Friday, 19 December 2008

Focus Group Enlists "Keen" Supporters!

As you might be aware, the Bible Society of the West Indies has engaged the support of the Jamaican Language Unit (JLU) at the University of the West Indies, Mona, to carry out the translation of the New Testament into Jamaican Creole.

Recently, JLU enlisted several churches, form different locations on the island, in order to run some focus groups for the Luuk Buk Project. Earlier this week, one of the church leaders sent me an e-mail withe the following feedback:

“The group session with the U.W.I. students was very interesting. In the beginning persons didn't buy into the idea of having a Patois Bible,but, by the end of the session, everyone was very much keen about the move. Hope you'll send them again.”
I was most encouraged!

Friday, 12 December 2008

Sola Scriptura!

Wycliffe Bible Translators have worked with Roman Catholics in Bible Translation projects all over the world. In fact, one Wycliffe UK member told me, no so long ago, that, in some places of the world, Catholics are more willing than Protestants to translate the Bible into indigenous languages. Persons familiar with Church history know that this is an ironic phenomenon, as, traditionally, Roman Catholics have been opposed to indigenous Bible translation projects.

Whilst I’m happy Roman Catholics have recognized the importance of indigenous Bible translations – indeed, they boast their own Bible Translation agency - I reject standard Catholic teachings such as the Mass, apostolic succession, Mariology and the sacraments. In particular, I reject the denomination’s ideas of Tradition and the Magisterium. has recently published an article by Guy Davies which outlines “Ten Differences Between Reformation and Rome.” Here’s a summary of the differences in relation to Tradition and the Magisterium:

“The Roman Catholic Church believes that its traditions and teaching are as authoritative as Scripture. The Reformed value tradition, but accept the Bible alone as their authority, and sole rule of faith and practice.

The Roman Catholic Church believes that the Bible cannot be properly understood apart from the official interpretation of Rome (the Magisterium). The Reformed believe that Christians have a responsibility to judge the truth of all teaching by the extent of its conformity to the teaching of the Bible as it has been commonly accepted with the help of responsible exegesis and the witness of the Spirit.”

Sola Scriptura…

Friday, 5 December 2008

Meet Our Translators - Finally!

OK, for months, you've been hearing about the Jamaican Creole Translation Project and the arguments advanced against and in favour of the initiative. It should be plan by now that the Bible Society of the West Indies and its partners are going "full speed ahead" with the project.

But who are the translators of the Jamaican Creole Translation Project? Who are the ones charged with the mammoth task of translating the very Word of God into the heart language of the Jamaican People?

Si dem ya!

Tasheney Francis:

Lloyd Millen:

Jodianne Scott:

Thursday, 4 December 2008

Some Things to Read

This morning, I read an article by John W Drane. He summarises, very briefly indeed, "The Religious Background" of the New Testament. Drane argues that "It is...essential for the student of the New Testament to be thoroughly familiar with the background of religious thought against which it was written." Indeed, the Bible Translator is also a "student."

I also read an interesting blog entry entitled Inerrancy, Authority and the Original Text. In this entry, James Leonard argues that "Ultimately, if you can't have an inerrant text without the original manuscripts, neither can you have an authoritative text without the original manuscripts."

Finally, I've just come across an article by E C Blackman, called “Hermeneutics: the Bible as the Vehicle of God's Word Today.” I've not read it yet, but I'm looking forward to reading it on the bus on my way home after work today.

Thursday, 13 November 2008

Spelling Jamaican the Jamaican Way

If you do not know how to, go here...

AKSHAN TAAK: Jamiekan Futbaal

The young lady is this presentation is one of the translators for Jamaican Creole Translation Project.

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

"Our Father which art in heaven...kip wi fram temptieshan"

So goes the title of an article TimesOnline UK published on 25th October, 08. To read go here...

Monday, 10 November 2008

Wi Bwai Pikni

Please follow this link, in order to view some pics of baby Daniel...

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

"Aks Mi Kwestyan" - Akshan Taak Interviews Carolyn Cooper

One of our translators, Tasheney Francis, interviews Carolyn Cooper, in Jamaican Creole. Check it out and share what you think...

Monday, 3 November 2008

"Scripture and Tradition in Reformation Thought"

Gerald Bray, “Scripture and Tradition in Reformation Thought,” Evangelical Review of Theology 19.2 (April 1995): 157-166. Read here

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Linguistics Foundation for the Jamaican Translation

It is a joy to know that Wycliffe Bible Translators, Caribbean, and Bible Society of the West indies, Jamaica, haven't got to begin Bible translation where many translators have had (and will have) to start - studying a language systematically for the first time, developing an orthography, etc... I agree: one might find being involved in initial linguistic research and language development a pretty exciting activity.

Nonetheless, it is also true that initial linguistic research and development are not easy tasks - at least it would not be for Jamaica, given its population and the linguistic diversity which exists amongst its members. Whilst studies in Jamaican Creole are far from complete, the Jamaican Creole Translation Project has been speared the need to conduct linguistic reseach prior to translation, thanks to the many linguists who have studied Jamaican Creole extensively.

One such Linguist is Peter Patrick. I had the opportunity of meeting Peter on Facebook earlier this year. In 1999, he published a book called Urban Jamaican Creole: Variation in the Mesolect. Peter's book (or at least sections of it) is available online at Google Books....To read, click here...

Monday, 27 October 2008

Great is the Gospel of our Glorious God

I've being singing this song since early last week.

Great is the gospel of our glorious God,
where mercy met the anger of God’s rod;
a penalty was paid and pardon bought,
and sinners lost at last to Him were brought

O let the praises of my heart be Thine,
for Christ has died that I may call Him mine,
that I may sing with those who dwell above,
adoring, praising Jesus, King of love.

Great is the mystery of godliness,
great is the work of God’s own holiness;
it moves my soul, and causes me to long
for greater joys than to the earth belong:

The Spirit vindicated Christ our Lord,
and angels sang with joy and sweet accord;
the nations heard, a dark world flamed with light
when Jesus rose in glory and in might:

William Vernon Higham (1926 - )

The "Lord's Prayer" in Old English

A gift to language "purists."

Saturday, 25 October 2008

The Interest Continues

Jamaican Creole Translation Project (JCTP) continues to hold the interest of many. Here are some more links
  1. Church Times Blog...there's an interesting vidio here...
  2. Kouya Chronicle...and here
  3. Better Bibles Blog
  4. More to be added...

Thursday, 23 October 2008

BBC's Radio 4 Reports on Jamaican Translation

"The Bible Society has completed half of its translation of the New Testament of The Bible into Jamaican Patois. Religious affairs correspondent Robert Pigott reports on how it has received an emotional reaction both among native speakers and critical traditionalists."

Listen to the report here...


Bible Translation Controversy

Jack Popjes, former CEO of Wycliffe Canada for 6 years and of Wycliffe Caribbean for 3 years, has written 3 part series over viewing re various controversies which surround new Bible translations.

In article 1 Jack outlines the criticism new Bible translations seem to attract.

In article 2 Popjes summarises facts regarding languages, with the hope of clearing up some confusion.

In article 3 Jack speaks of “The Constipated Church” (!). He explains....

Bible Smugglers Release 31,103 Scripture Duckies on Euphrates River

BASRA, Iraq — Call it fowl play.

Open Doors, the legendary missions network led by Brother Andrew, recently smuggled one Bible into the Middle East. The big deal? Not in traditional format—print, cassette tape or MP3—Andrew’s crew floated all 31,103 verses of the Bible down the Euphrates River, via rubber duckies....


P.S. Do not take The Holy Observer (THO) at face value - it is a religious satire web site.

Saturday, 18 October 2008

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

British "Athiest" Supports "Patois" Bible Project

Tuesday, the - one of the UK's major national broadsheet - published a column by Tim Footman entitled "The gospel according to Widdecombe - Those who don't want to see the Bible translated into patois need to clarify what they think Christianity is really about."

One of the things which makes Tim's article interesting is the fact that he's a self-proclaimed "athiest"!

To read Tim's column, go here....

Martyn Lloyd-Jones: A Good Example for Translators

For the last few months, I’ve been reading Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones’ series of sermons on Ephesians – a wonderful book indeed. The topic of this morning’s sermon was “The Council of His Own Will” and is an exposition of (rather introduction to) Ephesians 1:11-14:

“1:11 In Christ we too have been claimed as God’s own possession, since we were predestined according to the one purpose of him who accomplishes all things according to the counsel of his will 1:12 so that we, who were the first to set our hope on Christ, would be to the praise of his glory. 1:13 And when you heard the word of truth (the gospel of your salvation) – when you believed in Christ – you were marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit, 1:14 who is the down payment of our inheritance, until the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of his glory” (NET Bible).

Lloyd-Jones was well aware of the problems Bible passages can create for Christians - indeed each school of theology has to deal with what appears (at least on the surface) to be biblical contradictions of its basic tenets. Ephesians 1 is of no exception, particularly to those outside the “Reformed” camp.

As part of his introduction, Lloyd-Jones highlights several important points one ought to bear in mind (and act upon) if one would like to have a proper understanding of God’s revelation in Scripture. I summarise Martyn's points in the following imperatives:

1. Watch your prejudice;
2. Submit your mind to the Scriptures; and
3. Be careful of philosophising.

I believe it is imperative that Bible translators and consultants always bear these points in mind. One must be careful not to make a translation “fit” into one’s particular brand of theology one’s preferred worldview or whatever values, attitudes and thinking (on whatever subject) one is inclined to ascribe credence. Sure: One cannot avoid coming to Scripture neutrally, nevertheless, one can keep oneself in check and be glad to conform one’s thinking to divine revelation – though it can hurt.

Monday, 13 October 2008

"Bible to be translated into 17th century West Indian slaves' language"

A very interesting title, huh? Well, that's the title of an article I found on earlier today.

Unfortunately, the article contains a number of factual errors and is somewhat misleading on a number of points.

More recent news on the Jamaican Project include:
  1. The Independent (UK) - Thank God for the Bible Society...!
  2. The Daily Telegraph (UK) - The Bible to be turned into Patois - 2nd article by this paper on the project!
  3. Express Buzz (India!) - The Bible to be Translated into Spoken Language

For more go here....

Monday, 6 October 2008

Presentation On Bible Translation In the Caribbean

I’ve been asked to do a presentation on Bible translation projects in the Caribbean to a group of level three students at the University of the West Indies (Mona), sitting a course called “Caribbean Dialectology” and who have to be aware of current linguistic developments in the Caribbean.

Their lecturer, a personal friend of mine who attended our recently held two week Translation Workshop, has set their major assignment on Caribbean Bible translation projects and is requesting that I speak to
1. the projects which have taken place or are taking place;
2. the challenges that these projects face/have faced (both linguistic and non-linguistic);
3. misconceptions and concerns which people had about the projects; and
4. the effects of the projects (success and non-success and the reasons for same).

Initially, the proposed date for the presentation based on the lecturer’s teaching schedule was 3rd October, however I was able to get a week’s extenstion; so the presentation is 10th October.

I do crave your prayers.

Friday, 3 October 2008

AKSHAN TAAK: News In Jamaican Creole!

This morning, I learnt that the Jamaican Language Unit (JLU) a Unit in the Department of Language, Linguistics and Philosophy, UWI, Mona, operates a company called “Jamaican Language company” (JLC). Yes, man - yu ier mi rait! (Well, I’ve not come across a detailed description of JLC. However, based on something I've heard on YouTtube, it seems to me both JLU and JLC are separate entities manned by the same persons.)

JLC, in association with JLU, has commenced a video production called AKSHAN TAAK (Action Talk), the first of which was published on YouTube recently. ASKSHAN TAAK, according to its facilitators “is a news commentary program done solely in Jamaican (More commonly referred to as Patwa or Jamaican Creole), which reports on how the media covers the news relevant to Jamaica and Jamaicans in general.”

One of the news presenters, Tasheney Francis, is one of the translators of the Jamaican Creole Translation Project.

The initial video, Olimpiks Rivyuu (Olympics Review), “looks at the recently held 2008 Olympic games and the different angles from which various media centers covered the phenomenal performance of the Jamaican athletic team.”

Monday, 29 September 2008

Harsh but True

"There are no primitive languages. The great and abstract ideas of Christianity can be discussed even by the wretched Greenlanders."

Harsh, huh?! Yet, I consider it a true statement, applicable to the Jamaican Creole Translation Project. I find the statement a reassuring one; even as we discuss amongs ourselves "key New Testament" terms and how to express them in Jamaican Creole.

The quote is from Johann Peter Suessmilch in An Introduction to Language by V. Fromkin, R. Rodman, etal (13:2007).

Thursday, 18 September 2008

Love 101 FM Host and the Jamaican Bible

Last night my wife disturbed my sleep in order to alert me to a call-in programme on our most listened religious radio station, LOVE 101. The night's topic was the "Patois Bible."

It was obvious that the host, Vivian Bonner, was against the project - one could easily detect a certain level aversion in his tone of voice, the manner in which he responded to supporters and the way in which he tried to represent the views of supporters when trying to engage non-supporters in conversation.

I was somewhat disturbed at Bonner’s depiction of the persons he projects would benefit most from the project - the “little man down there" (!), the person who doesn't understand English, the uneducated, the man in the ghetto, those who cannot understand meteorological jargon. I would question whether or not the “man up there” understands the Scriptures written in Elizabethan English – (the majority of Jamaicans prefer the AV). Moreover, Jamaican Linguist, F.C. Cassidy accurately states, “The Creole language, even for the most cultivated speaker...has a force of intimacy that the upper language can never offer” (quoted in Ross Issues in Creole Translation; 2003). To be fair, Bonner acknowledges the “forcefulness” of Jamaican and confesses he would support the project if it doesn’t lend itself to comedy, the subject of the next paragraph.

Bonner states that his primary objection to the Jamaican Creole Translation Project is the possibility of it being comical and thus reducing the sacredness of Holy Writ. (Now, where have I heard that before?) He even believes more Jamaicans would attend church just to hear the Scriptures read in Jamaican Creole (and preached from in Creole, I guess) but for a hilarious effect. It seems to me that Bonner’s argument is not based upon proper reasoning. Indeed, one must consider all the possible repercussions of embarking upon such a project as he insists; nonetheless, it doesn’t seem logical for one to abandon such plans because some persons might laugh. Does this reasoning seem reasonable: “B is a potential outcome of A therefore A is not to be embarked upon? If we were to live by this, principle, we would end up doing nothing.

Perhaps one could turn the argument on its head by arguing that persons will burst out in laughter on several occasions; however, I would like to suggest that such laughter would not manifest disrespect, rather joy of hearing God’s word read and preached in a way they had never heard it before. This kind of emotion evoked by mother-tongue Bibles is a phenomenon Bible translator have witnessed time and time again – it would not be peculiar to Jamaica.
Bonner’s concern is genuine; however it seems to me that it’s invalid because it’s constructed on a false understanding of languages in general and Jamaican in particular, a deficient acquaintance with issues surrounding the translating of the Bible into English (and Latin and German...) and a want in understanding of the basics of the theory and practice of (Bible) translation.

All of this reminds me of the Bible Society's need to develop an effective public awareness programme.

Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Gustav and the Jamaican Bible

It’s 1100 here in Jamaica and we have started to feel the effects of Gustav. Forecasters have predicted that the centre of the storm, which had little mercy on Haiti, will pass several miles off our north coast. Jamaica should be getting some heavy rains late this evening and all day tomorrow, so I doubt I’ll be at the Bible House (work) tomorrow.

God be praised, Dornett and I are living in a pretty save place – we live in the highlands, our home is a concrete structure (even the roof) and no trees overarch the house. We are concerned about many of our fellow Jamaicans however, so in this morning’s family devotion, we prayed especially for persons living in low line areas as well as those who, unlike us, are unsure their homes will be able to withstand Gustav’s breath.

“Iiz aa sekl!” / “Ease and settle!” i.e. “Peace! Be still!” These are the words Jesus used to calm the storm of Mark 4:39. This story is one of the stories featured in “A Who Run Things?” - a dramatic audio production of selected New Testament stories into Jamaican Creole. The production was spearheaded by the Bible Society of the West Indies, Jamaica, and was launched in 1996. As the title suggests, the audio production was done in order to remind Jamaicans of God’s sovereignty in the midst of the chaotic nature of Events we face as a nation.

Jesus, at least in our mind, is no doubt the master of nature; however, as many of us can testify, sometimes we find it difficult to find correspondence between our emotions and our creeds, particularly when it comes on to issues relating to suffering and evil, eg Gustav.

I don’t know about you, but whenever I experience this lack of correspondence my soul suffers from lack of happiness. Oh the delight of having intellect and affections dancing to the same tune, dancing together to the truths concerning God!

“Iiz aa sekl!”

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

A Thousand Words

How would one describe this in Jamaican Creole?!

Re Bolt. I heard a new expression last weekend at a local market: "bolt it up over here" - i.e., come here (to my stall) quickly!

For some local editorial cartoons, go here.

Friday, 8 August 2008

"Patois, English and the Blood of Christ"!

Boy, oh, boy! As we say here in Jamaica, "common assault." Anyway, go here.

Here's a response to the article.

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

Translators Being Trained in Jamaica

Seven persons are being trained as prospective translators for the Jamaican Creole Translation Project. The goal in running this workshop is simultaneously to train and evaluate participants and then select three that will make up the translation team. Workshop begins at 8:30 and ends at 16:30 daily.

I've not been blogging much these days because I'm busy preparing lessons. I would appreciate your prayers.

I'll let you know how things are going soon.

Monday, 28 July 2008

Jamaican Creole Translation Consultant Responds

Dr Ronald Ross, United Bible Societies translation Consultant for the Jamaican Creole Translation Project, repsonds to the conern articulated by Rev'd Peter Espeut re the hegeomy of Kingston and the "Patois" Bible. To read Ron's response, click here.

Thursday, 24 July 2008

Get Your Facts Straight!

The Observer, one of Jamaica's most read newspapers, has published some factual errors in regards to the Jamaican Creole Translation Project. Here are the ones I've detected:
  1. On 16th June the paper reported that Rev’d Courtney Stewart is the “UBS' general secretary.” Absolutely not! Rev’d Stewart is the General Secretary of the Bible Society of the West Indies.
  2. On 16th June the Observer indicated that the source language for the translation is English. Today, 26th June, the paper even went as far as to spell out the precise English translation the Society will use: the AV (KJV)!
  3. The paper also reported that 40% of the New Testament has already been translated. Rather 52% of the New Testament has received a first draft – the Synoptic gospels, John and Romans. Bible translation is a complex task and a first draft is just the start! Each book will need exegetical and language checks, community testings, reviewings, back-translations and consultant and consistence checkings before the text is recorded. Where Bible translation is concerned, a biblical book cannot be said to have been “translated” in the proper sense of the word without these requirements being met satisfactorily. (So much for those who believe the Jamaican Project is a trivial endeavour).

Wycliffe UK's Director Bloggs on Jamaican Project

Eddie Arthur, Director of Wycliffe Bible Translators, UK, has published a blogg entry on the Jamaican Creole Translation Project. To read Eddie's post, entitled "Stirring It Up In Jamaica," go ya so (here).

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Christianity Today To Feature Jamaican Project

The Evangelical Christian magazine, Christianity Today, will be featuring an article on the Jamaican Creole Translation Project in the in the September issue of the magazine!

In an e-mail correspondence with John Roomes, Executive Director of Wycliffe Bible Translators, Caribbean, said, “This is indeed major. It is testimony of the Jamaican impact across the globe. This should say something to all of us and begin to discover God’s own purpose in setting up this nation called Jamaica.”

Galang de, Jamieka, mi likl lan a ud aa waata!

To read Christianity Today's article on the Gullah Nyew Testament, click here.

You might also find this link of interest.

2 Days 2 Smiles

So far, two things have given me much pride this week. The first is that I made my first ever apple crumble, using our Jamaican Otaheite Apple! It is lovely with icecream and or cream - ask my wife, who was, at first, expressed uncertainty about my concoction! ("Yes maasa," I heard her muttered rather sardonically in a low voice, "wata nais sinting yu a go kuk nou!" Well, yesterday, she chided me for having devoured most of the "singting" - after she had tasted it herself, of course!)

The second thing that put a smile on my face is a paragraph in an occasional papar which I've been reading. The article was written by Professor Hubert Devonish and Dr Karen Carpenter of the Jamaica Language Unit at the University of the West Indies, Mona. It is entitled Full Bilingual Education in a Creole Language Situation: the Jamaican Bilingual Primary Education Project and is published by the Society for Caribbean Linguistics (February 2007). On page 22 of the article one reads,
In Jamaica, the first step in the process that resulted in the BEP [Bilingual Education Project] came from an initiative my Mrs. Faith Linton, a retired educator who had been active in the process of Bible Translation into Jamaican...the Bilingual Education Project, was inspired by the commitment and daring shown in the Linton initiative” (emphasis mine).
Last month, John Roomes, Executive Director of Wycliffe Caribbean, sent me an e-mail which contained the following:

"The UWI is conducting the dual language education in three schools because of Mrs. Linton and two of us from WBTC who in 2003 went to the then minister of education and declared that we disagreed with the government’s language policy. The minister virtually overturned the policy and we brought the UWI in to retake their place in taking the language back into our schools. Out of this a relationship has developed with the UWI. We later insisted that they be made part of the partnership for the translation."

Tuesday, 22 July 2008

Gad A Taak Patwa

Mi Gad!
Elp mi Maasa Jiizas!
At laas dem fain out
Se Yu taak ina patwa tu.
Yu Baibl de pan di tiep,
An dem se vagabanjri
An wotlisnis gwai mash op Jamieka
Fi gud nou!

Mi neba did nuo se
A ongl Im wait pikni dem langwij Gad spiik?
Wat a blesin Maasa Jiizas,
Se yu did baan ina animal pen
An iz di ignarant shiip faama
Di ienjel wan dem tel
An iz kliera Iijip wid yu pierents dem
Yu run go ton refujii.

Mek wi si a uu go tun
Vagaban an wotlis!
Aal a we bos di patwa
Wen we bok we tuo.
Plenti a wi baan puor laik Maasa Jiizas
A fi aal Jamieka taim nou.
Wat a preke!


Source: Daily Gleaner Sept 8, 1996

The Hegemony of Kingston & the Jamaican Bible

To me, it seems as if many Jamaicans will not accept/appreciate a reality unique to us – one that isn’t shared elsewhere. I have found this to be true in regards to our language and its varieties. Thus, in speaking to persons about Jamaican Creole, I’ve always found it helpful to point out that within any (sizable) speech community there are several language varieties or “dialects.” So, in Britain, for example, inhabitants of Birmingham speak a dialect of English different from that of Sunderland, and the dialect in Cardiff differs from that of Edinburgh – the list goes on almost indefinitely for within these groups there are sub-groups.

“Im a go se;” “Im gwai se;” “Im wi se;” and “Im o se” are four different ways of expressing “future tense” in Jamaican Creole – depending on your geographical location. Now, even the “ordinary” Jamaican “knows” there are dialects of Jamaican Creole; however, believe it or not, no one has ever done a systematic study of the Island’s dialect variety. All that the University of the West Indies’ Jamaican Language Unit has got is a superficial projection of what these verities are and where they are located! I found this surprising given the fact that Jamaican is one of the most researched Caribbean English Creoles – and perhaps the most prestigious.

What has all this got to do with the Jamaican Creole Translation Project? Well, not a few persons would like to see their dialects reflected in the translated text; however, they are fearful the Bible Society will adopt a “Kingston dialect” variety. If this language policy is adopted, it is believed, the Bible Society will be asserting the hegemony of Kingston – a problem “country” people (including myself) have had with “Kingston” for a very long time. By adopting a “Kingston dialect” (uptown?) the Bible Society will be in danger of alienating the rest of Jamaica.

On 16th July 2008, the Jamaica Gleaner published an article by Rev’d Peter Espeut, a sociologist and a Deacon in the Roman Catholic Church. In his article (never mind the factual errors for now), Rev’d Espeut cautions that “an uptown St Andrew Creole Bible, the Mona Version” may defeat their Bible Society’s purpose. Peter posed a pertinent question: “If the idea is to reach the Jamaican people with a creole Bible, which Jamaican people will be targeted?” He challenges the translators (by “translators” I guess he is referring to the Bible Society) “to avoid the obvious pitfall of the creation of an urban uptown Creole Bible. Do not be afraid of using deep rural expressions. Like at Pentecost, rural people need to hear God's Word in their own language too.”

How will be Bible Society of the West Indies go about addressing this issue? Can we learn anything from other translation projects? – for certainly, there is nothing new under the sun. It is important that a solid research project be undertaken in order to ascertain the distinctions which exists, so that the Society can address the issue intelligently and make allowance for me and my fellow “rural people” who “need to hear God’s Word in their own language too.”

Friday, 18 July 2008

WYnet Camp - My Presentation

Last afternoon, I made a presentation on the Jamaican Creole Translation Project at a WYnet, Caribbean, camp. I knew I was going to be asked not a few questions so I prepared myself beforehand. Now, I did not leave for camp with the aim of reeling off answers off the top of my head - I could have; I went with the purpose of helping the campers come up with some answers for themselves. And how did I go about doing that? Well, firstly, I had the campers tell me all their concerns about the Project, each of which I wrote on a whiteboard – I commented on one of their “concerns.” (My original question was “What problems have you got with the project?” The campers however didn’t like the expression “problem with;” they said they only had concerns. I thought that was great.)

After I had scribbled the concerns on the whiteboard, I gave the campers a mini exercise – to translate Matthew 6:5-13 from a simplified Greek-English interlinear I had prepared into Jamaican Creole! Campers were divided into several groups, each of which was assigned a specific number of verses to translate. At the end of the exercise, everyone came together and, a representative from each group read what his/her had translated.

Following the presentations, discussed the problems encountered together and critiqued some of the translations. Believe me, it was a most beneficial and exciting exercise. I shall do it again.

It was after all this that I returned to the campers’ genuine concerns. By this time, they were in a position to re-examine their unease. Of a truth, they found out:
1. The text in Jamaican aids understanding
2. Jamaican has got structure
3. Serious Bible translation isn’t a casual endeavour – euphemisms are taken into consideration
4. Reading and writing Jamaican is easier than reading and writing English...

YouTube Features JA Creole Translation Project

A number of weeks ago, the Jamaica Gleaner interviewed John Roomes of Wycliffe Caribbean and Courtney Steward of the Bible Society of the West Indies. The paper has posted the interview on YouTube in 3 parts.

Click here to view part 1 of the interview as it appears on YouTube.

Monday, 14 July 2008

Revilieshan 7:9-14

9 Aafa mi don si dee sopm ya, mi get waa neda vijan. Mi si waa big-big kroud a piipl we nobadi kuda kount - piipl fraa difrant-difrant konchri, difrant chraib, difrant ries, aa piipl we taak aal saat a difrant langwij. Mi si dem tan-op in front a Gad chuon an in front a di Lam. Aaal a dem did jres-op ina wait goun an did ha paam liif ina dee an. 10 Aa dee did a shout pan i tap a dee vais :
“Fi-wi Gad an I Lam siev wi.
Fi-wi Gad sidong pan i chuon.”

11 An aal a di ienjel dem mek wan big surkl roun Gad chuon, roun di Impuotant Eldali Liida dem, aa roun di Fuor Libin Kriicha. Den dee gu dong paa dee fies bifuo Gad chuon aa wurship Im. Dem se:
12 “Iemen! Aal di taim, fi-wi Gad dizurv aal di priez:
Im majestic, Ii waiz, Im dizurv aal a wi tanks,
Im dizurv aal ana, Im powaful an Ii chrang,

13 Den wan a di Important Eldali Liida dem aks mi, “Dee piipl ya we ina wait goun- a ou dem; wichaat dee kom fram? Mi ansa im, “Sar, yu nuo di ansa aredi.”
14 So ii se tu mi, “Dem a di wan dem we paas chuu di griet chibilieshan. Dee goun wait, bikaa dee wash dem ina di blod a di Lamb.

Hats Off For Mrs Linton

From the 1950s, Mrs Faith Linton has been an ardent supporter of the Jamaican language. I met her for the 1st time earlier this year when a group of fundraisers from the British and Foreign Bible Society came to Jamaica to do some interviews in order to make a fundraising promotional video for the "Luuk Buk" Project.

The truth be told, I've not met someone who is as passionate about our language as Mrs Linton. Mi se, enurji aa pashan did jos a kum outa di uman so! "Oh God!" I prayed that day, "Give me as much passion."

I met Mrs Linton for the 2nd time last Thursday at a Breakfast hosted by the Bible Society of the West Indies at the Knutsford Court Hotel. The Breakfast was used as an occasion to update clergy on recent developments a propos the Jamaican Creole Translation Project (JCTP); to remind them of the rationale behind JCTP; and to listen to the suggestions/guidance the attendees had to offer.

During the Breakfast Mrs Linton made a 15 minute presentation entitled "The Bible in Patois Debate." Actually, the title is somewhat misleading for in her wonderfully delivered presentation, Mrs Linton argued in favour of a bilingual education policy.

Mrs Linton is an elderly Christian woman; however she continues to fight with the strength of a strong black Jamaican woman. Yesterday the editor of the Jamaica Gleaner shared with the public a letter he received from Mrs Linton entitled "Patois is our mother tongue." In the last paragraph of her letter, Mrs Linton says:

"Here in Jamaica, our children will continue to experience academic weakness and
failure until we apply the bilingual approach to education in an all-out,
systematic way. This is the way to ensure that our children become as fluent in
English as they are in Patois."

Hats off to you Dr. Linton. Your continued effort to defend our Children's right to be educated in their mother-tongue is praiseworthy, is to be admired.

Friday, 11 July 2008

Jah! Mutaburuka Rait!

Whatever you think of Mutaburuka's theology, his views of Christianity, etc., the fact of the matter is that he speaks a lot of sense - sometimes. Geof Brown has written a column in today's Observer entitled "Patois and English, not either/or." In the printed version of this article is a pic of Muta, a Jamaican Rastafarian Dub Poet. Under the pic, Muta is quoted to have said:

“We write a language we do not speak. We speak a language
we do not write.”

Jah! Mutaburuka right! :)

Thursday, 10 July 2008

Kech Dee Kuot Ya!

1) "When God has been speaking a foreign language your whole life, to hear him speaking as a close friend or a next-door neighbour can be a disconcerting and even shocking experience."

2) “In light of God’s character, Bible translation is not just necessary for the church, but reflects the very heart of God’s mission.”

I kom fraa ya so. Mek mi nuo wa unu tink.

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

"Heart Talk"

"Why waste $60 million dollars to translate the Bible into Jamaican?" some have asked. Patricia Napier reminds us of a few reasons why it is good to do so.

Firstly, mother-tongue Bible translatons seek to speak to our hearts. Bible translators are not just seeking to communicate information; they are interested in the affective dimension of language. "The Gospel's about heart issues."

Secondly, mother-tongue Bible translation initiatives can aid people groups to overcome negative past experiences. It can help us to avoid the not-so-uncomon belief that the Bible was written by whites to fool blacks.

Thirdly, mother-tongue Bible translations seek to identifying with culture - the joys and griefs of a people's history, their art, their 'world view.' It's about contextualisation.

"Historians tell us that those who gathered in Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost - Parthians, Medes and many other ethnic groups - probably all understood Greek, which was spoken throughout the Roman Empire. Yet to declare the wonders of God, the Holy Spirit communicated personally and intimately with each one - in their own 'heart language'."

Thursday, 3 July 2008

News Re Jamaican Bible Gone Global

Oh yea, the Jamaicans have done it again! The news has spread to USA, Canada, UK, New Zealand, etc.

Here are the 1st two paragraphs of the British Telegraph:

Plans to translate the Bible into patois - Jamaica's unofficial language - have ignited a fiery debate between those who say it empowers Jamaicans and traditionalists who say it dilutes the value of the Scripture.

As Caribbean-based religious group search for translators to help with the £500,000 project, religious leaders claim the audio translation would make the Bible accessible to average churchgoers and to those who might not read it otherwise.

To read the article, click dis ya.

Klik ya so tu for the latest links.

Wednesday, 2 July 2008

Priorities, Priorities, Priorities, says PM

This picture speaks for itself - it reflects our Prime Minister's position on the Jamaican Bible debate.
To read more on what the PM thinks go ya so.
Here's a response to the PM.

Monday, 30 June 2008

Thumbs Up for Jamaican says University Lecturers

The Jamaican language has got supporters of its development form our 3 universities. I've starting to compile a list. I've managed to jot down 5 names so far.

  1. Clive Forrester - UWI
  2. Hubert Devonish - UWI
  3. Gosnell Yorke – NCU
  4. Desrine Cayol – NCU
  5. Rohan Lewis – UTECH

Friday, 27 June 2008

Jiizas Wilin - Matyu 8:1-4, 17

1 Wen Jiizas kom dong aafa i moutn Ii did a tiich pan waa uol hiip a piipl did a fala bak a Im. 2 Roun da taim de, waa man wid waa bad-bad skin diziiz kum op tu Jiizas, bow dong in front a Im fi shuo ii rispek aa se, “Laad, ef Yu waant fi mek mi get kliin, Yu wel aa ielb fi dwiit.” 3 Jiizas trech out Ii an, toch di man aa se tu im, “Mi waa fi dwiit. Ton kliin.” Siem taim di man skin beta-op.

4 Aafta dat apn Jiizas se tu im, “Mek shuor se yu no tel nobadi bout we mi jos du; ongl go shuo yuself tu di priis aa tek wid yu di afring Muoziz se piipl fi tek wid dem wen dee skin diziiz get beta. I gwai bi a proof tu di piipl dem.

17 Jiizas do dis so dat wa Aizaya di prafit did se kuda kom chuu. A dis Aizaya did se:

“Ii tek we wi siknis dem
an Ii kya we wi diziiz dem.”

Thursday, 26 June 2008

Jamaican Creole Newscast? Well, Not Really!

OnThursday, 26th June, the Jamaica Observer misinformed its readers that one of our leading television stations, CVM TV would have, as of Monday 30th June, broadcast a section of its nightly newscast in Jamaican Creole. Read the article ya so!

In a letter to the Observer, CVM denied it plans to broadcast news in Jamaican. Jennifer Grant, vice president of broadcast services said, "'a sampling of news presented in patois' will be part of a three-part series looking at the role of media in communication and the use of patois in education."

To read the Observer's correction to its news item on the TV station's plan go ya so.

Wednesday, 25 June 2008

Jamaican Bible - A Waste of Money?

Many persons have taken issue with the amount of money the Bible Society and its partners are willing to spend on translating the Bible into Jamaican Creole - $60 million JMD. Not a few persons have deemed the venture a reckless stewardship of money and have joyfully volunteered their financial expertise to the Society. Use the funds to remedy the temporary needs of our poor and needy, some have argued. This is exemplified in an interesting letter addressed to the editor of the Jamaican Gleaner by one Joan Davis. The letter is entitled "Patois Bible? How about these priorities!"

Indeed, this is not a critique new to Bible translation organizations. Why is this? Wycliffe Bible Translator, Dr Margaret Hill, in her article “Speaking to the Heart: Translation as Mission” lists several reasons why some people believe the present day effort to translate the Bible is an unwise venture / an unwise investment of mission resources: 1) the over 4,000 remaining languages which are in need of Scripture represent only 3 or 4% of the world’s population (196 million out of 6.5 billion people); 2) it is predicted (though unsubstantiated by data) that 50 – 90% of the world’s languages will die out in this century; 3) English, or perhaps Chinese will soon be spoken by everyone; 4) Bible translation into non-national languages threaten national and church unity (I've been told the former is one of the fears of Burmise government); 5) the development of local languages is a retrograde step as it locks people in their past furthermore it makes them unable to engage and benefit from the wider world.

So far in the Jamaican Bible debate, I’ve heard the many of these concerns over and over again. One could add issues relating to orthography and literacy.

I’ll come back to this issue later… For now, it's only worth recognising that the critique reminds us there is "nothing new under the sun."

Thumbs Up for the Jamaican Bible say Church Leaders

Every experienced translator knows that it’s of vital importance that local church leaders support a Bible translation project. If not, the translator will have a hard time with issues such as acceptability, distribution and Scripture use.

I’m elated a number of prominent Jamaican church leaders (members) are in support of the Jamaican Creole Translation Project. Here’s a list of some leaders who’ve expressed their approval of the Project.
  1. Gosnell Yorke - Professor of Theology at the Seventh-day Adventist run Northern Caribbean University;
  2. Rev'd Carl Johnson - President of the Jamaica Council of Churches;
  3. Rev'd Peter Garth - Head of the Jamaica Association of Evangelicals;
  4. Father Michael Lewis - Roman Catholic Church;
  5. Pastor Glen Samuels - President of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in western Jamaica;

I'll continue adding names as I come across them in the future. Hopefully, I'll hear some favourable news from the Trinitarian and Oneness Pentecostal folk.

Tuesday, 24 June 2008

Our Language, Captured by the English!

“…if some Jamaicans are uncertain about the legitimacy of Jamaican patois and whether it should be used to translate the Bible, academics in the United Kingdom are embracing it as a full-fledged language. Last year, the University of Birmingham introduced a Jamaican patois course, the first of its kind in the world.

Lynette Mitchell, a student at Birmingham University who was born in England to Jamaican parents, was required to take the Jamaican patois course as a core part of her PhD studies on black vernacular as a reading strategy for interpreting the Bible.

She told the Sunday Observer that Level One to Three of the patois course required a minimum of 150 tuition hours. "Level One and Two of the course are equivalent to our GCSE (General Certificate in Secondary Education) here in the UK, and Level Three of it, is equivalent to 'A' Levels here. Once you reach level three, you can move on to a Diploma in Public Service Interpreting, specialising in Jamaican (patois). This is because the Institute of Linguistics in the UK has given the Jamaican official declaration as a language."

Taken from the Sunday Observer. To read the full article, click here.

Jamaican Creole Bible - More Fire!

On 16th June one of our leading newspapers, the Jamaican Observer, revealed the Bible Society of the West Indies’ (BSWI) plan to translate the Christian Scriptures into the heart-language of the Jamaican people. To read the article click here.

As I expected, the proposal has created a firestorm - Jamaicans, both here and in the Diaspora, have voiced opinions for and against the project. Persons “for,” sometimes accuse those “against” of being unpatriotic, ashamed of our Jamaican culture, Euro-centric, elitists, and the like; those “against,” usually characterise Jamaican enthusiasts as being sacrilegious, globally insensitive, economically disadvantageous, anti-progressive, anti-English language, self-aggrandisers and a host of other emotive expressions.

I think the thing persons have really taken an issue with is the proposed cost - $60 million JMD! ($5 million per annum). The money, it is generally argued could be used to promote a million and one needy social initiatives. I do not deny the project is expensive and that the Church could use that amount of money to quench the financial thirst being experienced by many individuals and charity organisations in our country.

Some of questions are, however: “how much money/resources does the Jamaican Church spend on national development each year?” Think of all the learning institutions, medical facilities and programmes, housing initiatives, food programmes, community activities, social services, etc, etc… Can we not spend some money to enhance our understanding our understanding of God's word? Does not having the Scriptures in our language have "social" benefits as well?.....

I'll make the various articles and responses available soon. So far, one of the better contributions to the debate has been that of R. Anthony Lewis. To read Anthony's article click here.

Friday, 13 June 2008

23rd Psalm in Jamaican Patois - Good Try

Two Jamaican schoolgirls recite the 23rd Psalm in (semi)Jamaican.

They are SO cute!

To see the vid, click here.

Monday, 2 June 2008

Jamaican Creole - An Interesting Video

I came across this video in a Facebook groups I'm a member of. The vid is about the Jamaican language and its use in our unique poetic expression - Dub Poetry. It also deals with issues such as the increase use of Jamaican in the written media, as well as the possibility of Jamaican becoming an official language.

To view the vid, click here.

Friday, 23 May 2008

"Distressed @ Standard of English"

"I teach at a local university and I am very distressed by the standard of written English the students present. To say it is generally poor is to understate the case." These are the opening sentences of a letter addressed to the editor of the Jamaica Gleaner by one Michael R. Nicholson on Monday of this week.

Michael's concern is not new - ever so often, one stumbles upon an article expressing similar concerns in our papers. I would not be alarmed, if markers of the pending CXC exams do not reiterate their alarm at the plight of our children’s grasp of our national language - English. (For one reason or another, I cringe when I have to describe English as being our national language – I am not fond of the collocation!)

Mr Nicholson posed an important question: "How is it that we, with English as our official language, have our students unable to write or speak it properly?" We need not go far in search for an answer however; the Ministry of Education, Youth and Culture has provided an answer to Michael’s query in its “Language Education Policy.” The second paragraph of the Policy’s Executive Summary contains the words: “Although Jamaica is described as a bilingual country with Standard Jamaican English (SJE) and Jamaican Creole (JC) being the two languages in operation, the fluid nature of language usage between these languages, as well as the peculiar nature of the linguistic relationship they share, creates difficulties for the majority of Creole speakers learning English.”

Having answered the above question partially (for our problem is more than linguistic though), we are at once faced with another – and this is where the issue becomes tensive and political– “By what means should the Jamaican government help its children become proficient in Standard Jamaican English?”

I am of the opinion that the best means of addressing this grave concern of ours is to adopt a mother tongue-based multilingual education (MLE) policy

Many persons involved with Wycliffe Bible Translators believe that it is wise and that it would be profitable if governments began their children’s education in their first language and gradually transition them to the use of the language of wider communication. In our context that would be from Jamaican Creole to Standard Jamaican English.

I unapologetically support bilingualism; I have never been opposed to teaching our children English – in fact, I insist upon their acquisition of the language successfully. I take seriously therefore the unanimous evidence laid before us by leading education and language experts - that when taught in their mother tongue, children learn the national language better, faster, and more easily. Other well established benefits occasioned by Wycliffe’s Bible translation efforts are psychological, economical, social, pedagogical, cognitive, linguistic, cultural, human rights, et cetera.

Wednesday, 14 May 2008

The Cross in Jamaican!

Earlier this afternoon, I was thinking about the Jamaican Creole Translation Project and its relation to the buzzword in missiology these days - contextualisation. How does the Project relate to communicating the good news about Jesus in terms appropriate to Jamaicans? What does the Project say about the way God communicates with His Church in different linguistic communities? A host of other questions could be asked. Among the many answers that one could provide, one could say that the Project bears witness to the fact that the message of Christ and of His Kingdom is best understood when it is expressed in the linguistic, conceptual, & cultural categories of the people to whom it is being presented (1 Corinthians 9:19-22; Jn 1:1-18).
Indeed, the Bible is also concept forming, and many times it requires that its adherences modify some of their previous conceptual categories. It is my contention that the Gospel is supracultural; it does not destroy cultural; it redeems it and speaks its language.
It's because of reasons such as this that I constructed the cross you see in this blog. The colours of the cross are those of the Jamaican flag / our national colours - black, green, and gold. It's patern is also akin to that of our traditional dress - the bandana.

Saturday, 10 May 2008

Discourse Features in Jamaican

Just over a month ago, I arrived in the UK in order to do some Bible translation related courses. One of the things our instructors have been trying to persuade of is the importance of studying & coming to grips with the discourse features of the languages we are working with.

Two of projects I’ve done so far have caused me to realise an important feature of narrating in Jamaican: when narrating in Jamaican, we tend to not to use very many past time markers. Indeed, the speaker/author provides contextual clues/markers from which s/he expects his/her listener(s)/reader(s) to infer that what s/he’s narrating is a past event; nonetheless, the continuous use of present tense verbs in seems to produce a phenomenon that corresponds to the historical present in English.

It seems to me that this use of the present tense in narratives creates a degree of vividness and expectancy that the past tense particle (did(a)/wee/wean/ena) does no seem to convey.

Do bear with me if you think this might be a very clumsy way of articulating what’s going through my mind. I’ll come back to the issue at a later date.

I'm really interested in exploring the issue of discourse features in Jamaican...

What Was John Wycliffe's Motivation?

Corey Keating has written a 12 page article entitled "John Wycliffe’s Motivation for Translating the Scriptures into his Vernacular Language." Enjoy!

But wait, Margaret Deanesly, Emeritus Professor of History at the University of London, has also written an interesting/provocative piece of paper entitled "The Significance of the Lollard Bible." It is interesting because in it she argues that "Wycliffe's intention in carrying through this complete translation can scarcely have been to render the Bible directly accessible to the masses....Wycliffe's translation of the whole Bible was an undertaking with a political side: the lay party could use it against the clericals...." Nonetheless, she concedes, "But the spiritual side of Wycliffe’s intention was much the stronger."

I think what Margaret has to say re the possibility of the accessibility of Wycliffe's translation to the masses for devotional purposes is worth paying attention to. She also reminds us (and Oh how we forget easily) that Wycliffe didn't do all the translation himself/personally - his Lollards did! To read Margaret's article, click here.

A Denomination's Change Of Heart!

Until recently, the Roman Catholic Church HAD BEEN one of the most vocal opposers of venacular Bible translations. (Though I'm a "Calvinist," I belive some of the underlying reasons were reasonable!). Listen to Pope Ggregory XVI (16th) in a circular letter (encyclical) he wrote 8th May 1844 called Inter Praecipuas (i.e. On Biblical Societies):

"...We emphatically exhort you to announce these Our commands to the people accredited to your pastoral care; explain them in the proper place and time, and strive mightily to keep the faithful sheep away from the Christian League and other biblical societies, as well as away from their followers. Also take from the faithful both the vernacular Bibles which have been published contrary to the sanctions of the Roman Pontiffs and all other books which are proscribed and more zealous each day to preach the word of God, both through yourselves and through the individual pastors in each diocese, and through other ecclesiastical men fit for the task. In particular, watch more carefully over those who are assigned to give public readings of holy scripture, so that they function diligently in their office within the comprehension of the audience; under no pretext whatsoever should they dare to explain and interpret the divine writings contrary to the tradition of the Fathers or the interpretation of the Catholic Church. Finally it is proper for a good pastor not only to safeguard and nourish his sheep...Nor indeed are the seducers to be deprived of the same priestly solicitude, especially the teachers of impiety themselves; although their sin is greater, We should not shrink from their salvation, which We may be able to procure by some means."

Now listen to Part 1, Section 1 1, Chapter 2 2, Article 3, Subsection 5 of "The Catechism of the Catholic Church":

131 "And such is the force and power of the Word of God that it can serve the Church as her support and vigour, and the children of the Church as strength for their faith, food for the soul, and a pure and lasting fount of spiritual life." Hence "access to Sacred Scripture ought to be open wide to the Christian faithful."

132 "Therefore, the study of the sacred page should be the very soul of sacred theology. The ministry of the Word, too - pastoral preaching, catechetics and all forms of Christian instruction, among which the liturgical homily should hold pride of place - is healthily nourished and thrives in holiness through the Word of Scripture."

133 The Church "forcefully and specifically exhorts all the Christian faithful... to learn the surpassing knowledge of Jesus Christ, by frequent reading of the divine Scriptures. Ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ."

:) Now, isn't that lovely?!

I just came across an artile in the United Bible Society's The Bible Translator (Vol 42, Num 2A) written by a Roman Catholic and entitled "Roman Catholics, Bible Societies and Bible Translation." Select the title of the artilce to read.

Tuesday, 6 May 2008

Breda Anansi Ah Kaman Sens

Wans opan a taim, Anansi tink tu imself seh da ef im kuda kalek-op aal di Kaman sens iina di wol an kip dem fi imself, den im boun fi get nof moni an nof powa: fa ebribadiuda hafi kom tu im wid dem woris dem, an im uda chaaj dem veri dier wen im advaiz dem

Anansi staat fi kalek-op an kalek-op aal di kaman sens dem im kuda fain an pu dem iian wan big-big kalabash. Wen im don saach an saach an kudn fain nomo kaman sens, Anansi disaid se im gwai aid im kalabash ful a kaman sens pan i tap a waa ai-ai chrii wichpaat nobadi els kuda riich i.

So, Anansi tai wan ruop roun di klabash nek an tai di ruop tuu en dem tugeda an tai di ruop ruon im nek, so dat di kalabash wee res pan im beli. Anansi staat fi klaim-op di ai-ai chrii, wichpaat im wena go aid di kalabash; but im kudn klaim gud nar tuu faas fa di kalabash wean get iina im wie ebritaim im chrai fi klaim.

Anansi chrai an chrai so til aal af a sodn im ie wan vais bos out a laaf baka im, an wen im luk, im si wan likl bwaai a stan-op a di chrii ruut an a laaf an ala out, “Wat a ful-fuul man! Ef yu waa fi klaim wan chrii front wie, wa mek yu no put i kalabash bak a yu?”

Wel sa, Anansi so bex fi ie dat big piis a kaman sens kum outa di mout a soch a likl bit a bwaai aafta im wee tink seh im wee kalek aal di kaman sens iina di wol dat Anansi grab aaf di kalabash fram roun im nek an fling i dong a chrii ruut

an di kalabash brok-op iin minsiz skyata out iina di briiz aal uova di wol, an ebribadi get a likl bit a kaman sens!

Iz Anansi mek i!

Jak Manduora,mi no chuuz non!

The Church's Prejudice Against Jamaican/Patois

Last August, Rev'd Devon Dick, pastor of the well known Boulevard Baptist Church wrote an article in the Gleaner entitled "A Boonoonoonoos Funeral for Miss Lou." In the article, the Rev'd made an interesting and rather stong claim: "nowhere is the prujudice against patois greatest than in the historic churches of Jamaica"! I concur! I've copied and pasted the main body of the article for you.

"Sadly, Miss Lou's work is not finished and there is much prejudice against patois. And perhaps nowhere is the prejudice against patois greatest than in the historic churches of Jamaica. This is a paradox because churches should be supporting the use of the mother tongue based on the precedence in the Bible. The New Testament was not written in classical Greek but in koine or common Greek. Jesus often spoke in story form. If it were good for the Master, should not the servants tread in it still?

When the Bible was to be translated into English, most British Christians created one hullabaloo because English was not seen as a classical language and educated persons spoke in Latin. And now people are holding on to British English as if that was the language that God spoke then and it is that which he speaks now.

The historic churches need to embrace patois and what better place to make a paradigm shift than at Miss Lou's funeral.

At my wife's graduation from the University of Wales in Great Britain, a part of the ceremony was done in Welsh, the people's language and also in English. Oh for the day when the university that gave Miss Lou an honorary doctorate will have a part of its graduation ceremony in patois. And what of a degree in patois and not only studying patois through English.

It is time to liberate patois and accept it as a language. The churches that are growing fastest and are more numerous have substantial parts of the worship conveyed in patois. Have you noticed that when historic churches are hosting evangelistic efforts most of the times they use evangelists who are competent to speak patois naturally? It appears that they are able to communicate better with the congregation than those who speak only in 'Standard English'. They use parables and stories like Jesus and Miss Lou to get the message across effectively and profoundly."

To read the entire article, click here.

Sunday, 4 May 2008

Oh, Wonderful Wonderful Word of the Lord!

I’m in Wales this weekend. Today I visited one of the Churches which support me and my family in prayer. During the worship service, the Lord rekindled within me a passion for the sacred Scriptures by reminding me of the wealth of wisdom they offer, their salvific importance, their timelessness, and their ever abidingness. The means the Lord used to do this was the words of the old hymn “Oh, Wonderful, Wonderful Word of the Lord.” Here are the words…

"Oh, wonderful, wonderful Word of the Lord!
True wisdom its pages unfold;
And though we may read them a thousand times o’er,
They never, no never, grow old!
Each line hath a treasure, each promise a pearl,
That all if they will may secure;
And we know that when time and the world pass away,
God’s Word shall forever endure.

Oh, wonderful, wonderful Word of the Lord!
The lamp that our Father above
So kindly has lighted to teach us the way
That leads to the arms of His love!
Its warnings, its counsels, are faithful and just;
Its judgments are perfect and pure;
And we know that when time and the world pass away,
God’s Word shall forever endure.

Oh, wonderful, wonderful Word of the Lord!
Our only salvation is there;
It carries conviction down deep in the heart,
And shows us ourselves as we are.
It tells of a Savior, and points to the cross,
Where pardon we now may secure;
For we know that when time and the world pass away,
God’s Word shall forever endure.

Oh, wonderful, wonderful Word of the Lord!
The hope of our friends in the past;
Its truth, where so firmly they anchored their trust,
Through ages eternal shall last.
Oh, wonderful, wonderful Word of the Lord!
Unchanging, abiding and sure;
For we know that when time and the world pass away,
God’s Word shall forever endure."

Saturday, 19 April 2008

A Joke - I Guess

Someone sent me the following:

Dear Customaz:

It look like dem mek mistake an ship out couple a copies a WindowsXP YARDIE VERSION somewhere inna Idaho. If you good ole country folks in Idaho need a translatian fi di commaan dem, ere dem is:

When yuh open di Yardie edition yuh wi si di opening screen. It reads:"WINDAS 98", wit a background picture of Halfway Tree Square.

When yuh start di program yuh wi hear di bad bwoy antem: "Murda-ra Blood deh pan yuh shoulda" By Buju Banton".

Please also note:
Recycle Bin is labeled "General penitentiary"

My Computer is called "A Fimi Own"
The Inbox is referred to as "Barrel come"
Deleted Items are referred to as "Gaan, Rub out, Yuh Salt"
Dial up Networking is called "Ring mi Cellie"
Control Panel is known as the "Babylon"
Hard Drive is referred to as "Reema an Jungle"
Instead of an error message, "Ediat! Yuh know weh yuh a do?" pops up.
Performin' an "illegal operation" is known as "Smuggling not allowed unless part of the Govament"

OK.............Cool Noh
Cancel.........No badda yaw man
No.............No sah
Find...........Look fi it
Back...........Tun roun
Help...........(this is not a feature ... Jamaicans know it all an doan need noh help)
Stop...........Dun now
Start..........Gwan troo
Settings.......Di set up

Also note dat keyboard noh of di YARDIE EDITION no have di letter "H."Wi doan use dat in wi vocabulary So dis is how yuh mus type certain "H"words:

Hart ??? ....Art
Heavy ??.....Eby

Oh boy!

Giving Priority to Romans in Bible Translation

I've been listening to John Piper's sermons on a book, which, due to it's theological significance, one of the 16th century Bible translators (Martin Luther) had deemed "the very purest gospel."

This morning I listened John's message on Romana 1:18, entitled "The Wrath of God Against Ungodliness & Unrighteousness." In his message, Piper outlines 3 ways in which God expresses his wrath against ungodliness & unrighteousness: universal death, universal futility & misery, and the degradation of human behaviour. John then explains how these expressions are to be understood in terms of the non-Christian and in light of the Believer's relationship with God.

I could not help thinking about the importance of giving priority to Romans in Bible translation. Indeed, it isn't one of the easiest books to translate; however, if it is, as Luther argued, "the very purest gospel," shouldn't translators make an extra effort to make it available to the bibleless peoples of the world?

Tuesday, 15 April 2008

Our Government's Language Education Policy

Have you read the Ministry of Education, Youth, and Culture's (MOEYC) Language Education Policy? I did, a number of months ago.

For now, I would only like to say I believe the Jamaican Government is realistic. It recognises that Jamaica is a bilingual country with Jamaican Creole being the most widely used; and it laments (and rightly so) that "the fluid nature of language usage between these languages [Standard Jamaican English & Jamaican Creole), as well as the peculiar nature of the linguistic relationship they share, creates difficulties for the majority of Creole speakers learning English."

Well, what couse of action should be taken? The government considers 3 of 5 proposals:

1. Declare the Jamaican Language situation bilingual ascribing equal language status to Standard Jamaican English (SJC) and Jamaican Creole (JC). This would including tailoring a number of things to accommodate this status - teaching and publishing education material in JC.

2. Retain SJE as the official language and at the same time "promote the acquisition of basic literacy in the early years (eg. K – 3) in the home language and facilitate the development of English as a second language.

3. Maintain SJE as the official language and promote basic communication through the oral use of the home language in the early years (e.g. K – 3) while facilitating the development of literacy in English."

For financial as well as social and political constraints, the Government has opted for the 3rd suggestion. Siit ya: "Besides, issues such as funding for an adequate supply of literacy materials, as well as political and social attitudes to Creole as a medium of instruction (Bryan 2000),
particularly the latter, could present obstacles that are difficult to overcome."


Friday, 4 April 2008

Tame-Durrleman - Exploring the Unique Jamaican Creole

I recently joined a group in Facebook called "I am Fluent in (Jamaican) Patois an' Lovin' It." I came across the link to an interesting article entitled "Tame-Durrleman - exploring the unique Jamaican creole" and published in the Jamaica Gleaner in December of last year.

One "Professa 'P-fi-Patwa'" commented on the Facebook post: "aal prieziz tu mi gyal Stefani fi taak chruut bout di patwa! di haatikal jos rimain mi hou somtaim yu afi go a farin fi get di due rekagnishan we yu dizerv. Jamieka Langwij stil av muor riispek in Inglan, Switzalan an aala dem plies-deh - taim fi honour wi langwij baka yaad."

Oh, how true!

Wednesday, 2 April 2008

"Are The Goals & Objectives of Jamaica's Bilingual Education Project being met?"

I came across this paper, written by Ronals C Morris and Dianne M Morren, a few months ago. I thought I might share it with you. I've pasted the Abstract from the SIL website (hope it's lawful!). To read the paper, click the all caps word "abstract" below.


"Jamaica, a bilingual nation, uses Standard Jamaican English (SJE) and Jamaican Creole (JC) as media of communication. JC is used primarily in the domain of the home and with friends. SJE is the language of education, religion, business, government and mass media. In Jamaica’s elementary schools many teachers have felt the need to employ code switching between SJE and JC in order to clarify what they are trying to teach. Even though JC is not an officially recognized language of education, this code switching is done with such frequency that young students commonly fail to distinguish between the two languages.

In 2004 the Jamaican Language Unit of the Department of Language, Linguistics and Philosophy of the University of the West Indies, proposed a four-year pilot Bilingual Education Project (BEP) that provides for teaching in both languages.
The following paper is a report of an external, formative evaluation of the BEP conducted in

November 2005. In this paper, the authors investigate whether or not the stated goals and objectives of Jamaica’s Bilingual Education Project are being met."

Wednesday, 19 March 2008

Eschatology, Judgement, & Bible Translation (What about those who don't believe?)

I’ve been pondering the spiritual impact Bible Translation (BT) has had on hundreds of minority speech communities – non-Christians converted; believers discipled; the believers empowered to do its own theology biblically in order to meet its spiritual, physical, pastoral, social, political, cultural needs; the worship of God and the joy of believers; etc…I’ve also been thinking of the impressive positive by-products of BT – promoting linguistic diversity; acknowledging that each minority speaker is a bearer of the Imago Dei (image of God); conserving minority languages; standardising languages; providing opportunities for minority speech communities to become literate; causing marginalised people groups to have a more positive perception of themselves and their language; etc, etc…

For the last few days I’ve also been giving thought to the title of this blog – well, I’d been thinking about the relationship between BT and the judgment of unbelievers first; eschatology came afterwards. Hasn’t BT got a disheartening negative effect on hundreds of minority language speakers as well? Does it not bring judgement on (or rather confirm God’s justice in judging) those minority speech communities (or members of these communities) who reject the euangellion i.e. gospel concerning the Lord Jesus Christ? The translated Scriptures will not leave the unbelieving reader/hearer guiltless as the message (of the Kingdom) it has transferred into any heart language demands a response from its speakers – repent for the Kingdom of God, which has broken into our history in the person and work of Jesus, is at hand (Matt 3:2).

I’m reading to my Greek New Testament (GNT); this morning, I read a paragraph (Lk.10:1-12) which has again impressed on my mind the sure judgment of God on those who reject the message of the Kingdom. Luke’s first reference to the Kingdom is in chapter 6:20: the “poor” (in relation to this world’s goods & therefore marginalised, oppressed, etc or in spirit cf Matt 5:3 ???) are promised a blessing because “the Kingdom of God” belongs to them; the reference to the Kingdom in 7:28 is also positive; it’s not so positive in 9:62 where giving one’s family priority over the Kingdom is discouraged – the King will not share one’s allegiance. 10:1-12, is mixed: Jesus tells his missionaries that their benediction (request for God’s blessing) will be experienced by those who receive their message re the Kingdom (v5-6) – positive sign and wonders testify of the Kingdom’s presence; however, no benediction and rejection is portion of those who reject the Lord’s messengers (v6d, 10ff). According to our Lord, those who does not welcome his messengers (and their message re the Kingdom) will receive a more severe punishment than Sodom (v12)!

In fact, BT not only bear witness to the Incarnation of God; it also bears witness to God’s absolute conquest over every sickness (Lk.10:9); and His sure and righteous condemnation of those who refuse to submit to His Kingdom, which has invaded our history in the person and work of Jesus (Lk.10:6b,10ff).

I'm still thinking through these things. Any feedback?
(The above image shows John 1:1-8 in Papiamentu a language spoken in Netherlands Antilles by over 155,000 people.)

Monday, 17 March 2008

Di Disaipl Dem Preyaz (Luuk 11:1-13)

1 Wan taim Jiizas wen de prie a waa plies. Aafta Ii don se ii prayaz, wan a Ii disaipl dem se tu Im, “Laad, tiich wi fi prie, jos laka ou Jan-i-baptis tiich fi’im disaipl dem” fi prie.”

2 So Jiizas se tu dem, "Wen unu prie, se:
‘Faada, mek piipl ha nof ripek fi yu niem,
Mek yu ruulaship kom.
3 Gi wi'i fuud wi niid fi it ebri die.
4 Figiv wi sin dem, fa wi figiv ebribadi ou sin gens wi tu.
No kya wi wichaat temtieshan de.’"

5 Den Ii se tu dem, “Supuozn wan a unu go tu ii fren iina miggl nait an se, ‘Fren, len mi trii bred de, 6 kaaz wan a mi fren dem we a paas chuu i ieria stap a mi yaad, an mi no ha nohtn fi ii nyam.' 7 [Ahn wa if] i fren ansa fraa iina ii ous (ahn se), “No bada mi. Mi lak mi duo aredi, ahn mi ahn mi pikini dem de a wi bed. Mi kyaa git-op fi gi yu [nohtn nou]'?

8 Mi tel unu, di man naa go git-op [outa ii bed] fi gi'im i bred, sieka dem a fren. Bot bikaaz ii no waa i piipl dem iina i komuuniti fi krai dong siem paa im, ii gwai git-op an gi ii fren ebriting ii aks fa."

9 So, mi a tel unu: "aks, ahn unu wi get; saach, ahn unu wi fain; nak, ahn i duo wi opng fi unu. 10 Fa ebribadi ou aks get; an i smadi ou saach faim; an fi'i smadi ou nak, I duo wi opin fi'im.

11 Wich faada de mongs unu a go gi'ii son waa shiek aalduo ii son aks im fi waa fish? 12 Ar gi'ii son waa skaapian, aalduo ii son aks im fi waa eg? 13 So den, ef unu kyaa bi so wikid ahn siem taim unu nuo ou fi gi unu pikni dem gud prezent, ou moch muo i Faada ina evn gwaii gi'i Uoli Spirit tu enibadi ou asks im?!”

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------I preached on this text yesterday at Grace Reformed Baptist church. I read the text in Jamaican (Patois) & delivered much of the sermon in Jamaican. Here are some of the responses I got:
  • Stimulating
  • Yu big wi op! (You've elevated us / made us feel important/respected/recognised)
  • Let's not be ashamed of our Patois
  • I rejista man, i rejista (It registered)
  • Mi kyaa tel di laas taim mi laaf iina choch (I can't remember when last I laughed in Church)
  • Very dynamic message
  • Unusual
  • A oup se yu kom bak (I hope you come again)

Wednesday, 12 March 2008

The Translator's Creed

We believe that:

  1. In the past, God sent his Son - His Word - into this world to save us.
  2. Today, God wants to communicate with us by means of his written word, the Bible.
  3. The diversity of languages is compatible with the plan of God. He likes unity in diversity.
  4. As a vehicle to transmit God's message, no language is superior to another.
  5. The incarnation shows the way in which God communicates with us: he adapts to our level to reach us.
  6. To fully know our identity in Christ, we must integrate our past into what we are becoming in Christ - this includes our language, the symbol of identity.
  7. Christians cannot mature in their faith unless they have access to the Word in a language they understand.
  8. The Gospel must penetrate deeply the world view of each Christian, and that is most effectively done through the vehicle of culture - the mother tongue.
  9. No church can last for long without the written Word of God in a language understood by the believers.
  10. The more the Word of God is taught and used in the mother tongue by Christian communities, the stronger and more solid their faith will be. The more church leaders encourage the use of Scripture in the mother tongue, the more church members will take the initiative to read it, meditate on it, and share it with others.

(by Harriet Hill & Margrit Bolli, in: Ethno-Info No. 36, publ. by SIL AFA Anthropology Dept.)