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A Biblical Tale of Multilingual Origins – Pentecost

A Biblical Tale of Multilingual Origins – Pentecost

Pentecost – The First Recorded Multilingual Event

The Christian Holiday of Pentecost is being celebrated on Sunday 4th June this year. It is a celebration referencing the New Testament, in where the Holy Spirit descends upon Jesus’ followers and Apostles who had gathered from many countries to celebrate at a feast. What is detailed to have happened there is the earliest recorded mention of multilingual communication.

Recounted in Acts 2:1-6 : ‘And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to speak with other languages, as the Spirit gave them utterance. And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven. Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language*.

It is claimed that the Apostles, joined by hundreds of followers of Christ from a number of different nations, began to communicate in many languages. Based on geographical estimations there would have been attendees from several Middle Eastern and Arabic speaking regions as well as African and European presence. Whilst the events in the bible are documented long before physical or visual proof could be produced to clarify these happenings, the fact that a multilingual meeting of like minded individuals is captured in such an influential and important scripture. This means that long before the dawn of modern translation and localization, there were individuals communicating in various tongues. Be it through education in these languages or via the power of the Holy Spirit, our industry’s foundations were being laid as far back as AD 32 (although the exact date is unknown).

Translation in Religion

Even the word Pentecost is derived from Greek, but allocated to a Hebrew celebration, showing that cultural boundaries were being crossed long before we could even begin to imagine. The Christian holiday (also known as Whitsunday) is celebrated globally, the with scriptures now said to be translated into over 1142 languages worldwide**. Whilst the story of the event varies from testament to testament, the basis of this amazing tale stays the same. The coming together of numerous cultures all conversing in their own tongue.

As the world and different faiths have evolved, multiculturalism is now a mainstay of modern life for most of us. Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Muslim faith and more beliefs are being adopted outside of their native origins, making the need and requirement for translation of their scriptures more and more common. It is fascinating to think, that no matter what religion or beliefs you follow, or where you are in the world, that message can now be received in your native language at the push of a button. Even religion has adapted to the technical revolution.

*source – The New Testament; Acts 2:1-6
**source – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bible_translations

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