Quotes on the Gullah Nyew Testament

“Translating the Bible into Gullah is a way of ensuring that, as change comes, an old and newly-treasured part of the culture survives.” -- Al Dale, ABC News [1]

“The fascinating thing is that we could understand each other. It was then and only then that I understood why Gullah had to be written down.” -- Rev. Ervin Greene, member of the Sea Island Translation Team, after visiting Jamaica in 1985 [2]

“We stepped off the plane and everyone was black and everyone talked just like us. We were like, ‘Whoa! This really is a language.’” -- Ardell Greene, referring to her trip to Jamaica [3]

“Folks here thought they were isolated and this was just their stupid way of speaking, but in fact there are millions of people speaking Creole languages.” -- Ervin Greene [4]

“When we were young, it was drilled into us that if we expected to get ahead, we must get rid of the Gullah. But if you take away the language of a society, you destroy the individual. This translation should bring new respect to the language.” -- Ervin Greene [5]

“There are structural differences between Gullah and English that justify Gullah’s being recognized as a separate language. It’s been called broken English. But that is the standard perception of creole languages that doesn’t reflect the understanding of those languages and what they are.” -- David Frank, linguist and member of the Sea Island Translation Team [6]

“My grandmother only had a third-grade education, but she could read and held her head high. She was a proud American, but Gullah was her native tongue.” -- Mary Ravenell, teacher [7]

“It’s validation for a community that for many years was mostly illiterate and much of their history lost. A Bible in your language is gold.” -- Emory Campbell, Director Emeritus of the Penn Center and member of the Sea Island Translation Team [8]

“I fish in the same places my father and my grandfather fished, I’ve taught my son to cast a net, I’ve taught my grandson to cast a net. The culture is not dead. We’re losing (our identity) now, because we are becoming homogenized. Our Gullah-Geechee identity is slowly fading away.” -- Wilson Moran [9]

“The Gullah translation offers comfort: It means the language is alive.” -- Adam Parker, reporter for the Charleston Post and Courier [10]

“Once, Geechee and Gullah were derogatory terms, and the use of the language prompted school teachers to slap the hands of children who dared to speak it in the classroom. It’s a shame when people are made to feel inferior because of their language. We want people to understand Gullah. It’s not just broken English. It has its own rules, and now its own literature.” -- David Frank [11]

“I’m so proud of my heritage now.” -- Ardell Greene, member of the Sea Island Translation Team [12]

“This makes the language universal. People have done Gullah cookbooks, they have done African-American sayings, they have done proverbs. But for the Bible to go out with the Gullah sends a message. It means we can speak the Word.” -- Ervena Faulkner, retired teacher [13]

“It can strengthen our relationship back to west Africa. Every group that has immigrated to this country has had a very strong connection back to their home country whether it’s Italy, Ireland or whether it’s England. I’m not sure our African-American youth have had that kind of connection back to Africa.” -- Deloris Pringle, Director of the Board of Trustees of the Penn Center, referring to the Gullah Nyew Testament [14]

“As a Christian, this is important to me -- to read the Scripture and get a new perspective from the Gullah. This culture’s representation is very important.” -- Annie McCoy, on the release of the Gullah Nyew Testament [15]

“Even with willing participants, the process was arduous. Every word had to be written phonetically and spelling had to be regularized because Gullah is an oral language. Like many spoken languages, it is in danger of dying out. Until recently, Gullah was seen not as a legitimate dialect, but as a broken version of English... Many languages have died under similar circumstances. Speakers are either pressed by colonizers to abandon their native speech or are shamed into giving it up voluntarily... Luckily, Gullah is still spoken by thousands of people. De Nyew Testament may spread its influence even wider. It certainly will create pride in a tongue that was disparaged for years.” -- Nina Spell, writing for the Columbia Record [16]

“Native islander Emory Campbell, a longtime leader in the Gullah preservation effort, predicts that despite its religious content, the New Testament translation will become a general reference source for many other uses, a valuable preservation tool.” -- Editorial in The Island Packet [17]

“My heart just swells within me, to know that this is a reality. The way I sounded, interpreting it to many older people has come alive. I think that this is a tribute to people who thought worthy of a culture other than their own, because for some of the people who participated in the initial phase of it, Gullah was not their culture. But they saw the need to take someone else’s culture and put it on the map. And then of course they did their homework. When I first saw the word of God in Gullah two weeks ago, it was like I had come home to the Word of God, because it sounded just the way my grandmother read it to me as a child. The Bible, the Word of God, to be shared. It was magnificent for me. And I think it will be a valuable assett.” -- Mary Ravenell, teacher, after learning about the Gullah New Testament translation at the Gullah Studies Institute [18]

“The Gullah Bible has brought authenticity to a language that was labeled for so long as ‘broken English,’ something to be embarrassed about. It has certainly increased self-confidence and pride in a culture that was almost forgotten.” -- Mary Ravenell [19]

“When you read the Bible in Gullah, it’s like you’re talking to God one-on-one.” -- Vernetta Canteen, member of the Sea Island Translation Team [20]

“That someone would translate the Bible into a language that’s so significant to my race … it’s quite a feat.” -- Charity Jackson [21]

“I was in tears, and I’m not a crybaby guy... It moves me. It sounds so innocent. And so holy.” -- Al Smith [22]

“It’s really beautiful.” -- Wyman Richardson, in his blog, referring to his reading of the Gullah Nyew Testament [23]

“In my book, their story is a top ten.” -- Bill McNamara, religion columnist for The Standard-Times, referring to the Gullah New Testament and the top ten religion news stories of 2005 [24]

“This book may be difficult for some to read because of the Gullah dialect, but once you grasp the dialect, the Bible explodes with color and simple down to earth meaning. I often have to stop and wipe tears from my eyes. I feel I am reading the Bible for the first time and just can't put it down.” -- Francois Servais [25]

[1] From a segment on Gullah and the Gullah Bible translation project on World News Tonight, June 2, 1987.

[2] Quoted in “In the Beginning was the Word: Translating Bible into Gullah, A Labor of Love and Language,” by Tom Szaroleta, in the Hilton Head Island Packet, October 31, 1993, page 1A.

[3] Quoted in “Gospel According to Gullah,” by Stephanie Simon, in the Los Angeles Times, December 29, 2005, pages 1A,20A. See http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-gullah29dec29,0,1388107.story?coll=la-home-headlines.

[4] Quoted in “In the Beginning was the Word: Translating Bible into Gullah, A Labor of Love and Language,” by Tom Szaroleta, in the Hilton Head Island Packet, October 31, 1993, pages 1A,13A.

[5] Quoted in “Yes, God Speaks Gullah,” in In Other Words, November/December 1995, page 5.

[6] Quoted in “After Quarter Century, Gullah New Testament is Finished,” by Bruce Smith, Associated Press, in The State, November 11, 2005. See http://www.thestate.com/mld/thestate/13138290.htm.

[7] Quoted in “Scripture Translation Brings Old Tongue Alive,” by Dan Huntley, in the Charlotte Observer, October 25, 2005, pages 1A,5A. See http://www.charlotte.com/mld/charlotte/news/12989562.htm.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Quoted in “A Testament to Gullah Heritage,” by Adam Parker, in the Charleston Post and Courier, November 12, 2005, pages 1A,9A See http://www.charleston.net/stories/?newsID=50890.

[10] Ibid.

[11] Ibid.

[12] Ibid.

[13] Quoted in “The Word, In Their Tongue,” by Bruce Smith, Associated Press, in the Washington Post, November 26, 2005, page 7B. See http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/11/25/AR2005112501075.html.

[14] Ibid.

[15] Quoted in “Heritage Day Draws, Teaches Families,” by Sandra Walsh, in the Beaufort Gazette, November 13, 2005, page 2A. See http://www.beaufortgazette.com/local_news/story/5329395p-4827334c.html.

[16] The Columbia Record, November 18, 2005. See http://www.thecolumbiarecord.com/default.asp?item=113366.

[17] From an editorial in the Hilton Head Island Packet, November 20, 2005. See http://www.islandpacket.com/editorial/story/5346209p-4839835c.html.

[18] Interviewed at the end of the Gullah Studies Institute at the Penn Center, July 29, 2005. See the interview at http://www.jaars.org/videos/Gullah_for_broadband.mp4.

[19] Quoted in “Local Teacher Tapped as Spokesperson for New Gullah Bible,” by Thomas Brown, in the Orangeburg Times and Democrat, page 1C. See http://www.timesanddemocrat.com/articles/2005/12/09/features/doc4399100f72369702816199.txt.

[20] Quoted in “Gospel According to Gullah,” by Stephanie Simon, in the Los Angeles Times, December 29, 2005, pages 1A,20A. See http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-gullah29dec29,0,1388107.story?coll=la-home-headlines.

[21] Ibid.

[22] Ibid.

[23] Referring to his reading of the Gullah Nyew Testament. See http://www.boarsheadtavern.com/archives/2005/12/23/10036708.html.

[24] Writing for The Standard-Times, December 31, 2005, page 6A. See http://www.southcoasttoday.com/daily/12-05/12-31-05/a06op741.htm. McNamara was referring to the report on the Gullah Nyew Testament by Nate Anderson on page 22 in the January 2006 issue of Christianity Today (see “The Word from Geecheetown” at http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2006/001/9.22.html) and also to Christianity Today’s list of the top ten religion news stories of 2005.

[25] Customer review on www.amazon.com.

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