Difficult Words in the Urantia Book

1. Did the Revelators Translate or Transliterate? This page.
2. Problem Adjectives
3. Problem Nouns

          There are many words unique to the Urantia Book, unique in the sense that those words do not appear in any comprehensive English dictionary, not even in the Oxford English Dictionary.

          Some of these words are well defined and do not present a problem to readers. Other words are well defined, but one has to read the book thoroughly to grasp their meanings, a demanding task for a busy generation. Still others are not defined at all.

          This page provides a feeble attempt to clarify the meanings of words that are frequently asked. It is OK to disagree. Comments are welcome.

alarm clock

1. Did the Revelators Translate or Transliterate?

          The Urantia Book does not contain any evidence that a single word was transliterated from the system language, the language of Nebadon, or the tongue of Uversa with English alphabet. On the contrary, there is every reason to believe that the Revelators did not transliterate any non-Urantian words into the English tongue.

          Personalities of Nebadon did not use Hebrew or English 400 billion years ago when Michael initiated the construction of the architectural worlds of Salvington. Michael, Immanuel, and Gabriel are not transliterations of their true Nebadon names with English alphabet; the Revelators either translated the meanings of their names into English, or they adopted the existing names which are familiar to humans, and which closely approximate the meanings of the original names in the tongues of Satania, Nebadon, or Orvonton.

          From the Urantia Book, we can make the following observations regarding the principles that Revelators adopted when translating their messages into English at the turn of this century:

triball (1) If there is a suitable expression in English, the Revelators translated.

"But our mandate admonishes us to make every effort to convey our meanings by using the word symbols of the English tongue. We have been instructed to introduce new terms only when the concept to be portrayed finds no terminology in English which can be employed to convey such a new concept partially or even with more or less distortion of meaning." (p.1, §2) triball (2) If there are suitable expressions in other languages, and if those are borrowed and well established in English, the Revelators used them (e.g., Paradise from Persian/Iranian, seraphim and Melchizedek from Hebrew, etc.). That is, these foreign words are treated as English words.

triball (3) When there is no suitable expression in English, the Revelators created new words, instead of transliterating non-Urantian words with English alphabet. In those instances, the new words sound like English or adopted foreign words, and some root words or even parts thereof were often used to create new words to represent new concepts. They did not sound like extra-terrestrial syllables, although most of us have not heard such things.

          For example, Melchizedek (righteous chief) is derived from Malek (Chief) and Zedek (righteousness). Although "zedek" is the root word, the Revelators chose to use "dek" as a new root, creating a whole class of words, such as chronoldek, Norlatiadek, Vorondadek, Lanonandek, etc. According to Jon Greer, "dek" alone has no etymology in any Indo- European or Semitic language.

          Words such as "mota" and "absonite" are not transliterations of their counterparts in Jerusemese, Salvingtonese, or Uversaese. Finding no suitable counterparts in English, the Revelators created new words. These words "sound" like words in English or earlier languages (e.g., Greek, Latin, and Hebrew), and the meanings of the majority of the created words are either clearly defined or suggested in the text.

triball (4)There is no indication that the Revelators transliterated any proper nouns, although they are the most likely candidates for transliteration.

          Most of human languages are based on the dual system — of consonants and vowels — except Mandarin and Cantonese, which also use tones, in addition to them. Human voices are produced by vocal cords and formed by mouth, the latter being also used as a food- intake device. With the exception of some exotic birds, monkeys and other mammals that are closer to humans cannot imitate human sounds and words, due to different structure of mouth. The range of sounds humans can make, therefore, is probably very much limited by the fact that our mouth is also used as an energy input device. If mouth were not thus used, it might be capable of making much wider variety of sounds. Even the midwayers do not need mouths as a food-intake device, but are known to speak English fluently.

          It is clear that in the mansion world we continue to eat and drink, and hence we must have an energy input device, but we may not have any waste disposal device as the food there is pure energy and there is no waste in morontia form, and there goes the whole culinary art. Since Adam and Even came from Jerusem, and they look more or less like us, and hence Jerusemese might be similar to our tongues here. However, Uversaese and Salvingtonese might have a totally different language structure.

Alphabets Used in Other Spheres

          The basic alphabet of Uversaese contains 70 characters (p. 503, §4), and even if the 26 letters of English alphabet find matching symbols in Uversaese, there are 44 characters of Uversaese that require gross approximation if their proper nouns were to be transliterated.

          Even the alphabet of Salvingtonese has 48 letters. To imagine the difficulty of approximating the names in Salvingtonese with our alphabet, we only need to drop a vowel, say u (or i), and replace it with o (or e), or replace a consonant, say f, by p, respectively, in the English language.

          Imagine how much confusion would be created, if a foreigner were to pronounce "cop," when he means "cup," and a fugitive might bolt out of the room. She might bring you coffee when you ask for a copy of something. Every time we try to pronounce the real name of Christ Michael in Salvingtonese — if it were transliterated with our alphabet — there would be a laughter among the celestial beings. This is probably one of the reasons why the Revelators translated all proper nouns, despite the attendant problems. A Divine Counselor of Orvonton notes:

"These triune rulers of the major sectors are peculiarly perfect in the mastery of administrative details, hence their name—Perfections of Days. In recording the names of these beings of the spiritual world, we are confronted with the problem of translating into your tongue, and very often it is exceedingly difficult to render a satisfactory translation. We dislike to use arbitrary designations which would be meaningless to you; hence we often find it difficult to choose a suitable name, one which will be clear to you and at the same time be somewhat representative of the original." (p. 210, §6)

          The Revelators would likewise avoid transliteration "which would be meaningless" to readers in other languages.

          As a matter of fact, the Book suggests numerous extra-terrestrial designations of our Universal Father were translated, rather than transliterated:

"Near the center of the universe of universes, the Universal Father is known by: the First Source, the Universal Center, the First Creative Source and Divine Center, Father of Universes, the Infinite Upholder, the Divine Controller, the Father of Lights, the Gift of Life, and the All-powerful One." (p. 23, §1)

Similarly, Andon and Fonta are not their real names in Jerusemese they received in Jerusem:

"Andon is the Nebadon name which signifies —the first Fatherlike creature to exhibit human perfection hunger.' Fonta signifies —the first Sonlike creature to exhibit human perfection hunger.' Andon and Fonta never knew these names until they were bestowed upon them at the time of fusion with their Thought Adjusters. (p. 711, §3)

          The meaning of Andon in Jerusemese contains at least nine different concepts:
  1. the
  2. first
  3. Father
  4. like
  5. creature
  6. exhibit
  7. human
  8. perfection
  9. hunger.

          Such multiple concepts cannot possibly be squeezed into the five characters, Andon! Richard Keeler suggests that Andon may still signify a "man," as it contains the etymon "andro" or "anthro-" as in "android" or "anthropology." The above quotation simply suggests that when Andon awoke he received his real name, which contains the eight concepts in right order in Jerusem. Then Andon is simply his name that the Revelators chose to facilitate their presentation on our behalf.

Since August 27, 1998.

The School of Athens Christus Rex et Redemptor Mundi, Musei Vaticani Raphael's painting