In Mexico and Central America, some 290 translators, living in six countries, translate Bible publications into over 60 languages. Why make the effort? Because when people receive Bible literature in a language that they can easily understand, it is more likely to touch their heart.
To add to the quality of the translation, some translators who worked at the branch office of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Mexico City have been transferred to offices in locations where their languages are spoken. How has that helped? The translators have more contact with native speakers of the languages into which they are translating the publications, making it easier for them to produce material that is readily understood.
How do the translators feel about the change? Federico, a Guerrero Nahuatl translator, says: “During the nearly ten years that I was in Mexico City, I found only one family who spoke my language. But now, in the towns near the translation office, almost everybody speaks it!”
Karin, who translates into Low German at the office in the Mexican state of Chihuahua, says: “Living here among the Mennonites has helped me to keep up-to-date with the language they speak. We live and work in a small town, and when I look out the window, I can see the people who will benefit from the translation work we are doing here.”
Neyfi, who now lives at the translation office in Mérida, Mexico, says: “When we conduct Bible studies in Maya, we become aware of expressions that are not easily understood by the Maya people. So we look for more natural ways to render those expressions in our translation work.”
How do those who receive the translated material benefit? Consider just one example: For about 40 years, Elena, whose mother tongue is Tlapanec, regularly attended meetings of Jehovah’s Witnesses. But since the meetings were in Spanish, she did not understand what was said. “I just knew that I wanted to be at the meetings,” she said. However, after Elena studied the Bible with the aid of brochures in Tlapanec, her love for God grew to the point that she dedicated her life to him and was baptized in 2013. Says Elena, “I thank Jehovah for allowing me to understand the Bible.”
We produce literature in more than 750 languages. Why do we put forth such effort?