Contractions In Various Versions

Discussion in 'Bible Versions/Translations' started by Rippon, Feb 28, 2015.

  1. Rippon

    Rippon
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    I have done something like this in the past. But this is brand new info. I have not looked at my old thread on the subject.

    The use of contractions is controversial in Bible translations. A few do not use any at all. But most do to a limited extent at least. The HCSB has taken a lead among conservative translations in the use of many contractions.

    Just the amount of contractions is not necessarily the sole issue. The core subject is how appropriate are they in a given context. But in the thread I will concentrate on the sheer numbers.

    In this first post I will give a summary of the usage of a few contractions within three versions in the gospels alone.

    I'm
    NIV : 3
    HCSB : 32
    NLT : 24

    Haven't
    NIV : 7
    HCSB : 14
    NLT : 18

    You're
    NIV : 4
    HCSB : 31
    NLT : 12

    I'll
    NIV : 5
    HCSB : 14
    NLT : 16

    Let's
    NIV : 5
    HCSB : 17
    NLT : 20

    We're
    NIV : 2
    HCSB : 7
    NLT : 10

    So, in this mini survey, these are the results:

    The HCSB used these particular contractions 115 times. The NIV did so 26 times. That means on less than 23% of the occasions that the HCSB did. And the NLT ranked #2 after the HCSB at a total of exactly 100 times. It looks like the HCSB and NLT have a kinship in this respect.

    There are many more contractions that I could have factored in --and just might, in the future. And I didn't focus on any area but the gospels. Others are welcome to investigate in other books of the canon.
     
    #1 Rippon, Feb 28, 2015
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 28, 2015
  2. Rippon

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    Isn't
    NLT : 25
    HCSB : 16
    NIV 6

    Aren't
    NLT : 10
    HCSB : 20
    NIV : 10

    Won't
    NLT : 48
    HCSB : 28
    NIV : 5

    Once again, the HCSB shows an affinity to the NLT with respect to their usages of many contractions. The HCSB shared more than 77% of the NLT's contraction-use.

    Meanwhile, looking very conservative, the NIV evidences less than 33% of the HCSB's employment of contractions.
     
  3. robustheologian

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    Linguistic experts agree that contractions allow for smoother reading which leads to easier comprehension and better retention.
     
  4. Rippon

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    A balanced, prudent and common sense approach is called for. I certainly don't advocate the absence of contractions in English Bible translations. But I think the HCSB has gone to extremes in that area. The NIV has taken a more conservative stance in this department. The NIV uses a modicum of contractions --just the right proportion for dignity of the sacred text.
     
  5. Rippon

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    In The Gospels

    Didn't

    NLT : 85
    HCSB : 57
    NIV : 11

    Doesn't

    NLT : 21
    HCSB : 37
    NIV : 5

    Totals:

    The NLT uses these two contractions 106 times.
    The HCSB uses them 94 times.
    The NIV, in a distant third place position, uses them only 16 times.

    The HCSB has used these contractions 89% of the time that the NLT has. These two versions are like kissing cousins in this regard.

    The NIV has shown a lot of restraint in using these contractions just 17% of the time in comparison with the HCSB.
     
  6. Van

    Van
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    As with the video that showed apparently randomly selected college students with no knowledge of government leaders, this thread has selected various versions to illustrate the NIV uses contractions fewer times than the HCSB, with the claim the NIV has struck the best balance between readability and decorum.

    But if we compare NIrV to the HCSB, then we could say the HCSB has the best balance. For example in the gospels, the NIrV uses "didn't" more than the HCSB. Thus the HCSB, at least in this example, strikes a balance between the NIV and NIrV! :)

    If we look at versions claiming to be formal equivalence versions, i.e. NASB and NKJV, we find zero uses of didn't in the gospels. And need I add, the ESV didn't use didn't either, at least in the gospels.
     
  7. Rippon

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    I never claimed balance meant being in the middle of extremes. I have demonstrated that there should be a sense of perspective on this issue. By the way, some of your favorite translations use no contractions --the NASB and WEB. Why do you defend the over-abundance of contractions in the HCSB while appreciating the absence of them in your other favorites?
    Only slightly. The NIrV uses it just eight more times than the HCSB.
    NIrV : 65
    HCSB : 57
    You are exactly...wrong. Of the four translations the NLT uses "didn't" 85 times. The NIV has it only eleven times. Some translation that uses it around 48 times would qualify as being in the mean. But I am not addressing an average at all.

    In my post I had cited both the usages of didn't and doesn't.

    With respect to that contraction, the NIrV uses doesn't only 21 times, just like the NLT. But the HCSB has it a whopping 37 times. The NIV : just 5 times. The NLT and NIrV are in the middle --which is precisely 21.

    So, with both contractions here is where it stands in all four translations.

    NLT : 106
    HCSB : 94
    NIrV : 86
    NIV : 16

    The HCSB is in the same pack as the NLT and NIrV --it even beats out the NIrV in the usages of these contractions.

    Therefore, here is what I put before you. Some versions don't use any contractions. Many use an over-abundance of them. The NIV, having a most judicious approach uses them slightly. What version, I ask, makes the most sense of the issue?

    But the NIV, as I have said before, uses contractions sparingly. It exercises restraint and dignity.
     
  8. Rippon

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    To bring it all home to your understanding :

    In the usages of these eleven contractions in the gospels:

    The NIrV scored 287 times.
    The HCSB scored 273 times.
    The NIV scored just 63 times.

    So, the HCSB used these 11 contractions 95.121% of the time that the NIrV did.

    And the NIV used them only 23.076% of the time that the HCSB did.

    It looks like the HCSB and NIrV stand together with great similarity in this regard.

    But the NIV stands alone with just a smattering of these contractions as found in the gospels.
     
  9. Van

    Van
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    If there is anything wrong with using contractions to translate two separate words in the Greek, then the more formal equivalence translations are superior, and those using the contractions fall short of formal equivalence.

    All the versions using contractions stand together as examples of altering the text unnecessarily. But does saying didn't rather than did not alter God's actual message? Doesn't seem so, does it?
     
  10. RLBosley

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    I primarily read the HCSB and the NASB. Reading through the Holman you definitely notice the contractions a lot more. It will sometimes trip me up because I am not used to contractions being in the Bible. I grew up on the KJV and I'm not sure if it even had any. That said, I don't think there is anything wrong with it, it's just different.

    Is it helpful? I don't know, but I do kind of like it actually. If nothing else it gets me to slow down in familiar passages that I may be tempted to skim over. The HCSB breaking with tradition in some texts helps with this a lot as well.
     
    #10 RLBosley, Mar 3, 2015
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 3, 2015
  11. Van

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    Spot on RL!!
     
  12. RLBosley

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    Oh dear... Van is agreeing with me. There must be a problem somewhere... ;)
     
  13. Bro. Curtis

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    The subject came up of an Old Testament reference to an eternal soul, and Psalm 23:6 is a verse I have been given.

    Most versions end with "dwell in the house of the Lord, forever."
    YLT says "number of days".

    Anyone know how/why this was translated like this ?
     
  14. Van

    Van
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    Not sure if Bro. Curtis, your post was intended for this thread, contraction is the various versions.

    But, if I understand the question, someone somewhere said the human soul was eternal. And to support that view, they cited Psalm 23:6, which says saved individuals will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. So, yes, whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.

    Now if you are questioning the translations that "in the house of the Lord forever" because some translations read "for the rest of my life." It is a distinction without a difference because if we never perish then the rest of our life is eternal life.

    Turning now to the issue of accurate translation, the Hebrew Interlinear indicates "length" days. This is then translated as "forever" or the days of my life, and so forth. "Length days" suggests till the end of days or forever.
     
    #14 Van, Mar 3, 2015
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 3, 2015
  15. Rippon

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    Why do you say that?
     
  16. Rippon

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    Something interesting to note is that the WEB translation has used a grand total of 283 contractions of : doesn't, didn't, won't, aren't, isn't, let's, I'm and haven't. This, despite not having any contractions for we're, I'll and you're.

    NIrV : 287
    WEB : 283
    HCSB : 273

    All three of the above stand together in their plethora of contractions.
     
  17. Rippon

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    Somehow or another I got the figure wrong for the HCSB. I double-checked four versions for a dozen contractions.

    The latest? He's.

    HCSB : 30
    NLT : 18
    NIrV : 9
    NIV : 6

    Surprising isn't it? You'd think that the NLT would be ahead of the HCSB here. But even the simplified NIV used the contraction just nine times. And, as usual, the conservative NIV is content using he's only six times.

    To get you all up-to-speed on this I have totaled up everything.

    NLT : 307
    NIrV : 296
    HCSB : 283
    NIV : 69

    The NIV uses not quite 25% of those twelve contractions in the gospels that the HCSB does.

    The NIrV is similar to the NLT 96.416% of the time.

    And the HCSB has a close relationship in this regard to the NLT 92.182% of the time.

    So all but the NIV would be in the same range of contraction employment in the gospels.
     
  18. Van

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    If God inspired the use of two separate words, it is unnecessary to combine them. Now if "did not" didn't exist in English, then the use of "didn't" would be necessary. Note that the usage of the contractions is not consistent, with the same Greek construction being translated as two words here, and then as a contraction there.
     
  19. Jerome

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    If mashing together simple pronouns, be verbs, not, etc. upsets you, how about in the Spanish Bible where we see contractions such as Jesucristo [for Jesús Cristo].
     
  20. Dr. Bob

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    To assume that translating a verb in a modern English contraction is somehow "wrong" or "demeaning" to the Bible got me scratching my head.

    Some may do so, others may not. Does that make a translation "better"? Actually, no.

    "you're" is a perfectly 100% accurate and acceptable translation of "you are". Nothing mystical about older English that might not have used contractions. They are simply older. Dated. Harder to read. Poorer flow of words and sentences we're used to.

    oops. used "we're". Sorry.
     

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