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Salinas
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June 29, 2022

Endangered indigenous languages find home on world’s most translated website

SALINAS VALLEY — The most translated website in the world — jw.org, the official website of Jehovah’s Witnesses — includes content in more than 1,050 languages, including many indigenous languages considered at risk of dying out.

On the Central Coast, tens of thousands speak indigenous languages, such as Mixtec, Zapotec, Chinantec and Nahuatl.

There is a vibrant, hospitable Mixtec-speaking community in the Salinas Valley. However, Mixteco families face the isolation that comes from speaking an indigenous language known to ever fewer people as the years go by.

Hugo and Oliva Bernal have lived in Salinas their entire lives. In recent years, they have come to know more about their neighbors in the Mixtec community.

“They traveled from Oaxaca, Mexico, to find work in agriculture in hopes of making a better life for their families,” Hugo said. Unfortunately, life has brought many challenges and hardships. 

The Bernals have been learning the Mixtec language for nearly four years. Although not yet fluent, they are grateful to have tools to speak for them, including the new Mixtec translation of the Bible and videos from jw.org.

“Translating indigenous languages is a labor of love for all those involved and for our organization,” said Robert Hendriks, the U.S. spokesman of Jehovah’s Witnesses. “The work is challenging and time-consuming. But our goal isn’t to make a profit, it’s to provide the Bible’s comforting message clearly and accurately to as many people as possible.”

“I never thought that I could learn another language. When I was first introduced to the people, I fell in love with their humility, and I wanted to try to support them,” said Oliva. “I didn’t think twice about it.”

Hugo and Oliva feel privileged to work together sharing the Bible’s message of hope with this community. “It’s definitely one of the best and happiest experiences in my life,” Oliva said.


Article submitted by Matt Dalida, Public Information Desk of Jehovah’s Witnesses.

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