Gateway Language Alignment


This module answers the question, “How do I align my GL translation in tC?”

The purpose of the aligning tool in translationCore (tC) is to create highlighting that will appear for the OL translator who will use the GL text as a source text for an OL translation. This highlighting will show the user of the GL text how that GL text represents the meaning of the original biblical language text.

When the OL translator uses the UTW or UTN tools in tC (translationCore), the aligned GL text will allow tC to highlight the word or phrase that the tC check is talking about in both the OrigL and the GL. This will help the OL translator to see how the biblical language expressed that meaning, how the GL expressed that meaning, and how he might express that same meaning in the target language. So, as you align the GL text with the OrigL text, your job is to match as accurately as possible the words of the GL text to the words of the OrigL text that express the same meaning.

See also

Always check to make sure you are using the latest version of tC, which is available from Please also read the Release Notes for the most up to date instructions.

Alignment Instructions

In the tC Word Alignment tool, the GL chapters and verses are listed down the left side. When you click on a verse to open it, the words of that verse appear in a vertical list, ordered from top to bottom, just to the right of the list of chapters and verses. Each word is in a separate box.

The words of the OrigL (Greek, Hebrew, or Aramaic) text for that verse are also in separate boxes in a field to the right of the GL word list. There is a space under each of the source word boxes outlined with a dotted line.

To align the GL text:

  1. Using the mouse, click and drag each word box of the GL text into the space under the word box of the OrigL text that the GL word corresponds to.
  2. Drop the GL word by releasing the mouse button.

When the GL word is over a word box of the original, the dotted outline will turn blue to let you know that the word will drop there. If you make a mistake or decide that the GL word belongs somewhere else, simply drag it again to where it belongs. GL words can also be dragged back to the list.

When the same GL word occurs more than once in a verse, each instance of the word will have a small superscript number after it. This number will help you to align each repeated GL word to the correct original word in the correct order. When the same GL word does occur more than once in a verse, it is important to be careful to align each instance of the word to the correct corresponding original-language word. The automated features of the aligning program, while generally very helpful, can cause repeated GL words to be aligned to the wrong original-language words. Natural human error can cause the same thing. So careful attention to repeated GL words is important.

Notice below, in the UST translation of Ezra 4:18, that the word “to” occurs two times.

“My officials carefully read out loud to (occurrence 1) me the letter that you sent to (occurrence 2) us.” Ezra 4:18

In the picture below the two occurrences of “to” are not aligned with their correct original words because they are aligned in the wrong order. In this example the two occurrences of “to” need to be switched around in the UST alignment in order to be aligned with their correct original language words and therefore ensure that tC highlights the correct “to”. Otherwise the wrong “to” is highlighted as in the second picture below (circled in red).


The picture below shows the result of incorrectly aligning the multiple occurrences of the word “to” in the alignment tool.


Merge and Unmerge Words

tC supports one-to-one, one-to-many, many-to-one, and many-to-many alignments. That means that one or more GL words can be aligned to one or more OrigL words, as necessary to get the most accurate alignment of the meaning conveyed by the two languages.

  • To align multiple GL words to a single OrigL word, simply drag and drop the GL words onto the box below the desired OrigL word.
  • When it is desired to align GL word(s) to a combination of OrigL words, first drag one of the combination OrigL words into the same box as the other OrigL word. Multiple OrigL words can be merged together in this fashion.
  • To unmerge previously merged OrigL words, drag the rightmost OrigL word slightly to the right. A small, new alignment box will appear, and the unmerged word can be dropped into that box.
  • The leftmost OrigL word can also be unmerged by dragging and dropping it into the OrigL word box immediately to its left.
  • Any GL words that were aligned with that OrigL word return to the word list.
  • The OrigL words should remain in the proper order. If the merge contains 3 or more OrigL words, unmerge the rightmost OrigL word first. Unmerging the center word(s) first may result in the OrigL words coming out of order. When that happens, unmerge the remaining words in that box to properly return the OrigL words to their original order.

Alignment Philosophy

Because each GL will have different requirements for sentence structure and the amount of explicit information that must be provided there is often not a one-to-one correspondence of the OrigL word and the GL word. In these cases, the GL words that are provided should be aligned with the OrigL word that implies them.

For English, we follow these principles, but your GL may need a different list to support full alignment.

  • Align indefinite articles to their “head word.” For example, both “a” and “servant” should align to doulos in Titus 1:1.
  • Definite articles that English supplies should also be aligned to their “head word.” For example, both “the” and “faith” should align to pistin in Titus 1:1.
  • Original language definite articles that English does not use need to be combined with their OrigL head word. For example, ton and logon need to be combined, then “word” aligned with that combination in Titus 1:3.
  • Implicit verbs in the original language that are translated explicitly in the target language should be aligned with the predicate. For example, “he should be” that is supplied in English should be aligned to philoxenon along with “hospitable” in Titus 1:8.
  • Words with apostrophes will be split and show up as two words in the word panel. This allows for proper alignment of the two parts of meaning. In most cases in English these are used to represent possession and will be aligned to a single OrigL word in the genitive case. For example, both “God” and “s” will align to theou in Titus 1:1.
  • Often the original language and GL part of speech won’t match. That is inevitable. Often an OrigL word will be translated as a GL phrase. For example, the three words “does not lie” in English all align with the single word apseudes in Titus 1:2.
  • Sometimes particles in the original language are not translated in the GL. These should be aligned to make the alignment between the OrigL and the GL as precise as possible. For example, in most cases the Hebrew direct object marker should be merged with the Hebrew direct object and aligned with that translated word in the GL. However, in cases where the direct object marker has a conjunction prefix that must be translated in the GL, then the Hebrew word containing the conjunction and direct object marker should be aligned with the translated conjunction in the GL.

Other alignment issues pertinent to Biblical Hebrew include the following:

  • When an infinitive absolute is paired with a finite verb, the infinitive absolute should be aligned separately, if possible. Usually, the infinitive absolute will be translated as an adverb, and it should be aligned with the adverb.
  • As a general rule, the GLT (Gateway Literal Text) should translate the conjunction in Hebrew verbal forms. The translated conjunction should then be aligned with that Hebrew verb.
  • When aligning construct phrases in Hebrew, the English word “of” should be aligned with the construct noun. If the English translation of the construct phrase uses a single definite article “the,” then it should be aligned with the absolute noun. When the English translation uses multiple instances of the definite article “the,” then each definite article should be aligned with the corresponding Hebrew noun.
  • When aligning a verbless clause in Hebrew, the supplied “to be” verb should usually be aligned with the predicate instead of the subject. An exception to this rule occurs when the subject is a demonstrative pronoun (or carries some sort of deictic function). In those cases, the supplied “to be” verb should be aligned with the subject of the verbless clause.
  • Sometimes a verb in Hebrew requires an accompanying preposition that is not required in English, or vice versa. In these cases, align with whichever part of speech fits best on a case-by-case basis. For example, take the phrase “…to pay on our fields…” in Nehemiah 14:4 in the UST. The English preposition “on” fits better semantically with the noun (“on our fields”) rather than with the infinitive (“to pay on”). However, the reverse is true in v.15 in the phrase “…even their servants oppressed the people…” (Heb. שׁלטוּ על־העמ). In this case, the Hebrew שׁלט requires an accompanying preposition, and the concept is already incorporated into the English translation of the verb itself, “oppressed.” So in this case, it is best to merge the Hebrew verb and preposition together, and then align both with the English “oppressed.”

Alignment Philosophy for the GLT

The purpose of text alignment (the reason for doing it) for the GLT is to show the user from which OrigL word each part of the GL meaning is taken. The goal of text alignment (the desired result) is to align the OrigL and GLT texts according to the smallest possible units of corresponding meaning between them. When aligning a GLT to the OrigL text, the precision of the alignment between the two languages is the highest priority. The most important function of the aligned text is to show the GLT user as specifically as possible from which word in the Original Language text the GL meaning is derived. In practice, this means that Original Language words should be merged together ONLY when absolutely necessary for the accuracy of the alignment. Otherwise, Original Language words should not be merged together. In other words, the aligning should be done so that the smallest number of :abbr:`GL (Gateway Language)` words are aligned to the smallest number of Original Language words that accurately represent their shared meaning.

The GLT is intended to be a fairly literal translation of the OrigL, so that it reproduces the structure of the OrigL when that is also understandable in the GL. Ideally, then, there would be one GL word aligned with each OrigL word. Of course, this is not possible because languages work very differently from each other.

Therefore, we expect that you must align words or phrases in the GL with words or phrases in the OrigL that differ in the number of words, order of words, and parts of speech, as described above. Always, however, you should align the GL words to the OrigL words whose meaning they express, in whatever combination is necessary to produce the most accurate alignment of the meaning.

After aligning a verse, you may see words in the GLT that are left over and seem to be extra. If those words are truly necessary for the GLT to make sense, then find the OrigL word or words that they help to express and align them there. But if those words do not express a meaning found in the OrigL text, then it may be that those words should be deleted from the GLT. See Words Not Found in the Original Language for more information.

Sometimes, in the process of aligning a verse, you will find:

  • An OrigL word that is not represented in the GLT.
  • A mistake in the GLT.
  • Words in the GLT that do not represent anything in the OrigL text.
  • A better or more literal way to express something in the GLT.

In the above cases, if you are an authorized editor, you will want to edit the GLT so that it is more accurate to the OrigL. Otherwise, contact the GLT translation team to let them know about the issue.

If you notice places where the ULT is wrong or potentially wrong, create an issue for it at and we’ll address it in the next release. In the meantime, align the text as well as possible.

Words Not Found in the Original Language

In the process of alignment according to the instructions above, you may find that the GLT has words or phrases that do not represent any meaning in the OrigL text and are not there because the GL sentence needs them to make sense. If this occurs, follow these recommendations:

  1. If possible, consider editing the GLT to match the original language text.
  2. You may consult other Greek or Hebrew manuscripts to see if there is textual support for your translation (see the Biblical Humanities Dashboard for other manuscripts).
  3. If you find support for your translation, make sure to include a comment or note about where you found it and why the translation should include it.
  4. You should consider placing these GL words in brackets or in a footnote.

Alignment Philosophy for the GST

The main objective and goal of text alignment for the GST is the same as for the GLT. However, the task is much more difficult for the GST for several reasons, but mostly because the GST will almost always contain more words than the GLT. As with the GLT, it is best to align words in the GST in the same order as they appear in the list on the left so that you avoid misaligning multiple occurrences of the same word within a verse.

However, the process by which to decide which GST words should be aligned with which OrigL words is significantly more complex than for the GLT. The process is not systematic but must be done by weighing a core group of principles together as a whole and then deciding what is best in each instance. Sometimes these principles might disagree or even contradict. In those cases, the aligner must decide which principle takes priority in a given instance and align the GST text accordingly. For all these reasons, the GST aligner should expect that it will take multiple attempts at aligning a GST text before it is aligned properly. The general principles which should govern the alignment of a GST text are as follows:

  • The overarching purpose of the GST alignment is to show the user from which OrigL words (or groups of words) the GL words (or phrases) take their meaning. Sometimes these units of meaning are larger than the OrigL, and sometimes they are smaller.
  • Smaller units of alignment are more desirable than larger units of alignment. In other words, only merge OrigL words together when necessary for the sake of alignment of meaning between the two languages.
  • If the meaning of an OrigL word(s) is nowhere represented in the GST, leave that word unaligned rather than merging it with another OrigL word. If necessary, consult with the translator who prepared the GST to determine if the GST is missing elements of meaning that need to be included and then aligned to the OrigL word(s) in view.
  • As much as possible, GL words should be aligned with OrigL words within that same phrase or clause rather than being moved into a different phrase or clause.
  • Words in the GST that express implied information should be aligned with the OrigL words that they help to explain.
  • In some cases, such as for a rhetorical question, the basic unit of meaning for alignment consists of an entire phrase or clause. In these cases, the entire unit of meaning must be merged in the OrigL and then aligned with the entire unit of meaning in the GST.

NOTE: Sometimes words in the GST will need to be aligned with OrigL words which appear much earlier or much later in the text. This is because the GST often rearranges text in order to follow its specific rules (use short sentences, present events in chronological order, etc.). The aligner should be aware that a properly aligned GST text may appear, at first glance, to have words drastically out of place.

The GST is intended to be, above all, a clear translation. Therefore, it adds words and phrases to explain the meaning of the original for the reader. These words and phrases should be aligned with the word or words that they are explaining. For example, in Titus 1:1, the phrase, “I am a servant” must be aligned with the single word, doulos.

Sometimes, for the sake of clarity, the GST will repeat things that are only mentioned once in the original. This often happens with subjects or objects of sentences. For example, in Titus 2:9 the English UST refers to “their masters” twice, although the original language only has idiois despotais once. In these cases, You should align the second occurrence of the repeated reference with the clause where it occurs. Do not align it with the clause earlier in the verse where the earlier occurrence is aligned. By doing this, we can better show the user the meaning equivalents across translations.

Some of the words and sentences of the GST do not directly represent the meaning of the original words. This is information that is only implied by the original words, but included in the GST because it is necessary for understanding the meaning of the original. For example, in Titus 1:1, the sentence, “I, Paul, write this letter to you, Titus” includes information that is not there in the OrigL words, such as the fact that what the reader is about to read is a letter, and that it is written to someone named Titus. This information, however, makes the text clearer and understandable. For the aligning, then, all this explanation must be aligned with the single word that it is explaining, Paulos.

If you notice places where the UST is wrong or potentially wrong, create an issue for it at and we’ll address it in the next release. In the meantime, align the GL text as well as possible.