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COLLECTIONLetters from the Universal House of Justice
TITLEInterlinear Editions of the Bahá'í Writings
AUTHOR 1 Universal House of Justice
ABSTRACTReasons why interlinear or "parallel editions" of the Writings, in which the original Arabic or Persian are presented side-by-side with an English translation, are not necessary.
NOTES Submitted by and name retained with permission of recipient; PDF original on file.
TAGS- Cross-reference; - Parallel translation; Arabic language; Computer Translation Aid (CTA); Persian language; Software; Translation

1. Letter to the House

To the Department of the Secretariat at the Bahá'í World Centre:

... I would like to ask three questions for your kind and careful consideration.

My first question concerns the absence of interlinear editions of the Bahá'í Writings. You are undoubtedly familiar with editions of the Qur'an where the original Arabic text appears alongside an English translation. I am not aware of any officially sanctioned editions of the Writings that have been published in this format. What is the reason for this? Such editions would be of immense assistance to those who wish to study the Writings in detail, perhaps by comparing the language of the translations with the language used in their source texts.

My second question is related to the first one. If it is, in fact, permissible to produce interlinear editions of the Writings, would their publication be the prerogative of the World Centre, or a privilege given to Bahá'í publishing trusts?

My third question deals with the software known as Computer Translation Aid, or CTA for short. It is evident from recent correspondence with the Department of the Secretariat that you are gradually adopting a more open attitude toward the production and dissemination of provisional translations of the Writings, provided they are explicitly identified as such. To assist those friends working on producing provisional translations, why is the CTA software not freely available to Bahá'í translators? If the friends are free to produce such translations anyway, why not provide them with a resource that will allow them to refer to the Guardian's translations of certain words and phrases? It seems to me that such a move would not only save the translators time in their task — it would also enable them to better observe the high standard set by the Guardian in his own translations of the Writings.

    ... Adib Masumian (2015-01-21)

2. Response from Universal House of Justice

8 March 2015

Dear Bahá’í Friend,

Your email letter of 21 January 2015, regarding interlinear editions of Bahá’í Writings and the availability of the Computer Translation Aid (CTA) software, has been received by the Universal House of Justice, which has asked us to respond as follows.

The custom of publishing interlinear editions of the Qur’án arose out of particular conditions and assumptions within Islám that do not exist in the Bahá’í Faith. Although such editions served the need for non-Arabic speakers to understand what they were reading, interlinear editions of the Bahá’í Writings are unnecessary for Bahá’ís, as believers who do not know the original languages are free to read the Writings in translation. Those who wish to compare the translation with the Arabic or Persian text can do so easily enough by referring to the relevant editions, while printing both in juxtaposition would tend to distract all other readers from their primary focus ― the reading and study of the Text.

Your suggestion regarding the benefits of an open availability of the CTA software has been noted.

    With loving Bahá’í greetings,
    Department of the Secretariat
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