Questions & Answers

Listed below are some frequently asked questions. Please read through them to see if any match your inquery, and click on the relevant question inorder to see the answer. If your question is now addressed here or if you require more information, please contact us viathe form on our 'Contact Us' page.

Q: Jamaican does not have a Standard form, so how can we translate the Bible?

A: Standardization is a proccess and the standardization of any language comes as a results of human efforts. Over the years, Bible Translation has helped to develop and standardize many languages. This was the case with languages such as English and German, and will also be the case with Jamaican. By translating the Bible into Jamaican we are in effect creating a Standard form of the Language.

Q: There is no standard way of representing Jamaica, so how do you expect people to read and write it?

A: There is a general tendency, when writing Jamaican, for people to use a modified form of the English spelling system. If you have read any of Ms. Lou’s books you would have seen the langauge represented in this way. This methods of representing the language is problematic because it does not allow for consistency. Thankfully in 1961 Fredric Cassidy, a Jamaican Linguist, developed a writing system for Jamaican. This system has been used at the University of the West Indies Mona for years, and it is this system that the Jamaican Creole Translation Project uses when translating the Bible. The Cassidy writing system is easier to learn and provides us with a consistent way of representing the langauge. However, we recognize that the general public is not yet familiar with this system. It is for this reason that the Jamaican Bible will be released pirmarily in audio format. There are however agencies like Wycliffe Bible Translators, Caribbean, and the Jamaican Language Unit hard at work developing literacy programs that aim to teach the general public how to read and write Jamaican using the standard writing system.

Q:Jamaican is Only Spoken by Jamaicans and we already have English Bibles, so what is the point of translating the Bible?

A: Mandarin is only spoken in China and Haitian Creole is only spoken in Haiti, yet there are New Testament translation for both languages. The same is true for languages such as Ga, Lokpa and Saramaccan which each has less than 100,000 speakers. Why translate the Bible into these languages that will never be spoken univerally? Why tanslate the Bible into these languages when they have ready access to English, French Dutch etc translations? We translate them into these languages for the very reason an English or French, etc translation was done, the Scriptures make their biggest impact when people have the Word of God in their own language; their mother tongue. Jamaican has over 4 million speakers, should those speakers be denied the privilege of having God’s word in the language that they understand best?

Q:Why aren’t we Concentrating on Improving English in Jamaica?

A: In 2009, the Jamaican Language Unit completed its Bilingual Education Project. The project which ran for 5 years saw students in grades 1-4 being taught in both Jamaica and English with the aim of developing fully bilingual students. The peformance of students in the Bilingual students was then compared to the performance of the students in the regular school system. It was found that students in the Bilingual program, especially the boys, outperformed the students in the regular school system. It would seem then, that in order to produce more competent English speaker, we need to implement bilingual strategies as is the practise in countries where English is not the first language of the people.

Q: Won’t translating the Bible into Jamaican cause more laughter than seriousness?

A: "Sun a shine but tings no bright;
Doah pot a bwile, bickle no nuff;
River flood but water scarce, yawl
Rain a fall but dutty tough." –Ms Lou (Dutty Tough)
No one who reads the except above would find it funny; Jamaican can be used to convey hardship, tragedy, love and a wealth of other emotions without being humerous. BSWI and its partners are very serious about what they are doing. They believe the Bible is a respectable book and that persons who read or hear it must be able to identify it as a book that is to be taken seriously. The Bible will be translated with this in mind. Also, the translation will be tested in locations on the island before it is published.

Q: Why spend so much money on a translation, couldn’t the money be put to better use?

A: It is important to remember that the mission of those who are financing the project is to make God’s word available to persons who do not have it in the language they understand best. All the churches in Jamaica spend a lot more than $12 million Jamaican dollars on education, medicine, disaster relief, poverty eradication and so on. Can the church not invest a fraction of its budget to help its people understand God’s word better?