2009 Scripture Access Statistics

Did you know that approximately 6,900 languages are spoken by the 6.9 billion people on earth? 1

Of these language communities, 2,479 have some or all of the Bible in their mother tongue according to Scripture registered with the United Bible Societies as of Dec 31st 2008 (451 have an adequate Bible; 1,185 have an adequate New Testament; 843 have just portions of Scripture).

Of the remaining languages with no known scripture or a translation program in progress, current estimates suggest around 353 million people speaking 2,252 languages may have a need for Bible translation. 2

Wycliffe is one of the key mission agencies involved with Scripture translation into mother tongues. Since it was incorporated in 1942, Wycliffe personnel have been involved in the translation of 735 New Testaments and 24 complete Bibles, potentially impacting around 107 million people.

Wycliffe, working in partnership with language communities and local organisations, is involved in active programs for 1,363 languages/936 million people as of September 30th 2009. These comprise 68% of the known translation programs currently in progress across the world, which stand at 1,990 active programs.

Over the last year, Wycliffe staff have contributed to the completion of 2 Bibles, 25 New Testaments, and 26 New Testament revisions, affecting some 10 million people. Alongside translated Scripture, Wycliffe has also been involved in 6 JESUS film productions, 4 Luke Videos, and 4 Genesis videos. In 2009 Faith Comes by Hearing started production of audio New Testaments in 56 languages that involved Wycliffe personnel.

Since Wycliffe began, its staff have also worked with others in the production of 118 Jesus films, 204 Luke Videos, 44 Genesis videos, 193 Faith Comes By Hearing audio scriptures, and helped produce over 11,300 literacy/education materials; 470 development related materials; and over 1,200 health related materials all in mother tongues.

As of November 2009 the 47 Wycliffe organisations have 5,906 staff reliant on the financial and prayer support of Churches and individual Christians across the world. Some of these include local individuals on the translation team. Several hundred other people work as full or part time volunteers.  34.2% of positions are directly in language related roles including translation and literacy, whilst the remaining 65.8% are in support roles, e.g. project managers, computer specialists, administrators. Like many other mission agencies, Wycliffe has a large number of vacant positions (2,328 as of November 2009).

In 1999 Wycliffe and SIL (Wycliffe’s international partner focusing on language development) were averaging 25 new language program starts per year. As people prayed we began changing the ways we work, e.g., clustering languages, even greater training and equipping of others. By 2009 this average has risen to 75 a year over the 10 year period).  The number of language communities needing translation is decreasing but the challenges increase as those that remain include a greater proportion of the more difficult to access and the smaller communities.

1. UN population estimate for 2010 Revision of World Population Prospects, 2008, estimate of 6,848 living languages SIL Language Data Systems September 2009.

2. Wycliffe International Sept 2009.

Vision 2025

By 2025, together with partners worldwide, we aim to see a Bible translation programme begun in all the remaining languages that need one.

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