English: Translation Manual

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Wycliffe Associates Translation Manual


This manual is intended to empower anyone, anywhere to equip themselves for creating high-quality translations of biblical content into their own language. It can be used in a systematic, in-advance approach or it can be used for just-in-time learning (or both, as needed). It is modular in structure.

Translating with Wycliffe Associates Resources

The Translation Manual contains the following sections:

  • Translating with Wycliffe Associates Resources - This section introduces how Bible translation is done with Wycliffe Associates. Among other things, it describes the Gateway Languages Strategy and tells about translation tools and resources to support that strategy.
  • Translation Theory and Practices - This explains the basics of translation theory and provides simple explanations of standard practices.
  • Translation Topics- These are practical translation helps, specifically targeting potential challenges, that are also linked from the Translation Notes.
  • Checking - This explains the steps of checking that should begin as soon as a draft is completed, and continue throughout the remainder of the project. It also suggests who should be involved and provides best practices for affirming quality.

Why We Translate the Bible

This page answers the question: *Why should we translate the Bible?


In order to understand this topic, it would be good to read:

  • Uw Intro
  • *[Translation Theory and Practice

](translation theory and practice.html#translate-manual)* * *[What is Translation?

](translation theory and practice.html#translate-whatis)*

The purpose of the translation manual is to empower you to translate the Bible. Translating God's Word into your language to help your people grow as disciples of Jesus is an important task. You must be committed to this task, take your responsibility seriously, and pray that the Lord will help you.

God has spoken to us in the Bible. He inspired the writers of the Bible to write his Word using the Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek languages. There were about 40 different authors writing from around 1400 B.C. to A.D. 100. These documents were written in the Middle East, North Africa and Europe. By recording his Word in those languages, God ensured that the people at those times and in those places could understand it.

Today, people in your country do not understand Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. But translating God's Word into their language will enable them understand it!

Someone's "mother tongue" or "heart language" means the language they first spoke as a child and the one which they use at home. This is the language in which they are most comfortable and which they use to express their deepest thoughts. We want everyone to be able to read God's Word in their heart language.

Every language is important and valuable. Small languages are just as important as the national languages spoken in your country, and they can express meaning just as well. No one should be ashamed to speak his own dialect. Sometimes, those in minority groups feel ashamed of their language and try not to use it around the people who are in the majority in their nation. But there is nothing inherently more important, more prestigious, or more educated about the national language than the local languages. Each language has nuances and shades of meaning that are unique. We should use the language we are most comfortable with and with which we best communicate with others.

Next we recommend you learn about:

  • *[The Qualities of a Good Translation

](translation theory and practice.html#guidelines-intro)* * *[The Translation Process

](translation theory and practice.html#translate-process)*

Statement of Faith

This page answers the question: *What do we believe?


In order to understand this topic, it would be good to read:

Statement of Faith

  • We believe in the divine inspiration and consequent authority of the whole canonical Scriptures
  • We believe in the doctrine of the Trinity
  • We believe in the fall of man, his consequent moral depravity and his need of regeneration
  • We believe in the atonement through the substitutionary death of Christ
  • We believe in the doctrine of justification by faith
  • We believe in the resurrection of the body, in the case of the just and the unjust
  • We believe in the eternal life of the saved and the eternal punishment of the lost

Next we recommend you learn about:

  • *[Translation Guidelines

](#translation-guidelines)* * *[Open License

](#open-license)* * *[Copyrights, Licensing, and Source Texts

](translation theory and practice.html#translate-source-licensing)*

Translation Guidelines

This page answers the question: *By what principles do we translate?


In order to understand this topic, it would be good to read:

](#statement-of-faith)* * Translate/Translate Terms

The following statement on the principles and procedures used in translation is subscribed to by all contributors to the Bible In Every Language website (see https://bibleineverylanguage.org). All translation activities are carried out according to these common guidelines.*

  1. Accurate — Translate accurately, without detracting from, changing, or adding to the meaning of the original text. Translated content should faithfully communicate as precisely as possible the meaning of the original text as it would have been understood by the original audience. (see Create Accurate Translations)
  2. Clear — Use whatever language structures are necessary to achieve the highest level of comprehension. This includes rearranging the form of a text and using as many or as few terms as necessary to communicate the original meaning as clearly as possible. (see Create Clear Translations)
  3. Natural — Use language forms that are effective and that reflect the way your language is used in corresponding contexts. (see Create Natural Translations)
  4. Faithful — Avoid any political, denominational, ideological, social, cultural, or theological bias in your translation. Use key terms that are faithful to the vocabulary of the original biblical languages. Use equivalent common language terms for the biblical words that describe the relationship between God the Father and God the Son. These may be clarified, as needed, in footnotes or other supplemental resources. (see Create Faithful Translations)
  5. Authoritative — Use the original language biblical texts as the highest authority for translation of biblical content. Reliable biblical content in other languages may be used for clarification and as intermediary source texts. (see Create Authoritative Translations)
  6. Historical — Communicate historical events and facts accurately, providing additional information as needed in order to accurately communicate the intended message to people who do not share the same context and culture as the original recipients of the original content. (see Create Historical Translations)
  7. Equal — Communicate the same intent as the source text, including expressions of feeling and attitudes. As much as possible, maintain the different kinds of literature in the original text, including narrative, poetry, exhortation, and prophecy, representing them with corresponding forms that communicate in a similar way in your language. (see Create Equal Translations)

Identifying and Managing Translation Quality

The quality of a translation generally refers to the fidelity of the translation to the meaning of the original, and the degree to which the translation is understandable and effective for the speakers of the receptor language. The strategy we suggest involves checking the forms and communicative quality of the translation with the language community, and checking the fidelity of the translation with the church in that people group.

The specific steps involved may vary significantly, depending on the language and context of the translation project. Generally, we consider a good translation to be one that has been reviewed by the speakers of the language community and also by the leadership of the church in the language group so that it is:

  1. Accurate, Clear, Natural, and Equal — Faithful to the intended meaning of the original, as determined by the church in that people group and in alignment with the Church global and historical, and consequently:
  2. Affirmed by the Church - Endorsed and used by the church. (see Create Church-Affirmed Translations)

We also recommend that the translation work be:

  1. Collaborative — Where possible, work together with other believers who speak your language to translate, check, and distribute the translated content, ensuring that it is of the highest quality and available to as many people as possible. (see Create Collaborative Translations)
  2. Ongoing — Translation work is never completely finished. Leaders should encourage those who are skilled with the language to suggest better ways to say things when they notice that improvements can be made. Any errors in the translation should also be corrected as soon as they are discovered. If the translation team is unable to continue oversight of the project, we recommend that church leaders form a translation committee to manage edits, revisions, new translations, and distribution. The translation committee can oversee these suggestions and edits. This committee will decide when a complete revision should be done and will also be responsible to determine when a translation has been revised enough that new paper copies should be made available to the community.

Next we recommend you learn about:

  • *[Open License

](#open-license)* * *[Translation Theory and Practice

](translation theory and practice.html#translate-manual)* * *[The Need for Translation Checking


Open License

This page answers the question: *What freedoms do users have with unfoldingWord content?


In order to understand this topic, it would be good to read:

](#statement-of-faith)* * *[Translation Guidelines

](#translation-guidelines)* * Translate/Translate Terms

A License for Freedom

To achieve unrestricted biblical content in every language, a license is needed that gives the global Church "unrestricted" access. We believe this movement will become unstoppable when the Church has unrestricted access. The Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License provides all the needed rights for translation and distribution of biblical content and ensures that the content remains open. Except where otherwise noted, all our content is licensed CC BY-SA.

The official license for Door43 is found at https://door43.org/en/legal/license.

Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-SA 4.0)

This is a human-readable summary of (and not a substitute for) the license.

You are free to:

  • Share — copy and redistribute the material in any medium or format
  • Adapt — remix, transform, and build upon the material

for any purpose, even commercially.

The licensor cannot revoke these freedoms as long as you follow the license terms.

Under the following conditions:

  • Attribution — You must give appropriate credit, provide a link to the license, and indicate if changes were made. You may do so in any reasonable manner, but not in any way that suggests the licensor endorses you or your use.
  • ShareAlike — If you remix, transform, or build upon the material, you must distribute your contributions under the same license as the original.

No additional restrictions — You may not apply legal terms or technological measures that legally restrict others from doing anything the license permits.


You do not have to comply with the license for elements of the material in the public domain or where your use is permitted by an applicable exception or limitation.

No warranties are given. The license may not give you all of the permissions necessary for your intended use. For example, other rights such as publicity, privacy, or moral rights may limit how you use the material.

Suggested attribution statement for derivative works: "Original work created by the Door43 World Missions Community, available at http://door43.org/, and released under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/ ). This work has been changed from the original, and the original authors have not endorsed this work."

Attribution of Door43 Contributors

When importing a resource into Door43, the original work must be attributed as specified by the open license under which it is available. For example, the artwork used in Open Bible Stories is clearly attributed on the project's main page.

Contributors to projects on Door43 agree that the attribution that occurs automatically in the revision history of every page is sufficient attribution for their work. That is, every contributor on Door43 may be listed as "the Door43 World Missions Community" or something to that effect. The contributions of each contributor are preserved in the revision history for that work.

Source Texts

Source texts may only be used if they have one of the following licenses:

See Copyrights, Licensing, and Source Texts for more information.

Next we recommend you learn about:

  • *[Gateway Languages Strategy

](#gl-strategy)* * *[Copyrights, Licensing, and Source Texts

](translation theory and practice.html#translate-source-licensing)*

Gateway Languages Strategy

This page answers the question: *How can every language be reached?


In order to understand this topic, it would be good to read:

](#open-license)* * Translate/Translate Terms

The Gateway Languages Strategy endeavors to equip all people groups with access to the Bible, biblical content, translation training, and translation resources in a language that bilingual people in those groups understand well. Those bilingual people can then translate the Bible and biblical content into a language they understand fully, that is, their own language.

A Gateway Language (GL) is a language of wider communication into which all our translation tools and resources will be made available. We call all the other languages of the word Other Languages (OL). Bilingual speakers use Gateway Language resources to help them translate the Bible into their own language.

Many Gateway Languages are national languages, languages of education, or trade languages within a country. Just as countries vary in their number of national or recognized languages, many will have more than one Gateway Language. India, for example, has several Gateway Languages, while Mozambique has only one. In addition, some Gateway Languages are used in multiple countries or even on multiple continents. For example, Portuguese is a Gateway Language from which Other Language speakers in Brazil and in several counries in Africa can translate the Bible.

The Gateway Languages Strategy prioritizes developing content and making it available in these diverse languages of the world. This provides tools to empower minority language communities to translate scripture themselves.

Next we recommend you learn about:

  • *[WA Translation Tools and Resources


WA Translation Tools and Resources

This page answers the question: *What Bible tranlation tools and resources does Wycliffe Associates provide?


In order to understand this topic, it would be good to read:

  • *[Translating with Wycliffe Associates Resources


Wycliffe Associates has a website that provides information about Bible translation processes, along with Bible translation resources, tools, and links to support. The website is called Bible in Every Language and can be found at Bibleineverylanguage.org.

  • Processes tells about MAST (a methodology for translation), DOT (a methodology for translation into sign languages), SUN (a writing system for deaf people who who neither read nor sign), and REV (a program for revising translations).
  • Resources tells about the Unlocked Literal Bible, Open Bible Stories, and resources that give information to help people translate and check their translations.
  • Tools presents computer programs for Bible translation.
  • Translations has links to the translation resources in English and in other languages as they are translated and uploaded to the website.
  • Support provides points of contact for support with technical issues and translation.

Connect to tech support with an email to helpdesk@techadvancement.com for help with your questions.

Next we recommend you learn about:

MAST Foundation and Philosophy

MAST stands for Moblizied Assistance Supporting Translation. This methodology was developed by a team of Bible scholars, teachers, educators and other believers to accelerate translation and promote local church ownership of translation projects. MAST emphasizes the necessity of mother tongue speakers as primary translators for a project, and provides for the training of those speakers in an eight-step translation process. The first four steps result in a draft of a passage of Scripture. The final four steps are checking steps to improve the quality of the draft. Teams of translators work together in parallel to draft and check first their own work and then each other's work. They also work in small groups to check keywords and content. Throughout the final four steps, translators are encouraged to use Bible translation tools and resources to affirm and improve their translations.

MAST has greatly accelerated Bible translation around the world as hundreds of language communities have successfully leveraged this methodology to produce their own translations of Scripture. Its dependance on teamwork and local ownership are key factors in its success. The tools for translating and checking Scripture support the MAST process by promoting accelerated, accurate, and church-owned translations of the Bible.