There are 6,913 languages in the world. But only 2,300 have as much as one book of the Bible translated and available. With a mere 25 new translation projects starting every year (as of 1992), Wycliffe International, the famous Bible translation organization, knew a different approach was needed.
In 1999 Wycliffe came up with Vision 2025—to start a Bible translation "in every language that needs one" by 2025. At the time, they pegged the figure at 3,000 translations. Instead of beginning a new translation every two weeks, they needed to begin two each week.
With the project one-fifth of the way along, senior associate news editor Stan Guthrie sat down with Freddy Boswell, international translation coordinator for Wycliffe International, to talk about the progress and challenges of Vision 2025.
Your previous high mark of Bible translations was 25, in 1992. In terms of numbers, how are things going with Vision 2025?
We calculated that from 1999 to 2003, there was an average of more than 64 new translation starts a year worldwide, and in 2004 Wycliffe personnel were involved in starting 82 out of the 93 new projects—the highest in Christian history.
How has that remarkable acceleration been possible?
For one thing, we've implemented some creative strategies in the computer area. We have a new program, developed by one of our entrepreneur linguists in Papua New Guinea, called Adapt It. This program helps translate from one language to another closely related language. Instead of having a translator go through all of the exegesis, background, and training in order to get a good first draft, the software helps to generate a first draft. If the grammar is very similar, a translator can be trained ...