Careers & Education

Patois Bible for UK launch next month

BY LUKE DOUGLAS Career & Education senior reporter douglasl@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, September 16, 2012    

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THE long-awaited Patois Bible will soon become a reality, with a translation of the New Testament into the Jamaican language set for a series of launches next month.

General Secretary of the Bible Society of the West Indies, Reverend Courtney Stewart said the finishing touches are being put on the audio recordings of the New Testament, which will also be available in printed format.

"We have completed the translation of the entire New Testament in multiple voices. The recording was done at Harry J Studios. We are now in the process of audio production in the United States," Stewart told Career & Education.

Many famous Jamaican reggae artistes and international stars have recorded at Harry J Studios in the past, including Bob Marley and the Wailers and the Rolling Stones.

The Patois New Testament is being printed in China, having been typeset in England by the British Bible Society, Stewart disclosed.

On completion, the New Testament will be launched in the United Kingdom next month, as October is celebrated as Black History Month.

"The churches in the UK have indicated that they are anxious to receive it," Stewart said.

A massive launch of the translation will be held in Jamaica towards the end of October.

According to Stewart, the Bible in the Jamaican language will be distributed by the Bible Society of the West Indies for sale in print and audio. Discussions with distributors, he said, are ongoing.

However, Stewart noted that excerpts of the translation would be made available over the Internet.

"Our mission is for persons to have access to the scriptures," he explained.

Responding to criticisms that the translation was a waste of money and the funds could be better spent, Stewart said the four-year project actually earned money for Jamaicans.

"The funding we have raised for this project has come from abroad. We have been able to tap into sources that have money available for translation projects only, and we positioned ourselves so that were able to qualify for those funds. So we have actually brought foreign exchange into Jamaica," Stewart said.

"We have employed Jamaicans to do the translation and paid Jamaicans to be the characters (in the Bible) and so on. This is being done by Jamaicans, for Jamaicans at home and abroad," he added.

A cast of more than 20 people were hired for the voices, while there were four full-time translators, with the Jamaica Language Unit at the University of the West Indies acting as consultants.

Director of British and Foreign Bible Society in the United Kingdom Canon Ann Holt endorsed the Patois Bible, saying it was long overdue.

Holt, who taught at St Mary High School more than 40 years ago, said teaching English to children who had patois as their first language was always an uphill task.

"I could say to you what took you so long, because back in 1969 as a teacher of both English and history, whatever we did with English, patois would rule because patois is the language of the people," she said.

Holt added that by giving the Patois Bible to the people of Jamaica, it was appropriate that the UK "should put something back into a society from which we took so much".

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