Da Jesus Book is the Hawaiian Pidgin English Bible Translation

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So I’m personally not that familiar with the Bible. It’s not that I find the whole idea of a God disturbing, or a subject that I’d rather avoid, it’s just if I was going to read a book I’d really prefer it to be something a little more entertaining. And this is where this translation enters the fray. The Hawaiian pidgin English bible translation is something that I wasn’t really expecting to see. Even the title, Da Jesus Book, lends itself to coolness that the regular translation fails to meet. To be honest, Da Jesus book has to be the best version of this book currently in circulation. So why was it written?

In the 19th century when sugar plantation workers from Asia, Europe and South America began to arrive in Hawaii, they lacked a common language, as you could imagine. Hawaiian pidgin was used as a way for English speaking plantation owners to communicate with the workers that arrived from around the world. Each language brought its own words into the unique local dialect, and by the early 20th century it was beginning to become a widely spoken language. By the 1920’s, it was in such high use that even text books were being written in it. Which leads us to Da Jesus Book, the Hawaiian English translation of the Bible.

In 1987, retired Cornell University linguistics professor Joseph Grimes decided to translate the Bible into pidgin Hawaiian. Apparently it was something that was unavoidably missing for those who only spoke the language. Using a group of 27 native pidgin speakers, who dedicated a few hours every week, they completed the 752 page long Hawaiian pidgin Bible in about 12 years. It was finally published in 2000 by Wycliffe Bible Translators, and features some real fantastic translations.

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