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Language Vitality Through Bible Translation


Marianne Beerle-Moor and Vitaly Voinov

This interdisciplinary collection of articles, written by scholars involved in translating the Bible into various languages around the world, demonstrates that such translation projects are promoting the vitality of local languages, both those that are endangered and those that are still fairly healthy but non-empowered. Bible translation and activities typically associated with it, such as linguistic documentation, vernacular literacy work, cultural engagement, community development, technological advancement, and self-esteem building among native speakers, help languages to develop and strengthen their position in society and should therefore be welcomed by linguists and all who care about stemming the growing tide of language death all over the world. This book is immediately relevant to the global community of documentary and conservationist linguists, as well as to anyone interested in translation studies, the sociology of religion, and the relationship between language, culture, and the Bible.
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12. The role of Bible translation in preserving the languages of Dagestan


12. The role of Bible translation in preserving the languages of Dagestan

BORIS M. ATAEV Institute of Language, Literature and Arts Dagestan Scientific Center, Russian Academy of Sciences

1. Introduction: The language situation in Dagestan1

The Republic of Dagestan, “land of mountains”, is situated in Russia’s Caucasus region, with Chechnya and Georgia to the west, Azerbaijan to the south and the Caspian Sea to the east. The capital city is Makhachkala. From an ethnolinguistic point of view, multiethnic Dagestan is unique among the regions of Russia because of its large number of languages packed into a small, distinct geographical region. With an area of only 50,300 sq. km. (19,421 sq. mi.), Dagestan is inhabited by almost 3 million people, representing more than 30 different ethnic groups with their own languages and dialects (Caucasian, Turkic and Indo-European language families). The language map in Figure 12.1 shows where many of these languages are spoken (primarily in Dagestan, but also on the Azerbaijani and Georgian sides of the border).

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