Pitjantjatjara, often pronounced Pitjantjara, is one of the Western Desert family of languages found in Central and Western Australia. It is closely related to Yankunytjatjara. It was originally spoken in the North West Corner of South Australia spilling over into Western Australia and the Northern Territory although, of course, then, there were no state borders. Today it is still widely spoken in that area particularly in what is now called the Aṉangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands in South Australia. Uluṟu and Kata Tjuṯa are important sites of the Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara people. The 2010 census puts the number of speakers at 2,363 but it also admits that figure is too low. The figure is more likely to be between 3,000 and 4,000.
Translation of the Pitjantjatjara New Testament began in the early 1940s not long after the commencement of the Presbyterian Mission at Ernabella. The Gospel of Mark was completed at the end of 1945 and was finally published by the British amp Foreign Bible Society in 1949. Work continued over the next 20 years resulting in the publication of a shorter New Testament in 1969 containing Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Acts, Ephesians, James and 1 John published by the same society, now renamed Bible Society in Australia. There was a period, then, of about 10 years in which no more translation was completed.
In 1978, at the initiation of a local interest group in Ernabella, translation recommenced with portions of the Old Testament with the support of Bible Society Australia, Wycliffe Bible Translators, the Uniting Church in Australia and the Lutheran Church of Australia. This Pitjantjatjara Bible Translation Project became an incorporated association in 1981 and for the next 20 years, many Pitjantjatjara translators worked together with their translation advisors to complete a new translation of the New Testament and about 15% of the Old Testament. This volume was first published by the Bible Society in 2002. Reprints were done in 2007 (including some revisions), 2009, and 2014.
In 2011 a new project to translate the rest of the Old Testament was initiated by a new generation of Pitjantjatjara translators – sons amp daughters of the translators of the New Testament. There are currently over 20 translators working on various books of the Old Testament. The first book to be published in this new era was Daniel in 2015.
In 2017 members of the Pitjantjatjara Bible Translation Project partnered with Bible Society Australia and Faith Comes by Hearing to begin a dramatized multi-voice recording of the Pitjantjatjara New Testament. 50% was completed in 2017 and a number of revisions were made during this process and this edition reflects those changes.
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