Kannada Bible Translations

Total population:   1,800,000 (1991 census)
Literacy:  Moderate

History of Translations
The first Bible to be Translated in India


Beginning of Bible translation:  The Serampore missionaries appear to have completed their translation of the New Testament into Kannada by 1809, but the manuscript was destroyed in the 1812 fire at the press, and it was only in 1823 that their version of the New Testament 'into Kurnata language'  was published.  John Hands of the L.M.S. had arrived at Bellary in 1810, and within a year he had compiled a grammar and dictionary.  He began to translate Luke into Kannada and apparently published a translation of the synoptic Gospels in 1812.  In 1820, Gospels and Acts were published in Madras.  The whole New Testament which had been revised by Hands in 1825, was published by Madras Auxiliary Bible Society in 1830. 

He and his colleague William Reeve, who had arrived in India in 1816, had made substantial progress in translating the Old Testament.  Revised version of the New Testament appeared in 1850, and a further revision appeared in 1854.  In 1865 the complete Bible was issued.  C. Campbell and B. Rice of the L.M.S. did most of the work.  The work of Old Testament revision along similar lines was carried to completion by the committee, the chief revisers having been successively Henry Haigh, E.P. Rice, H. Risch of the Basel Mission, and finally W.H. Thorp of the Wesleyan Mission; an edition of the whole Bible with reference was issued in 1934.  This is the version still being used.

Present state and/or future of Bible translation in the language: A Common Language translation was published in 1996.

Language classification: Kannada (anglicized as Kanarese), a Dravidian language, spoken in Karnataka (erstwhile Mysore) state.  In writing Kannada, Kannada script (originated from old Brahmi script and closely related to Telugu script) with specific distinctions is used.  The contribution of early missionaries to the study and development of the language is freely acknowledged by the people of the state.  Hinduism is the main religion.  Christians are a minority. 


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