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Bible translators race to preserve cultures, histories

By June 21, 2012

Australia
(WYC/MNN) — Every once in a while you hear about the rush to preserve a dying
language. It can seem like a lot of
effort for little pay-off when that language is only spoken by a few hundred
people, especially when you have so many thousands of languages that seem
similar.  

What's
at stake if a language dies? Take a moment to consider what it is beyond a
means of communication. It's a unique storehouse
not just of words, but also of cultural identity.

Yet, linguistic
analysts predict that more than half of the world's nearly 7000
languages will disappear by the end of this century. Radio New Zealand News noted that at the top
of the list are Australian indigenous languages.

A silent
extinction of the language means a disconnect from history and little heritage
left to broaden the diversity of the human story. This is the case with many of the indigenous
languages of Australia.

According to
Wycliffe Bible Translators, many indigenous tribes in Australia have no
Scripture. If their language isn't preserved and strengthened, speakers
frequently succumb to pressure by their country's government and majority
language groups to assimilate.

Providing an
indigenous people group with written Scripture for the first time is like
providing them with the tools for survival.

Two years ago,
the team embarked on a 2,000km walk to turn
the spotlight on 2,000 languages without the Scriptures. All told, that's 350 million speakers of these
languages who didn't have access to God's Word in written form.

Through
Wycliffe's involvement, their history can be written, documented, remembered,
and celebrated. Unique tribal identities can grow as they gain more confidence
interacting with other people groups.

Most importantly,
preserving a local language through Bible translation means its speakers will
gain access to God's Word in the language that truly speaks to their heart. If
a language dies out before it can be written and Scripture translated into it,
how will the Gospel become personal to them? How will they know that God speaks
their language?

Click here
for ways you can pray for indigenous languages and Wycliffe projects in
Australia.

 

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