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Scripture & Language Statistics 2019

by Wycliffe Global Alliance

7353 total languages in the world

Total world population: 7.7 billion people

Languages with Scripture

3384 languages with some Scripture – 6.9 billion people

  • 698 languages with a complete Bible – 5.6 billion people

  • 1548 languages with a complete New Testament (some also have Old Testament portions) – 786 million people

  • 1138 languages with some translated Bible portions – 470 million people

Languages with no Scripture

3969 languages with no Scripture – 252 million people.

  • 707 languages have work in progress

  • 1147 languages are not vital enough to plan translation work

  • 2115 languages need translation (or preparatory work) to begin

Bible translation need

1.5 billion people, speaking 6665 languages, do not have a full Bible in their first language.

171 million people, speaking 2115 languages, still need translation work to begin.

  • Africa - 643 languages, 25 million people

  • Americas - 123 languages, 3 million people

  • Asia - 870 languages, 139 million people

  • Europe - 64 languages, 4 million people

  • Pacific – 415 languages, 0.5 million people

Bible translation in progress

2617 languages in 161 countries with active translation or preparatory work begun – 5.4 billion people

Wycliffe Global Alliance Involvement Snapshot 2019

Alliance Organizations are working in at least 1995 languages.

Alliance Organizations are involved in work in at least 129 countries.

Alliance Organizations have been involved in the translation of New Testaments or Bibles in at least 1419 languages.

Alliance Organizations have been involved in the translation of at least one published Bible book in an additional 766 languages.

Working in community partnerships, Alliance personnel not only assist in Scripture-related goals but also help produce resources for literacy, education, health and other community-based objectives alongside Scripture.

Statistics are rarely as simple as the numbers imply

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. See Bible Translation Statistics FAQ: Going Deeper for background explanation of what these statistics “mean.”

A new way of measuring Bible Translation Progress

Statistics provide one lens through which to measure progress in worldwide Bible translation. Progress involves not just publishing translations but changed lives as people encounter God through his Word and as the worldwide Bible translation movement moves toward greater unity in Christ.

Alliance leaders have begun to explore other important measurements of progress such as:

  • How are language communities experiencing life-changing impact from Scripture?

  • Are churches increasingly taking ownership over the work of Bible translation?

  • Are churches, communities, and organizations partnering more effectively to carry out the work of translation together?

These are just a few examples of measurements being talked about. To read more, see: A missiology of progress: Assessing advancement in the Bible translation movement by Dr. Kirk Franklin.

Wycliffe Global Alliance presentations of Scripture and Language Statistics are compiled from data provided through progress.Bible by Wycliffe Organisations, SIL International, United Bible Societies and many other partners. Data is current as of 1 October 2019. Population data is based on available information about first language speakers in SIL’s Ethnologue.

Further stories about people and projects are available at and from your nearest Wycliffe organisation.


Reproduced with permission from Wycliffe Global Alliance

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