THE diversity and vast number of the world’s languages—some 7,000 at present—can complicate travel, trade, education, and government. This has been so since ancient times. Some 2,500 years ago, for example, under the rule of King Ahasuerus (likely Xerxes I), the Persians transmitted official decrees across the realm, “from India to Ethiopia, 127 provinces, to each province in its own script and to each people in its own language.”
Today, most organizations—even governments—would not attempt such a difficult feat. There is one organization, however, that has proved equal to the task. Jehovah’s Witnesses publish magazines, audio and video productions, and many books—including the Bible—in a combined total of more than 750 languages. This includes some 80 sign languages. The Witnesses also publish various versions of Braille for the blind.
What is more, Jehovah’s Witnesses do not profit financially from their efforts. In fact, their translators and other staff are all volunteer workers. Why do they go to such lengths to translate into so many languages, and how do they do it?