The Gullah Translation

Gullah is an English Creole that developed about two hundred years ago along the coast of South Carolina and Georgia, where slaves were brought from diverse African language groups. The vocabulary is based on English, but there are also African words and non-Western linguistic structures.

The Bible translation into Gullah was begun around 1979. There has been a lot of interest in having the Gullah scriptures, and the translation project was even featured on ABC News in 1987. Although the whole New Testament was in draft by the time we were asked to get involved, the program had slowed down to a standstill. Since the beginning of 2003, we have been working on learning about Gullah, revitalizing the translation team, and revising the translation in preparation for publication. There is still a lot of work to do, but our expectation is to have the translation ready to go to press next year.

 We are based out of the JAARS Center in Waxhaw, NC, but JAARS has set us up with a trailer on St. Helena Island to use on our trips down there to work with the translation team.

De Good Nyews bout Jedus Christ wa John Write

A new publication in Gullah, hot off the press, is the Gospel of John. Previously the Gospel of Luke was published, and it proved to be very popular. When Luke went out of print this year, we decided we needed to publish another Scripture portion, in order to meet demand for something for people to be using and to help build anticipation for the coming of the whole New Testament. Here is a sample from this new Gullah Scripture portion:

An now A da gii oona a nyew chaage. Oona mus lobe one noda. Same fashion A beena lobe oona, oona mus lobe one noda. Ef oona da lobe one noda, ebrybody gwine know dat oona me ciple dem.    John 13:34-35

The printing of De Good Nyews Bout Jedus Christ Wa John Write was done at the JAARS Print Shop. Its launching was at the Heritage Days Festival on St. Helena Island November 8. Our co-workers Elmer and Ruth Ash (pictured here) are responsible for promotion and distribution.

We anticipate finishing the Gullah translation in 2004. Its publication by the American Bible Society will be in late 2004 or early 2005. Please keep this effort in your prayers.

For more information on Gullah and the translation project, and pictures of some of the people we work with, visit the web site www.seaislandcreole.org.

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