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Patois Bible launched in Canada

Published: Tuesday November 2, 2010 | 10:10 am Comments 0

The Bible Society of the West Indies has launched a Patois version of the Gospel of Luke, one of the books of the New Testament, in Toronto, Canada.

Called ‘Jiizas - Di buk weh Luuk rait bout im’, the launch took place recently at York University’s Centre for Research on Latin America and the Caribbean (CERLAC).

Special guests, Jamaica’s Consul General to Toronto, Seth George Ramocan and President of Arts and Culture Jamaica, Cherita Girvan-Campbell, were each presented with the book and compact disc (CD) versions by General Secretary of the Bible Society of the West Indies, Rev. Courtney Stewart.

Translator, Jodianne Scott said the complete New Testament Bible in Patois will be ready in 2012 to coincide with Jamaica’s 50th Anniversary celebrations.
Highlighting some of the problems encountered in translating the Bible, Scott said many people were opposed to the project because of their views and attitudes toward Patois.

“They see Patois as broken English or vulgar,” she said. “Or it’s seen as the language of the uneducated or the ignorant or the unintelligent. And, if you want to get anywhere in life you have to speak English. So, they thought we would detract from how holy the Bible was,” said Scott.

She also said because Patois is used informally, there are some settings it is believed that it should never be used.

“Many believe that it’s okay to use Creole in the home; it’s okay to use it when you are interacting with your friends; if you’re doing a play or a skit or singing a song. But if you’re going to be addressing the country or speaking at the university, you’re supposed to speak in English,” she added.

There are 1,300 Bible translation projects taking place and Scott said this is serious work on the part of the translating team. Three of the four members are graduates of the University of the West Indies’ Linguistics Department.

Rev. Stewart said Jamaica is a country of two languages and the project, which began in 1993, is about making the Bible available in the heart language of the people. In 1996, a selection of readings from the gospels called, ‘A Who Run Tings’ was launched; and in 2006, ‘Di Krismos Story’ was launched. The complete Bible in Patois is expected to be completed by 2020.

The Consul General admitted that at first he had reservations about the Bible being translated into Patois, because it might seem to be compromising the integrity of the Scriptures. But after attending the launch, he commended the group on their project.

“I was very pleased to discover that the translating team and linguistic experts have been utilising careful and reliable translation methods to bring the original writings in Greek into our local dialect,” said Ramocan.

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