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Stories

2022 Global Scripture Access

by Wycliffe Global Alliance

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7,388 total languages in the world


Number of known users: 7.36 billion[1]


Languages and people with Scripture


3,589 languages with some Scripture - 7.14 billion people (up to 97%* of people)

  • 724 languages with a complete Bible - 5.9 billion people (up to 80%* of people)

  • 1,617 languages with a complete New Testament (some also have Old Testament portions) - 797 million people (up to 11%* of people)

  • 1,248 languages with some translated Bible portions - 446 million people (up to 6%* of people)

*Using 7.36 billion people as the global population.


Scripture access status**

  • 1,680 languages need translation (or preparatory work) to begin - 128.8 million people

  • 964 languages have work in progress - 74.2 million people

  • 1,155 languages either use Scripture in another language, or are not vital enough to plan translation work - 10.3 million people

**Bible translation is currently happening in 2,846 languages in 157 countries. Those languages and people numbers are embedded in the categories “At least some Scripture” and “Initial work in progress”. This current work impacts 1.11 billion people, or about 15% of all language users.


Need Bible translation to start


128.8 million people, speaking 1,680 languages, still need translation work to begin:

  • Africa - 525 languages, 13.7 million people

  • Americas - 98 languages, 1.2 million people

  • Asia - 668 languages, 112 million people

  • Europe - 50 languages, 1.6 million people

  • Pacific - 339 languages, 0.35 million people

No Scripture yet, but work in progress


Preparatory work or initial translation is active in 964 languages with 74.2 million users.


No Scripture, no likely need


1,155 languages, with 10.3 million users (about one-tenth of 1%), are considered not to need Bible translation. In most cases, the people use another language which already has at least some Scripture. Sometimes, their first language is disappearing from use altogether. The reality is often more complex.

 

Bible translation in progress


Bible translation is currently happening in 2,846 languages in 157 countries. This work impacts 1.11 billion people, or about 15% of all language users, who have (or will soon have) new access to at least some portions of Scripture in their first language. This number does not include people who already have a full Bible but are updating their existing translations.


Languages without the full Bible


1.45 billion people, using 5,509 languages, do not have a full Bible in their first language. This includes people who have some Scripture as well as people who have none. It represents about 20% of the global population and 75 percent of the world’s languages.


For more information see Q&A: 2022 Global Scripture Access.


Wycliffe Global Alliance involvement snapshot, 2022

  • Alliance Organizations are working in at least 2,401 languages.

  • Alliance Organizations are involved in work in at least 126 countries.

Wycliffe Global Alliance historical snapshot

  • Over their history, Alliance organizations have been involved in the translation of New Testaments or Bibles in at least 1,603 languages.

  • Over their history, Alliance organizations have been involved in translating Scripture portions in an additional 815 languages.

Statistics are rarely as simple as the numbers imply


Scripture access statistics are not as simple as they seem at first glance. We strive to give an accurate snapshot, but the data is complex. For example, determining translation need is not as simple as determining which languages do or do not have Scripture. Most of the languages with only “some Scripture” need more, and even full Bibles often undergo revisions. Also, comparisons with previous annual reports are challenging and sometimes not possible, due to ongoing changes and improvements in data definitions and collecting methods.


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 global church moves toward greater unity in Christ.


The Alliance continues to explore other important indicators of progress such as:


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

  • Are churches increasingly taking leadership in the work of Bible translation?

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


Wycliffe Global Alliance presentations of global Scripture access statistics are compiled annually from data provided through ProgressBible by Alliance organisations, SIL International, United Bible Societies and many other partners. Data is current as of 1 September 2022, and is based on the most recently available information about first language users in SIL’s Ethnologue.


Further stories about people and projects are available at wycliffe.net and from your nearest Alliance organisation.


[1] According to the most recently available information in SIL’s Ethnologue, 7.36 billion people use the world’s 7,388 known languages. However, language user statistics tend to lag behind actual population statistics due to challenges in gathering and updating information. The global population is expected to reach 8 billion by November 2022. For statistical agreement, numbers and percentages used here are based on the Ethnologue number.


 

Reproduced with permission from Wycliffe Global Alliance

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