If you’ve been keeping up with recent announcements in the YouVersion community, you may have noticed some significant developments in our Chinese language efforts: more Bibles in Chinese, translating the Bible App’s interface into both Simplified and Traditional Chinese, and communication and technical support in both languages. Here’s why we’re especially excited about all of these things:
- Number of People. YouVersion’s simple mission is to make it easy for as many people as possible to freely engage with the Bible, no matter where they live. And Chinese speakers represent one of the largest people groups in the world. According to The World Factbook, the population of mainland China alone is now more than 1.3 billion people. Wikipedia estimates that some 40 million additional “Overseas Chinese” live outside the country. Although large concentrations of Chinese are present in Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, the United States, and Singapore, the truth is, a lot of Chinese people live almost everywhere in the world.
- The Written Word. Several decades ago, in an effort to raise literacy, the Chinese government “simplified” the way that many Chinese characters are formed. Their hope was that if characters were less complicated to write than the “traditional” forms, more people would learn to read and write them. Today, both of these written forms are now practiced by Chinese, depending largely on how they were taught as children, and also on their personal preferences. Because these two written forms are now the most popular among Chinese the world over, YouVersion’s amazing volunteers have worked tirelessly to translate YouVersion’s interfaces and services into both Simplified Chinese and Traditional Chinese. This even includes technical support! (Check it out in Simplified or Traditional.)
- Spoken Languages. The most commonly spoken Chinese dialects are Standard or Simplified (Mandarin) and Yue (Cantonese). Now, just to be clear, these are spoken languages, independent of the various forms of the written characters. Native speakers often use both of these most common dialects, although they may also use other variations, typically representative of their family’s traditional origins in their ancestral homeland. As we enter into new partnerships for audio Bibles, we intend to offer as many spoken options as we can. In fact, we’re honored to already offer the Chinese Standard Bible (CSB), as read in the Mandarin dialect.
We’re thrilled to be able to expand what we offer to Chinese readers and speakers, especially considering the enormous potential to reach out to millions of people with the life-changing story of God’s love.