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Yup’ik Bible published

Translating the new Yup’ik Bible.

(Photo: Canadian Bible Society)

THE YUP’IK-SPEAKING people of the Southwestern Arctic now have the complete Bible in their own language, thanks to the help of the Canadian Bible Society. The volume has been sixty years in development.

Yup’ik is the aboriginal Inuit language of people who reside in western and south central Alaska. About 12,000 people live in that region, of which only about 3,000 are Yup’ik speakers. Many of the younger people don’t speak the language.

Written with the Latin alphabet, translation work on the Yup’ik New Testament was completed in the mid-1950s; work on the Old Testament began in the early 1970s. Translators – when they weren’t out on the land hunting and fishing – worked alone in their homes or gathered in Bethel, Alaska to work as a team.

The Yup’ik Bible effort was a partnership involving dozens of individuals. The Moravian Church initiated the project with financial support from the American Bible Society (ABS), translation support from the United Bible Societies (UBS), SIL and Wycliffe Bible Translators. The Canadian Bible Society (CBS) was the final link in the chain, providing computer support since the mid-1990s.

“We thank God for this important milestone,” says Dr. Myles Leitch, Director of Scripture Translations for CBS. “Our Kitchener team worked intensively from June 2012 to April 2014 on the typesetting, while the translators kept perfecting the translation.” 

“We heartily congratulate all those who contributed to this important goal,” says Leitch. “We praise God that the Yup’ik people can now read the Bible in their heart language.”

The Yup’ik language has long words and unique diacritics (marks placed over, under or through a letter to guide pronunciation). The Yup’ik Bible is written using a new orthography, a fact that will be of significant benefit to Yup’ik-speaking youth, who are taught to read and write using the same system in school.

The Yup’ik Bible was dedicated during a three-day weekend celebration, Oct. 16 -18, in Bethel, Alaska. The event featured singing, sharing and reading from the new translation.   TAP          

 –Canadian  Christian News Service

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