Bible translated for Aborigines

Sydney, Australia - The Bible has been translated into an Australian Aboriginal language for the first time.

The Anglican Church has launched the first entire Bible in Kriol, the most widely-spoken indigenous language in the country.

The task has taken almost 30 years, and involved more than 100 linguists.

Most of Australia's 500,000 indigenous people follow the Christian faith, but they speak hundreds of different languages and dialects.

Originally known as Pidgin English, Kriol is thought to have developed through contact between European settlers and Aborigines in Australia's north.

Different meanings

One of the translation project's co-ordinators, Margaret Mickan, said that despite the language's similarities with English, translation has still been a difficult task.

"It sometimes sounds as if Kriol words are English words, but often they have a different meaning and so we'd have to be careful," she said.

Christians in Kriol are called Kristjanmob, while the Bible is known as the Biabulbuk.

Religion is simply referred to as lo, as in law.

One of the biggest challenges for researchers was to translate the Bible not just literally, but culturally, to give it a distinctly indigenous feel.

Linguist Peter Carroll said the phrase "to love God with all one's heart" was particularly tricky.

"The Gunwinggu people use a different part of the body to express emotions, and they have a word that is, broadly translated, 'insides'," he said.

"So that to love God with all your heart was to want God with all your insides, and it was that use of the word 'insides', not the word 'heart', that established the right connection with emotions and made the translations effective."