Longest Translation Project

In an almost 2,000-year span, the biggest translation project of all still isn’t complete. Surprisingly, the Bible has not been translated into every language — yet.

Protestant translators have estimated that the Bible will be translated into every language by 2025. Currently, 6,909 languages are spoken globally. The Last Language Campaign, part of the Wycliffe Bible Translator organization, is behind the endeavor and has $1 billion to complete the project.

According to Paul Edwards, the group’s leader, “We’re in the greatest period of acceleration in 20 centuries of bible translation.”

In past years, a team of Wycliffe missionaries and families would dedicate decades to learning and translating the Bible into a single language. These groups retreated to rural areas to commit to the “one team, one language, one lifetime” approach.

However, new technology has shortened the project’s expected completion time by 125 years. Today’s missionaries are using the latest tech and native translators to tackle numerous language translations in one lifetime. Edwards notes, “Wycliffe missionaries don’t evangelize, teach theology, hold Bible study or start churches. They give a written language.”

The Homestretch

There are still 2,220 living languages that the Bible has not yet been translated into. Nearly 350 million people speak these languages, with the majority living in India, Papua New Guinea, sub-Saharan Africa and China. Currently, 6,600 missionaries are working on the translations. The majority are funded by church sponsorships.

Unfortunately, the Bible translation project is also a little easier because fewer languages are in use today. Just 500 years ago, the world had double the number of living languages it does today. Just like species, languages can become extinct. If a language isn’t written down, it’s much easier for it to die or be lost entirely.

Lessons Learned

No matter what a person’s religious beliefs, or lack thereof, the Bible translation project has some fascinating insights. For starters, it highlights how important passion is in any translation project. The Wycliffe translators commit their entire lives to fully translating a document because they believe in the work.

Technology helps the process, but it does not and cannot replace human translation. It’s why options like Google Translate can be helpful, but will never take the place of a human, certified translator.

There is also much to be learned from the why of the Wycliffe project. It’s a means of sharing religious beliefs while also preserving a language. Many endangered languages only have a handful of elders who are still fluent, and capturing the language in writing is a fantastic means of preservation.

For all your translation projects, contact Verbatim Solutions and connect with passionate, culturally sensitive certified translators today.