Jamaican Bible: 'It preserves the dignity of the Jamaican people'
Courtney Stewart of the Bible Society of the West Indies talks to Riazat Butt about a project to translate the Bible into Jamaican patois (Four minute audio at the link. No transcript though)
2008 The Bible in Jamaican
It is, of course, a tremendously ambitious project, for there is no such thing at the moment as Standard Jamaican Creole. Different dialects are spoken in different parts of . One immediately thinks of those in the west who say: "Him ben a come" while others (from the east) say: "Him a come". Both are 'correct', but they are different, and since I do not expect the translators to produce more than one translation, they are going to have to make choices about which variations they will use. And there are many variations. People from deep rural St Thomas speak slightly differently from people in deep rural Portland, and again differently from those in upper . There is uptown Jamaican Creole and downtown Jamaican Creole, not to mention the variation. Into whose Jamaican Creole will the Bible be translated?
There is a danger that, with the hegemony of the big city, the translators will produce an uptown St Andrew Creole Bible, the Mona Version, which may defeat their purpose. I remember the disdain with which many in the ghetto treated the Uptown of Pluto Shervington and Ernie Smith in the 1970s. If the idea is to reach the Jamaican people with a creole Bible, which Jamaican people will be targeted?MORE
Patwa Rights and Wrongs
Believe it or not, the Jamaican Constitution covertly acknowledges the fact that 'Patwa' is, indeed, a national language. Furthermore, the Constitution guarantees 'Patwa' speakers basic rights in the legal system. But don't take my word for it. See for yourself the relevant sections:
Chapter III of the Jamaican Constitution (2011), Section 14 (2):
(2) Any person who is arrested or detained shall have the right:
(b) at the time of his arrest or detention or as soon as is reasonably practicable, to be informed, in a language which he understands, of the reasons for his arrest or detention;
(c) where he is charged with an offence, to be informed forthwith, in a language which he understands, of the nature of the charge;
Section 16 (6):
(6) Every person charged with a criminal offence shall:
(a) be informed, as soon as is reasonably practicable, in a language which he understands, of the nature of the offence charged;
(e) have the assistance of an interpreter, free of cost, if he cannot understand or speak the language used in court;
The Constitution doesn't explicitly state the fact that the language of the court is English. Nor does it openly admit that the first language of the vast majority of Jamaicans is not English, but Jamaican. To concede this gross disparity would be an admission of the fundamental inequity of the justice system. So, instead, we have compromised justice.MORE
Should Creole Replace French in Haiti's Schools?
Creole is the mother tongue in Haiti, but children do most of their schooling in French. Two hundred years after Haiti became the world's first black-led republic, is the use of French holding the nation back?
"The percentage of people who speak French fluently is about 5%, and 100% speak Creole," says Chris Low.
"So it's really apartheid through language."
Ms Low is co-founder of an experimental school, the Matenwa Community Learning Center, which has broken with tradition, and conducts all classes in Creole.MORE
Colonization has been a hell of a thing.