The Gullah Bible–De Nyew Testament

De Nyew Testament:  The New Testament in Gullah Sea Island Creole with Marginal Text of the King James Version.  New York:  American Bible Society, 2005.

John 3:16-17

16 Cause God lob all de people een da wol sommuch dat e gii we e onliest Son.  God sen we um so dat ebrybody wa bleebe pon um ain gwine dead.  17 God ain sen e Son eenta de wol fa condemn um.  God sen e Son fa come sabe de people shru e Son.

Go ahead, take a moment to read through that once or twice more to see if you can make a plain English connection.  Now this…

16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.  17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.

After 26 years of translating, editing, checking, typesetting, and printing, the Gullah Bible was released in 2005.  What is Gullah?…As taken from the edition’s preface:

Gullah, also known as Geechee or Sea Island Creole, is a language traditionally spoken along the coastal area of South Carolina and Georgia.  While in the past Gullah was mistakenly characterized as poor English, today it is recognized as a distinct language.  It is an English creole, born several hundred years ago out of a contact language situation where Africans were taken from various nations and language groups to grow rice in the marshy lowcountry area along the Southeastern coast of the American colony.

A copy of this bible on display in the slavery exhibition at Fort Moultrie, Sullivan’s Island, South Carolina brought this to my attention.  I had been introduced to such language through the colorful narrations of Mark Twain (most notably in Pudd’nhead Wilson and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn), but little did I realize that it was more than just an obscure regional dialect, but a codified lexicon with a formal name and all.  Just another fascinating tidbit of American history!

More information can be found at http://www.gullahbible.com/.

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