In Bible translation the translators must understand the cultural values that are presented in the societies represented in the Old and New Testaments. However, they must also examine the part values play in any society. This presentation is designed to help students think through the matter of cultural values. We begin with some definitions.


  • The value of something is its worth
  • It can refer to its material cost, e.g. market price or face value
  • Value orientation is a method to help determine its importance or usefulness
  • The values of a person or group are the moral principles and beliefs that they hold as important.
  • As a verb:
  1. To make a judgment as to the worth or value of something
  2. To have a high opinion of something it indicates the evaluation of something
  3. Its esteem or appreciation
  • Synonyms: merit, worth, desirability, usefulness, importance
  • For example: Review Kluckholn and Strodbeck’s value orientation chart.


  • To introduce and discuss the concept and nature of values in a society;
  • To help students understand their own value system and
  • To help understand how their society contributes to their value system and helps to shape it;
  • To provide a discovery method for value orientation.

Some Materials:

  • Definitions from COBUILD dictionary and other resources;
  • Strodbeck and Kluckholn’s outline of value orientations;
  • Materials on PNG value systems, especially the study of advertising by K. Franklin;
  • A way of getting at American values by Robert Kohls


  • Begin with a general discussion on values and where they come from;
  • Write down several axioms that are well known, eg.:
  1. Cleanliness is next to godliness
  2. Time is money
  3. There is no rest for the wicked
  • Have the students contribute to the list;
  • Compare some of the dialectal variants between Australia and the U.S.;
  • Determine which value is being taught by highlighting their semantic components:
  1. [CLEAN v. DIRTY]


  • Role play some attitudes about time and its difference in PNG society;
  • Discuss the family of metaphors: TIME IS MONEY;
  • What attitudes and actions arise from this value?
  • How is time related to the New Testament concept of urgency, i.e. “Work as long as it is day, for night comes when no one can work.”
  • How is time related to leisure, hobbies, play, interpersonal relations, family, church, work?
  • Examine advertisements and Values. Note, for example observations from a PNG national newspaper (Wantok), by the author

Follow up with discussion on:
The concept of work: notions of time, work and money;

  • Education: quantification of the world around us;
  • Hygiene or prestige: consumer orientation;
  • Transportation and politics: travel ads and big-men values;
  • Comic figures and the use and abuse of humor;
  • Religion and morals;
  • Review of western assumptions and their influence in urban settings throughout the world:

Discuss values within PNG and relate them to the Bible by examining:
Music and songs [Tok Pisin songs]

  • Drinking and drunkenness
  • Drugs
  • Crime, detention, prisons and punishment
  • Security and protection
  • Sport competition and team identification
  • Compensation and accidents
  • Hospitals and Rehabilitation
  • Roads, road rules, and public transportation
  • Shopping centres and Malls
  • Authority structures and bureaucracy
  • Urban settlements

From the course Training Across Cultures, in Applied Linguistics, taught at the Melbourne (Kangaroo Ground) SIL in 1992