A new climax has been reached by the most translated website in the world! We’re talking 1,000 plus translations and 100 different sign languages. Want to know the world’s most translated site? We’ve got you all the details you need to know.
What if I told you that the website with the highest number of translations is not owned by big tech companies we all today?
We’re talking over 1,000 languages! yes, but shouldn’t big brands like Instagram, Facebook, or Google have translations in their thousands?
I’m sorry to break it to you that these popular blogs are not in any way near the world’s most translated website. Let me give you all the details you need.
The Most Translated Website In The World Ever
The official website for the Jehovah’s Witnesses – jw.org is currently the most translated website in the world.
As of August 2020, the website is available in more than 1,000 languages, specifically in 1,024 languages (from Abaknon to Zulu), with more than 100 different sign languages.
It is even more surprising to know that some of the languages in which the website is available are spoken by less than 10,000 people in the world. Isn’t that surprising?
What’s more surprising is that the great deal of translation work of Jehovah’s Witnesses dates back to the 1800s and jw.org provides online access to the Bible, Bible-based publications, and current news.
It describes their beliefs and organization. The website is available to more than 2.7 billion people worldwide who access the Internet.
If you’ve asked the question; “which is the second most translated website in the world?” It is Wikipedia.
The nearest any other website that comes to offering information in different languages like Jw.org is Wikipedia, a worldwide community effort, with 312 languages.
Apple is translated in more than 130 languages. The European Union has 24 official and working languages, which are all national languages plus 2 regional languages (Welsh and Catalan), which can be used co-officially in some documents, Google’s search page is available in 149 languages.
By comparison, the Jehovah’s Witnesses home page beat all three of these websites’ localizations combined and most likely this record is impossible to be broken.
The contrast in the linguistic variety of the three websites is further underpinned by the user statistics in the opposite way.
Every day about 1.7 billion people use Google and 27 million read Wikipedia, while the number of Jehovah’s Witnesses members is only a little more than 8.5 million.
It means that the latter do their best to be reachable and flexible to more and more people globally.
Before we discuss more on the contents of the jw.org, the world’s most translated website, let’s digress a little into what translating and translation work involves.
Translation Work & Process
Translators convert information from one language into another language. While an interpreter works in spoken or sign language, translators convert written materials from one language into another language.
The goal of a translator is to have people read the translation as if it were the original written material.
To do that, the translator must be able to write in a way that completely maintains the structure and style of the original text while keeping the ideas and facts of the original material accurate.
Translators must properly transmit any cultural references, including slangs, and other expressions that do not translate literally.
Translators must read the original language fluently. They usually translate into their native language.
Nearly all translation work is done on a computer, and translators receive and submit most assignments electronically. Translations often go through several revisions before becoming final.
Responsibilities of Translators
- Convert concepts in the source language to equivalent concepts in the target language
- Compile information and technical terms into glossaries and terminology databases to be used in their oral renditions and translations
- Speak, read, and write fluently in at least two languages, one of which is usually English
- Relay the style and tone of the original language
- Render spoken messages accurately, quickly, and clearly
- Apply their cultural knowledge to render an accurate and meaningful interpretation or translation of the original message
Translation usually is done with computer-assisted translation (CAT) tools, in which a computer database of previously translated sentences or segments (called a “translation memory”) may be used to translate new text.
CAT tools allow translators to work more efficiently and consistently. Translators also edit materials translated by computers or machine translation. This process is called post-editing.
Having said that, another question is
Who are Jehovah’s Witnesses?
On their official website the answer is rightly put this way:
“We come from hundreds of ethnic and language backgrounds, yet we are united by common goals. Above all, we want to honor Jehovah, the God of the Bible, and the Creator of all things. We do our best to imitate Jesus Christ and are proud to be called Christians. Each of us regularly spends time helping people learn about the Bible and God’s Kingdom. Because we witness, or talk, about Jehovah God and his Kingdom, we are known as Jehovah’s Witnesses.“
They are a small Christian denomination with more than 8.5 million members worldwide having distinct believes from the mainstream Christians.
They are famous for their door-to-door preaching in over 240 lands. Their headquarters is situated in Warwick, New York.
Anyone can make a reservation for a tour in its offices and printing facilities in the US and other countries.
What Makes a Website Most Translated In The World?
What is understood here by the most translated website in the world is the number of languages in which the site version is available.
It means that the more languages one can choose from for the website interface, the more translated the website is.
In accordance with this definition, as noted earlier the official Jehovah’s Witnesses website jw.org as of August 2020, is now available in 1,024 languages and perhaps we can expect a few more additional new languages.
This linguistic variety is very impressive. Of course, Jehovah’s Witnesses website has not only the translations to all of the world’s most popular languages such as English, Spanish, or translation to Chinese but also many exotic ones.
If you consider that the total number of languages in the world is about 6,000, covering over 1/6 of all them seems to be a great work full of effort and dedication.
Translating religious texts into so many languages is not an easy or simple task. It requires the support of an eager community that wants to use translation as a means to convey an important message.
In many ways, the effort by Jehovah’s Witnesses and Wikipedia websites reflects the power of the community to translate information even if dealing with old texts.
These translations would be too expensive to be undertaken by translation companies, as providers of such services are in high demand today.
Glimpse Into the Translation Work of Jehovah’s Witnesses
Jehovah’s Witnesses themselves designed and built a tool called MEPS computer an acronym for Multilanguage Electronic Phototypesetting System.
MEPS is a computer system for preparing material for production on printing presses, primarily offset presses.
The heart of the system is the MEPS computer, a multi-language system, which is housed within a frame that is, approximately, a three-foot cube.
The shaping into pages of the written text is done electronically, using what is called a MEPS graphics terminal. Then the MEPS phototypesetter puts the pages in the form used to produce plates for the presses
It is noteworthy to say that people, not machines, do the writing. Also while MEPS can process many different languages, it does not translate from one language to another!
It is people who do the actual translating. Machines are unable to replace humans as truly effective translators, a person who knows the language has to do the translating, and the translated text has to be entered into MEPS.
The MEPS graphics terminal has been designed to display a great variety of languages. How has this been done?
The keys on the keyboard have been made so they can be redefined, that is, they can electronically be altered to care for any language for which the computer has been instructed, or programmed.
Sample Translation Illustration Using MEPS
Let’s illustrate this by examining what happens when a Spanish translator, working with a typewriter, translates text from English to Spanish.
The translator has the English text before him on paper. Using his knowledge of the languages, he translates the thoughts from English so that the Spanish reader can absorb the ideas that were originated by the writer in English.
But the translator cannot type the Spanish text with an English typewriter. Why not? The Spanish language has accented characters that are not found on an English typewriter.
He needs a Spanish typewriter. And that’s what the MEPS graphics terminal provides. To get the Spanish keyboard, a simple command is punched that alters the keyboard to that of the Spanish language.
Programming MEPS to take care of all these languages has been no small task, and there is still much to do!
Any professional translator will tell you that translating a website into 5 or 10 languages, and managing translation and publication is no easy task.
Translation in over 1,000 languages is a massive effort. Jehovah’s Witnesses have translated meticulously towards their goal and have succeeded in providing their audiences with the texts in the language of their choice.
As they are engaged in spreading their word in virtually every spoken language in the world, they use each new publication actively and immediately in their activities.
As of 2013, more than 2,700 translators were working as volunteers in over 190 locations to help spread the good news in more than 670 tongues.
In one of their widely distributed and popular publication, Awake!, an interview with one of the translators was published (Awake 2016 No. 3) with a beautiful caption: Breaking the Language Barrier—A Look Behind the Scenes. Here is an extract from the magazine.
Q: How do translators typically carry out their work?
“I work with a team of translators, so good cooperation is the key. Together we explore solutions to tough translation problems. As we do, we consider not just words but groups of words. We weigh their real meaning and intent, constantly reminding ourselves of the target audience for each article.”
Q: What is your goal as a translator?
“Our goal is for the reader to feel as if the material were originally written in his mother tongue. It should not read as a translation. To that end, we try to use language that is natural. In that way, we will hold the reader’s attention, and he will keep on reading as if he were eating delicious food that is easy on the palate.”
Q: What advantages are there in living where the language is spoken?
“Mingling with the local people is a rich resource. We hear the language spoken every day. Plus, we can field-test terms and expressions to find out if they are natural, understandable, and appealing. This helps us to convey the real meaning of the original text.”
Q: How is your work organized?
“A team is assigned to each project. First, each member of the team reads the original to get the feel of the material and to discern its basic structure and the target audience. We ask ourselves: ‘Where is the article headed? What is its theme and purpose? What do I expect to learn from it?’ This step gets our imagination going.
“Next, the team members share their thoughts, learning from one another. Are we sure we understand the material? How can we convey the same style as the original? Our aim is to elicit the same reaction in readers of the translation as the original writer intended for his audience to experience.”
Q: How do team members collaborate?
“Our aim is for readers to understand the text the very first time they read it. To that end, we read each translated paragraph aloud several times.
“The translator types a paragraph in the target language, which we can see on our computer screens. We check that no ideas have been omitted or added.
We also look for naturalness, proper spelling, and correct grammar. Then someone reads that paragraph out loud. If he or she stumbles when reading, we ask why.
Once the whole article has been translated, one team member reads it aloud while the others make notes, highlighting problems that might need to be fixed.”
Q: That sounds like intense work!
“It is! And by the end of the day, we are tired. So we look at the material again in the morning when we’re fresh.
Some weeks later, the Writing Department sends us final adjustments to the original text. Then we reread our work with fresh eyes and ears and refine it.”
Q: What computer tools do you use?
“Computers still cannot replace human translators. But Jehovah’s Witnesses have developed translation tools that help to streamline our work.
One tool is a type of dictionary in which we accumulate commonly used terms and phrases. Another tool enables us to research everything that has already been translated by our team and see previous creative solutions to our translation challenges.”
By translating their website and the materials available there to more and more languages they provide access to a wider audience and possibly convert more believers to their faith.
In fact, they have started with the translations of their publications.
The expansion of the number of languages supported on the website of Jehovah’s Witnesses was just the logical continuation of their active preaching worldwide since more people now go online and the number of active internet users is constantly growing.
Useful Features of the Website
On JW.org, the most translated website in the world, statistics shows that from August 27, 2012 to August 31, 2014 (just 2 years)
- jw.org is available in more than 540 languages
- Publications are available for download in over 700 languages
- 850,000,000+ total visits were made to jw.org
- Over 4 billion Web pages were viewed
- Over 1 billion publication files were downloaded
- Over 159 million videos were viewed or downloaded
- 100,000+ online Bible study requests were received
On the landing page of jw.org you can switch to a language of your choice. There are five tabs you can access too.
They are: Home, Bible teachings, Library, NewsRoom, and About Us.
Under each tab are different sections. Also when you visit this unique website, you can do the following:
- Read the Bible and Bible-based content in different languages
- View content in more than 90 sign languages.
- Listen to audio dramas depicting exciting events in the Bible.
- See Bible events come to life in the form of illustrated stories.
- Watch Bible dramas and videos that will help you to face life’s challenges.
- Download e-books, magazine articles, and audio files, every one of them free.
- Research a variety of topics using Watchtower ONLINE LIBRARY—the gateway to a wealth of information, available in over 720 languages.
There are different sections on it targeting different class of people.
They are the Couples & Parents section, the Children section, the Teenagers section, the Bible Questions Answered section, the Request a Free Bible Study section, the Frequently Asked Questions section, among others.
Another beautiful feature is the JW Broadcasting. Since its launch in 2014, the Internet television station, JW Broadcasting (tv.jw.org. recently merged with jw.org) has increasingly provided encouragement and spiritual refreshment to countless viewers around the world.
It is surprising that the world’s most translated website is not a commercial platform of some multi-billion corporation but an official web portal of a nonprofit religious organization established around the early twentieth century.
Their 2020 Regional convention that was held online on jw.org was made available in over 500 languages.
The decision was taken after it became clear that the COVID 19 pandemic would not allow them to hold physical gatherings of the convention as it was usually the case before.
The following below is a typical process adopted by Jehovah’s Witnesses in translating both hard copy materials and online materials.
As a case study, we follow the process of translating Awake! into Spanish language.
- A team of translators in Spain receives the original text in English from the headquarters of Jehovah’s Witnesses in the United States
- Each team member analyzes the text carefully
- Preparing to begin translation, the team meets to discuss the original text
- Translators make sure that the translation is natural, clear, faithful to the original text, and grammatically correct
- After final approval, the translated text is sent to various facilities for printing and distribution
- Readers around the world benefit from the Bible’s practical wisdom in their own language
Apps Relating to Jw.org
- In 2014, Jehovah’s Witnesses released JW Language, a free electronic app to help when teaching the Bible in foreign languages, such as Bengali, Chinese, English, French, German, Hindi, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Myanmar, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swahili, Tagalog, Yoruba, Thai, and Turkish. To learn more, visit jw.org and look for JW Language at the bottom page.
- Another tool is the JW Library app. It is a free app (software application) that will allow you to download the Bible and other publications, videos, and audio programs to your phone, tablet, or computer.
Visit jw.org to download the app free or go online, and install JW Library from an app store. The app is available for various devices.
While online, open the app and choose the items you wish to download to your device.
Once publications are downloaded to your device, you do not need to connect to the Internet to access them.
Because new features are regularly added to JW Library, you should go online from time to time and install app updates when they are available.
3. JW Library Sign Language is another app made by Jehovah’s Witnesses. It is an official app that downloads, organizes, and plays sign-language video from jw.org.
Summary of the Most Translated Website
There you have it, you now know everything you could ever ask for about the most translated website in the world – JW.org.
Interestingly, recently this year 2020, Jehovah’s witnesses released the completely new world translation of the Bible in American Sign Language being the first in the world! Parts of the Bible are available in 17 sign languages with more on the way.
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