IBT has already had a significant amount of experience translating the Scriptures into languages with no writing system of their own or with a writing system that was only recently created for the language. For example, IBT published the Gospel of Luke and the book of Proverbs in the Bezhta language of Dagestan in 2000 and 2005, respectively. Another related language has now been added to this list, after almost two decades of work: the Andi language. According to the 2010 Russian census, Andi is spoken by 11,789 people, most of whom live in the Botlikh area of Dagestan. This is down from 21,808 people who claimed Andi as their mother tongue in the 2002 census.
Andi is closely related to the much larger Avar language in terms of language structure, and all Andi speakers understand Avar and can read in it. Thus, although no writing system has yet been developed for Andi per se, the Avar alphabet has been adapted for Andis to read their own language and Andi texts are published using this adapted system in the Botlikh newspaper. Since Andi has a number of sounds that don’t exist in Avar, the IBT translation team at first tried to create a new writing system for Andi by taking the Avar alphabet and adding extra letters to it. However, as field testing showed, Andi speakers found it very difficult to read these added letters or new combinations of letters in the new writing system. So the translation team eventually decided to return to the more familiar writing system used in the Botlikh newspaper, despite the fact that this system is somewhat inaccurate in conveying the exact sounds of Andi. Readers’ convenience triumphed over the scholarly desire for complete consistency and accuracy.
The translation team had to overcome this difficulty and many others in order to finally produce the full Gospel of Luke in Andi, and this has become the first-ever book published in Andi. Until now, the only Scripture text that existed in Andi was the Christmas story according to Luke (2:1-20) published in IBT’s “The Birth of Jesus Christ in 80 Languages”. It is our sincere hope that this momentous event will bring much joy to the Andi people.
The PDF version of the Andi translation can be found on the IBT site in the section of "Bible translations in electronic formats".