Quality Translations—A 40-Year Process!

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Marilynn Kulieke

By Marilynn Kulieke, vice president, Urantia Foundation, Illinois, United States

Editor’s Note: Marilynn’s article is based upon a presentation made by Urantia Foundation’s Translation Committee. Members include Minoo Claire, Víctor Garcia-Bory, Georges Michelson-Dupont, Marilynn Kulieke, Henk Mylanus, Jay Peregrine, and Tamara Strumfeld.

On the very first page of The Urantia Book, the Foreword begins with a statement about the conceptual poverty caused by inadequate meaning of terms on our world. The original translation of the Urantia Papers from cosmic languages into English depended on the use of many of these confusing terms to present enlarged concepts and advanced truth to “expand cosmic consciousness and enhance spiritual perception.” 0:0.2 (1.2) The Divine Counselor makes it clear that language is key to communicating these many new ideas and concepts.

Now try to imagine the challenge of those same word symbols being translated by humans into another language of the realm. How could any person or groups of people create a translation that could be readable and faithful to the original, using consistent terminology throughout? Could there be a more difficult task?

In 1950, the trustees of Urantia Foundation were asked to do just that. First, they were asked to protect the English text of The Urantia Book from harm, and then to maintain custody of ensuing translations. Since that time individuals throughout the world have shared 23 translations with Urantia Foundation, collectively containing approximately 25 million words—words that are poised to inspire the minds and hearts of people all over the planet.

Over the decades, we have learned much about translating The Urantia Book. In 2013, Urantia Foundation developed a quality control process based on reliable translation standards to help our translator and reviser teams to create ever more faithful and beautiful translations. The following steps illustrate our journey to bring the Urantia teachings to the world.

Growing a Translation out of Love for the Urantia Revelation

Phase 1: Preparing for Translating (1 to 10 Years)

As the English text of The Urantia Book finds its way around the world, its teachings inspire readers to translate it into their own mother tongue. By the end of this phase, a seed is planted, and the conditions become ripe for growth.

Phase 2: Appraising the Readiness for a Specific Translation (6 Months to 1 Year)

During this period the conditions needed to create a quality translation are assessed. They are:

• A chief translator/team which is qualified

• Adequate resources to support the translation

• An agreement between a translator and Urantia Foundation

Consider the translation challenges the revelators explain that they themselves face:

It is exceedingly difficult to present enlarged concepts and advanced truth, in our endeavor to expand cosmic consciousness and enhance spiritual perception, when we are restricted to the use of a circumscribed language of the realm. But our mandate admonishes us to make every effort to convey our meanings by using the word symbols of the English tongue. We have been instructed to introduce new terms only when the concept to be portrayed finds no terminology in English which can be employed to convey such a new concept partially or even with more or less distortion of meaning. 0:0.2 (1.2)

A translator/team must overcome many obstacles to create a translation that is:

• Readable in the target language

• Faithful to the original text

• Uniform in the use of terminology

• Free of register shifting

By the end of this phase, it is determined that the seed is strong, the soil is rich, and the conditions right for growth. All is ready for the transformation of individuals and cultures that begins once the spirit inspires.

Phase 3: Translating (9 to 10 Years)

During this phase the translator/team partners with Urantia Foundation to support the creation of a high-quality translation and prepare it to be published. By the end of this phase, the rich soil has allowed the roots to grow deep and leaves to flourish. The transformation of individuals and cultures is on its way.

Phase 4: Maturing (5 to 15 Years)

During this phase the translation is published and distributed. Feedback from different sources is shared, and the desire to create a translation of higher quality grows. As time passes more individuals begin reading the translation. Enhanced understanding means change.

By the end of this phase, the conditions are ripe for change. The soil needs more nutrients and resources to accelerate its growth. Changes in individuals and cultures necessitate language which is more faithful, readable, consistent, and clear.

Phase 5: Revising (9 to 10 Years)

During this phase the translation is revised. Feedback has been received, and a team of dedicated readers has emerged. Terms are clarified, quality is improved, and the text is polished.

By the end of this phase the soil is replenished, and nutrients are sufficient. Fertilizer accelerates its growth. Plans are made to reintegrate the enhanced translation into the thought stream of individuals and cultures.

And around 40 years later . . .

The spread of civilization must wait upon language. Live and growing languages insure the expansion of civilized thinking and planning. During the early ages important advances were made in language. Today, there is great need for further linguistic development to facilitate the expression of evolving thought. 81:6.16 (908.5)

Agriculture Growing Plants Plant Seedling

Foundation Info

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