One of my all-time favorite book purchases came here in Honolulu, several years ago. It was Da Jesus Book, a translation (entirely serious, I hasten to add, not a joke) of the New Testament into Hawaiian pidgin, a form of English spoken by more than a few people beyond the Islands’ sophisticated urban areas.
Now, to my enormous delight — I don’t know how long it’s been around — I’ve found Da Befo Jesus Book, which is a translation of nearly 40% of the Hebrew Bible or Old Testament into Hawaiian pidgin.
To give you a taste of how it reads, I offer two passages, chosen essentially at random, from the second chapter of Da Start (aka “Genesis”):
God Make Da Firs Guy [Da Start 2:4-7]
Dat time, wen God, da one dey call Yahweh, wen make da world an da sky, 5 All ova da world, neva even have bushes inside da fields. Neva have grass dat come up inside da fields, cuz da God Yahweh neva make da rain come down on top da groun yet, an cuz neva have nobody fo work da groun. 6 Had fog come up outa da groun, an da dew from dat was da ony watta dat da land get, dat time.
7 Den da God Yahweh take dirt from da groun an make one guy. God blow on top his face fo make da guy come alive. Az how da guy get life inside him.
God Make Da Firs Wahine [Da Start 2:21-25]
21 Den da God Yahweh make da guy lay down an go pass out sleep. Wen da guy sleeping, God take one rib outa him, an den close up da place wit skin. 22 Den da God Yahweh make one wahine outa da rib. He make her go by da guy.
23 Da guy say,
“Now, dis one, jus right fo me!
She da wahine fo me.
Her bones, come from my bones,
Her skin, come from my skin.
Dis one, I goin give her da name ‘Wahine,’
Cuz God wen take her outa me, one guy.”
24 (Dass how come da guys go way from dea fadda-mudda guys, an come tight wit dea wife, an da guy an da wahine, dey come jalike dey one.)
25 Now even so, da guy an da wahine was naked, but dey neva have shame from dat.
This is absolutely marvelous stuff. Seriously. The language is sheer joy. And it’s actually a wonderfully fresh way to read familiar biblical passages. I love it.