Article about Gullah language in Barbadian newspaper

Monday, December 29, 2008

Situs locutorum linguae Gullah

Every once in a while you'll see an article here and there about the Gullah language, and there's one today about the New Testament translation in Gullah. It may look at first glance like just a modified version of English, but the translation took 25 years. In fact, I would submit that it could be harder to translate into one language by those that speak a very closely related language as a mother tongue because it's very easy to unconsciously assume that a word in one language applies to all the same situations in another, where in fact it may be either more or less widely used. In just carrying out a regular conversation of course there's rarely any problem in using a word in a slightly wrong context, but since this is a translation of the Bible it's quite a different matter.

Some of the New Testament in Gullah:
18 Now dis yah wa happen wen Jedus Christ bon. Jedus mudda Mary been gage fa marry Joseph. But fo dey git marry an Joseph cyaa um fa lib wid um, dey find out dat Mary been specking and dat been de power ob d Holy Spirit was mek dat happen.

19 Now Joseph wa been gage fa marry Mary, e been a man wa waak straight wid God, and e ain been wahn fa see Mary come ta no open shame. So Joseph mek op e mind fa paat with Mary and keep um hush op.

20 E beena study haad bout wa he gwine do, wen d Lawd sen a angel to um een a dream. De angel tell um say, "Joseph, ya wa come out out from King David fambly, mus dohn be scaid fa marry Mary. Cause de chile wa e specking, dat wa de Holy Spirit mek happen.

21 E gwine hab son, and ya must gim de name Name Jedus, cause e gwine sabe e people from dey sin. – (Matthew 1:18-21)
To hear how the language sounds, you can check out's story here.

The Latin Wikipedia has a fairly large article on the language for its size that you can see here. It even has a story in Gullah and Latin:

Buh Lion bin a hunt, an eh spy Buh Goat duh leddown topper er big rock duh wuk eh mout an der chaw. Eh creep up fuh ketch um. Wen eh git close ter um eh notus um good. Buh Goat keep on chaw. Buh Lion try fuh fine out wuh Buh Goat duh eat. Eh yent see nuttne nigh um ceptin de nekked rock wuh eh duh leddown on. Buh Lion stonish. Eh wait topper Buh Goat. Buh Goat keep on chaw, an chaw, an chaw. Buh Lion cant mek de ting out, an eh come close, an eh say: "Hay! Buh Goat, wuh you duh eat?" Buh Goat skade wen Buh Lion rise up befo um, but eh keep er bole harte, an eh mek ansur: "Me duh chaw dis rock, an ef you dont leff, wen me done long um me guine eat you." Dis big wud sabe Buh Goat. Bole man git outer diffikelty way coward man lose eh life.

Buh Leo venabatur cum Buh Caprum in magno saxo iacentem spectavit qui buccam movebat et mandebat. Buh Leo propius serpsit ut eum caperet. Cum prope eum adveniat, attente aspiciebat. Buh Caper semper mandebat. Buh Leo conatus est cognoscere quid Buh Caper ederet. Nihil vidit prope eum nisi saxum nudum in quo Buh Caper iacebat. Buh Leo attonitus est. Buh Caprum exspectabat. Buh Caper semper mandebat et mandebat et mandebat. Buh Leo nihil cognoscere poterat, et cum propius venerit dixit: "Ecce, Buh Caper, quid edis?" Buh Caper territus est cum Buh Leo prae se surrexerit, sed cor audax sustinens respondebat: "Hoc saxum mando, et si me non linquas, saxo consumpto te quoque edam." Hoc verbum magnum Buh Caprum servavit. Vir audax ex periculis fugit ubi vir timidus perit.


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