May 9, 2007
As if Australia’s Aborigines don’t have enough problems:
The Lord is no longer my shepherd. He is instead a stockman, and he carries a spear and a long stick rather than a rod and staff.
It has been almost 30 years in the making, but 100 Australian linguists and translators have finally finished translating the Bible into an Aboriginal language. They have also agreed upon modifications to Biblical scenarios so that they can be better understood by an ancient, nomadic people raised in barren deserts.
The Anglican Church unveiled the Aboriginal Bible in the Northern Territory town of Katherine this week. It intends an initial distribution of 30,000 copies to remote communities.
Peter Carroll, a linguist who worked on the translation, said the phrase “to love God with all one’s heart” was a special challenge. He said: “The Aboriginal people use a different part of the body to express emotions. They have a word that is, broadly translated, ‘insides’. So to love God with all your heart was to want God with all your insides.”
… With 210 Aboriginal languages to chose from, organisers of the project settled on Kriol, a pidgin language spread across northern Australia by stockmen in the cattle industry and now used widely.
Those working on the project needed to check constantly with far-flung communities that their interpretations of language and Biblical concepts were correct – and they were often surprised to find that their offerings had vastly different meanings from what they had intended.
In the book of John, for example, an early draft had translated into Kriol the words “Whoever believes in me will not perish.” But when asked the meaning of perish, Aboriginal people said that to them the word meant thirsty.
… Ms Mickan added: “It sometimes sounds as if Kriol words are English words, but often they have a different meaning and so we’ve had to be careful.”
In Kriol Christians are known as Christianmob, while the Bible is known as Biabul-buk. Religion is simply referred to as lo, as in law.
So mob law, then.
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