Wycliffe Canada joins other Wycliffe Global Alliance organizations in embracing the vision that by the year 2025, a Bible translation project will be in progress in every language that needs it.”
Despite continued progress, the “waiting list” grew slightly in 2018, to 2,163 languages needing Bible translation to begin. That’s mostly because more than 200 of the world’s 400-plus sign languages, previously uncounted, were added. Today we have the most accurate language count we’ve ever had—giving a far better picture of the global need than we’ve ever had.
Today, 1.5 billion people still lack access to the full Bible in their first language.
The Wycliffe Global Alliance updates its statistics every autumn. In October 2018, these were the numbers:
7,361: Living languages in the world today
683: Languages with a complete Bible
1,534: Languages with at least a full New Testament
3,350: Languages with some Scripture
2,163: Languages needing Bible translation to begin
We realize these numbers don’t add up. The Wycliffe Global Alliance explains why:
“Translation need is not as simple as determining which languages do or do not have Scripture. Most of the languages with only “some Scripture” are in need of more, and even full Bibles undergo revisions from time to time. In talking about remaining translation need, most Alliance organizations talk about languages where work has not even begun. Starting in 2018, however, we have also included languages in which some preparatory work had begun, but work stopped with nothing published.
“Based on what is currently known, assessment of language vitality provides an indicator of whether translation would be needed or indeed used. This allows for an estimate of how many languages remain in need of work to begin. Interaction with communities and other agencies helps us reclassify languages from potential need to expressed need, with real targets for initial work, or in some circumstances to determine that there is no immediate felt need.”