An American Creole dialect gets its own Scriptures.

By November 8, 2005

USA (MNN)–A quarter century in the making, a new Scripture translation is making its way to a forgotten people group.

Wycliffe Bible Translator’s David Frank says the group lives along the coast of South Carolina in the United States.

The language they speak is called ‘Gullah,’ an English Creole. “Traditionally, it’s been misunderstood to be a dialect of English–substandard English. In this case, the origins of Gullah go back to a time when the slaves were first brought over and there was no language that everybody had in common.”

To the linguist, it breaks down even more. It’s a blend of the languages of the West African slaves who were brought to America from the late 1600s until the mid 1800s. Many of these slaves were bought to work on rice plantations along the sea coast in South Carolina, Georgia and northern Florida. With no common language, the people developed one out of necessity to communicate. That means the Gullah language is from an older form of English and West African language forms.

As the people developed a language, so too, did they communicate heritage. That has not been lost.

Mary Ravenell, a middle school teacher and youth minister in Orangeburg, S.C., upon reading preliminary translated portions of the New Testament in Gullah for the first time just a few weeks ago said, “My heart just swelled within me when I read it. This is the way I had interpreted it to the older people who can’t read or write. It was like I had come home to the Word of God, because it was the way my grandmother read it to me!”

Frank says for Gullah speakers, it brings the Gospel home. “We have the Gullah New Testament, now, in print. We are about to release it to the public on November 12th, at the Penn Center on St. Helena Island, South Carolina. This is part of the Penn Center’s Heritage Days Festival.”

Leave a Reply