Jamaicans Debate Translation of Bible to Patois

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Jamaicans Debate Translation of Bible to Patois

Caribbean-based religious groups are searching for translators to help with a $1-million project to translate the Bible to patios, Jamaica's unofficial language. The translation project is controversial, as some Jamaicans say patios is an obscure dialect that dilutes the sanctity of the Bible, while others say the patios translation is an empowering statement that affirms their heritage. Religious leaders in favor of the translation say an audio interpretation would make the Bible more accessible to average churchgoers and those who may not read it otherwise. Rev. Courtney Stewart, who is overseeing the project as general secretary of the Bible Society of the West Indies, says it will take 12 years for a full translation. Stewart is lobbying other international Bible societies to help pay for the undertaking, and he expects translators to start work by early July. Historically, patois has been viewed as broken English and was considered a "low-status" language long after Jamaica gained independence in 1962, according to University of the West Indies linguistics professor Hubert Devonish. Almost all Jamaicans know patios, adds Devonish, but only recently have the middle and upper classes been speaking it in public. The Bible has already been translated into several other lesser-spoken languages, including Haitian Creole, Gullah, Tagalong, Ga, and Mi'kmaq.

From "Jamaicans Debate Translation of Bible to Patois"
Associated Press (09/06/08)

Source: ATA Newsbriefs - September 2008


 

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