Thursday, 19 February 2009

Di Baibl Buorin, bra!

One of the primary concerns I've come across here in Jamaica esp. among young Christians is the issue of Scripture Use. How can the Bible be used in more interesting ways? Well, earlier this week I came across a fascinating website,

Given the prestige and value of the Authorised Version (King James Version) in the eyes of Jamaicans and our plan to publish an idiomatic translation of the Scriptures in Jamaican Creole, I could not help but read an interesting article by David L Payne - "On promoting vernacular Scriptures where a national language translation is venerated."

For this and similar cool resources/ideas on Scripture Use, visit Features Translation Organisations

The title of the article is "Good News for the 20th Century" and was posted on 28th January, 09.

The article's thesis statement is "Through Wycliffe Bible Translators, the Summer Institute of Linguistics, and the American Bible Society, Cameron Townsend and Eugene Nida changed the landscape of Bible translation."

The author, Sarah E Johnson, writes "In 1943, Cameron Townsend founded what has become the world's largest missionary organization, Wycliffe Bible Translators." Hmmm... I'm uncertain as to the validity of this claim. I think it's Youth With A Mission (YWAM) not WBT that's the world's largest missionary organisation. I need to confirm this....

To read Sarah's article, go ya so...

Predictive Texting in Jamaican Creole?

Have you ever used the predictive text (PT) feature of your mobile phone? Well if you didn't know, it is likely that your mobile can do predictive texting i.e. in the process of texting a message, your mobile can guess the words you are trying to enter into your text message and give you the option of selecting those words. The result: you make fewer keystrokes. To read more about PT visit, go ya so ...

The opportunity to make fewer keystrokes has also got health benefits! Not a few "mango seasons" ago, I watched Wellness Watch, a health presentation, on one of our local TV stations; the health issue featured was a hand illness (can't remember the name) which results from constant use of the hands – typing, sewing, grabbing, text messaging, etc.

I've just read an article in the Wall Street Journal which highlights the interesting fact that PT has economic as well as linguage benefits.

Naturally, this blog isn't as concerned with the economic advantages of PT as it is its language benefits - preservation and promotion! In fact, the title of the article suggests the author is also more interested in the linguistic side of things - "How the Lowly Text Message May Save Languages That Could Otherwise Fade."

Re: language preservation here's a quote, "Michael Cahill, linguistics coordinator for SIL International, says, "There are cases where texting is helping to preserve languages" by encouraging young people to write in their native tongue."

Re: language promotion here's a quote, ""It facilitates the Irish language as a communications tool for every day -- not just in the classroom."

I could not help but think that PT could also help to preserve and promote Jamaican Creole! In fact, I think it would be a very good means of promoting the Cassidy/LePage orthography, the spelling convention being used by the Jamaican Creole translation team.

To read the WSJ article, go ya so....

Saturday, 14 February 2009

Jamaican Bible better than Scots!

This article was written by Christopher Howse and published on the website of the British paper, the Telegraph, on 17th December, 08.

12 comments follow...

Read the article/comments here...

Here's another title I saw today "Nationalism influences Jamaicans to translate Bible into colorful native language of patois"!


Friday, 13 February 2009

A Great Jamaican Woman

Yesterday, 12th February, a Canadian "woman-centred" website,, published an article by Sierra Bacquie on a very respected Jamaican woman, Louise Bennett-Coverley, aka Miss Lou. The article, room for Miss Lou and subheaded Harbourfront’s living tribute to a cultural icon rightly argues that Miss Lou's "cultural significance lies in her commitment to telling the stories of everyday Jamaicans in their own language" (emphasis mine).

I've ofttimes wondered what Miss Lou would say about the Jamaican Creole Translation Project.

To read Sierra's article, go here....

Where Are We Now

Before the present translation team was in place, The Bible Society of the West Indies (BSWI) had already started work on an audio production of the Gospel of Luuk, called the Luuk Buk Project (LBP). BSWI hopes to have Luke in audio ready for release to the public soon. Therefore, the current translation team has been asked to incooperate the LBP into their workload.

For the last 10 weeks or so, the team has been making corrections to the 1st draft of Luke’s gospel, prepared by BSWI a number of years ago. This stage of the work is referred to as Team or Group Review. At this stage, the team gathers to check the first draft using other several Bible versions and exegetical resources, to make sure the translated text is faithful to the original message

In addition to checking for faithfulness to the original text, the team has been busy trying to make the translation as Jamaican as possible as the first draft is somewhat anglicised.

In order to improve the end result, the team is in need of your constructive criticism.

The revised draft of the first 11 chapters of Luuk Buk is located online. Click here to see draft.

If you have any suggestions to improve the end result, subject to the methodology criteria outlined below, please use the 'Translation Suggestions' document in the folder 'JCTP_Translation_Suggestions' in the archive, and please e-mail your suggestions to -

Thursday, 12 February 2009

A Jesus Film of Colour!

There are a number of things in life that make me cringe; one such thing are pictures of a long-haired, blue-eyed white Jesus in a Christian home, school, or place of worship in Jamaica.

I’ve got great respect of the producers of the most watched film in history, the Jesus Film, but I think the ethnic hue of the cast continues strengthen the perception that whiteness is superior.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m NOT anti-white, in fact, some of my best friends are white – externally and internally – and, on a whole, I’ve felt more accepted by them for my blackness than I have by my fellow country folk! Also, I’m not against pictures of a Caucasian Jesus as such, neither am I convinced that the vast majority of pictures (for any for that matter!) of a white Jesus present in Jamaica have been disseminated by white supremacists. Nonetheless, given the historical treatment of blacks by white Europe and how that legacy has affected our psychology of blackness and whiteness, I think it’s counterproductive to have towering pictures of a White Messiah hung in our various institutions.

Now, I don’t believe that the Lord Jesus Christ IS (after all, he has not abandoned his humanity [1Tim 2:5]) a negro, nonetheless I don’t think he is Caucasian either! I think he's a person of colour. (A number of whites have expressed horror and disbelief when they hear me say Jesus isn’t white!) To many blacks the white image continues to represent white superiority and the view that whites are the font of all good including salvation, and therefore they [blacks] are the eternal beneficiaries of a White Messiah.

Given 1) my conviction that Jesus is a man of colour (though not a negro) and that 2) art needn’t be a depiction of historical reality [and no drawing of Jesus would be correct in the sense for no one today knows exactly what he looked like] but can be metaphorical, in our context, I think it’s both right and good to make representations of our Lord that reflect our reality – say a picture of a strong black man with the physical characteristics of negroes – dark skin, thick lips, woolly hair, flat broad nose.... Pictures of this sort could represent certain characteristics of our Lord such as strength, power, endurance, etc....

It’s time for black people to do their drawings and make their own movies of Jesus - and other Biblical characters.

Friday, 6 February 2009

Radio Neatherlands Features Jamaican Project

Around mid-December, 08, I was contacted by Johan van Slooten of Radio Netherlands Worldwide re: the Jamaican Creole Translation Project.

On Monday (Dec 22), I was interviewed by Johan. He’s quoted some of what I said in his report on the paper’s website.

Now, I cannot recall saying some of the things I’ve been quoted as saying, particularly that Jamaican Creole is of “‘street' origins.” Nou unu si mi daiyin chaiyalz! A siem wie so im rait pan waa nex sait niem laBibliaweb se: “According to the Project coordinator of the Jamaican Creole Translation Society, Bertram Gayle, is important for Jamaicans to be able to read the stories of Christmas….” Riid? A no mi – mi kuda wehn neva se “riid”! Read the entire article here.

Now back to the Radio Netherlands article. Re: the importance of Jamaican Creole, van Slooten writes “universities in the UK are teaching Patois and the Jamaican parliament passed a bill in 2007 that sees that state documents be published in Patois as well as in English.” Fram a baan! I’m only aware of one UK university that has embarked on the venture and I’m not sure where the information in the latter part of the sentence came from – bot a no fram mi bwai.

To read the Radio Netherlands article, please go here

Patois Bible Delay

BY LUKE DOUGLAS Observer writer
Saturday, January 17, 2009

The first audio book of the Bible translated in the Jamaican native language is expected to be ready by April, a delay of about four months from its original schedule.

"The patois version of St Luke's gospel was supposed to be ready last December, but a substantial revision of an earlier draft has pushed the production back by a few months, Rev Courtney Stewart, general manager of the Bible Society of the West Indies, told the Observer...

Read more here