How the Idea for a Urantia Book Translation Tool was Born

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Rogério da Silva

By Rogério da Silva, Braganca, Portugal

More than a decade ago, on a Sunday in September 2000, just after lunch, I decided to read The Urantia Book in Spanish. There was no translation in my native language, Portuguese, at that time. Although I had had this “very strange book” for at least eight months, I didn’t open it until I had a very unhappy experience in a meeting at the Catholic Church―an experience that made me very sad and drove me to The Urantia Book. Two hours after I started reading, I was already smitten with it.

The following day I sent an email to Urantia Foundation asking, "Is this true? Are there more people in the world who believe in its contents?" A response came back with contact information for a reader living in São Paulo, Brazil. He was translating the book into Portuguese and lived very close to my office. A few days later, we met, and I had my first glimpse at what a giant work it would be to translate this marvelous book.

The translator started giving me some of the translated papers, and he asked me to produce files that could be sent to Urantia Foundation to start the publishing process. With the translated papers in my hands, I decided first to make a bilingual database with the English text in order to check the translation.

From this bilingual database, it took a single step to design a tool that enabled all the Latin languages to be seen on the same screen. It was great! It was now 2006, and although Urantia Foundation had not yet printed the Portuguese translation, a revision team had started working on a revision. Whenever a translation question arose, we could find the solution by comparing the Spanish, French, or Italian translations with the English.

In 2009, during Urantia Association International’s conference in Malaga, Spain, I met with Georges Michelson-Dupont, the Foundation’s manager of translations. He saw the database tool and wanted to expand it so that all translators of The Urantia Book could use it. With this new technology, we have an online system enabling us to have the final work of each translation/revision team, the history of all changes made to each paragraph, and the ability to show, on the same screen, all previous revisions made to each specific paragraph. The Urantia Book has more than 16,000 paragraphs, and revisions average four changes per paragraph. That is roughly 70,000 revision records; a small recording task for a computer database, but an impossible one for a human being.

first bilingual database tool
This is a screen shot from the first bilingual database tool.
current translator tool
This is a screen shot from the current translator tool. What progress!

Foundation Info

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