Our language, our Bible: the importance of the Kriol Bible

It took the Kriol Council 20 years to translate the Bible into Kriol, because of a widespread rejection of Kriol as an established language.

Yvette Herrera, lead translator for the Belize Kriol Project, the literary arm of the Belize Kriol Council, said that great strides had to be made in getting Kriol recognized as an official language before they could garner the support from the religions communities in Belize.

Herrera added that while translating the Bible, they had to release several preliminary publications including a grammar textbook for Kriol, a dictionary and a tourist handbook of Kriol phrases. Because of their efforts Kriol is now listed as one of the 7,105 documented languages of the world.

The project to translate New Testament in Belize Kriol  (Nyoo Testiment eena Bileez Kriol) began in 1992. The historic launch of both the printed and audio book versions was on Wednesday, March 6, at  St. John’s Cathedral.

The Kriol Bible was produced in collaboration with Summer Institute of Linguistics (SIL) in Dallas, Texas. Other collaborators included the Bible Society of the West Indies, Wycliffe Bible Translators, several pastors in Belize’s religious community, and the Belize Bible Society.

The audio book featured the voices of media personalities such as Pastor Lewis Wade, Rene Villanueva Sr., and Lauren Burgess. Silvaana Udz, secretary of the Belize Kriol Project, told the media that the Old Testament still needs to be translated, but the endeavour will take commitment.

The Kriol Bible is available at the Belize Bible Society for $20 or $25, depending on the style. The audio version is available on disc for $5.00, or can be downloaded for free at  “http://www.bible.is”

Research shows that the original manuscripts of the Bible, written by the apostles themselves, were written in Koine Greek; which would be an equivalent of “Greek Kriol”. Koine Greek was the language of the common man, and was treated separately from the “academically correct” Greek, spoken by the elite at that time.

The entire Bible is available in over 475 languages world wide, and new-testament translations are available in 1241, with the completion of the Belize Kriol translation.

Bible Societies around the world are currently working on more than 450 translation projects, says Eternity newspaper, a publication from Bible Society, Australia.

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