A Logical and Linguistic Impossibility?

Discussion in 'Bible Versions/Translations' started by McCree79, Sep 30, 2015.

  1. McCree79

    McCree79
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    Leyland Ryken raise many objections to Dynamic Equivalency. Here is one.

    "A final objection that I wish to raise agaisnt Dynamic Equivalency is that it is based on a logical and linguistic impossibility. Dynamic equivalence claims to translate the thought rather than the words of the original. May claim is that this is impossible. The fallacy of thinking that a translation should translate the meaning rather than the words of the original is simple: There is no such a thing as disembodied thought, emancipated from words. Ideas and thoughts depends on words and are expressed by them."....." When we change words, we change the meaning".

    Does he have a point or is this just KJVO rhetoric defending formal equivalency?

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  2. annsni

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    Now this is coming from a total newbie with all of this stuff BUT

    "mon petit chou" in French can mean "my little cabbage". Do we translate the words as is or do we translate them to mean what they would mean in the language we are translating to? Pomme de terre literally means apple of the earth but that's not what it is in English. The proper translation would be potato. So do we keep it literal or do we translate it so it actually means something to the reader?
     
  3. TCassidy

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    When we are translating Holy Writ we translate the words into the receptor language exactly as inspired and place the cultural understanding in a marginal note.

    When translating the writings of mere men you are free to do as you please.
     
  4. Van

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    If he has a point, it is very thin. I am all for word for word translation, where each source language word meaning is translated into the same word or phrase in the target language, or as close to that as possible.

    Lets consider two possibilities, one where the intended message of God is correctly interpreted by a DE translator, and one where the DE translator misses the boat. In the first case, the DE translator, using a differing expression presents the correct message. And perhaps this message is understood by more people because of its clarity and readability. Hard to find fault with that. However, the price is too high, when we consider the second case, where God's message is hidden from view and an alternate message of man is substituted.
     
  5. John of Japan

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    DE advocates miss something important, which Ryker has pointed out, though not specifically: the grammatical form of words has meaning in addition to the lexical semantic (dictionary meaning) form. If a verb has a certain form in Hebrew or Greek (tense, aspect, aktionsart, etc.), that carries meaning which should be translated. DE advocates downplay this by calling literal methods "formal equivalence," translation which tries to correctly transfer the form into the target language. (Note: "receptor language" is a DE term not normally used by non-DE translators, so I avoid it.)

    On the other hand, a DE translation will often ignore the form of the original. According to Eugene Nida, "a D-E translation is diected primarily toward equivalence of response rather than equivalence of form" (Toward a Science of Translating, p. 166). I would maintain with Ryken that to ignore the form of the original is to ignore the meaning.

    And for the record, Ryken is certainly not KJVO! :rolleyes: The issue of how to translate is not based on a belief in a perfect translation.
     
    #5 John of Japan, Oct 1, 2015
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 1, 2015
  6. John of Japan

    John of Japan
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    These examples are both idioms, so the problem is not one of DE translation per se, but is common to all methods, since all methods must choose how to translate idioms. All translators agree that idioms cannot usually be translated literally. My position as a "formal equivalence" translator:

    1. A very few idioms can cross the linguistic barrier: "kick against the goads" is one.
    2. If the idiom translated literally does not make sense, look for an idiom in the target language that expresses the same meaning.
    3. If there is not an equivalent idiom in the target language, phrase the meaning in a normal phrase.

    For those who are interested, I have an essay on this subject on my son's blog here: http://paroikosmissionarykid.blogspot.com/2013/03/translating-idioms-guest-essay-by.html
     
  7. McCree79

    McCree79
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    Sorry did not mean to imply Ryken was KJVO. I should have put KJVO "style" arguments. The literal translation he cited the most were NASB, NKJV and ESV. He isn't close to KJVO. My error for not being clear.

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  8. John of Japan

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    Humble apology accepted. :wavey:

    Having said that, I don't agree that Ryken's arguments are "KJVO style," at least in what you have posted so far. The typical KJVO book or article I have read doesn't deal much with translation methodology, unless the author is actually attempting to teach on translation, such as H. D. Williams in Word-For-Word Translating of the Received Texts (which is very poorly done). Williams did not even get that DE aims for reader response, though Ryken got it in your quote.
     
  9. Yeshua1

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    Except that at time a strictly DE translations seems to be more of what the transaltors thinks God meant to say . than what he really said!
     
  10. TCassidy

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    It is true that, when carried to an extreme, a DE translation can become more of a commentary (IE what the translator thinks it means rather than what it actually says) than a translation. :)

    But we have to be careful to not abuse the legitimate use of DE when it is necessary. :)
     
  11. Rippon

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    Ryken is confused at best. Very confused. the so-called thought-for-thought way of translating means going by the sense of a given passage
    as John Purvey discussed it more than six centuries ago. It's translating phrase-by-phrase, clause-by-clause or even sentence-by-sentence. There is nothing disembodied or mystical about it. Individual words do not stand alone. They stand in relation to a whole context.

    And his line:"When we change words, we change meaning" is nonsensical. When translating from Greek to English or any other language of course words are going to be changed. There is no magical word replacement code.

    Ryken rattles on with such absurd ideas that it's a wonder he is thought by some to be saying such wise things.
     
  12. Rippon

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    It doesn't matter one whit. Receptor language and traget languge mean the very same thing.
    Well, you are wrong right there. Translators, not just of the DE kind, often change the form out of necessity. However, they don't ignore the form. I bet you can't come up with a single quote to substaniate that charge.
     
  13. Rippon

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    Cite some current examples of "strictly DE translations" guy. I betcha' can't do it.
     
  14. Rippon

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    The NLY is a translation that many mistakenly think is purely dynamic. Here is a snip from the
    Introduction To The New Living Translation

    A purely formal-equivalence translation would be unintelligible in English, and a purely dynamic-equivalence
    translation would risk being unfaithful to the orginal. That is why translations shaped by dynamic-equivalence
    theory are quite literal when the original text is relatively clear, and the translations shaped by formal-equivalence
    theory are sometimes quite dynamic when the original text is obscure.
     
  15. franklinmonroe

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    My objection to Ryken's statement is that it is itself based on a logical and linguistic impossibility. Ryken infers that Formal Equivalence translates the words and therefore what naturally follows is the thought of the original. But that claim is impossible. The fallacy of thinking that a translation should translate only the words rather than capture the meaning of the original is simple: There is no such a thing as disembodied word, emancipated from its context of meaning. Words depend on the contextual ideas and thoughts that are expressed by them......When we change languages (and that's what translation by definition does), we change the meaning (even if its just a wee little bit).
     
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  16. John of Japan

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    Something Ryken doesn't mention in the quote (which is not sourced, so we cannot tell if he does in the context) is that the context you are referring to is a grammatical context. A major problem with DE is that it often objects to translating the form of the original (thus the term "formal equivalence). It assumes that meaning can often be divorced from grammatical form. Thus in James Price's criticism of DE, "The failure to employ transfer rules, but rather to depend on the translator’s subjective judgment, makes it almost certain that the information transferred to the receptor language will lack complete equivalence with the information of the source message. Thus the theory fails to accomplish equivalence; it is instead scientific paraphrase” (James Price, Complete Equivalence in Bible Translation, p. 17).

    Again, I disagree with you when you say that "There is no such a thing as disembodied word, emancipated from its context of meaning." If this were true, then the very term "equivalence" should not be used in reference to translation. There are many, many words with exact equivalents from Greek to English (or Japanese, etc.). There are many words which have a specific meaning no matter what the context. Words where the context becomes vital are polysemous--words with more than one meaning.

    For example, if I say the word
    • "gold"
    with no context, virtually everyone reading it will think of the precious element, which is the core meaning of the word. When context is added the word may change in meaning in the thinking of the reader, especially if it is used as an idiom: "Jones is gold for his team when the bases are loaded." But even in this idiom, the referent is the core meaning.
     
  17. Rippon

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    You, yourself have admitted that functional equivalence has a number of rules governing the translation process. All translation involves choices --exegetical decisions. There is no such thing as "complete equivalence" regardless of who holds to that fiction.
    There are many more words which do not have "exact equivalents."
     

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