unfoldingWord Simplified Text https://unfoldingword.bible/ust/
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README.md

drawing

unfoldingWord® Simplified Text - English

an unrestricted Bible intended for translation into any language

Overview

The unfoldingWord® Simplified Text (UST) is an open-licensed translation of the Bible based on 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, English idioms, or difficult grammar.

Viewing

To read or print the UST, see the UST project on Door43.

Contributors

If you are a contributor to this project please add your name to the contributor field in the manifest.yaml file.

Editing

Introduction to the UST

The unfoldingWord® Simplified Text (UST) is designed to be used in conjunction with the unfoldingWord® Literal Text (ULT), the unfoldingWord® Translation Notes (UTN), and the unfoldingWord® Translation Words (UTW) as a tool for Bible translation. Unlike the ULT and unlike an end-user Bible, the UST does not use figures of speech, idioms, abstract nouns, or grammatical forms that are difficult to translate into many languages.

Editing the UST

The purpose of the UST is to show the plain meaning of all of those things wherever they occur in the ULT. Because the UST lacks these things, it is not a beautiful end-user Bible. An end-user Bible will use the figures of speech and idioms that speak naturally and beautifully in the target language, but the UST does not use them. By using both the UST and the ULT together as translation sources for an end-user (Other Language) translation, 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 the UST translation or the Notes.

Avoiding Translation Difficulties

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:

1.  Idioms
2.  Figures of speech
3.  Events out of order
4.  Difficult or specialized grammar
    a.  Complex sentences
    b.  Passive voice
    c.  Abstract or verbal nouns
    d.  People speaking of themselves in third person 

The UST must explicitly include:

1.  Participants where these are unclear
2.  Implied information that is necessary for understanding

When editing or translating the UST, please do not use those things that it must avoid in the Gateway Language translation. The purpose of the UST is to change all of those problematic forms into more universal ones to make them easier to translate. Also, 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.

Examples

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

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.”

This is more clear for many languages. When you edit or translate the UST, make sure that you do not use any passive voice constructions.

Abstract Nouns

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 or translating the UST, avoid using abstract nouns.

Long, Complex Sentences

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 or translating the UST, keep the sentences short and simple.

Missing Participants

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 or translating the UST, be sure to include all of the participants that are there in the UST.

Events out of Order

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 or translating the UST, keep the order of events as they are in the UST.

Figures of Speech

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, be sure to not use rhetorical questions or other figures of speech.

Idioms

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 you edit or translate the UST, be sure that you do not use any idioms. Only use plain language that makes the meaning clear.

People Speaking of Themselves in Third Person

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 or translating the UST, be sure to 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.

Implied Information

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 or translating the UST, be sure to include all of the implied information that is there in the UST so that it can be as clear as possible.

Translation of terms regarding gender

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 ULT translates the Hebrew and Greek terms as literally as possible according to linguistic form, always retaining the specific gender of terms. On the other hand, the UST translates engendered language as accurately as possible according to contextual meaning. As a general rule, the UST selects gender-neutral language except in cases where a specific gender is implied from the context. However, there are exceptions to this rule; and in these cases, the translation will be explained in a footnote.

Specific Editing Guidelines

  • Only use quotation marks at the beginning and ending of direct speech. Do not put quotation marks at the beginning of each verse, even though the speech may span several verses.
  • Do not use contractions.
  • Punctuation marks go inside the quote marks.
  • Capitalization issues: in general, we are following the practice of the 2011 NIV.
  • All pronouns are lower case (except when beginning sentences and except for the first singular “I”).
  • Capitalize titles (Son of Man, King David, the Messiah).
  • Use vocabulary and phrases that differ from the ULT. The two translations fail to help the MTT when they are the same.
  • Where possible, use common vocabulary that is easy to translate into another language.
    • Spell out numbers up to and including ten (e.g., one, two…). For numbers larger than ten, use numerals (e.g., 11, 12…).
  • Metaphors may be transformed into similies or substituted with the plain meaning of the metaphor. Similies may be the preferred option when the metaphor is extended over several clauses or verses.

Translation Glossary

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 that 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 note to that effect.

Translation Glossary for the UST

The term listed first is the rendering in the ULT or the original language term, then the term preferred for the UST will appear in bold type.

  • adelphoi The ULT will use brothers. Since this term usually refers figuratively to Christian believers, the UST will most often use “believers” or “fellow-believers.”
  • gospel “Gospel” will be used in most cases in the ULT, while the UST will use “good news.”
  • Christ The ULT will use “Christ” or “the Christ” while the UST will use “the Messiah.”
  • saints The ULT will use “saints” while the UST will use either “God’s people” or a form of “those whom God has set apart for himself.”
  • YHWH Both the ULT and UST will render God’s name as “Yahweh.”
  • scribe The ULT will use “scribe” while the UST will use “teacher of the Jewish laws.”
  • Gentile The UST will use “non-Jew” or “non-Jewish.”
  • nomikos The ULT will use “expert in the Jewish law” while the UST will use “authority in the Jewish laws.”
  • grace The ULT will use “grace” while the UST will rework the grammar to use the adjective “gracious” or will use a form such as “God will be kind.”
  • peace The UST will rework the grammar to use the adjective “peaceful [spirit, etc.]” or an adjectival phrase such as “at peace.”
  • glory the UST will rework the grammar to use the adjective “glorious” or an equivalent description such as “who is so great.”
  • law The UST will expand to “law of Moses” or “Jewish law.”
  • covenant The UST will use “agreement” or “promise.”
  • church The UST will use some form of “assembly/group of those who believe/trust in God.”
  • horns –– The Hebrew terms for the various kinds of horns should be rendered as follows in the UST: qeren = “horn;” shofar = “large horn” or “long horn” (simply “horn” in ULT); hatzotzerah = “trumpet.” The term shofar should never be translated as “trumpet” in either the ULT or UST.
  • Ark of the Covenant –– The UST will use the term “sacred chest” instead of “ark” for this specific item.
  • Metaphors will be turned into either similies or plain, concrete language. Examples:
    • live in your heart: “become a part of you,” “be joined to your spirit,” “be as close to you as your own hearts.”
    • hard heart: “refuse to obey.”
  • A few abstract nouns are allowed because of the awkwardness or inadequacy of any English circumlocution. These include “authority” (when used of a person),”sin,” “behavior,” “work,” “thing,” “time,” “resource,” “kingdom,” “relationship,” and some nouns referring to speech (”message,” “saying,” etc.), although it is often possible to use a verb instead.

These items have been completed in Mark, but need to be universally applied:

  • apostle The ULT will use “apostle” while the UST will use “sent one.”
  • apostle of Jesus Christ The ULT will use “apostle of Jesus Christ” while the UST will use “the Messiah Jesus sent me to represent him.”
  • disciple The ULT will use “disciple” while the UST will use “apprentice.”
  • Sabbath The ULT will use “Sabbath” while the UST will use “Jewish day of rest.”
  • Sea of Galilee The ULT will use “Sea of Galilee” while the UST will use “Galilee lake.”
  • synagogue The ULT will use “synagogue” while the UST will use “Jewish preaching place.”
  • wilderness The ULT will use “wilderness” while the UST will use “desolate place.”

These items have been completed in Titus, but need to be universally applied:

  • episkopos The ULT will use “overseer” while the UST will use “leader of the believers.”
  • diakonos The ULT will use “deacon” while the UST will use “assistant” (for the church office), “servant” or “agent” in other contexts.

Alignment Instructions for the UST

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 (Greek, Hebrew, or Aramaic) 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:

  • Click and drag each word box of the GL text into the space under the word box of the source text that the GL word corresponds to.
  • Drop the GL word by releasing the mouse button.

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 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.

Merge and Unmerge Notes

tC (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.

  • To align multiple GL words to a single original language word, simply drag and drop the GL words onto the box below the desired original language word.
  • When it is desired to align GL word(s) to a combination of original language words, first drag one of the combination original language words into the same box as the other original language word. Multiple original language words can be merged together in this fashion.
  • To unmerge previously merged original language words, drag the rightmost original language word slightly to the right. A small new alignment box will appear, and the unmerged word can be dropped into that box.
  • The leftmost original language word can also be unmerged by dragging and dropping it into the original language word box immediately to its left.
  • Any GL words that were aligned with that original language word return to the word list.
  • The original language words should remain in the proper order. If the merge contains 3 or more original language words, unmerge the rightmost original language word first. Un-merging the center word(s) first may result in the original language words becoming out of order. When that happens, unmerge the remaining words in that box to properly return the original language words to their original order.

Alignment Philosophy for the UST

Because each GL will have different requirements for sentence structure and the amount of explicit information that must be provided there is often not a one-to-one correspondence of the original language word and the GL word. In these cases, the GL words that are provided should be aligned with the original language word that implies them.

The UST (unfoldingWord Simplified Text) is intended to be, above all, a clear translation. 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 GL of 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 :abbr:UST (unfoldingWord Simplified Text) 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 and we’ll 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.

  • Align indefinite articles to their “head word.” For example, both “a” and “servant” should align to doulos in Titus 1:1.
  • Definite articles that English supplies should also be aligned to their “head word.” For example, both “the” and “faith” should align to pistin in Titus 1:1.
  • Original language definite articles that English does not use need to be combined with their original language head word. For example, ton and logon need to be combined, then “word” aligned with that combination in Titus 1:3.
  • Implicit verbs in the original language that are translated explicitly in the target language should be aligned with the predicate. For example, “he should be” that is supplied in English should be aligned to philoxenon along with “hospitable” in Titus 1:8.
  • Words with apostrophes will be split and show up as two words in the word panel. This allows for proper alignment of the two parts of meaning. In most cases in English these are used to represent possession and will be aligned to a single original language word in the genitive case. For example, both “God” and “s” will align to theou in Titus 1:1.
  • Often the original language and GL part of speech won’t match. That is inevitable. Often an original language word will be translated as a GL phrase. For example, the three words “does not lie” in English all align with the single word apseudes in Titus 1:2.
  • Sometimes particles in the original language are not translated in the GL. 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 GL. However, in cases where the direct object marker has a conjunction prefix that must be translated in the GL, then the Hebrew word containing the conjunction and direct object marker should be aligned with the translated conjunction in the GL.

Other alignment issues pertinent to Biblical Hebrew include the following:

  • When an infinitive absolute is paired with a finite verb, the infinitive absolute should be aligned separately, if possible. Usually, the infinitive absolute will be translated as an adverb, and it should be aligned with the adverb.
  • As a general rule, the ULT should translate the conjunction in Hebrew verbal forms. The translated conjunction should then be aligned with that Hebrew verb.
  • When aligning construct phrases in Hebrew, the English word “of” should be aligned with the construct noun. If the English translation of the construct phrase uses a single definite article “the”, then it should be aligned with the absolute noun. When the English translation uses multiple instances of the definite article “the”, then each definite article should be aligned with the corresponding Hebrew noun.
  • When aligning a verbless clause in Hebrew, the supplied “to be” verb should usually be aligned with the predicate instead of the subject. An exception to this rule occurs when the subject is a demonstrative pronoun (or carries some sort of deictic function). In those cases, the supplied “to be” verb should be aligned with the subject of the verbless clause.
  • Sometimes a verb in Hebrew requires an accompanying preposition that is not required in English, or vice versa. In these cases, align with whichever part of speech fits best on a case-by-case basis. For example, take the phrase “…to pay on our fields…” in Nehemiah 14:4 (UST). The English preposition “on” fits better semantically with the noun (“on our fields”) rather than with the infinitive (“to pay on”). However, the reverse is true in v.15 in the phrase “…even their servants oppressed the people…” (Heb. שׁלטוּ על־העמ). In this case, the Hebrew שׁלט requires an accompanying preposition, and the concept is already incorporated into the English translation of the verb itself, “oppressed.” So in this case, it is best to merge the Hebrew verb and preposition together, then align both with the English “oppressed.”

Words Not Found in the Original Language

In the process of alignment according to the instructions above, you may find that the GL 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:

  • If possible, consider editing the GL text to match the original language text.
  • You may consult other Greek or Hebrew manuscripts to see if there is textual support for your translation (see the Biblical Humanities Dashboard <http://biblicalhumanities.org/dashboard/> for other manuscripts).
  • If you find support for your translation, make sure to include a comment or note about where you found it and why the translation should include it.
  • You should consider placing these GL words in brackets or in a footnote.