One website for the many languages of the Keweenaw

JW.ORG: A web address to serve one of the most diverse areas in the U.P

Roland and his wife Mavis speak the Kwa language of Ga

HOUGHTON — When Roland of Accra, Ghana saw the words on the screen, his face lit up. He relates: “We felt so happy and excited to know people can get information regardless of the language of their hearts. It is amazing how a simple thing like having a website in your native language can be so refreshing to you.”

Roland and his wife Mavis speak the Kwa language of Ga. It is their mother tongue, the language of their heart – but they rarely use it outside of their home since they emigrated to the Keweenaw Peninsula. Now they study the Bible (New World Translation) in that language every week.

In a linguistically diverse area such as we have in the Keweenaw, communication can be a challenge. We have students from approximately 60 different countries attending Michigan Tech and Finlandia University, and accompanying them are many different languages. A true challenge indeed!

To meet challenges like this, the educational website JW.org has reached over 1,000 languages in downloadable content, an unprecedented translation milestone.

“On a large level, jw.org is ahead of the curve,” states John Yunker, author of The Web Globalization Report Card. “Even Facebook, with support for more than 100 languages, has a long way to go.”

Jehovah’s Witnesses go to great lengths to translate and provide free information to the world. For many commercial websites, translation is about profit, which is why most of them are translated into only a handful of the most common languages. But profit has never been the motive behind jw.org.

“We want to help people,” explains Nicholas Ahladis, who works in Translation Services at the world headquarters of Jehovah’s Witnesses. “Our goal is to translate the Bible’s message so that it is accurate, clear, and easy for readers to benefit from.”

Through the efforts of thousands of well-trained volunteers, translation has become a global effort for Jehovah’s Witnesses, with the roots of the work reaching back to the late 1800s.

“It took us a little over a hundred years to reach 508 languages in January 2013,” says Geoffrey Jackson, a Governing Body member of Jehovah’s Witnesses. “But it is remarkable that in just under seven years we have nearly doubled our translation production – from 508 to 1,000.”

Translation at such an unprecedented scale is done by well-trained volunteers who work in some 350 remote translation offices (RTOs) around the world. RTOs are located in areas with a high concentration of native speakers to allow translators full immersion in the language.

JW.ORG is the most translated website in the world. It has become a research and educational tool used by millions worldwide, as well as students at Michigan Tech; providing practical information on subjects such as how to deal with seasonal affective disorder, handling peer pressure at school, as well as how to navigate debt and money matters.

It is truly one website for the many languages of the Keweenaw, and the world!


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