Tuesday, 6 May 2008

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.

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