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Languages -- Where are they?

Posted: Mon Feb 12, 2007 12:15 pm
by reachtheworld-p40
I hate to post a criticism, as my first post, but hopefully it will do some good.

Why are the scriptures only available online in two languages (English and Spanish)? The text is already digitized for Portuguese, French, and Italian at minimum, because I personally possess these texts -- those languages are on the scripture CD the Church produced. I'm sure that in reality the text is in digital form for most and probably all in-print translations of the BoM and Selections from the BoM, due to modern publishing and printing practice. Why not just upload these texts? Gradually add all the fancy footnoting and stuff later.

If I were a Japanese member of the Church, I'd probably be pretty baffled that with thousands of active Japanese members, and a culture very much into technology, that the Church has not deemed it a priority to put the scriptures online in my language!

If I were an investigator who speaks Portuguese, or German, or anything other than English or Spanish, I cannot find so much as the Joseph Smith's Testimony pamphlet online from the Church. Faith cometh by hearing; if the basic material isn't there, how is anyone going to believe it? I think it's great the translations the Church has done on, but really only gives a very cursory and simple introduction to Church beliefs. A serious investigator will be able to read everything of substance on in maybe 5 minutes, and then spend the next 5 hours reading lots of anti-mormon sites which, conveniently enough, are available in many many languages.

So, my question is: are there any plans in the works to get the scriptures and other fundamental outreach materials online in other languages any time soon? It was great (and to me, a surprise) that Spanish finally got done, but it came along about 5 years after the English, IIRC. How long do we have before Portuguese gets done? Mandarin? Urdu?

Posted: Mon Feb 12, 2007 12:37 pm
by greenwoodkl
Language materials are currently available at or by clicking Languages on the top of Scriptures are currently available in English, Spanish, French, German, and Italian. If you click "English" in the top-right corner of the Scriptures page you will get a drop-down of other languages. I personally think this menu could be improved to be more intuitive for the users, but it is available.

Posted: Mon Feb 12, 2007 12:43 pm
by reachtheworld-p40
OK, reading through the forum, and being linked over to, I have learned:

1. Maybe my question is more content-related than this forum is supposed to be.

2. A few days ago German, French, and Italian were added!!!! :)

So that's great! That indicates that we probably will not have to wait another 5 years for Portuguese, 20 years for Russian, etc. It indicates also that the Church wants to do it "all or nothing" and not release scripture online in any language until it is all footnoted, properly formatted, and fitted in with the universal scripture URL scheme (which is very cool by the way). So that's definitely no trivial task, as putting up the text would be. Which I still think should be done, since text is a better alternative then nothing. So that's kind of technical and thus on-topic for the forum! I hope!

If anyone here does have the inside scoop on the plan/schedule for rolling out other languages, though, I would be very interested.

Posted: Mon Feb 12, 2007 12:50 pm
by reachtheworld-p40
KGThunder, we cross-posted (you posted while I was typing), so yeah, I just learned that over at, but thanks!

I knew about the /languages portal you mention, of course, which has dozens of languages. Unfortunately it's not geared towards outreach at all. You can get General Conference talks and the Liahona in everything from Swahili to Ukrainian, but not Joseph Smith's Testimony, the Articles of Faith, the Book of Mormon, or anything like that. Which seems kind of odd.

Posted: Mon Feb 12, 2007 12:58 pm
by greenwoodkl
From the What's New document on
Languages. This Language link provides a list of the materials in other languages available on today. Later this year, will be translated into nine more languages: Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish. At that time, this language link will change the language for the entire site. Over the next several months, we will add materials to the Gospel Library in 32 additional languages.
Hopefully when the site is translated into these other languages, the materials you are hoping for will be included.

Posted: Mon Feb 12, 2007 1:10 pm
by WelchTC
Portuguese is in the works. Here is what you have to understand. Just to post the text of the scriptures into some language is not really feasible. Every time we want to publish a language online, it has to be read word-for-word by a committee of native speakers (around the world) to ensure that it is 100% accurate. Not all of the scriptures in other languages lend themselves to HTML markup and so a lot of errors are introduced in the conversion which have to be found and fixed. These committees are responsible for reading the scriptures after they have been marked up and comparing them word for word with the printed version. This all has to be done under the direction of a department of the Church which has to facilitate these meetings with the readers. It is very time consuming and costly. So because of this, we try to pick the languages that will hit the largest # of users AND be the easiest to do. I can assure you, however, that we are moving forward with making this happen.


Posted: Mon Feb 12, 2007 1:16 pm
by reachtheworld-p40
Thanks so much for the info, Brother Tom!

Would it be possible to post the PDF files from which the physical versions of the scriptures are printed? They are, no doubt printed from such files, or postscript I should say, which is easily converted into PDF. That way, it would be identical to the printed version, and the only errors possible would be errors that show up in the printed version as well.

Posted: Mon Feb 12, 2007 1:24 pm
by WelchTC
reachtheworld wrote:Thanks so much for the info, Brother Tom!

Would it be possible to post the PDF files from which the physical versions of the scriptures are printed? They are, no doubt printed from such files, or postscript I should say, which is easily converted into PDF. That way, it would be identical to the printed version, and the only errors possible would be errors that show up in the printed version as well.
That is out of my jurisdiction but I'll pass the suggestion over to the proper department. Please tell me the advantage of having them in PDF. Is this simply to have a portable electronic copy?


Posted: Mon Feb 12, 2007 2:15 pm
by reachtheworld-p40
Wow, I can't believe it! That is so great! Thank you.

The advantage is just, well, outreach! It's the same reason the Jehovah's Witnesses have the Watchtower and their outreach materials available online in a kazillion languages. The Church has done amazingly well providing foreign language material geared to members of the Church, but not-so-well in providing outreach materials geared to investigators. It's kind of backwards in a way.

Here's some examples of how it would be incredibly good and useful:

So that some guy in Iran that speaks Urdu who is browsing online for information about the Book of Mormon can find it and read it. Sure, he could have a paper one shipped over, but it's more effective to give people the message through the media they are already using. So if they're looking on the internet, which more and more people are, they can get the message via that medium. Plus, it is easier and more convenient; getting the physical book is a big pain in comparison. In the hypothetical above, for instance, it could possibly cause major (life-threatening) difficulties shipping a paper Book of Mormon into Iran.

Or maybe a missionary in Florida has just run into a Urdu man who is very interested and though he can speak and understand English, he cannot read English. Rather than ordering an Urdu BoM from distribution, who will then ship it whenever they feel like it, book rate, and then finally receiving it a month later, how much nicer to just be able to print it off the Church web site!

All in all, it just would be a great resource for missionary work. We're trying to get the word out there, and this would, well, literally "get the word out there".

The advantage of having it in PDF format in particular, is simply that:

1. It is a fairly universal format on the internet, so most everyone w/ a computer will be able to read it.
2. Postscript/PDF has become the default standard in the publishing industry since most all printers use postscript (no one wants to mess with non-computerized imprints and stuff like that any more. You might as well go back to setting type by hand like Gutenburg!)
3. So, I'm fairly sure the Church has the Korean BoM, the Ukrainian BoM, all these BoMs already sitting on computers somewhere either in postscript or readily postscriptable. And to convert (or "distill") from .ps to .pdf, you just use some distiller, like the free GhostScript program. So it makes it all easy!
4. This bypasses all need for legions of proofreaders until the man-power is available. Otherwise, it's kind of a chicken-and-egg problem for the languages with not many members. Like, there's not many Urdu-speaking LDS, I'd guess, and only a fraction of them available to proofread. So when will they get an online translation otherwise? Maybe in 20 years. Or 40. Or never.

Feel free to forward this post along to the proper dept. if you think it would help. Or is there someone I should contact directly? I'd assume they'd listen to you more than me, but maybe that assumption is incorrect.

Posted: Mon Feb 12, 2007 3:02 pm
by WelchTC
Actually you have it a little backwards. We don't keep the scriptures in PDF format. They are converted to PDF format after they are converted to the Web format. These PDF files are proof-read because they are exactly what the web site will look like. Hope this clarifies the situation. I think for the mean time we need to order copies in the language that we want from the Dist. center.