The Tày people – Vietnam’s second largest ethnic group, behind the Kinh people – received the first Bible in their heart language

For the very first time, Tày people will be able to study the Word of God in their own language and strengthen their faith in Christ.

Tày Christians expressed an urgency to have a Bible written in their language, for their people. Only approximately 1% of the 1.6 million Tày people are Christians, and those Tày Christians will now be equipped to take the Word of God to their friends, family, and neighbours.

Like many other Vietnamese ethnic groups, the Tày traditionally practice a form of polytheism and believe that supernatural powers have an impact on their life. As a result, they are more open to Buddhist beliefs than to the Christian faith.

In addition to ensuring that the Tày people hear the Good News, this translation is expected to help them keep their language, culture, and identity. Younger Tày speakers often need help finding ways to practice and maintain their mother tongue.

Translators are very pleased with the clear, simple, natural translation they were able to produce – a text that Tày people can read and understand, regardless of age. This was a challenge as pure Tày language is often used by the elderly, with no common orthography (spoken slightly differently among different groups) and limited vocabulary. With much perseverance, the translation team were able to collaborate to find the right words for this translation.

Prof. Dr. Hoang Van Ma, renowned Tày linguist and reviewer of the first Tày Bible, speaks fondly of his time with this project: “It is my great privilege to be able to see the Tày Bible in written form. This translation is deeply valued and appreciated by the Tày community and it will become a heritage for them. I am thankful that I was given this opportunity to partner with the UBS to review this translation and has helped me learn more about the Good News.”

Alongside the clarity of language, the visual elements used on the cover and throughout have proved to be a welcome addition.

Kent*, a Tày man, after seeing this copy of the gospel of Mark, has exclaimed: “Any Tày, regardless of gender or age, will surely pick up this book if they see it. It speaks to us. The patterns are very familiar and beloved. So, I think with a cover like this, along with the well-presented content, many Tày people will never hesitate to read the gospel. And thanks to that, many will get to know about God and slowly immerse themselves into the faith.”

While predominantly located in Vietnam’s northern highlands near the Chinese border, the Tày people can now be found throughout all 63 provinces and cities of Vietnam.

The Tày Bible project was originally part of a larger project that sought to translate the Bible into other languages of minority people groups in North Vietnam, including the Nung, Muong, and Black Hmong Languages. Each of these translation projects are still underway and the Black Hmong project is expected to be complete in late 2024.

It took less than ten years to complete the Bible translation – comparatively quick for a project of this scope. (Source – UBS news)