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Translation

Translating the Bible into comprehensible languages to meet the needs of people is one of the main activities of Bible Society. For a very long time all attempts in view of having Scriptures in the native language of Mauritians – Creole – have been unsuccessful, being given that it is mainly an oral language and that French language is close to the hearts of the Mauritian people. However, after year 2000 a need to have Scriptures available in Creole was felt by many Churches. The Bible Society was approached and a New Testament Translation project was launched two years later.

The project is interdenominational and different Church representatives are working on it. The team consists of a Translation Coordinator – from the Presbyterian Church – who is also one of the part time translators, a translator from the Anglican Church, two freelance translators, both from the Catholic Church and three part time reviewers – one from the Catholic Church, one from the Presbyterian Church, and one from Pentecostal Church. The team receives regular training from the United Bible Societies consultants.

Up to now 25 books out of the 27 have already been drafted. The Gospels of Mark, Luke and John are at the 4th draft, which is in fact the final stage. It is expected that by September 2008, most books will reach the stage of 3rd draft.

From mid January to end April 2009, the editing committee will work on the last draft of the New Testament, which publication is planned for December 2009.

Background

In 1986, the then Anglican Bishop and the Catholic Bishop, namely Reverend Rex Donat and Cardinal Jean Margéot respectively, and pastor Brian Crosby of the Presbyterian Church, in presence of Bible Society’s representatives, namely Mr. Jean-Alain Moussié who was the Executive Director at that time and Dr. Kanyoro – the United Bible Societies Consultant, signed an agreement to have the New Testament translated into Creole.

In December 1986, during a translation training workshop conducted by Dr. Jean-Claude Margot, the principal translator
of the Bible in French Today’s Version and Dr. Vinesh Hookoomsing of the University of Maur-itius, two views were expressed among participants as regards the orthography: one group was for a French-based orthography while the other one for a standardized orthography. Finally, the standardized orthography was adopted with great difficulty.

In 1987, the publication of a portion on the Passion of Christ
for lent period created an outcry. The Catholic clergy was divided on the question of orthography. End 1987, a debate was organized to decide on the orthography to be adopted. Participants were from the Catholic Diocese, Ledikasion pou Travayer, an organization who works in favor of workers, and a pastor of the Presbyterian Church. Unfortunately, no agreement was reached.

A meeting was called some time later between all partners to come to an agreement. The Presbyterian Church made it clear that it will withdraw from the project in case the standard orthography is not adopted. End 1990, during a visit of the United Bible Societies translation Consultant – Dr. Krijn van der Jagt, a meeting was called between the Bible Society’s Board members and Church leaders. Dr. van der Jagt invited them to reflect on whether they wanted to have a text in Creole or an adaptation of the French language.

In 1991, as no consensus was still reached, the translation project was suspended However, Mgr. Maurice Piat, the Catholic Bishop approached the Bible Society, to train its translators in view of a project of publication of the lectionary.

Inevitably, the question on the orthography was brought up once again. This project made its way hesitantly due to different sensitivities and did not last long. Meanwhile, in search of a solution, Dr. Krijn van der Jagt, started a research with the help of a professor of the University of Mauritius, a theologian, a drama player and a singer of Creole songs.

Translation of Scriptures into Creole became a reality only when the Catholic Church, with the help of a linguist, adopted an orthography in year 2000, which has been accepted by most Churches today. Following this major step, the Bible Society has been able to launch an interdenominational translation project of the New Testament in year 2002 and Mark’s Gospel was published during the same year. Two years later, in view of introducing Creole as a teaching language at the primary level, the Ministry of Education set up a Committee to work on an orthography and all those interested to bring a contribution to this enterprise was invited to do so.

The Bible Society presented its work to the Committee. In September 2004, the Committee’s report proposed an orthography – Grafi larmoni – very close to the one used by the Bible Society. Consequently, the Bible Society decided to adopt the orthography proposed by the Government. A month later, to mark the Bicentenary of Bible work in the world, the Bible Society launched the Parabol ek Mirak Zezi – the first publication in this orthography, on the occasion of the Creole Festival in October 2004.

The Bible Society intends to publish Levanzil Zan – the Gospel of John – in Creole during early 2006, in print as well as non-print format. The other gospels have already been translated and are at the stage of reviewing. Other books of the New Testament are being translated presently.

The Translation Consultant of the United Bible Societies and a scholar in St. Paul letters will be in Mauritius to train translators and reviewers at the end of the year.

The Bible Society’s objective is to have the Creole New Testament published by year 2008.

TRANSLATION PROJECT

The project is interdenominational and different Church representatives are working on it. The team consists of a Translation Coordinator – from the Presbyterian Church – who is also one of the part time translators, a translator from the Anglican Church, two freelance translators, both from the Catholic Church and three part time reviewers – one from the Catholic Church, one from the Presbyterian Church, and one from Pentecostal Church. The team receives regular training from the United Bible Societies consultants.

Up to now 25 books out of the 27 have already been drafted. The Gospels of Mark, Luke and John are at the 4th draft, which is in fact the final stage. It is expected that by September 2008, most books will reach the stage of 3rd draft.

From mid January to end April 2009, the editing committee will work on the last draft of the New Testament, which publication is planned for December 2009.