What Makes a Website Most Translated in the World?
The starting point is to define what makes a website most translated globally. If to consider different parameters, the answer might actually vary. What is understood here by the most translated website 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, surprisingly, the most translated is the official Jehovah’s Witnesses website JW.org. The number of site versions is hard to imagine – as of April 2020, it is available in 1020 languages.
This linguistic variety is very impressive. Of course, Jehovah’s Witnesses website has not only translations to all of the world’s most spoken languages such as English, Spanish, or translation to Chinese but also to many exotic ones, for example, translation to Czech. If one might have heard of Flemish, Amharic, or Basque, languages such as Curripaco or Bembe (Kibembe) with about 3500 and 1300 speakers respectively, although sound rather unfamiliar, are available on Jehovah’s Witnesses website. If you consider that the total number of languages in the world is about 6000, covering over 1/6 of all them seems to be a great work full of effort and dedication. Nevertheless, in this flourishing variety, there is one interesting gap. Esperanto has over 2 million speakers worldwide and is available for over 240,000 articles on Wikipedia, but it is not present on the most translated website in the world. Most likely it is because this language is artificial and regardless of its popularity there are no native Esperanto speakers. However, considering the constant growth of the number of languages supported, one can expect that Esperanto and maybe even Klingon will appear on Jehovah’s Witnesses website soon.
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Who are Jehovah’s Witnesses?
Jehovah’s Witnesses is a Christian denomination founded in about the year 1900 whose beliefs differ from those of traditional Christianity. This religious confession is a restorationist, meaning that it aims to bring the religion to its original form. The difference in Jehovah’s Witnesses’ beliefs lies in their own interpretation of the Holy Scripture and their view on the life of Jesus Christ. For example, in traditional Christianity, one of the most important events is the resurrection of Jesus Christ. But Jehovah’s Witnesses consider the Last Supper to be one of the most sacred. Also, they do not use the cross in their worship explaining that it can be viewed as an idol, which, according to the Bible, is prohibited by one of the Ten Commandments. Another difference is that Jehovah’s Witnesses do not consider Jesus Christ to be a divine and reject the concept of the Holy Trinity. They also regard it inappropriate to pray to Saints and create any images of God and His Son. Concerning some modern beliefs, Jehovah’s Witnesses reject blood transfusion even for saving one’s life, discourage divorce for any other reason but adultery and view homosexuality as an extremely serious sin.
The reported number of members of Jehovah’s Witnesses is about 8.6 million people worldwide, which is equal to the population of Switzerland or that of Jamaica, Cyprus and the Republic of Ireland together. The religious confession has a wide network that operates in many countries globally. Its 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. The organization is managed by the group of elders called the Governing Body of Jehovah's Witnesses who reside in its headquarters and make decisions on the congregation’s doctrine. The baptized members of the religious confession are expected to strictly follow the rules and can even be disfellowshipped for serious misconduct.
So, for what reason do Jehovah’s Witnesses translate their website into so many languages? This religious confession is widely known for its house-to-house preaching and distributing their literature. The most well-known books of the organization are The Watchtower and Awake! in addition to their own version of the Bible. Like any other congregation, they seek to attract more people to their teachings and expand their church. 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 books: The Watchtower is translated in 369 languages, Awake! into 225, and their Bible called New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures into 187 languages. 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.
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The website of Jehovah’s Witnesses and the materials available there including videos and audio recordings are translated by volunteers worldwide. The network of translators seems to be immense considering the rapidly increasing number of languages supported on JW.org. In only seven years the website has doubled its site versions. Back in 2010 Google supported 125 languages, Wikipedia, in this respect, did a little better, offering content in 272 languages, but Jehovah’s Witnesses’ official page was astonished by 400 languages available. In 2013 this number for the congregation’s website increased by 108 more and in the following year almost reached 700. By 2015 the contract between Google, Wikipedia, and JW.org has become even sharper. The world’s most famous search engine has increased the languages supported to 135, the free online encyclopedia has had articles in 275 languages, while Jehovah’s Witnesses already had their site in 731 languages. Three years later the religious confession’s webpage has further expanded this number to 943. In 2019, 30 more translations of JW.org appeared.
Comparison of the current number of translations of the three websites not only shows that Jehovah’s Witnesses website is the most translated but also that it has outweighed the other two combined and doubled. As of 2020, Google offers its search engine in 149 languages. Wikipedia contains articles in approximately 287 languages. But JW.org is far ahead with 1020 languages supported and most likely this record is impossible to be beaten. 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 8.6 million. It means that the latter do their best to be reachable and flexible to more and more people globally.
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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 religious confession established around the early twentieth century. What astonishes more is the actual number of languages Jehovah’s Witnesses website supports – 1020 and who knows how many more they plan to add.