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2021 Scripture Access Statistics

by Wycliffe Global Alliance

7378 total languages in the world

Total world population: 7.9 billion people

Languages with Scripture

3495 languages with some Scripture – 7.04 billion people

  • 717 languages with a complete Bible – 5.75 billion people

  • 1582 languages with a complete New Testament (some also have Old Testament portions) – 830 million people

  • 1196 languages with some translated Bible portions – 457 million people

Languages with no Scripture

  • 828 languages have work in progress – 67.6 million people

  • 1892 languages need translation (or preparatory work) to begin – 145 million people

No Scripture, but not in need of translation:

  • 1119 languages are not vital enough to plan translation work – 2.8 million people

  • 44 language communities served by Scripture in another language – 4.6 million people

Bible translation need

1.51 billion people, speaking 6661 languages, do not have a full Bible in their first language.

145 million people, speaking 1892 languages, still need translation work to begin:

  • Africa – 558 languages, 16 million people

  • Americas – 119 languages, 2.4 million people

  • Asia – 751 languages, 124 million people

  • Europe – 59 languages, 2.3 million people

  • Pacific – 405 languages, 0.43 million people

Bible translation in progress

2217 languages in 147 countries with active translation or preparatory work begun – 1.1 billion people.

For more information about why this number has changed significantly from last year, see 2021 Scripture Access Statistics Q&A.

Wycliffe Global Alliance Involvement Snapshot 2021

  • Alliance Organizations are working in at least 2162 languages.

  • Alliance Organizations are involved in work in at least 133 countries.

  • Alliance Organizations have been involved in the translation of New Testaments or Bibles in at least 1628 languages.

  • Alliance Organizations have been involved in the translation of at least one published Bible book in an additional 817 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

Scripture access statistics are not as simple as they seem at first glance. We strive to give an accurate snapshot of the main numbers, but the data is actually a bit more complex than that. For example, 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. 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 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 Access Statistics are compiled from data provided through progress.Bible by Alliance Organisations, SIL International, United Bible Societies and many other partners. Data is current as of 1 September 2021. 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 Alliance organisation.

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Reproduced with permission from Wycliffe Global Alliance

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