Struggling with what I think of the Hawaian Pidgin Bible (Da Jesus Book)

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Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
The Hawaii Pidgin New Testament, known as Da Jesus Book, was dedicated in Hawaii in June 2001. By October 2003, it was in its fourth printing having sold more than 85,000 copies (you can even get it at COSTCO). In fact, it has been on the bestseller list in Hawaii 16 times!

Hawaiian Pidgin English is a combination of English, Hawaiian, and a wide smattering of other languages that developed among Hawaii's immigrant plantation workers, who hailed from many countries and thus found pidgin English to be the only language they shared in common. From 1988 to 2000, a team of 26 fluent Hawaiian Pidgin speakers recurited by retired Cornell University linguistics professor Joseph Grimes translated into Hawaiian Pidgin the entire Bible, which they called "Da Jesus Book." Here is what they came up with for the Lord's Prayer:

God, you our Fadda, you stay inside da sky.
We like all da peopo know fo shua how you stay,
An dat you stay good an spesho,
An we like dem give you plenny respeck.
We like you come King fo everybody now.
We like everybody make jalike you like,
Ova hea inside da world,
Jalike da angel guys up inside da sky make jalike you like.
Give us da food we need fo today an every day.
Hemmo our shame, an let us go
Fo all da kine bad stuff we do to you,
Jalike us guys let da odda guys go awready,
And we no stay huhu wit dem
Fo all da kine bad stuff dey do to us.
No let us get chance fo do bad kine stuff,
But take us outa dea, so da Bad Guy no can hurt us.
Cuz you our King.
You get da real power,
An you stay awesome foeva.

http://www-01.sil.org/silepubs/Pubs/52526/52552.pdf

Honolulu StarBulletin Tell Bout Da Pidgin Bible

Da Jesus Book: Hawaii Pidgin New Testament: Pidgin Bible Translation Group: 9780938978213: Amazon.com: Books

John 3:16:
God wen get so plenny love an aloha fo da peopo inside da world, dat he wen send me, his one an ony Boy, so dat everybody dat trus me no get cut off from God, but get da real kine life dat stay to da max foeva.

What is the opinion here? Pidgins and creoles sometimes are consistent enough that grammars and lexicons can be written on them? If this is the case, can the bible be translated into these pidgins and creole dialects? Should we call it a "translation" or is it something less?
 

Edward

Puritanboard Commissioner
Ran across some Wycliffe folks some years ago who were working on a 'Gullah' translation of the Bible. They showed a video of the 'natives' speaking. I commented to them afterwards that when I was growing up, it was called Geechie, not Gullah, and that I really didn't have much trouble understanding what was being said. It struck me as a tremendous waste of resources.

Ever since, I've wondered whether these projects are good stewardship.
 

Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
Yes, most Hawaiians are bilingual to some degree. The rationale is that such a pidgin translation connects in the "heart language" of the people and impacts receptivity as well as merely understandability.
 

C. M. Sheffield

Puritan Board Graduate
My main issue with this is that it is a paraphrase rather than a translation.

Indeed, I might have less of an issue with it if I felt it was even making an attempt to mirror the underlying Greek text. This is at best a very loose paraphrase. I have other questions as well. These people speak broken English--a kind of Ebonics. This is not a bonna fide different language.

My questions are: Is it reasonable to make a "translation" for a group of people the majority of whom are probably illiterate and can't read it anyway? Would it perhaps not be a better use of resources to try to teach this group English (or even Hawaiian) so that they could understand the Word of God in a real language? Does an effort like this do more harm than good by perpetuating illiteracy in this group and lending legitimacy to their broken English in the name of "multiculturalism"?
 

Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
Pastor Sheffield,

Linguists would argue how "bona fide" the language is. They claim it has a predictable grammar and a book on that grammar is even available. Other books also exist in Pidgin.

Another rationale might be that this is another tool (and no tool is perfect) for opening up bible reading to a new audience and getting them into the Word.

My main problem is with calling it a "translation." I could even get behind the idea of a street-language paraphrase, but when it is called a translation, then it claims to be "God's Word" and this doesn't sit well when it is written in ebonics or a pidgin dialect. The fact that many people on the reviews ask whether this was a joke or not or laugh when they first read the book is telling.

However, it seems that many Hawaiian readers are genuinely moved and affected by reading this book and say that it has enabled them to better understand the bible. And so the translators, in that regard, might be praised for doing something beneficial for a group of people, even while folks poke fun or diminish their efforts (this publication took over a decade and a large team). However, with translators being rare assets, I wonder how this project got prioritized whereas I know a remote Papuan tribe who has prayed 14 years for a translator.
 

Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
There are many more tribes needing help, too.

(p.s. I switched over to Heartcry Missionry Society last year, but still highly value the translation work done by World Team)
 
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