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an unrestricted simplified version of the Bible intended for translation into any language as a tool for use by Bible translators
The unfoldingWord® Simplified Text (UST) is an open-licensed adaptation of A Translation For Translators by Ellis W. Deibler, Jr., which is licensed CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://git.door43.org/Door43/T4T). The UST is intended to provide a simple, clear presentation of the meaning of the Bible without using any figures of speech, idioms, or other grammatical features that can be difficult to translate.
To read or print the UST, see the UST project on Door43.
If you are a contributor to this project please add your name to the
field in the manifest.yaml
The unfoldingWord® Simplified Text (UST) is a meaning-centric version of the Bible in English. It is intended to be used alongside the unfoldingWord® Literal 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 UST provides a sense of what these messages intended to communicate to the original readers. It is anticipated that the UST 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 UST is designed to be used as a tool for Bible translation in conjunction with the unfoldingWord® Literal Text (ULT), 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 ULT and unlike an end-user Bible, the UST does not use figures of speech, idioms, abstract nouns, or grammatical features that are difficult to translate into many languages.
The purpose of the UST is to show the plain meaning of all of those things wherever they occur in the ULT. By using both the UST and the ULT together as resources for translating the Bible into a target language (called an Other Language [OL] in this brief), the OL translator will be able to see the figures of speech, idioms, and other forms of the original Bible in the ULT and also see what their meaning is in the UST. Then he can use the figures of speech or other forms from the ULT that are clear and natural in his language. When the forms in the ULT are not clear or natural in his language, then he can choose other forms in his language that have the same meaning as expressed in the UST translation (or in the Translation Notes).
The primary goal of the UST is to express the meaning of the Bible as clearly as possible. In order to do this, it follows these guidelines.
The UST must avoid:
Furthermore, the UST must explicitly include:
Therefore, when you (an editor or translator of the UST) edit or translate the UST, you must not use these grammatical features that the UST must avoid in the GL translation. The purpose of the UST is to change all of those problematic grammatical features into more universal ones to make them easier to translate. Also, you must be sure to include all of the named participants and the information that has been made explicit so that the meaning can be as clear as possible.
The following are examples of ways that the text of the Bible can be unclear for some languages and what the UST does to overcome those problems. When you translate the UST, make sure that your translation of the UST also avoids these problems.
Passive voice is a grammatical construction that is common in Greek and English but it is not used in many other languages, so it can be very confusing. For that reason, it is not used in the UST. In passive voice, the receiver of the action changes places with the actor. In English, the actor normally comes first in the sentence. But in passive voice, the receiver of the action comes first. Often, the actor is left unstated. In that case, the UST will fill in the actor. See “Missing Participants” below.
For example, the ULT of Romans 2:24 says:
“the name of God is dishonored among the Gentiles because of you.”
The action is “dishonor,” the actors are “the Gentiles” (non-Jews), and the receiver of the action is “the name of God.” The reason for the action is “because of you.” The UST rearranges the verse to put the actor and the receiver of the action in a more normal order.
The UST of Romans 2:24 says:
“The non-Jews speak evil about God because of the evil actions of you Jews.”
For many language, this is a clearer way of expressing the message that Romans 2:24 intends to communicate.
When editing the UST or translating it into another GL, you must not use any passive voice constructions.
The ULT of Romans 2:10 says:
“But praise, honor, and peace will come to everyone who practices good…”
In this verse, the words “praise,” “honor,” “peace,” and “good” are abstract nouns. That is, they are words that refer to things that we cannot see or touch. They are ideas. The ideas that these nouns express are closer to actions or descriptions than they are to things. In many languages, therefore, these ideas must be expressed by verbs or description words, not by nouns. For this reason, the UST expresses these nouns as actions or descriptions.
The UST of Romans 2:10 says:
“But God will praise, honor, and give a peaceful spirit to every person who habitually does good deeds.”
When editing the UST or translating it into another GL, you must avoid using abstract nouns.
The UST avoids using long or complex sentences. In many languages, long or complex sentences are unnatural and unclear.
The ULT translates the first three verses of Romans as one complex sentence. It says:
“1 Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, 2 which he promised beforehand by his prophets in the holy scriptures, 3 concerning his Son, who was born from the descendants of David according to the flesh.”
The UST breaks that into five sentences that are more simple in form. It says:
“1 I, Paul, who serve Christ Jesus, am writing this letter to all of you believers in the city of Rome. God chose me to be an apostle, and he appointed me in order that I shouldproclaim the good news that comes from him. 2 Long before Jesus came to earth, God promised that he would reveal this good news by means of what his prophets wrote in the sacred scriptures. 3 This good news is about his Son. As to his Son’s physical nature, he was born a descendant of King David.”
When editing the UST or translating it into another GL, you must keep the sentences short and simple.
The UST often fills in the participants when these are lacking in the original Bible and the ULT. In the original biblical languages, these participants could be left out and still understood by the reader. But in many languages these must be included for the translation to be clear and natural.
In the ULT, Romans 1:1 says:
“Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God…”
In this verse, there is a participant that is left unstated, but still understood. This participant is God. It is God who called Paul to be an apostle and who set him apart for the Gospel. In some languages, this participant must be stated.
Therefore the UST of Romans 1:1 says:
“God chose me to be an apostle, and he appointed me in order that I should proclaim the good news that comes from him.”
When editing the UST or translating it into another GL, you must include all of the participants that are there in the UST.
The ULT of Luke 2:6-7 says:
“6 Now it came about that while they were there, the time came for her to deliver her baby. 7 She gave birth to a son, her firstborn child, and she wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth. Then she put him in an animal feeding trough, because there was no room for them in a guest room.”
In some languages, events need to be told in the order in which they happened, or else the story will be confusing and hard to understand. People might understand from these verses that Mary delivered her baby outside in the street, and then looked for somewhere to stay and, after a long search, ended up putting him in an animal feeding trough. The UST tells these events in the order in which they happened, so that it is clear that Mary was already in the shelter for animals when she gave birth.
The UST says:
“6-7 When they arrived in Bethlehem, there was no place for them to stay in a place where visitors usually stayed. So they had to stay in a place where animals slept overnight. While they were there the time came for Mary to give birth and she gave birth to her first child, a son. She wrapped him in wide strips of cloth and placed him in the feeding place for the animals.”
When editing the UST or translating it into another GL, you must keep the order of events as they are in the UST.
The ULT of Romans 2:21 says:
“You who preach not to steal, do you steal?”
This is a figure of speech called a rhetorical question. It is not a real question that is used to seek an answer. It is used to make a point. In this case, Paul is using it to scold his audience and to condemn their hypocrisy. Many languages do not use rhetorical questions, or they do not use them in this way.
To show how to translate this meaning without a rhetorical question, the UST says:
“You who preach that people should not steal things, it is disgusting that you yourself steal things!”
When you edit or translate the UST, you must not use rhetorical questions or other figures of speech.
The ULT of Deuteronomy 32:10 says:
“he guarded him as the apple of his eye.”
The word “apple” here does not refer to a kind of fruit, but instead refers to the pupil, the dark center of a person’s eye. The phrase “the apple of his eye” is an idiom that refers to anything that is extremely precious to a person, or the one thing that is the most precious to a person. In many languages this idiom makes no sense, but they have other idioms that have this meaning. The Other Language translator should use one of these idioms from the target language in the OL translation, but there should be no idiom in the translation of the UST.
To show the meaning of this verse, the UST expresses this in plain language, without an idiom.
The UST says:
“He protected them and took care of them, as every person takes good care of his own eyes.”
The Notes add another way to translate this that makes the meaning clear. It says, “He protected the people of Israel as something most valuable and precious.”
When editing the UST or translating it into another GL, you must not use any idioms. Only use plain language that makes the meaning clear.
The ULT of Genesis 18:3 says:
He said, “My Lord, if I have found favor in your eyes, please do not pass by your servant.”
Here Abraham refers to himself in the third person as “your servant.” To make it clear that Abraham is referring to himself, the UST adds the first person pronoun “me.”
The UST of Genesis 18:3 says:
He said to one of them, “My Lord, if you are pleased with me, then please stay here with me, your servant, for a little while.”
When editing the UST or translating it into another GL, you must include the indications of the first person that are there in these passages of the UST so that it can be as clear as possible.
The ULT of Mark 1:44 says:
He said to him, “Be sure to say nothing to anyone, but go, show yourself to the priest, and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.”
This was all that Jesus needed to say to the man whom he had just healed of leprosy, because the man was Jewish and knew all about the laws concerning being clean and unclean. But most modern readers of our Bible translations do not know that information. For that reason, the UST makes this information explicit that was left implied in the text. This information is indicated in italics below.
The UST of Mark 1:44 says:
UST: He said, “Do not tell anyone what just happened. Instead, go to a priest and show yourself to him in order that he may examine you and see that you no longer have leprosy. Then make the offering that Moses commanded for people whom God has healed from leprosy. This will be the testimony to the community that you are healed.”
When editing the UST or translating it into another GL, you must include all of the implied information that is there in the UST so that it can be as clear as possible.
Here are some guidelines for composing or editing text in the UST:
Both Biblical Hebrew and Koiné Greek utilize different word forms to indicate grammatical gender, which may or may not correspond to the actual gender of a person or 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 3:32), but most of the time in the New Testament refers figuratively to Christian believers, both men and women. In both Hebrew and Greek, the meaning of “engendered language” is not always clear. This linguistic feature of “engendered language” poses significant problems for translation; the meaning of the original Hebrew or Greek text is not always clear; also, some languages do not use engendered language, which makes the translation of gender very difficult.
The UST should reflect as accurately as possible the actual intended referent(s) for Hebrew/Aramaic/Greek terms, as determined from the context. As a general rule, the UST should select gender-neutral language except in cases where the context implies a specific gender is in view. However, sometimes the UST may need to deviate from this general rule; in those cases, the meaning should be explained in a Translation Note.
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 UST appear in bold type.
These items have been completed in Mark, but need to be universally applied:
These items have been completed in Titus, but need to be universally applied:
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 OrigL (Greek, Hebrew, or Aramaic) text for that verse are also in separate boxes in a field to the right of the English word list. There is a space under each of the source word boxes outlined with a dotted line.
To align the English text:
When the English 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 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.
tC (translationCore) supports one-to-one, one-to-many, many-to-one, and many-to-many alignments. That means that one or more English words can be aligned to one or more OrigL 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 OrigL word and an English word. In these cases, the English words that are provided should be aligned with the OrigL word that implies them.
The main objective and goal of text alignment for the UST is the same as for the ULT. However, the process by which to decide which UST words should be aligned with which OrigL words is significantly more complex than for the ULT. The process is not systematic but must be done by weighing a core group of principles together as a whole and then deciding what is best in each instance. Sometimes these principles might disagree or even contradict. In those cases, the aligner must decide which principle takes priority in a given instance and align the UST text accordingly. For all these reasons, the UST aligner should expect that it will take multiple attempts at aligning a UST text before it is aligned properly. The general principles which should govern the alignment of a UST text are as follows:
NOTE: Sometimes words in the UST will need to be aligned with OrigL words which appear much earlier or much later in the text. This is often necessary because of the specific rules that the UST must follow (use short sentences, present events in chronological order, etc.). The aligner should be aware that a properly aligned GST text may appear to have words drastically out of place at first glance.
When aligning the UST, you must remember that its first priority is to be a clear rendering of the meaning of the OrigL text. Therefore, it adds words and phrases to explain the meaning of the original for the reader. These words and phrases should be aligned with the word or words that they are explaining. For example, in Titus 1:1, the phrase, “I am a servant” must be aligned with the single word, doulos.
Sometimes, for the sake of clarity, the UST will repeat things that are only mentioned once in the original. This often happens with subjects or objects of sentences. For example, in Titus 2:9 the English UST refers to “their masters” twice, although the original language only has idiois despotais once. In these cases, you should align each occurrence of the repeated reference with the same original language words, so that the highlighting will show that each of these represents the meaning conveyed by those same words of the original.
Some of the words and sentences of the UST do not directly represent the meaning of the original words. This is information that is only implied by the original words, but included in the UST because it is necessary for understanding the meaning of the original. For example, in Titus 1:1, the sentence, “I, Paul, write this letter to you, Titus” includes information that is not there in the original words, such as the fact that what the reader is about to read is a letter, and that it is written to someone named Titus. This information, however, makes the text more clear and understandable. For the aligning, then, all of this explanation must be aligned with the single word that it is explaining, Paulos.
If you notice places where the UST is wrong or potentially wrong, create an issue for it at https://git.door43.org/unfoldingWord/en_ust/issues so we can address it in the next release. In the meantime, align the text as well as possible.
For English, we follow these principles, but your GL may need a different list to support full alignment.
Other alignment issues pertinent to Biblical Hebrew include the following:
In the process of alignment according to the instructions above, you may find that the English text has words or phrases that do not represent any meaning in the OrigL text and are not there because the English sentence needs them to make sense. If this occurs, follow these recommendations:
Biblical Humanities Dashboard <http://biblicalhumanities.org/dashboard/>for other manuscripts).