The Bible has been translated into many languages over the centuries. The people of Jamaica now have the New Testament in their own vernacular. The achievement is the culmination of twenty years' academic work.
The project to translate the New Testament into Jamaican was initiated by the Bible Society. It involved a team of translators from the Linguistics Department of the University of the West Indies and theologians. The aim was to create a text that is faithful to the original Greek, but expressed in the vernacular of the people of Jamaica. The result is Di Nyuu Testiment. As the Bible Society says:
For so long, Jamaicans have been denied the Bible in the language of their heart – the language of their family.
This is the gap the project has sought to fill. As the Daily Mail reports, the Rev. Courtney Stewart, General Secretary of the Bible Society of the West Indies, said:
The Scriptures have the greatest impact when you hear it in your mother tongue. So this translation to Creole is affirming the Jamaican speaker's language, and it is very, very powerful.
The history of translations of the Bible into vernacular languages has often been a critical moment in the development of national languages. The King James Version of the Bible is, for example, a foundational document in Modern English. According to the Daily Telegraph, the translation of the New Testament into Jamaican is seen by some as a "historic moment in the development of a dialect first spoken by West Indian slaves 400 years ago into a full written language". Indeed, as Liberti points out, Di Nyuu Testiment is thought to be the first comprehensive written Jamaican.
Di Nyuu Testiment is to be officially launched in London on October 9 at the Jamaican High Commission.