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Reblogs: Share the Awesome January 6, 2021

Posted by Pete B in Uncategorized.
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A useful seven year old post about reblogging with 52 comments!
Found while thinking about the etiquette of reusing other people’s material (and of other people reusing mine). In short if you want to reuse any of my posts (without even asking) these are some useful guidelines – share a sample and point people back to the original post.

The Daily Post

My last post was about pingbacks and trackbacks, and some of you had questions about how that relates to reblogs. Both features help you share the work of other bloggers on your own site, but whereas a pingback simply notifies the original blogger that you’ve linked to their site, a reblog captures an excerpt of another blogger’s post and automatically links back to their content. 

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Speak English and… November 27, 2020

Posted by Pete B in multilingualism.
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There are schools and churches across America who think languages are important, and that being multilingualism is a gift.

Here’s a great video from the Seattle Schoolboard that I borrowed the title for this blog post from.

The original article I found this on states:

The Seattle school district serves 6,948 English language learners who contribute 162 languages to the total of 154 spoken by families across the district. According to federal data, Seattle’s 98118 zip code is home to speakers of 78 languages, more than any other zip code in the United States.

In the classroom, we recognize a student’s home language as an asset to learning. Parents are encouraged to support their children to read or speak in their home language first in order to build upon the competencies they already possess.

The following video was produced in partnership with Highline Public Schools, the Kent School District and OneAmerica to honor the linguistic diversity of our students and families.

Honouring Home Languages, Seattle Schoolboard, 2016

I found the article after coming across a US Census article about the 15 most linguistically diverse cities. I then googled to find out a little more about linguistic and cultural diversity in the Churches of Seattle, but those are subjects for another blog post.

“…the truth is we live in an increasingly global society and speaking another language at home is going to be a huge asset not just to the child not just to the family but to our country”

Of course if you think that there are a lot of languages spoken in Seattle or other ethnically diverse cities across America, that’s nothing compared to the ones spoken in the church worldwide. The question is do we recognise that as an asset and a blessing or simply see it is a barrier?

Lots of churches are recognising multicultural and intercultural churches as a blessing and are even learning how to incorporate multiple languages as part of normal church life. Read more on this and other blogs or share your own thoughts using the hashtag #multilingualchurch

Scripture in 1,500 languages on YouVersion? …that’s worth tweeting about November 14, 2020

Posted by Pete B in Bible Translation, multilingualism, Statistics.
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The milestone of 1,500 languages on YouVersion was reached on 29 October 2020. When you combine this with what is available on Bible.is, global.bible other individual bible apps and sites we are fast approaching 2000 languages available digitally. But this is only the beginning of the story.

You can read more in a press release from Wycliffe UK which is helping spread the news further. And you could even retweet the news along with the nifty animated graphic below.

As I’ve said, making scripture available is great. The next step is making sure people know how and why to access it for themselves in all the languages that speak to them.

The goal of Bible translation isn’t translated Bibles, it is transformed lives. Wycliffe UK is involved in both, and have recently updated their page on finding and sharing Bibles.

churches can play a part by ensuring people in their community can access Scripture. I’d love to see every church website point people to online Bibles

Peter Brassington

You can quote me on that. Or better still simply encourage your church to add a link to online Bibles on it’s website, and consider small steps towards being a more multilingual church. Here’s five ways to use other languages a bit more in your church, and ten reasons why I think it matters.

Data and mission 2: Painting with numbers November 7, 2020

Posted by Pete B in Bible Translation, multilingualism, Statistics.
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“The world is changing. The world’s need for Christ is unchanging.”

Wycliffe Global Alliance, Infographic 2020

I have have spent significant parts of the last 24 years asking about, and now explaining what numbers around ethnolinguistic groups and their access to scripture mean or don’t mean.

image part of a larger info graphic from wycliffe.net

Complexity begins with where you actually draw some of the lines between Europe and Asia or Asia and Pacific. Further complexity comes from the fact that many languages are not just spoken in one place – all English speakers do not live in England, and lots of people speak Spanish beyond the borders of Spain. This doesn’t just apply to the so called global languages.

My own analysis of some available data on where languages are spoken identified 1218 languages that are known to be spoken in more than one country …and also suggested that there might be gaps in some of our data.

This is something apparent on many national census reports where lots of languages get grouped together in simple categories, but even when people self report they don’t always report ‘their’ language for a variety of reasons, including the fact that many people not only speak more than one language, they can speak more than two. When asked someone might simply respond with the language that has the higher perceived prestige, or be believed to be the most useful in the context. This can perhaps be compared to people from small towns being asked where they are from and saying that they live ‘near’ a bigger city.

Multilingualism is also one reason why there is a difference between the reported number of languages that don’t have Scripture and the number in which translation is reported as needing to begin.

Some of the difference between ‘remaining need’ and ‘languages without scripture’ is simply that initial work has begun in a lot of languages but hasn’t yet resulted in published Scripture.

The infographic has to resort to longer text to answer the question:
In which languages is Scripture translation not needed?

Since 1999 Wycliffe and partner organization, SIL, have talked about the goal of “a Bible translation project in progress for every people group that needs it.”
Implicit in that goal is the idea that, although every people group needs the Bible, the Bible may not need to be translated into every language. This sounds shocking to some people until you look at the numbers and see that of the 7000+ languages listed by the Ethnologue about 200 no longer have any first language users, and just under another 200 have 12 or fewer speakers the last time anyone counted them.
Even in languages used by hundreds or thousands of people, there is often a clear shift underway as the next generation functions more and more comfortably in a ‘language of wider communication.’
Today many communities are taking greater ownership and action in
determining their own needs and are working in partnership with others
to achieve their own translation goals.

I’ve passed on most of the explaining of Wycliffe’s annual statistics to others and am now involved in several initiatives including looking more deeply at data around migration and multilingualism (see the #multilingualchurch section). As before …it’s complicated.

Mission and Numbers October 31, 2020

Posted by Pete B in Statistics.
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I’m encouraged to have been able to help highlight some encouraging new numbers with respect to Bible translation. (700+ languages with the full Bible, 3415 with at least some Scripture, and new article soon about how many are available online). Each of those languages represents people who have waited too long to be able to read or hear God’s word in their own language.

Population data informs many reports, services and strategies – sometimes to support already held opinions and sometimes used to challenge them.

I’ve been aware of some of the numbers around global mission ever since 1992, when I spent a year pretending to be William Carey*.

(*I acted in play that toured the UK for the 200th anniversary of the Baptist Missionary Society)

William Carey's Enquiry published 1792

Carey started a trend when in 1792, he used 23 of the 85 pages of his famous Enquiry, to list nations, populations and brief comments on their religious state. This was used to inform and motivate the church of his day, alongside scriptural argument and speculation about strategies and possibilities.

A later post will discuss whether, and perhaps how, we should use data today. This post gives a few examples of how numbers have been used both in missions and in wider society.

At the end of the 20th century, statistics plus the simple graphical power of a map and box, called the 10/40 window, was used by the AD2000 Movement in 1996 to motivate people to mission, highlighting that the majority of the world’s unreached peoples lived in a very large but definable region convey need. Today that same focus continues as part of the Joshua Project with a range of interactive maps.

1040 Window 1996 and 2020

Bible translation, one of the important strands identified by both Carey, the AD2000 movement, and Joshua Project has also been supported by data, with counts of translation progress, of how many groups need scripture translation, and of how long it might take.

In 1959 an article in Christianity Today reported that “1,127 languages have now received the Scriptures either in whole or in part”. It also spoke of a “Call To Prayer And Special Effort To Reach 2,000 Bibleless Tribes In This Generation”. It didn’t specify a date but while that target was reached we discovered the needs were greater than perceived and that many more groups are still waiting.

The picture is further complicated today by the fact that neither people nor languages fit neatly into single locations or categories. Bible translation isn’t just for isolated communities but for those migrating to towns and cities within or beyond the borders of their original home country. Migration and multilingualism is complicated, as are the attitudes of people to newcomers in their communities.

Data and rhetoric has often been used to support and attack the idea of multicultural societies. For example an infamous “Rivers of Blood” speech by Enoch Powell in 1968 got some of the numbers right but used them to stir up hatred. More recently in the Brexit campaigns around whether the UK should leave or remain in the European Union, the ‘pop-up political party’, UKIP used both numbers and images of crowds of migrants in what supporters would see as presenting facts and detractors would see as playing on fears.

A language census in 1987 identified 172 languages spoken by children in Inner London leading some to ‘stunned disbelief’ (Pattanayak 1991). By the end of the last century over 300 languages had been identified in the capital but there may well be more.

More neutral innovative displays of data included the interactive language map on the Guardian Data Blog (2013) which showed the percentage of “non-English as main language”. The interactive version of the map is now longer working but data enthusiasts can still download the spreadsheet that lay behind it.  A later feature showed second languages mapped by tube stop.

Current use of language data by the church at large seems more limited but the Church of England did made use of census data as part of a program called Presence and Engagement, to identify parishes where there are higher than average populations following other religions. Other indicators are used by the church urban fund to identify parishes with particular socio-economic needs.

Another new set of largely untapped data is that relating to digital Scripture access. For the first time in 2018 United Bible Societies reported data around online distribution of Scripture revealing that 20% of Bibles distributed globally were “downloaded from the internet”.

While language does get press, it is often secondary to other issues of migration and it is the challenges of language and culture rather than any blessings, that gets most attention.

This isn’t the place for a full discussion of how else data could be used or misused, but here’s a couple of simple question:

  • How many languages are spoken by people living in your community?
  • How many languages are spoken by the people in or connected to your church?

What do you want to do next?

Moving towards a more multilingual UK Church: not just an abstract idea October 11, 2020

Posted by Pete B in multilingualism.
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Language is important. But not many people in the UK Church talk, preach, or blog about it.

It’s over a year since I finished my MA dissertation. It’s under 20,000 words but still a bit long for a single blogpost so here’s the quick overview.

The purpose of this dissertation is to explore historical and current attitudes of UK society and the church towards languages other than English, with a view to further dialogue and the adoption by church and mission leaders of a more multilingual missional mindset. This involves looking at presuppositions, practices and possibilities. The dissertation is only the beginning of the journey. 

After years of promoting the need to support Bible Translation (in other parts of the world), the author has a deeper understanding of many of the complexities of language and socio-linguistics, and of rapid social changes and fresh possibilities brought through digital technology.

In Britain there are well over 300 languages spoken. Multilingualism means that ‘most’ people in our churches can use English in church even if it is not the language they use most at home. This UK based, kingdom focused research begins by looking broadly at language and multilingualism (Ch1), data on languages (Ch2), then discussing methodology (Ch3), before tracing history and attitudes to language and multilingualism in wider society and mainstream UK church (Ch4) and new research into attitudes and practices (Ch5) before summarising some ways forward (Ch 6).

I’ll post and possibly rewrite a few sections from my research, and point to materials from others as part of my ongoing exploration of #multilingualchurch.

In popular speech when we say “that’s a bit abstract”, we tend to mean it’s a bit disconnected either from from what else is going on, or from ‘real life’ in general. In academic writing, an abstract is a summary of an article, book or speech and can be very connected to important issues of life.

I’ve just read over 100 abstracts from a conference (that I didn’t attend) on The Past and Future of Evangelical Mission . You can still download the abstract booklet but be warned, there’s a lot to read even in just the summaries. Several papers touched on aspects of our changing world and changing church. They would have been great to have interacted in as part of my MA, but as I said amongst the few words above, “The dissertation is only the beginning of the journey. “

Abstract October 7, 2020

Posted by Pete B in Uncategorized.
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No explanation for why I’m posting this (yet)

Definitions of the words and a video of someone pronouncing it in one of the many British accents is at: https://www.collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/english/abstract

If it’s Sept 30, it’s #BibleTranslationDay (and even if it’s not…) September 30, 2020

Posted by Pete B in Bible Translation.
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Update Oct 1: Sept 30 was national Bible Translation Day in the USA, and International Translation Day, (also the 1600th anniversary of the death of St Jerome)! Here’s are a few things that were posted. But guess what? Bible translation is still happening around the world today!

From Twitter:

From Facebook:

From the web (updated today):

Click for more wycliffe.net/resources/statistics

#BibleTranslationDay might not make as many headlines as presidential debates, or trend on social media higher than David Attenborough, and this blog post is more likely to be seen by dozens than thousands, but every day is a day to recognise and celebrate that we can read the Bible in our own languages, and that we can access it freely and share it with others.

If it’s not in your language yet, or if you live somewhere where it is hard to access, and dangerous to share the Bible with others, then today like every day is a day to remember that around the world others are praying with you and for you.
Here’s one of many verses shared by YouVersion on Instagram

YouVersion now has 2163 versions available in 1477 languages. That’s 123 more languages than were available on the platform last year.

Faith Comes By Hearing has recently relaunched it’s website and the Bible.is app, offering content in about 1500 languages, including over 1300 audio bibles as well as others available as text or video.

American Bible Society has helped create over 1200 scripture sites all linked from global.bible

Some languages and versions on are available all of these sites, some on just one (so far), but between them these three platforms make scripture available online and via apps in 1900 languages. My prayer and passion is to see them equipped to share scripture in 2020 languages by the end of 2020 and a whole lot more in the years to come.

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