Open English Translation Literal Version (OET-LV) Specifications

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If you haven't seen it yet, you should read the Introduction Page before continuing to read this page. Here, we try to carefully specify all of the guidelines for translating the Literal Version of the Open English Translation of the Bible (OET).

See also the Frequently Asked Questions.

Common Specifications

The specifications which are common to all of the OET versions can be found on this page. You should study them before reading further.

Tagging Specifications

The OET Literal Version will include textual, grammatical, and semantic tagging. A full list of tags and special characters can be found here. You should study them before reading further.

Audience Statement

The OET-LV is aimed at students who don't read the original languages themselves, but want to get a good idea of what they actually say. It will attempt to follow the original (Hebrew and Greek) Scriptures as closely as possible (at the expense of sounding "wooden" in English). Idioms and other figurative language won't be adjusted, but basic punctuation (mostly commas and fullstops but NOT speech marks) will be added to help the reader.

It's intended to be a reference translation so that those reading other more dynamic translations (especially other OET versions) will be able to refer back to the Literal Version to see what words were actually in the original languages.

OET-LV Authoritative Specifications

  1. Be as literal as possible -- trying to match pretty much word-for-word
  2. Any non-trivial words that must be added to the English for understanding must be clearly marked as additions using \ad...\ad* marker sets in the USFM files
  3. Make the English glosses consistent (at least for the primary meanings of words)
  4. Mark primary and extended meanings of words using slashes, e.g., (מַלְאָךְ) messenger/angel
  5. Use slashes to denote an English semantic range that's perhaps different from the word in the original language, e.g., sorrow/mourning
  6. Use underscores to join English words coming from a single source language word, e.g., cause_to_stumble, except that small grammatical features like articles, prepositions, and conjunctions are exempted from this
  7. Quotation marks are NOT used, however a colon may be used to indicate the start of a quoted segment unless the beginning is ambiguous or contended
  8. Where it seems to critically affect the meaning, grammatical features that are not normally in English (such as marking gender or distinguishing between you singular and plural) will be marked
  9. The divine name (tetragrammaton) will simply be rendered as YHWH
  10. People and place names will be transliterated more accurately, e.g., Yonah instead of Jonah, Yesous instead of Jesus (but not going to the trouble of using additional markings to distinguish the long and short vowels, etc.)
  11. The translation will be rendered into English sentence-by-sentence (with ambiguities marked in footnotes), i.e., the 19th sentence of the English New Testament should match the 19th sentence of the Greek
  12. Implied pronouns are only made explicit when necessary: e.g., he_gave but not the man he_gave (just use the man gave) unless needed to remove ambiguity, e.g., the person he_gave.
  13. There will be no section headers or paragraph markings—it will generally be displayed by sentence
  14. Only original measurements will be used, e.g., cubits not metres. (No modern equivalents provided.)
  15. There will be extensive footnotes about variants (and missing or unclear sections) in the early manuscripts
  16. It is hoped that the web-based publication can also provide live links to the original language versions.

Rendering guidelines

The special tags and markings within the OET-LV aren't necessarily intended to be displayed directly to the reader. Digital publications (such as Internet pages and on eBook readers) are able to make use of a variety of font styles, sizes and colours. Traditional print publications have usually only used bolder font styles for headings, italics for some special purposes (such as words not in the original languages), and perhaps red words for Jesus' words. The following lists show how we might expect the OET-LV to be rendered in both print and digital publications:

Digital Publications

Print (Paper) Publications

OET-LV version numbers

Each book will contain an internal version number of the form Vx.x.xx. So far, the following books have been started:



Preliminary sample text: Jonah (UTF-8 USFM text file) or PDF. There may be more provided on the Downloads Page.