Zimbabwe: Jehovah's Witnesses Break Record

29 November 2019

Jehovah's Witnesses have broken a record for translating Bible material into 1 000 languages, including 100 sign languages, while they have also produced articles, videos and audio content.

A member of the church's governing body, Mr Geoffrey Jackson, said it took the church a little over a hundred years to reach 508 languages in January 2013.

He said in just under seven years, they had nearly doubled their translation production from 508 languages to 1 000.

In addition to offering a wealth of downloadable material in 1 000 languages, Mr Jackson said their Internet home page could be navigated in an unprecedented 821 languages, making it the most widely translated website in the world.

"It's remarkable that in just under seven years we have nearly doubled our translation production from 508 languages to 1 000," said Mr Jackson, in a statement.

The spokesman for Jehovah's Witnesses in Zimbabwe Mr John Hunguka said the church was translating the Bible and other related publications into seven local languages which were Shona, Ndebele, Tonga, Shangani, Kalanga, Nambya and the local sign language.

"Our publications are also available in three more local languages that are not translated in Zimbabwe, but from neighbouring countries like Malawi and South Africa, which are Venda, Chichewa and of course English from the United States," he said.

"All in all, our publications are available in 10 of the 16 official languages of Zimbabwe."

Mr Hunguka said Zimbabwe was privileged to be among the countries with videos translated into sign language.

"For most deaf people, videos serve as their publications on which their study of the Bible message is based, hence we have produced a substantial number of these videos for their use covering a wide variety of subjects," he said.

According to the church, much of the translation is done by well-trained volunteers who work in some 350 remote translation offices (RTOs) around the world.

To ensure the translators are using the clearest and most current vocabulary, where possible, RTOs are located where there is a high concentration of native speakers, allowing the translators to be immersed in the language.

In such an environment, the translators are also able to field-test terms and expressions before using them in publications.

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