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Checking Manual Volume 1

Introduction to the Checking Manual

This page answers the question: What is the Checking Manual?

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Translation Checking Manual

This manual describes how to check translated biblical content for accuracy, clarity, and naturalness.

Volume One

Volume One contains instructions for checking the translation that the translation team will use to check each other’s work. If they follow these instructions, they will complete checking level one. Volume One also contains instructions for the translation team to use for checking the translation with the language community for clarity and naturalness, and for church leaders to use when they check the translation for accuracy. If they follow these instructions, they will complete checking level two. This volume also contains instructions for the leaders of church networks to use for checking the translation for accuracy at level three.

Volume Two

Volume Two contains further instructions for checking the translation that the leaders of church networks can use to check the translation. Because many leaders of church networks do not speak the language of the translation, Volume Two also contains instructions for creating a back translation, which allows people to check a translation in a language that they do not speak.

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Introduction to Translation Checking

This page answers the question: Why do we do translation checking?

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Translation Checking

Introduction

As part of the translation process, it is necessary that several people check the translation to make sure that it is clearly communicating the message that it should communicate. A beginning translator who was told to check his translation once said, “But I speak my native language perfectly. The translation is for that language. What more is needed?” What he said was true, but there are two more things to keep in mind.

One thing is that he may not have understood the source text correctly, and so someone who knows what it should say might be able to correct the translation. This could be because he did not correctly understand a phrase or expression in the source language. In this case, someone else who understands the source language well can correct the translation.

Or it could be that he did not understand something about what the Bible meant to communicate at a certain place. In this case, someone who knows the Bible well, such as a Bible teacher or a Bible translation checker, can correct the translation.

The other thing is that, although the translator may know very well what the text should say, the way he translated it might mean something else to a different person. That is, another person might think that the translation is talking about something other than what the translator intended, or the person hearing or reading the translation might not understand what the translator was trying to say. That is why it is always necessary to check what someone else understands from the translation so that we can make it more accurate and more clear.

This is a guide to the process of checking, in the form of a scale with three levels.

This checking scale helps to show the extent to which the accuracy and clarity of a translation have been verified. These checking levels have been developed by the unfoldingWord network (see https://unfoldingword.org ), the same group that manages Door43 with the help of many volunteers, and they are used to indicate the checking level of all biblical content on Door43.

The Checking Levels

There are three checking levels:

Any translation that has not yet been checked to Level One is considered to have not been checked and is assigned no checking status.

The purpose of having several Checking Levels is to make translated materials quickly available to the church, while also allowing the content to continue to be checked and corroborated in an open environment. At all times, the degree to which its accuracy has been checked will be clearly indicated. We believe this will result in a faster checking process, allow broad church participation and ownership, and produce better translations.

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Introduction to the Checking Levels

This page answers the question: How do the checking levels work?

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How Checking Levels Work

Here are some important tips to remember when working with Checking Levels:

  • Only translations that have reached Checking Level One or higher will be made available on the unfoldingWord website (see http://ufw.io/content/) and the unfoldingWord mobile app.
  • Only translations that have reached Checking Level Three will be approved as source texts for other translations.
  • When a Checking Level has been completed and all appropriate edits have been made to the translation on door43, the checkers will inform unfoldingWord of the details of the check, including who did the checking and their title or qualifications as a translation checker. unfoldingWord will then harvest a copy of what is on door43, digitally publish a static copy of it on the unfoldingWord website (see https://unfoldingword.org ) and make it available on the unfoldingWord mobile app. A print-ready PDF will also be produced and made available for download. It will continue to be possible to change the checked version on door43, allowing for future checking and editing.
  • For Open Bible Stories projects: Only Open Bible Stories translations that have been made from version 3.0 or higher of the English source text are eligible to be checked to Level One (or higher). Translations made from versions before 3.0 must be updated before proceeding with Checking Levels. See Source Texts and Version Numbers.

The Checking Levels

The strategy for quality assurance of unfoldingWord content, including Open Bible Stories, is described briefly here and in detail at http://ufw.io/qa/ .

The three-level checking scale we use is dependent on the unfoldingWord Translation Guidelines. All translated content is compared against the theology of the Statement of Faith and against the procedures and methodologies of the Translation Guidelines. With these documents forming the foundation, these are the three levels of checking used in the unfoldingWord project:

Checking the Checkers

The process and checking framework described in this document depends on an ongoing process of checking and revising content, as determined by the Church that uses the content. Feedback loops are encouraged (and modeled in translation software, where feasible) with a view to maximizing input from the greatest number of users of the content. The translations of the content are made available on the translation platform (see http://door43.org ), which is designed to make it easy for users to collaboratively create content that increases in quality over time.

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The Goal of Checking

This page answers the question: What is the Goal of Checking?

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Why Check?

The goal of checking is to help the translation team produce a translation that is accurate, natural, clear, and accepted by the church. The translation team also wants to achieve this goal. This might seem easy, but it is actually very difficult to do, and takes many people and many, many revisions to the translation to achieve. For this reason, the checkers play a very important role in helping the translation team to produce a translation that is accurate, natural, clear, and accepted by the church.

Accurate

The checkers who are pastors, church leaders, and leaders of church networks will help the translation team produce a translation that is accurate. They will do this by comparing the translation with the source language and, when possible, also with the original languages of the Bible. For more information about accurate translations, see Create Accurate Translations.

Clear

The checkers who are members of the language community will help the translation team produce a translation that is clear. They will do this by listening to the translation and pointing out to them the places where the translation is confusing or does not make sense to them. Then the translation team can fix those places so that they are clear. For more information about clear translations, see Create Clear Translations.

Natural

The checkers who are members of the language community will also help the translation team produce a translation that is natural. They will do this by listening to the translation and pointing out to them the places where the translation sounds strange and does not sound like the way that someone who speaks their language would say it. Then the translation team can fix those places so that they are natural. For ore information about natural translations, see Create Natural Translations.

Church-approved

The checkers who are members of a church in the language community will help the translation team produce a translation that is approved and accepted by the church in that community. They will do this by working together with members and leaders of other churches from the language community. When members and leaders that represent the churches of a language community work together and agree that the translation is good, then it will be accepted and used by the churches in that community. For more information about translations that are approved by the church, see Create Church-Approved Translations.

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Checking Authority and Process

This page answers the question: What is the difference between the authority to check a Bible translation and the process for checking?

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Explanation

The Church in each people group has the authority to decide for themselves what is and what is not a good quality translation of the Bible in their language. Authority to check and approve a Bible translation (which is constant) is separate from capacity, or the ability to carry out the process of checking a Bible translation (which can be increased). The authority for determining quality belongs to the Church, independent of their current ability, experience, or access to resources that facilitate the checking of Bible translations. So while the church in a language group has the authority to check and approve their own Bible translation, the unfoldingWord tools, including these modules of translationAcademy, are designed to ensure that the church also has the capacity to check the quality of their Bible translation using an excellent process.

This model proposes a three-tiered approach to affirming the quality of a translation, designed to reflect three general levels of Church authority within a people group:

  • Authority Level 1: Determined by the Church-based translation team.
  • Authority Level 2: Determined by the agreement of pastors/elders who are members of different Church networks in the language group, and tested with the language community.
  • Authority Level 3: Determined by the leadership of Church networks with a presence in the people group that speaks the language.

The process for checking a translation will be described in the modules under the heading “Checking Process.”

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Authority Level 1

This page answers the question: What is authority level 1?

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Authority Level 1: Affirmation by Translation Team

The intent of this level is to affirm the agreement of the translation team with standard Christian doctrine, as well as with the guidelines for ensuring the accuracy of the translation itself. Content published at this level promotes the broadest reach of the content as an active project, with an open invitation (implied or direct) to members of the language community to suggest improvements to the translation.

To achieve this level, the translation team asserts that the Statement of Faith is an accurate reflection of their own beliefs and that the translated content is also in harmony with it.

The translator (or team) asserts that the translation has been done in accordance with the Translation Guidelines and that they have made use of available exegetical and translation checking resources in the translation process, including the translationNotes and translationWords.

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Authority Level 2

This page answers the question: What is authority level 2?

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Authority Level 2: Affirmation by Community

The intent of this level is two-fold:

  1. to affirm the effectiveness of the form of the language used in the translation, as determined by representatives of the language community.
  2. to affirm the accuracy of the translation, as determined by pastors or leaders from the local churches that will use it.

At this level, the model implements the concept of a “testimony of two or three witnesses” in the checking process.

To achieve this level, the translation team will submit the translation to members of the language community that will use the translation. The language community will review the translation for clarity and naturalness.

The translation team will then submit the translation to church leaders from the language community that will use the translation. These church leaders will review the translation for accuracy by checking it against the source texts, the exegetical resources, the Statement of Faith, and the Translation Guidelines.

The translation team will edit the translation based on these reviews so that the language community affirms that it is natural and clear, and so that the church leaders affirm that it is accurate.

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Authority Level 3

This page answers the question: What is authority level 3?

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Authority Level 3: Affirmation by Church Leadership

The intent of this level is to affirm that the translation agrees with the intent of the original texts and with the sound doctrine of the Church historic and universal.

To achieve this level, the translation team will submit the translation for review by the highest leadership of the Church that speaks the language. It is best if these leaders represent as many of the major groups of churches that exist in the language community as possible. Level 3 is thus achieved by the mutual agreement of the leadership of multiple church networks.

The translation team will edit the translation so that the leadership of these church networks affirm that it is an accurate translation and will be accepted by their church fellowships.

Level 3 is completed when the translation has been thoroughly checked and approved by the leadership (or their delegates) of at least two church networks that have personnel trained in biblical languages and content.

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Self Check

This page answers the question: How do I check my first draft?

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How to do a Self-Check

  • After you have translated a passage without looking at the source text, compare it again to the source text. Make sure that it says all the parts of the message of the source text and does not leave out anything. If some part of the message was missing, put it in your translation at the point where it fits best in your language.
  • If you are translating the Bible, compare your translation with other translations of the same Bible passage. If one of those makes you think of a better way to say something, then revise your translation in that way. If one of those helps you to understand something better than you did before, then change your translation so that it communicates the meaning better.
  • After these steps, read your translation out loud to yourself. Fix anything that does not sound like it is the way that someone from your community would say it. Sometimes parts of sentences need to be put in a different order.

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Peer Check

This page answers the question: How can others help me check my work?

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How to do a Peer Check

  • Give your translation to a member of the translation team who did not work on this passage. Have that person go through all of the same steps of the Self Check, making note of any places that need fixing.
  • Review the translation together and fix those places.
  • Read the revised translation out loud to this person and fix anything that does not sound like it is the way that someone from your community would say it.

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translationWord Check

This page answers the question: How can I check for the important words in my translation?

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How to do a translationWord Check

  • Make a list of the translationWords in the story or Bible passage that you translate, along with the term that you choose for it in the target language. It is best if you can do this on a chart so that you can list the source word or phrase in one column and the target word or phrase in another column. Further columns could list equivalent terms in other languages and the references where these terms occur in the Bible. Make sure that everyone translating Bible books that use these terms has access to the chart so that you can all use the same words or phrases in your translation.
  • Use the list of words and definitions in the translationWords section of Door43 or translationStudio to help you to make a list of these words and to understand what they mean.
  • Each time the translationWord occurs in the source text, make sure that the word you have chosen for the translation still makes sense in that context. If it does not, discuss the problem with others on the translation team and try to find a solution together. You may need to use a different term, or you may need to use more than one term for the different contexts, or you may need to find another way to communicate the translationWord, such as using a longer phrase.

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Accuracy Check

This page answers the question: How can I do an accuracy check?

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Checking the Translation for Accuracy

The purpose of this section is to make sure that the new translation is accurate. In other words, when compared with the source translation, does the new translation communicate the same meaning (not necessarily with the same wording or the exact order)?

Level One

The people who do the Level One accuracy check can be members of the translation team, but they should not be the same people who translated the story or Bible passage that they are checking. They can also be members of the community who are not part of the translation team. They should be speakers of the language of the translation, be respected in the community, and, if possible, know the Bible well in the language of wider communication. The purpose of this step is to make sure that the translation accurately communicates the meaning of the original story or Bible passage. The checkers will be helping the translation team think about the best way to translate the meaning of the story or Bible passage in their own language. There can be one person who checks a story or Bible passage, or more than one. Having more than one person checking a story or passage can be helpful, because often different checkers will notice different things.

Levels Two and Three

The people who do the Level Two or Level Three accuracy check should not be members of the translation team. They should be church leaders who speak the language of the translation and who know the Bible well in the source language. It is true that the language community members who checked the translation for naturalness and clarity were not allowed to look at the source while they were doing their checking. But for accuracy testing, the new translation must be compared with the source text, or with the source in the original biblical languages.

All Levels

The people doing the checking should follow these steps:

  1. Each of the checkers should read the translation (or listen to the recording) by himself, comparing it to the original Bible passage or story in the language of wider communication. It can be helpful for the translator to read the translation out loud to the checker while the checker follows along looking at the source Bible or Bibles. As the checker reads (or listens to) the translation and compares it to the source, he should keep in mind these general questions:
  • Does the translation add anything to the original meaning?
  • Is there any part of the meaning that is left out of the translation?
  • Has the translation changed the meaning in any way?
  1. The checker should make notes where he thinks there might be a problem or something to be improved. Each checker will discuss these notes with the translation team.
  2. After the checkers have checked a Bible Story or chapter individually, they should all meet with the translator or translation team and review the story or Bible passage together. As they come to the places where each checker made note of a problem or question, the checkers can ask their questions or make suggestions for improvement. As the checkers and the translation team discuss the questions and suggestions, they might think of other questions or new ways of saying things. This is good. As the checkers and the translation team work together, God will help them discover the best way to communicate the meaning of the story or Bible passage.
  3. After the checkers and the translation team have decided what they need to change, the translation team will revise the translation.
  4. After the translation team revises the translation, they should read it out loud to each other or to other members of the language community to make sure that it still sounds natural in their language.
  5. The translator (or team) makes a note of any Bible passages that are still difficult to understand, and where they would like additional help from other Bible checkers. These notes will be used by the church leaders and checkers in levels two and three, so that they can help the translators understand the meaning and communicate it more clearly.
Additional Questions

These questions can also be helpful for finding anything that might be inaccurate in the translation:

  • Was everything that was mentioned in the source language translation also mentioned in the flow of the new (local) translation? (Did the meaning of the new translation follow the message (not necessarily the wording) of the source translation? Sometimes if the arrangement of words or the order of ideas is different than in the source translation, it sounds better that way and is still accurate.)
  • Were the people introduced in each story doing the same things as those mentioned in the source language translation? (Was it easy to see who was doing the events of the new translation when it was compared to the source language?)
  • Are there translationWords used in the new translation that do not match your understanding of the words in the source version? (Think about things like this: How do your people talk about a priest (one who sacrifices to God) or a temple (the sacrifice place of the Jews) without using a word borrowed from the source language?)
  • Are the phrases used in the new translation helpful in understanding the more difficult phrases of the source translation? (Are the phrases of the new translation put together in a way that brings better understanding and still fit with the meaning of the source language translation?)
  • Another way to determine if the text is accurate is to ask comprehension questions about the translation, such as, “who did what, when, where, how, and why.” There are questions that have already been prepared to help with this. To view the translationQuestions go to http://ufw.io/tq/. The answers to those questions should be the same as the answers to those questions about the source language translation. If they are not, there is a problem in the translation.

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Language Community Check

This page answers the question: How can the language community help me check my work?

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Language Community Check

After you, the translation team, have performed the checks listed under Level One, you are ready to take the translation to the community so that you can check to see if it communicates the message clearly and naturally to them in the target language.

For this check you will read a section of the translation to members of the language community. Before you read the translation, tell the people listening that you want them to stop you if they hear something that is not natural in their language. For more information on how to check a translation for naturalness, see Natural Translation.

There are a set of questions and answers for each Open Bible Story and for each chapter of the Bible that you can use to test the translation to make sure that it is communicating clearly. See http://ufw.io/tq/ for the questions.

To use these questions, follow these steps:

  1. Read the passage of the translation to one or more members of the language community who will answer the questions. These members of the language community must be people who have not been involved in the translation before. In other words, the community members who are asked the questions should not already know the answers to the questions from working on the translation or from previous knowledge of the Bible. We want them to be able to answer the questions only from hearing or reading the translation of the story or Bible passage. This is how we will know if the translation is communicating clearly or not. For this same reason, it is important that the community members not look at a Bible while they are answering these questions.
  2. Ask the community members some of the questions for that passage, one question at a time. It is not necessary to use all of the questions for each story or chapter if it seems that the community members are understanding the translation well.
  3. After each question, a member of the language community will answer the question. If the person only answers with a “yes” or a “no,” then the questioner should ask a further question so that he can be sure that the translation is communicating well. A further question could be something like, “How do you know that?” or “What part of the translation tells you that?”
  4. Write down the answer that the person gives. If the person’s answer is similar to the suggested answer that has been provided for the question, then the translation of the story is clearly communicating the right information at that point. The answer does not have to be exactly the same as the suggested answer to be a right answer, but it should give basically the same information. Sometimes the suggested answer is very long. If the person answers with only part of the suggested answer, that is also a right answer.
  5. If the answer is unexpected or very different than the suggested answer, or if the person cannot answer the question, then the translation team will need to revise the part of the translation that communicates that information so that it communicates the information more clearly.
  6. After the translation team has revised the translation of the passage, then ask other members of the language community the same questions, that is, ask other speakers of the language who have not been involved in checking the same passage before. If they answer the questions correctly, then the translation is now communicating well.
  7. Repeat this process with each story or Bible chapter until members of the language community can answer the questions well, showing that the translation is communicating the right information clearly. The translation is ready for the church check of level 2 when language community members who have not heard the translation before can answer the questions correctly.
  8. Go to the Community Evaluation (see Language Community Evaluation Questions) Page and answer the questions there.

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Church Leader Check

This page answers the question: How can the church leaders help improve the translation?

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How to do a Church Leader Check

After the translation has been checked by community members for clarity, it will be checked by a group of church leaders for accuracy. This group must consist of at least three church leaders who are native speakers of the target language, and who understand well one of the languages in which the source text is available. They should not be related to, or otherwise closely connected with, the translation team. Usually these reviewers will be pastors. These church leaders should represent the different church networks in the language community. We recommend that the group include church leaders from three different church networks, if the community has that many.

These reviewers should follow these steps:

  1. Read the Translation Guidelines to make sure that the translation is in agreement with both of those as they review the translation.
  2. Answer the questions about the translator or translation team that are located at Translator Qualifications.
  3. Verify that the translation has been done in a style that is acceptable to the intended audience by asking the questions at Acceptable Style.
  4. Verify that the translation accurately communicates the meaning of the source text by following the guidelines at Accuracy Check.
  5. Verify that the translation is complete by following the guidelines at Complete Translation.
  6. After you have reviewed several chapters or one book of the Bible, meet with the translation team and ask about each problem. Discuss with the translation team how they might adjust the translation in order to fix the problems. Make plans to meet again with the translation team at a later time, after they have had time to adjust the translation and test it with the community.
  7. Meet again with the translation team to verify that they have fixed the problems.
  8. Affirm that the translation is good. See Level 2 Affirmation to do that on the Level Two Affirmation page.

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Other Methods

This page answers the question: What are some other methods that I can use to check the translation?

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Other Checking Methods

As well as asking questions, there are other checking methods that you may also use to ensure that the translation is easy to read and sounds natural to the listeners. Here are some other methods that you may like to try:

  • Retell Method: You, the translator or tester, can read a few verses and ask someone else to retell what was said. This helps to check the clarity and naturalness of the translation and offers alternate ways of saying the same thing.
  • Reading Method: Someone other than you, the translator or tester, should read a portion of the translation while you take notes where the pauses and mistakes occur. This will show how easy or how difficult it is to read and understand the translation. Look at the places in the translation where the reader paused or made mistakes and consider what part of the translation was difficult. You may need to revise the translation at those points so that it is easier to read and understand.
  • Offer Alternate translations: In areas where you are not sure of the best way to express a word or phrase, ask other people for an alternative translation or offer a choice between two translations and see which alternative translation people think is the most clear.
  • Reviewer Input: Let others whom you respect read your translation. Ask them to take notes and tell you where it might be improved. Look for better word choices, natural expressions, and even spelling adjustments.
  • Discussion Groups: Ask people to read the translation aloud in a group of people and allow them and others to ask questions for clarification. Pay attention to the words they use, since alternate words and expressions come up when someone is trying to make sense of a difficult point, and these alternate words and expressions might be better than the ones in the translation. Pay attention to the places where people do not understand the translation, and work to make those places clearer.

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Accurate Translation

This page answers the question: Is the translation accurate?

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An Accurate Translation

It is very important to make sure that the new translation is accurate. Those who have been chosen to check the translation for accuracy have the responsibility to make sure that it communicates the same meaning as the source translation.

For instructions on how to do this, go to Accuracy Check, and follow the steps in the section under the heading “All Levels.”

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Clear Translation

This page answers the question: How can I tell if the translation is clear?

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A Clear Translation

Ask yourself questions like the following as you read the translation to see if the translated message is clear. For this section of testing, do not compare the new translation with the source language translation. If there is a problem at any place, make a note of it so that you can discuss the problem with the translation team at a later time.

  1. Do the words and phrases of the translation make the message understandable? (Are the words confusing, or do they tell you plainly what the translator means?)
  2. Do your community members use the words and expressions found in the translation, or has the translator borrowed many words from the national language? (Is this the way your people talk when they want to say important things in your language?)
  3. Can you read the text easily and understand what the writer might say next? (Is the translator using a good style of telling the story? Is he telling things in a way that makes sense, so that each section fits with what came before and what comes after?)

Additional help:

  • One way to determine if the text is clear is to read a few verses at a time out loud and ask someone listening to retell the story after each section. If the person can easily restate your message, then the writing is clear.
  • If there is a place where the translation is not clear, make a note of that so that you can discuss it with the translation team.

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Natural Translation

This page answers the question: Is the translation natural?

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A Natural Translation

To translate the Bible so that it is NATURAL means that:

The translation should sound like it was written by a member of the target language community—not by a foreigner.

To check a translation for naturalness, it is not helpful to compare it to the source language. During this check for naturalness, no one should look at the source language Bible. People will look at the source language Bible again for other checks, such as the check for accuracy, but not during this check.

To check a translation for naturalness, you or another member of the language community must read it out loud. You can read it to one other person who speaks the target language or to a group of people. Before you start reading, tell the people listening that you want them to stop you when they her something that does not sound like the way someone from your language community would say it. When someone stops you, then you can discuss together how someone would say that same thing in a more natural way.

It is helpful to think about a situation in your village in which people would talk about the same kind of thing that the translation is talking about. Imagine people that you know talking about that thing, and then say it out loud in that way. If others agree that that is a good and natural way to say it, then write it that way in the translation.

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Acceptable Style

This page answers the question: Did the translation team use an acceptable style?

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Translation in an Acceptable Style

As you read the new translation, ask yourself these questions. These are questions that will help determine whether or not the translation has been done in a style that is acceptable to the language community:

  1. Is the translation written in a way that can be understood easily by both young and old members of the language community? (Whenever someone speaks, they can change their choice of words for either a younger or an older audience. Is this translation done using words that communicate well to both young and old people?
  2. Is the style of this translation more formal or informal? (Is the manner of speaking the way that the local community prefers, or should it be more or less formal?)
  3. Does the translation use too many words that were borrowed from another language, or are these words acceptable to the language community?
  4. Did the writer use an appropriate form of the language acceptable to the wider language community? (Is the writer familiar with the dialects of your language found throughout the area? Did the writer use a form of the language that all of the language community understands well, or did he use a form that is used in only a small area?

If there is a place where the translation uses language in the wrong style, make a note of that so that you can discuss it with the translation team.

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Complete Translation

This page answers the question: Is the translation complete?

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A Complete Translation

The purpose of this section is to make sure that the translation is complete. In this section, the new translation must be compared to the source translation. As you compare the two translations, ask yourself these questions:

  1. Is the translation missing any of its parts? In other words, does the translation include all the events of the book that was translated?
  2. Does the translation include all the verses of the book that was translated? (When you look at the verse numbering of the source language translation, are all of the verses included in the target language translation?) Sometimes there are differences in verse numbering between translations. For example, in some translations some verses are grouped together or sometimes certain verses are put in footnotes. Even though there may be these kinds of differences between the source translation and the target translation, the target translation is still considered to be complete.
  3. Are there places in the translation where something seems to be left out, or there seems to be a different message than is found in the source language translation? (The wording and the order can be different, but the language that the translator used should give the same message as the source language translation.)

If there is a place where the translation is not complete, make a note of that so that you can discuss it with the translation team.

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Self-Assessment Rubric

This page answers the question: How can I objectively assess the quality of the translation?

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

Self-assessment of Translation Quality

The objective of this section is to describe a process by which the Church can reliably determine for themselves the quality of a translation. This following assessment is intended to suggest some of the most important techniques for checking a translation, rather than to describe every conceivable check that could be employed. Ultimately, the decision of what checks are used, when, and by whom should be made by the Church.

How to Use the Assessment

This assessment method employs two types of statements. Some are “yes/no” statements where a negative response indicates a problem that must be resolved. Other sections use an equally-weighted method that provides translation teams and checkers with statements about the translation. Each statement should be scored by the person doing the check (beginning with the translation team) on a scale of 0-2:

0 - disagree

1 - agree somewhat

2 - strongly agree

At the end of the review, the total value of all responses in a section should be added up and, if the responses accurately reflect the state of the translation, this value will provide the reviewer with an approximation of the probability that the translated chapter is of excellent quality. The rubric is designed to be simple and provide the reviewer with an objective method to assess where the work needs improvement. For example, if the translation scores relatively well in “Accuracy” but quite poorly in “Naturalness” and “Clarity,” then the translation team needs to do more community checking.

The rubric is intended to be used for each chapter of translated biblical content. The translation team should do an assessment of each chapter after they finish their other checks, and then the level 2 church checkers should do it again, and then the level 3 checkers should also assess the translation with this checklist. As more detailed and extensive checking of the chapter is performed by the Church at each level, the points for the chapter should be updated from each of the first four sections (overview, naturalness, clarity, accuracy), allowing the church and community to see how the translation is improving.

The Self-Assessment

The process is divided into five parts: the overview (information about the translation itself), naturalness, clarity, accuracy, and Church approval.

1. Overview

circle either “yes” or “no” for each statement below.

**no yes** This translation is a meaning-based translation that attempts to communicate the meaning of the original text in ways that are natural, clear, and accurate in the target language.
**no yes** Those involved in checking the translation are first-language speakers of the target language.
**no yes** The translation of this chapter is in agreement with the Statement of Faith.
**no yes** The translation of this chapter has been done in accordance with the Translation Guidelines.

2. Naturalness: “this is my language”

This section can be strengthened through doing more community checking. See Language Community Check

0 1 2 Those who speak this language and have heard this chapter agree that it is translated using the correct form of the language.

0 1 2 Those who speak this language agree that the key words used in this chapter are acceptable and correct for this culture.

0 1 2 The illustrations or stories in this chapter are easy for people who speak this language to understand.

0 1 2 Those who speak this language agree that the sentence structure and order of the text in this chapter is natural and flows correctly.

0 1 2 The review of the translation of this chapter for naturalness included community members who have not been directly involved in creating the translation of this chapter.

0 1 2 The review of the translation of this chapter for naturalness included both believers and non-believers, or at least believers who are relatively unfamiliar with the Bible so that they do not know what the text is supposed to say before they hear it.

0 1 2 The review of the translation of this chapter for naturalness included speakers of the language from many different age groups.

0 1 2 The review of the translation of this chapter for naturalness included both men and women.

3. Clarity: “the meaning is clear”

This section can be strengthened through doing more community checking. See Language Community Check

0 1 2 This chapter is translated using language that native speakers of the language agree is easy to understand.

0 1 2 Speakers of this language agree that the translations of names, places, and verb tenses are all correct in this chapter.

0 1 2 Figures of speech in this chapter make sense for people in this culture.

0 1 2 Speakers of this language agree that the way this chapter is structured does not distract from the meaning.

0 1 2 The review of the translation of this chapter for clarity included community members who have not been directly involved in creating the translation of this chapter.

0 1 2 The review of the translation of this chapter for clarity included both believers and non-believers, or at least believers who are relatively unfamiliar with the Bible so that they do not know what the text is supposed to say before they hear it.

0 1 2 The review of the translation of this chapter for clarity included speakers of the language from many different age groups.

0 1 2 The review of the translation of this chapter for clarity included both men and women.

4. Accuracy: “the translation communicates what the original source text communicated”

This section can be strengthened through doing more accuracy checking. See Accuracy Check

0 1 2 A complete list of all important words in the source text for this chapter has been used to help ensure all terms are present in the translation.

0 1 2 All important words are translated correctly in this chapter.

0 1 2 All important words are translated consistently in this chapter, as well as in other places where the important words appear.

0 1 2 Exegetical resources have been used for the entire chapter to identify and resolve potential translation challenges, including the Notes and translationWords.

0 1 2 Historical details in the source text (like names, places, and events) have been preserved in the translation.

0 1 2 The meaning of each figure of speech in the translated chapter has been compared and aligned to the intent of the original.

0 1 2 The translation has been tested with native speakers who were not involved in creating the translation and they agree that the translation accurately communicates the intended meaning of the source text.

0 1 2 The translation of this chapter has been compared against at least two source texts.

0 1 2 All questions or disagreements about any of the meaning in this chapter have been resolved.

0 1 2 The translation of this chapter has been compared against the original texts (Hebrew, Greek, Aramaic) to check for correct lexical definitions and intent of the original texts.

5. Church approval: “the naturalness, clarity, and accuracy of the translation is approved by the Church that speaks that language”

**no yes** Church leaders who have checked this translation are native speakers of the target language, and include someone who understands well one of the languages in which the source text is available.
**no yes** People from the language community, both men and women, old and young, have reviewed the translation of this chapter and agree that it is natural and clear. (Note: this addresses the first part of the community check for Level 2.)
**no yes** Church leaders from at least two different church networks have reviewed the translation of this chapter and agree that it is accurate. (This addresses the final aspect of Level 2, the Church check).
**no yes** The leadership or their delegates of at least two different church networks have reviewed the translation of this chapter and endorse it as a faithful translation of this chapter of the Bible in this language. (This addresses Level 3.)

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Checking Level One - Affirmation by Translation Team

This page answers the question: How do I do a level one check?

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

Checking Level One – Translation Team Check

Level One checking will be done primarily by the translation team, with some help from others in the language community. The translator or translation team should check their translation before they translate very many stories or chapters of the Bible, so that they can correct mistakes as early as possible in the translation process. Many of the steps in this process will need to be done several times before the translation is finished.

For the purposes of the unfoldingWord project, translations of Bible texts and biblical content are able to be published after they reach Checking Level One. This enables the broadest reach of the content as an active project, with an open invitation to others in the language community (implied or direct) to help improve the translation.

Steps for checking under Level One:

These are the steps that the translation team must follow in order to achieve Checking Level One:

  1. Contact. Make contact with at least one element of the unfoldingWord network, notifying unfoldingWord that you intend to begin translation. To get information about how to do that, see Finding Answers
  2. Review. Review the Translation Guidelines.
  3. Agree. Agree that the Statement of Faith is an accurate reflection of your own beliefs and that you intend to translate the content in harmony with it and also in accordance with the Translation Guidelines by signing the form (see http://ufw.io/forms/).
  4. Draft. Make a draft translation of some portions of the text. For instructions on how to make a draft translation, see First Draft.
  5. Self Check. For instructions on how to do a Self Check of your draft translation, see Self Check.
  6. Peer Check. For instructions on how to do a Peer Check of your draft translation, see Peer Check.
  7. translationWord Check. For instructions on how to do an translationWord Check of your draft translation, see translationWord Check.
  8. Accuracy Check. For instructions on how to do an Accuracy Check of your draft translation, see Accuracy Check.
  9. Affirmation. Affirm that you, as a translation team or individual, have made full use of the translationNotes, the definitions of translationWords, and the other exegetical and translation checking resources in the translation process, and that you have followed the steps for checking under Level One.

For instructions on how to affirm completion of Level One, see Level 1 Affirmation.

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Level 1 Affirmation

This page answers the question: How do I affirm that I have finished level 1 checking?

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

Proper Documentation for Level 1 Affirmation

We, the members of the translation team, affirm that we have completed the steps below for level 1 checking:

  • Initial study of the text, using:
    • The translationNotes
    • The definitions of translationWords
  • Individual blind drafting
  • Individual self check
  • Peer check
  • Key word check as a team
  • Verse-by-verse accuracy check as a team
  • Final editing, including everything learned from the earlier editing sessions, the translationNotes, and the definitions of translationWords

Names of translation team members:

  • Name or pseudonym:
  • Name or pseudonym:
  • Name or pseudonym:
  • Name or pseudonym:
  • Name or pseudonym:
  • Name or pseudonym:

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Checking Level Two - Affirmation by Community

This page answers the question: How do I do a level 2 check?

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

Checking Level Two - External Check

The purpose of Level Two checking is to verify that representative groups from the local language community agree that the translation is a good one.

Level Two checking will be done in two ways:

  1. Language Community Check. The translation will be checked by members of the language community to make sure that it is clear, natural, and understandable. For the steps to follow to do the Language Community Check, see Language Community Check.
  2. Church Leader Check. The translation will be checked by a group of church leaders from the language community to make sure that it is accurate. For the steps to follow to do the Church Leader Check, see Church Leader Check.

Once this has been done, this work needs to be affirmed (see Level 2 Affirmation).

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Language Community Evaluation Questions

This page answers the question: How can I show that the community approves the translation?

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

We, the members of the translation team, affirm that we have checked the translation with members of the language community.

  • We have checked the translation with old people and young people, and with men and women.
  • We used the translationQuestions when we checked the translation with the community.
  • We corrected the translation to make it clearer and easier to understand in the places where the community members did not understand it well.

Please also answer the following questions. The answers to these questions will help those in the wider Christian community know that the target language community finds the translation to be clear, accurate, and natural.

  • List a few passages where the community feedback was helpful. How did you change these passages to make them clearer?


  • Write an explanation for some of the Important Terms, explaining how they are equal to terms used in the source language. This will help the checkers understand why you chose these terms.


  • Does the community verify that there is a good flow to the language when the passages are read out loud? (Does the language sound like the writer was a person from your own community?)


The community leaders might want to add their own information to this or make a summary statement about how acceptable this translation is to the local community. This can be included as part of the Level Two Community Check Evaluation information. The wider church leadership will have access to this information, and it will help them validate the translation as approved by the local Christian community when they do the Level Two Church check and also Level Three Checking.

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Level 2 Affirmation

This page answers the question: How can church leaders affirm that the translation is good?

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

Proper Documentation for Level Two Affirmation

We, as church leaders in our language community, affirm the following:

  1. The translation conforms to the Statement of Faith and Translation Guidelines.
  2. The translation is accurate and clear in the target language.
  3. The translation uses an acceptable style of the language.
  4. The translation uses an appropriate alphabet and system of spelling.
  5. The community approves of the translation.
  6. The community evaluation form has been completed

If there are any remaining problems, make a note of them here for the attention of the Level Three Checkers.

Names and positions of the level 2 checkers:

  • Name:
    • Position:
  • Name:
    • Position:
  • Name:
    • Position:
  • Name:
    • Position:
  • Name:
    • Position:
  • Name:
    • Position:

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Checking Level Three - Affirmation by Church Leadership

This page answers the question: How do I do a level 3 check?

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

Checking Level Three - Authenticated Check

Level Three checking will be done by groups or organizations that are recognized by the churches in a language community. The leaders from these groups will verify that they approve of the distribution and use of the translation among the people affiliated with them. This approval is not required for distribution of the translation, but rather serves to validate it.

Those who do Level Three checking need to be other than the people who did Level Two checking.

The intent of this level is to affirm the alignment of the translation with the intent of the original texts and the sound doctrine of the Church historic and universal, through the review and affirmation by the leadership of the Church that speaks the language. Level 3 is thus achieved by the mutual agreement of the leadership of multiple church networks. The Church networks should be representative of the churches in the language community. Those checking the translation should be first-language speakers of the language, and those signing off on the check are those in leadership roles in the Church networks. A leader of a Church network who is also a first-language speaker of the language of the translation could both check the translation and sign off on its quality.

Level 3 is completed when the translation has been thoroughly checked and approved by the leadership (or their delegates) of at least two church networks that have personnel trained in biblical languages and content.

To proceed with Level Three checking, go to Questions for Checking on Level Three.

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Questions for Checking on Level Three

This page answers the question: What do I look for in a level 3 check?

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

Questions for Level Three

These are the questions for the Level Three checkers to keep in mind as they read the new translation.

You can answer these questions after you read portions of the translation or as you come across problems in the text. If you answer “no” to any of these questions in the first group, please explain in more detail, include the specific passage that you feel is not right, and give your recommendation for how the translation team should correct it.

Keep in mind that the goal of the translation team is to express the meaning of the source text in a natural and clear way in the target language. This means that they may have needed to change the order of some clauses and that they had to represent many single words in the source language with multiple words in the target language. These things are not considered to be problems.

  1. Does the translation conform to the Statement of Faith and Translation Guidelines?
  2. Did the translation team show a good understanding of the source language as well as the target language and culture?
  3. Does the language community affirm that the translation speaks in a clear and natural way in their language?
  4. Which of the following translation styles did the translators appear to follow?
    1. Word by word translation, staying very close to the form of the source translation.
    2. Phrase by phrase translation, using natural language phrase structures.
    3. Meaning-focused translation, aiming for a freedom of local language expression.
  5. Do the community leaders feel that the style that the translators followed (as identified in question 4) is appropriate for the community?
  6. Do the community leaders feel that the dialect that the translators used is the best one to communicate to the wider language community? For example, have the translators used expressions, phrase connectors, and spellings that will be recognized by most people in the language community?
  7. As you read the translation, think about cultural issues in the local community that might make some passages in the book difficult to translate. Has the translation team translated these passages in a way that makes the message of the source text clear, and avoids any misunderstanding that people might have because of the cultural issue?
  8. In these difficult passages, do the community leaders feel that the translator has used language that communicates the same message that is in the source text?
  9. In your judgment, does the translation communicate the same message as the source text? If any part of the translation causes you to answer “no,” please answer the second group of questions below.

If you answer “yes” to any of the questions in this second group, please explain in more detail so that the translation team can know what the specific problem is, what part of the text needs correction, and how you would like them to correct it.

  1. Are there any doctrinal errors in the translation?
  2. Did you find any areas of the translation that seem to contradict the national language translation or the important matters of faith found in your Christian community?
  3. Did the translation team add extra information or ideas that were not part of the message in the source text?
  4. Did the translation team leave out information or ideas that were part of the message in the source text?

If there were problems with the translation, make plans to meet with the translation team and resolve these problems. After you meet with them, the translation team may need to check their revised translation with the community leaders to make sure that it still communicates well, and then meet with you again.

When you are ready to approve the translation, go here: Level 3 Approval.

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Level 3 Approval

This page answers the question: How can I affirm a Level 3 approval of the translation?

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

Proper Documentation for Level Three Affirmation

I, as a representative of the fill in name of church network or Bible translation organization Church Network or Bible translation organization serving the fill in the name of the language community language community, approve of the translation, and affirm the following:

  1. The translation conforms to the Statement of Faith and Translation Guidelines.
  2. The translation is accurate and clear in the target language.
  3. The translation uses an acceptable style of the language.
  4. The community approves of the translation.

If any problems remain unresolved after meeting with the translation team a second time, please make note of them here.

Signed: sign here

Position: fill in your position here

For Gateway Languages, you will need to follow the Source Text Process so that your translation can become a source text.