The Lord Is My Stockman

The "Holi Baibul" is now completely translated into Kriol, a language spoken by 30,000 Australians. This is the first complete translation of the Bible into an indigenous Australian tongue.

According to "The Religion Report" from ABC Radio National, there are about 51,000 speakers of indigenous languages in Australia, so this translation means that 6 out of 10 of these speakers can now read the Bible in their own language. Although, Margaret Micken, the project coordinator, points out, "Maybe they won't all be able to read it first up because the spelling system reflects the traditional way that people have written and been writing Aboriginal languages, but if they read English, they'll be able to transfer very easily."

The relationship to English is indeed unmistakable because Kriol comes from a mix of aboriginal language and colonial settlers' English. Here's a quick, over-simplified linguistic lesson for the day:

When two groups who speak different languages need to communicate with each other, they develop a language that is a simplified, "broken" version of both the languages. This is called a pidgin. When speakers of a pidgin begin having children with each other, the pidgin evolves into a creole language with linguistic features that were not a part of the pidgin--most notably, elaborate grammar and increased vocabulary. It is no longer a crude version of another language, but a new mother tongue, a complete and unique natural language.

I encourage you to listen to Psalm 23 from the new Kriol Bible. (It's 1.5 minutes into the program.) Here are the first two verses:

1 YAWEI, yu jis laik det brabli gudwan stakmen.
Yu oldei maindimbat mi,
en ai garram ebrijing brom yu.
Ai kaan wandim mowa
2 Yu lukaftumbat mi jis laik det stakmen weya im deigim im ship olabat blanga abum spel langa kwaitwan pleis garram bigmob gras en springwoda.

If you're by yourself or not very self-conscious, read this aloud and see how much you can understand.

An event is planned for tomorrow (May 5) in the Northern Territory to celebrate the completion of this translation after 27 years.

(HT: languagehat)