”.
Mexico has been a learning experience on multiple levels for Hugh. As Hugh has talked with field personnel who have a lot of experience in this part of Mexico, he has learned some things about the historical-traditional culture in this area. One of the concepts that is new to him is the concept of Limited Good. The term “limited good” is applied to the concept in anthropology used to describe the theory, commonly held in traditional societies, that there is a limited amount of “good” to go around. In other words, the amount of good (luck, money, etc.) available is held to be finite, so every time one person profits, another loses. Societies that subscribe to this philosophy tend to display strong levels of equality among members and to be strongly resistant to social change. What might be the impact of God’s Word in a society that has underpinnings of limited good?