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an unrestricted literal version of the Bible intended for translation into any language as a tool for use by Bible translators
The ULT (English) is an open-licensed adaptation of The American Standard Version, intended to provide a ‘form-centric’ rendering of the biblical text from the original languages (Biblical Hebrew, Biblical Aramaic, and Koiné Greek) into English. This increases a translator’s understanding of the lexical and grammatical composition of the biblical text by adhering closely to the grammatical (i.e. parts of speech) and syntactic (i.e. word order) stuctures of the original languages.
To read or print the ULT, see the ULT project on Door43.
If you are a contributor to this project please add your name to the
field in the manifest.yaml
The ULT (unfoldingWord® Literal Text) is a form-centric (and thus “literal”) version of the Bible in English. It is intended to be used alongside the UST (unfoldingWord® Simplified Text) and other translation resources to give English-speaking mother-tongue translators (MTTs) a more complete understanding of the messages communicated in the Bible. For MTTs who do not have reading knowledge of the original biblical languages, the ULT provides a sense of how these messages were communicated in those original languages. It is anticipated that the ULT and other resources will be translated from English into the world’s Gateway Languages (GLs) so that MTTs worldwide can use them as a set of resources for making accurate translations of the Bible into their own languages.
The unfoldingWord® Literal Text (ULT) is designed to be used as a tool for Bible translation in conjunction with the unfoldingWord® Simplified Text (UST), the unfoldingWord® Translation Words (UTW), and the unfoldingWord® Translation Notes (UTN). It is not an end-user Bible, which seeks to transform all of the structures of the original biblical languages into those that are natural and idiomatic in the target language. Instead, unlike the UST and unlike an end-user Bible, the ULT is designed to reflect the forms of the source languages, so that the MTT can see what they are. By using the ULT, the MTT can “look through” it to see how the original Bible expressed the biblical ideas.
Therefore, as you (an editor or translator of the ULT) edit or translate the ULT, you must retain the grammatical and syntactic structures of the original as much as the target language (English or other Gateway Language) will reasonably allow. If the original structure is ungrammatical in the target language, then you will need to change it into a structure that is grammatical in the target language. It does no good to make a translation that a MTT using this tool cannot understand. But as much as the target language will allow, retain the structures of the original while editing or translating the ULT. For English, it is often possible to retain nouns as nouns, verbs as verbs, etc., but their order in the original sentence must be changed.
In addition to the grammatical forms, the ULT must also retain the idioms and the figures of speech found in the original languages so that the MTT can consider them and use them if they communicate the right thing in his target language (i.e. a minority or Other Language [OL], not Gateway Language). If these aspects of the original language text are changed in the English version (or other Gateway Language translation) of the ULT, then the OL translator will never see them. Furthermore, their accompanying explanations (found in the unfoldingWord® Translation Notes) will not make sense.
The ULT and the UST are designed to be complementary tools for use by an OL translator. These tools should be as useful as possible, which means that the ULT should retain original language structures that would not always be retained in an end-user Bible. Therefore, you must understand that the ULT will often lack naturalness (and sometimes also lack clarity) because it aims to reproduce the original language structures and figures of speech that the GL may not normally use. However, in places where the ULT lacks clarity, there will be BOTH a Translation Note to explain the meaning of the structure for the OL translator AND a clear rendering of the original meaning in the UST. Together, the UTN and the UST will provide the meaning of the text wherever that meaning is in doubt in the ULT. In this way, the various tools work together to provide an OL translator with more complete information about both the form and the meaning of the biblical text as written in the original languages.
One specific way in which the ULT and UST are complementary tools concerns the selection of meaning in the original language texts. There are many instances in the biblical text where the meaning of a word or phrase in the original languages is ambiguous. In those cases, the ULT should retain the ambiguity of meaning, if possible. In contrast, the UST should select the most probable meaning and express that meaning according to its own translation method. NOTE: It is acceptable for the ULT to select meaning in cases where the meaning of the original language is linguistically ambiguous but seems clear from the context.
Luke 2:47 (ULT) reproduces a grammatical form from the Greek source language that is natural in English but might not be natural in other languages. When talking about the boy Jesus at the temple, the ULT reads, “All who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers.” The nouns “understanding” and “answers” refer to events, not things, and so must be translated as verbs in many languages. The UST of the same verse gives an example of how these nouns can be translated as verbs. It says, “All the people who heard what he said were amazed at how much he understood and how well he answered the questions that the teachers asked.”
When editing or translating the ULT, however, nouns should be retained as nouns if that will make sense in the target language.
Matthew 2:20 (ULT) reproduces an idiom from the Greek source language. It refers to Herod and his soldiers who were trying to kill the child Jesus as, “those who sought the child’s life.” In some languages this is clear, but in other languages it is not.
The UST of the same verse tries to make the meaning clear by translating this idiom as, “the people who were trying to kill the child.” When editing or translating the ULT, however, this idiom should be retained as it is, so that the Other Language translator can consider it and use it if it makes sense. The UST and the UTN should always provide the meaning.
John 1:17 (ULT) reproduces a figure of speech from the Greek source language. It says, “grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” (This figure of speech is called “personification.”) This figure of speech talks as if grace and truth were like people who can come and go, and it talks as if Jesus Christ were like a doorway that they can come through. In some languages this makes sense, but in other languages it does not. The plain meaning is that Jesus Christ acted toward us with grace and taught us true things about God.
The UST of the same verse tries to make this plain meaning clear by translating it as, “Jesus Christ was kind to us far beyond what we deserved and taught us true things about God.” When translating the ULT, however, this figure of speech should be retained as it is, so that the OL translator can consider it and use it if it makes sense. If it does not, the UST should provide an alternative way to translate it.
The unfoldingWord® Literal Text (ULT) seeks to represent the language forms of the original in a way that also makes sense in English (or other Gateway Languages). The unfoldingWord® Simplified Text (UST) seeks to represent the plain meaning of the original Bible text. This means that:
Here are some guidelines for composing or editing biblical text in the ULT:
Both Biblical Hebrew and Koiné Greek utilize different word forms to indicate grammatical gender, which may or may not correspond either to the actual gender of a person or to the lack of gender in an object. For example, the Hebrew phrase beney yisrael (“sons of Israel”) sometimes literally means “male children of the man named Israel” (Gen 42:5). However, most of the time in the Old Testament this phrase refers figuratively to the entire Israelite nation as a whole, both men and women. In a similar way, the Greek term adelphoi (“brothers”) can sometimes literally mean “a male person who has the same father and/or mother” (Mark 3:22), but most of the time in the New Testament refers figuratively to Christian believers, both men and women. This linguistic feature of “engendered language” poses significant problems for translation. The meaning of the original Hebrew/Aramaic/Greek text is not always clear; also, some languages do not use engendered language, which makes the translation of gender very difficult.
The ULT should retain the engendered language of Hebrew/Aramaic/Greek terms as much as possible. However, a notable exception to this rule concerns the translation of masculine participles (that is, verbal nouns and/or verbal adjectives) which actually refer to both men and women together; those terms can be translated without specifying gender.
A list of decisions as to how to translate some senses of the source language words and phrases into another language is called a Translation Glossary (TG). Such a device is especially useful when more than one person works on the same project, because it helps keep everyone using the same English terms. However, a TG cannot be foolproof, because the source will often use some words to signal more than one sense, depending on context. A TG is therefore a glossary of word senses, not a glossary of words. Check back often to this page, because this TG is likely to develop for the entire life of the unfoldingWord project.
NOTE: Occasionally, the TG’s specified translation will not be suitable. As always, the text editors must remain in control of the decision-making process. The TG is to guide you as much as is possible. If you must depart from the TG guidelines, do so and insert a Translation Note to explain the meaning.
Preferred English renderings for the ULT appear in bold type.
In the tC (translationCore) Word Alignment tool, the GL (Gateway Language) chapters and verses are listed down the left side. When you click on a verse to open it, the words of that verse appear in a vertical list, ordered from top to bottom, just to the right of the list of chapters and verses. Each word is in a separate box.
The words of the original language (Hebrew, Aramaic, or Greek) text for that verse are also in separate boxes in a field to the right of the GL word list. There is a space under each of the source word boxes outlined with a dotted line.
To align the GL text:
When the GL word is over a word box of the original, the dotted outline will turn blue to let you know that the word will drop there. If you make a mistake, or if you decide that the GL word belongs somewhere else, simply drag it again to where it belongs. GL words can also be dragged back to the list.
When the same GL word occurs more than once in a verse, each instance of the word will have a small superscript number after it. This number will help you to align each repeated GL word to the correct original word in the correct order. When aligning, check to ensure that these numbered words are in their proper places, since it is easy to miss the numbers and align repeated words incorrectly.
translationCore supports one-to-one, one-to-many, many-to-one, and many-to-many alignments. That means that one or more GL words can be aligned to one or more original language words, as necessary to get the most accurate alignment of the meaning conveyed by the two languages.
Because each GL has different requirements for sentence structure and the amount of explicit information that must be provided, there is often not a one-to-one correspondence between an original language word and a GL word. In these cases, the GL words that are provided should be aligned with the original language word that implies them.
When aligning a GL translation to the original language text, the precision of the alignment between the two languages is the highest priority. The most important function of the aligned text is to show the ULT user as specifically as possible from which word in the original language text the GL meaning is derived. In practice, this means that original language words should be merged together ONLY when absolutely necessary for the accuracy of the alignment. Otherwise, original language words should not be merged together. In other words, the aligning should be done so that the smallest number of GL words are aligned to the smallest number of original language words that accurately represent their shared meaning.
For English, we follow these principles, but your GL may need a different list to support full alignment.
GL (Gateway Language)phrase. For example, the three words “does not lie” in English all align with the single word apseudes in Titus 1:2.
GL (Gateway Language). These should be aligned to make the alignment between the original language and the GL as precise as possible. For example, in most cases the Hebrew direct object marker should be merged with the Hebrew direct object and aligned with that translated word in the :abbr:
GL (Gateway Language). However, in cases where the direct object marker has a conjunction prefix that must be translated in the :abbr:
GL (Gateway Language), then the Hebrew word containing the conjunction and direct object marker should be aligned with the translated conjunction in the :abbr:
GL (Gateway Language).
Other alignment issues pertinent to Biblical Hebrew include the following:
You should expect that sometimes you must align words/phrases in the GL with words in the original language that differ in the number of words, order of words, and/or parts of speech (as described above). However, you should ALWAYS align the GL words to the original language words whose meaning they express, in whatever combination is necessary to produce the most accurate alignment of the meaning.
After aligning a verse, there may be words in the GL text that are left over and seem to be extra. If those words are truly necessary for the GL text to make sense, then find the original word or words that they help to express and align them there. But if those words do not express a meaning found in the original text, then it may be that those words should be deleted from the GL translation. See :ref:
glalignment-wordsnotfound for more information.
Sometimes, in the process of aligning a verse, you will find:
For the above cases: if you are an authorized editor, you will want to edit the GL translation so that it is more accurate to the original. Otherwise, contact the GL translation team to let them know about the issue.
If you notice places where the ULT (unfoldingWord Literal Text) is wrong or potentially wrong, create an issue for it at https://git.door43.org/unfoldingWord/en_ult/issues so we can address it in the next release. In the meantime, align the text as well as possible.
In the process of alignment according to the instructions above, you may find that the :abbr:
GL (Gateway Language) text has words or phrases that do not represent any meaning in the original language text and are not there because the GL sentence needs them to make sense. If this occurs, follow these recommendations:
Biblical Humanities Dashboard <http://biblicalhumanities.org/dashboard/>for other manuscripts).