Resource Texts for Bible Translation

Paratext 7 came with 121 resource texts in forty different languages. What is in store for users of Paratext 8?

A resource text is a text that is not editable and is available for other translators to use as a model text or to gain insight into possible ways to render a difficult passage. When an ideas or object in the original language doesn’t have a direct equivalent in the receptor language, the translator looks for creative ways to describe it in the receptor culture. Take the word “throne” for example. It often refers not to a chair, but is representative of a kingdom and its power or authority. And even when it does refer to the chair a king sits on, that can also be difficult to express in cultures where chairs are not used. In these cases, a translator will look to translations from similar cultures in the area to see how the ideas were expressed. In Paratext 7, if the text you wanted to use for ideas happened to be one of the 121 existing resources, then you were fortunate. If not, it was rather difficult to obtain such a text other than buying the physical book if it was still in print.

One of the fundamental changes to Paratext in version 8 is that it now relies on the Digital Bible Library (DBL) for all resource texts. The DBL is an online digital asset and licensing management platform for Scripture. It currently contains 1,389 texts representing 1082 unique languages. Because Paratext 8 can now access the DBL for resource texts, we suddenly have the potential to reference many more texts in Paratext 8.

Although new and old texts are constantly being added to the DBL, they are not automatically available to Paratext. When the archivist uploads the text to the DBL they have an option to make that text available as a resource to a select group of users, to a specific organization, or to all Paratext users. In fact, it is this flexibility that will enable us to make Paratext 8 available for free to anyone. Our previous set of 121 resources were available to everyone who was granted a Paratext license. We had to make sure that anyone who requested a license was using Paratext in accordance with the agreement we had with the owners of all those resources, some of which were clearly not for free public access. In the new system, anyone can register for Paratext. By default, they will be able to download any resources that are not restricted. As those users are vetted by their organization, they will then get access to any and all resources that their organization has been given access to–potentially in hundreds of languages.

If there is a resource that you would like access too, please contact the DBL archivist for your organization and area. If unknown, contact me and hopefully I can route your request to the appropriate person. Ultimately the decision is up to the content owner, but now the process is as simple as checking a box in the DBL after the owner gives consent.

If you have a published Scripture text that you think other translations will benefit from, please request that yours be added to the Paratext resources. This will quickly make Paratext a better tool for another translator in your area of the world.

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