Categorizing Translations

Discussion in 'Bible Versions/Translations' started by TomVols, Aug 10, 2010.

  1. TomVols

    TomVols
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    In trying to define or categorize translations, often you see terms like literal, essentially literal, paraphrase, free, dynamic, etc.

    Robert Thomas of Master's Seminary proposed three categories: Literal, free, and paraphrase.

    Rippon offered this:

    I'd love for us to delve into this further. I'm out of time so I'll get back to it soon. But it's well worth discussing as is Rippon's proposed model and any other model you'd like to offer (Fee/Stuart, etc.)
     
  2. ReformedBaptist

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    For those of us familiar with the manuscript issues, knowing which translations adhere to which texts would be most helpful. I will use those versions, for example, that translate from the Recieved Text. I would not be inclinded to use a text that was translated from the Recieved Text but used a Dynamic Equivelance method.

    The NKJV is said to be translated from the Received Text, and some say no. Others say it translated from the Majority Text, and others make a distinction between the Recieved Text and the Majority Text, while others say they are the same.

    I am sure there clear answers to these questions, and I will find them.
     
  3. BobinKy

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    This sounds like an interesting topic. Hopefully, some definitions will be one result of this thread.

    I struggle with categories. The best I have been able to do is place my reading versions on a continuum, similar to the one at the NLT website. I would like to adopt categories.

    Here are the versions I use, placed on an arbitrary continuum from WORD-FOR-WORD to THOUGHT-FOR-THOUGHT. The first three may not sound like they apply, however, I use them regularly in my Bible study.

    WORD-FOR-WORD
    |
    Interlinear Hebrew-English Old Testament (1987)
    Interlinear Greek-English New Testament (1993)
    AB (Amplified Bible, 1987)
    NASB (1977)
    KJV
    NKJV (1982)
    NRSV (1989)
    NIV (1984)
    TNIV (2005)
    NEB (New English Bible, 1970)
    JB (Jerusalem Bible, 1966)
    GNT (Good News Translation, 2nd ed., 1992)
    NLT (se, 2007)
    NLT (1996)
    |
    THOUGHT-FOR-THOUGHT​

    I look forward to the posts in this thread.

    ...Bob
    Kentucky
     
    #3 BobinKy, Aug 10, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 10, 2010
  4. John of Japan

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    There have been many such classifications down through the years. In the old days the Greek writers and men such as Jerome simply divided translation methods into literal and free.

    IMO, the task will never be done to everyone's satisfaction. But I suggest: interlinear (Berry), strictly literal (Young's), essentially literal (KJV, NKJV), free, conservatively DE (NIV), freely DE (TEV) and paraphrase.

    A secular scholar named Venuti classifies into foreignizing (translating with the original culture first in your thinking) and fluent (making the language of the target culture primary) or transparent (so adapted to the target culture that the reader doesn't realize it's a translation).
     
  5. TC

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    Hello Bob and welcome to the BB. Your continuum is in line with my thoughts on the subject. I will add other versions I have to yours.

     
  6. jbh28

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  7. Rippon

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    I made some adjustments. Maybe I'll have to adjust my adjustments later.
     
  8. Rippon

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    I know,despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary that you continue to call the NIV a DE type.

    But after KJV and NKJ you have a category you call "free". That's puzzling. What are you referring to?
     
  9. John of Japan

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    This is a traditional category dating back to the Greek poets and grammarians and Jerome. A free translation is when the translator does not have the goal of reader response (as in DE) and does not paraphrase without regard to faithfulness to the original (Living Bible), but nonetheless renders the original freely.
     
  10. John of Japan

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    Here is a definition of "free translation" from the Dictionary of Linguistics (p. 77) by Mario Pei and Frank Gaynor: "The rendering of the meaning of a statement, expression, text, etc., in another language, without following the original accurately."

    Free translation differs from paraphrase (as a method of translation) in that paraphrase restates the original in different words (those of the translator, following his own interpretation), while free translation does look for basis in the original for every rendering. So paraphrase interprets much more than free translation.

    It differs from dynamic equivalence (DE) in that it does not have as its goal a response from the reader that is identical to the response of the original reader. It simply aims at good style in the target language over word for word adherence to the original.
     
  11. Rippon

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    It is not a known category these days. You have to fill-in-the-blanks. You had the KJV/NKJ,free and then conservatively DE etc.

    Exactly what English Bible translations would be in this classification?
     
  12. TomVols

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    Very briefly.....even a couple of NIV translators I know refer to the NIV as DE, and I agree Rippon...I'd put free well after DE, but this highlights the problem: categories are usually now in the eyes of the beholder, or the definer (see ESV and HCSB)
     
  13. John of Japan

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    The average Christian might not understand, but "free" is a category any translator would immediately know.
    Sorry, I don't pay much attention to English translations, so I'm not sure. That's your specialty. :flower: I will say though that I've found many of the alternate renderings in the Amplified to be free renderings.

    As for Japanese translations (which I do follow closely), the recent one by a group known only as the "NT Translation Committee" is pretty free.
     
  14. Rippon

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    However, their meaning of what free entails would differ from yours I'm rather certain.

    Did the Amplified --Helen Montgomery, in particular refer to the translation as free? Do you think that how the translators describe their translations have any weight?

    If words have meaning, free translations would be kind of loose like The Message.
     
  15. John of Japan

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    To tell the truth, I wasn't even thinking about a sequence when I gave my list. I simply put down methods as they occurred to me. If pressed for a sequence of some kind I would probably put "free" right after my "conservative DE" category.

    Many professional translators in the secular world will use a free method, as has been true for centuries. My English newspaper has contests for translators and I often see free renderings there. I have a fascinating book in classical Japanese about Chinese martial arts influence in Okinawa, and the English translation I have of the same book is pretty free. It's a normal category in the secular world.

    I've even done free renderings myself in, for example, a leaflet I consulted on for the local water treatment plant, or recently when I translated George Mueller's "How to Ascertain the Will of God" into Japanese. But I avoid free renderings in my NT translation work.
     
  16. John of Japan

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    Oh, come on, I'm laughing. You're not qualified to make a statement like this and you know it. This kind of comment makes me wonder why I even try to answer you. :tongue3:
     
  17. Dale-c

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    It seems to me that all translations are a combination of literal and dynamic equivalence.

    As others have said, each translation fits a balance somewhere in between. Of course a paraphrase isn't really even a translation.
    I could create a paraphrase. And if I could do it, then it is not a translation since I don't know the original languages.
     
  18. BobinKy

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    So, whether we use categories or not, do we ultimately find ourselves back to some kind of continuum?

    Do categories serve as place marks or milestones along the continuum?

    . . .

    On the arbitrary continuum of the versions I use (previously posted), I must confess that I find myself sliding the versions up or down (left or right) as I read various passages. For example, at the THOUGHT-FOR-THOUGHT end on my continuum, I find myself switching the positions of GNT and NLT quite frequently. At the other end on my continuum, the WORD-FOR-WORD, I also switch positions on the literal versions depending upon how a specific word resonates with my personal vocabulary (bank of experiences).

    Categories may help versions keep their place in line.

    . . .

    Another thought about categories is the criteria to be used. Some technical Bible students may prefer the criteria revolve around literal translation. However, lay Bible readers may prefer the category criteria be something like: study, devotional, and evangelism.


    ...Bob :0)
    Kentucky
     
    #18 BobinKy, Aug 11, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 11, 2010
  19. BobinKy

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    I must also say my continuum is quite a literal continuum in the sense it is a book shelf in my study.

    Yes, a specific version's position on my continuum book shelf is not guaranteed. And I find myself sending some versions to the backup book case in the living room, in another part of the house, several steps away from my personal study. I also move some versions on out to the church Bible bin or Goodwill Store, as shelf space is a premium in my house.

    Here are some versions I have moved on out: RSV, Geneva, Moffat, CEV, Living Bible, Message. The NEB and JB got categorized a while back as "move on out," however, I cannot find the versions online, so I decided to keep them a while longer in the living room book case--the book case where I keep personal Bibles that have family significance (grandfather's Bible, father's Bible, mother's Bible, and some Bibles sold to me by my son when he was 16 years old and working in a Christian bookstore).

    . . .

    My final thought on all of this--what is the shelf life of Bible versions (i.e., how long will they remain in print?). A continuum, and categories, can be quite personal and fluid. The only constant version on my continuum shelf over 60 years is the KJV. There are a few runners-up, but none as lasting as the KJV.

    . . .

    That's all. Thanks for letting me talk on and on about a topic near and dear to my heart over my lay years.

    ...Bob :0)
    Kentucky
     
    #19 BobinKy, Aug 11, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 11, 2010
  20. HankD

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    We are kind of on our own when it comes to translations.

    Fortunately we now have the web as a source of information, however after doing a google (or whatever) for information on any given translation one has to wade through the emotional tirades of those who are of the "ONLY" persuasion and/or sift through whatever other misinformation there might be.

    It is usually evident within a few sentences is there is an "axe to grind".

    HankD
     

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