How Do You Know It's Dynamic Equivalence 2

Discussion in 'Bible Versions/Translations' started by John of Japan, Feb 12, 2009.

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  1. John of Japan

    John of Japan
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    Okay, let's try again. Here is my criterion given on the other thread for determining whether or not a Bible translation is done by the dynamic equivalence (DE) method (also called functional equivalence):

    If the translators consistently use DE principles and methods when solving translation problems, then the Bible version in question is a DE translation.

    I chose a random chapter in the TNIV NT and compared it to the Greek using this criterion to see if the TNIV is a DE translation. Now I'm going to post the results. Some may not believe me, but I have tried to be objective. Please also note that I am not attacking the translators' theology or character, and I am not attacking the TNIV. I'm simply trying to determine whether or not it can be called a DE Bible translation.
     
    #1 John of Japan, Feb 12, 2009
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  2. John of Japan

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    Dynamic Equivalence in Matthew 8 of the TNIV
    By John R. Himes


    The chapter I chose at random in the TNIV is Matthew 8. I didn’t remember the content when I chose it, though I have translated it into Japanese and am well familiar with the Greek. Note that I have not dealt with every place I would translate differently, but only those places that I believe are clearly DE renderings.

    First of all, all through this chapter (in every verse but vv. 12, 13, 17, 22, 23; arguably in 16,) the translation does not translate conjunctions at the beginning of sentences such askai(“and, also”) andde(and, but). There is a theory that in Greek these are often just sentence markers, telling where a new sentence starts, and therefore don’t always need to be translated. Even if that is true, there are still places where these words are meaningful at the beginning of the sentence and should be translated. To almost never translate them means the translators were thinking that the impression received by the modern reader is more important than the peculiar syntax of the original. This concept is called “reader response” or “receptor response” in DE. It is an extremely important DE principle. The recent UBS journal The Bible Translator had an article on “P46 as a Paradigm for Reader-Response Criticism,” which is an ugly stepchild of form criticism.

    At the beginning of verse 2 kai idou was not translated at all. This would be translated literally, “And behold,” or “And look.” A sense-for-sense rendering might be “So look now” (a little less literal). But most folk don’t talk like this nowadays, and the translators probably left it out so that their translation would be a “closest natural equivalent” of the original. This is a DE principle.

    In a literal translation, verse 6 would continue the sentence starting in verse 5, since what the TNIV has as “he said” is a participle. This is a case where the translator did not feel that the form of the original was important enough to preserve in the translation. That is a DE principle. However, a literal translator would believe there was an important nuance in the grammatical form of the original.

    In v. 11 the TNIV has “take their places at the feast.” The Greek for “take their places at the feast” is anakliqhson, which is sometimes problematic for the translator. It generally means to sit or in many cases to recline at the table as was the custom in the first century. I think “recline” or “sit” are both good literal equivalents, though “recline” may need a footnote to explain the first century meal-time custom. However, there is no “at the feast” in the word. Sometimes when it is used there is no feast (Matt. 14:19, Luke 2:7, etc.). So “take their places at the feast” is a DE rendering, an unnecessary paraphrase adding an extra word designed to produce a “natural equivalent” and a “clear meaning” which probably didn’t exist in the minds of the Divine and human authors.

    Verse 12 has the interesting rendering, “the subjects of the kingdom.” The Greek here is uioi thV basileiaV which would be translated “sons of the kingdom” by a literal translator. This gets into the criticism of the TNIV that it is gender neutral, but I’m not interested in arguing that right now. My focus is how the DE translation method allows this rendering while a literal method does not. Literal methods will translate an idiom as is, if it makes sense in the target language, and this one does. So-called “meaning-based translation” (as if all translation was not meaning-based) methods such as DE often will not literally translate idioms, even if the idiom makes sense in the target language. DE translators look for that “closest natural equivalent,” meaning they believe it should never sound like a translation. But as one of my fellow translators once said, “But it is a translation!”

    A literal translation of the words of Jesus in v. 13 would be “Go and…” but the TNIV leaves out the “and” (kai) and makes it two sentences, thus losing a nuance” “Go! Let it be done….” The DE method looks to simplify difficulties in favor of understanding, and is often not interested in preserving the nuances and ambiguities of the original, especially if the translated document is then hard to understand. Thus Nida invented the term “formal equivalence” to use instead of “literal” or “word-for-word.” He meant that a “formal” translation tries to preserve the “form” of the original.

    The TNIV has in v. 16 “he drove out the spirits” (exebalen ta pneumata). The Greek word here is usually translated cast out, throw out, etc. It is translated “cast out” in various translations but can be translated “drive out” as in Gen. 3:24 in the Septuagint. No doubt the translators were striving for the best natural equivalent here, thinking “cast out” to be archaic, but think about it. The English “drive” is normally a process, as in “He drove his wife nuts” or “The boy drove the sheep to market.” However, Christ’s act was instantaneous.

    In verse 20 the TNIV has “Jesus replied,” but the original is “He said” (legei ). I have no problem with using “Jesus” instead of “He” and thus replacing a pronoun with a proper name. We do this often in Japanese for clarity, since Japanese syntax handles pronouns very poorly. However, I see a nuance in “said” that is lost in the TNIV rendering of “replied.” The translator was no doubt trying to make more sense in English, but in my view if Jesus “replied” then He was merely responding to the man, whereas if He “said,” then He was initiating something that the would-be disciple needed to know. This may seem picky, but once again this rendering depends on your translation method.

    In verse 21 we have, “Another disciple,” but the original is eteroV de twn maqhtwn [autou], or “another of [his] disciples” (the brackets show a textual problem with the word “his”; no big deal in our analysis). Why would the TNIV make the plural into a singular? This was probably for clarity. The DE method strives for clarity in the translation over keeping to the exact form of the original. But to a literal translator “authorial intent” (what the divine Author wanted to communicate) would come first, so he would keep it plural, believing there is meaning in the plural form that needs to be preserved in the translation.

    Verse 24 has “furious storm” in the TNIV for the GreekseismoV megaV. But this is literally, “great storm” or “large storm.” This is another example of the reader response principle of DE.

    Verse 25 has “We’re going to drown” in the TNIV for the Greek apollumeqa. However, the Greek root word means “die” or “destroy.” This is obviously done for “reader response” as per DE theory.

    Verse 26 has “It was completely calm,” (egeneto galhnh megalh) which would be literally “There was a great calm.” So “completely” is substituted for “great,” another case of the DE goal of clarity at the expense of the form of the original.

    In v. 29 it says, “before the appointed time.” However, in the original (pro kairou), there is no “appointed.” The translator no doubt added the word so as to get the right reader response as per DE theory. But the problem with this to a literal translator is that the translator is then thinking and interpreting for the reader. Translating literally, “before the time,” forces the readers to think it through themselves—“What time? Did someone set a time here? Who set it and why?”

    Verse 30 has "If you drive us out” (ei ekballeiV hmaV). See the note on v. 16.
     
    #2 John of Japan, Feb 12, 2009
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  3. John of Japan

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    My conclusion is that yes, the TNIV was done with the DE method, since virtually every verse has evidence of that in the dropping of the initial conjunction, and every time the translators had a translation problem it was solved with DE principles. Make of that if you will. If you disagree with me, though, you need to provide your own criteria for determining whether or not a version is DE.
     
    #3 John of Japan, Feb 12, 2009
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  4. Jim1999

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    We can see that when we translate German into English exactly as the German reads. For example, Jack and jill went up the hill to fetch a pail of water. Jack fell down............then translated literally into English: Jack fell down and the pail of water....Almost as if both had the same action rather than Jack falling with the pail of water in his hands.

    Cheers, should I try that in Yiddish?

    Cheers, and thanks,

    Jim
     
  5. John of Japan

    John of Japan
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    Oi vey! (I hope that isn't a bad word.:smilewinkgrin: )
     
  6. Rippon

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    Thank you for your research.I'll do my own.

    BTW,what does "the TNIV is done with the DE method" mean? That would literally mean it is finished with it.

    "If you disagree with you"?!
     
  7. Rippon

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    Well,I did some checking.Of the 12 examples JoJ gave of what he thinks a non-DE translation should have in the text :

    The NET text agreed with him 4 times.(That is if one doesn't allow for any half-credit points.)The NET agreed with him with respect to verses 12,21,24 and 25.But it gives pretty good reasons why JoJ's preferences are not suitable for three which are similiar to the TNIV rendering.

    The ESV agreed with him 8 times:verses 2,11,12,16,21,24,26 and 29.

    The HCSB which advertises itself as using 'Optimal Equivalence' which is the principle JoJ identifies with -- only agreed with his decisions half of the time.Yep,a grand total of 6 times.Those places are verses 11,12,21,25,26 and 29.

    I'll report back at a later time with what other versions have.But I really think that his examples,for the most part are too picky.
     
  8. Rippon

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    ISV And NLTse

    The ISV agreed with JoJ's decisions 3 out of his 12 examples.The agreements were in verses 21,25, and 26.

    The NLTse also agreed with JoJ's decisions on 3 occasions :verses 16,21 and 26.

    So far the NET 4.
    The ESV 8.
    HCSB 6.
    ISV 3.
    The NLTse 3.


    The results for these 5 versions show the greatest commonality with verse 5 -- all five had JoJ's preference there.

    The runner-up spot goes to verse 26 with four verses having that in common.

    There is a tie for third place.Verses 12 and 25 both had three of the versions agreeing with JoJ's decision.
     
    #8 Rippon, Feb 12, 2009
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  9. Marcia

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    JoJ, thanks for posting all that info on Matthew 8. I read what you postedd while following the text on biblgateway with the NASB, NKJ, and TNIV alongside each other to see the differences. It was very interesting and instructive.

    I'm saving it. Thanks again!
     
    #9 Marcia, Feb 12, 2009
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  10. Rippon

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    This Just In Sports Fans...

    I gathered some of other versions and came up with the following:

    Weymouth 5th Edition (1930)

    There are 4 verses in common with JoJ's standards.Those are #13,#21,#24 and #29.

    REB

    There are two for certain : numbers 24 and 29.I wasn't sure about how strict JoJ is about this (I have a feeling --very)but verse 21 has "Another man,of his disciples".Does that count?There have been some other pretty close ones in the various versions I have been dealing with.

    NJB

    Two of the verses are certain:verses 26 and 29.The other one,verse 21 has about the same phraselogy as the REB.Then there is "sit down" in verse 11 -- would that qualify as a non-dynamic rendering?

    NRSV

    Verses 16 and 29 meet the JoJ standard.

    MLB

    Verses 12,16,21,26 and 29 would meet with his approval.

    So the jury is still out as to whether they would pass muster.As it satnds the non-dynamic rendering from individual verses are:Weymouth 33.3%,REB 16.7%,NJB 16.7%,NRSV 16.7% and MLB 50%.

    As I was saying -- it depends as to how fussy one wants to be.If proper nouns would be allowed in lieu of pronouns sometimes and other little "nuances" -- the percentages would rise.


    I just don't see the point about being so picayunish about some of the items.I also don't think it's fair to judge how dynamic a particular version is based on tiny fragments of one chapter of the Bible.There are 22 other verses in Matthew 8 alone .And there are 1,1188 other chapters in the Bible altogether.To give a better assessment your sample size needs to be much,much greater. As it is,no one can make any final determination based on 12 lonely items. Some on the list can probably be judged as non-factors in deciding how dynamic a version is.
     
    #10 Rippon, Feb 13, 2009
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  11. Rippon

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    I made a correction.
     
  12. Rippon

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    Update

    Of the 10 versions which I have selected to compare with JoJ's stances:

    Verses 21 and 29 have tied for first place with 7 versions putting JoJ's rendering in the text.

    Verse 26 is in second place with 6 translations keeping that in the text.

    Verses 12 and 16 come in third place with 4 of the Bibles keeping Joj's rendering in the text.
     
  13. John of Japan

    John of Japan
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    You're entirely welcome! If I can just help someone think things through I'm happy. No one has to come out where I am. :thumbsup:
     
  14. Rippon

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    Norlie's Simplified New Testament

    Verse 12,13 and 26 for sure.Two other remain possibilities.In verse 21 it says:"Another man, -- one of His followers..." Would that count or not?How strict is your literalism?In verse 25 it's rendered "We shall perish".Is that satisfactory?What's in and what's out?Does a rendering considered less than strictly get consigned to the dynamic category -- no ifs and or buts?

    NASBU

    This famous formally equivalent version had 6 entries in the literal column.Those occur in verses 11,12,16,21,24, and 29.Again,in verse 25 it has :"We are perishing!"I don't know if that is considered literal enough according to your constraints.
    In verse 24 the margin has in reference to your preference of the "great storm" Lit.: a shaking.Which am I to believe is really the supposed literal rendering-- yours, or that of this famous conservative Bible?

    Evidences of some literalisms in this chapter according to the margin of the HCSB follow.Both the NASBU and TNIV have the literal "cleansed" in verse 3. In verse 9 the TNIV has "under me".Even the NASBU doesn't have that.The NASU also doesn't have "very hour" which the TNIV has.

    I will give some renderings from the NASU altered.I will put snips of the verses with the marginal readings in the text.I will bracket the special wordings.

    Verse 1 : When [He] came down from the mountain,[many] crowds followed him.

    Verse 4 : present the [gift]...
    ( The TNIV has it.)

    Verse 5 : And when [He] entered Capernaum...

    Verse 6 : Lord,my [boy] is [thrown down] at home and fearfully tormented.

    Verse 8 : [say with a word] and my [boy] will be healed.

    Verse 13 : And the [boy] was healed at that [hour]
    ( The TNIV has "hour")

    Verse 24 : And behold,there arose [a shaking]

    Verse 26 : [a great calm occurred]

    Verse 29 : [What is to us and to you?]

    So there are some literalisms here which differ from yours.Who's right?
     
  15. Rippon

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    Latest Update

    There is a tie between verses 21 and 29 with 8 times each within the versions I have featured.

    In second place verse 26 has 7 times been highlighted in some of the 12 versions I have put on display.

    And verse 12 comes in third place with a total of 6 times.
     
  16. Rippon

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    NKJB

    I'll give this version 9 points.The verses which adhere closely to the guidelines I'd say are 2,11,12,16,21,24 (even though it has "great tempest"),25 ("We are perishing!"),26 and 29.

    Darby New Tesament

    My deceased mom bought this almost 65 years ago.It also has 9 match-ups : verses 2,11,12,13,16,21,25,26 and 29.
     
  17. Rippon

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    Forget about 3rd place.Verse 21 and 29 each have 10 points respectively. Verses 12 and 26 have 8 a-piece.
     
  18. Rippon

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    Only three versions (Weymouth,Darby and Norlie)kept that nuance that you think separates the literal from the dynamic :"Go and".In the grand scheme of things it isn't very significant.

    In your explanation of verse 21 you were saying how the literal translator strives to keep "the exact form".That is an impossible task --isn't it?Even if you think you have arrived at the best equivalents you have to do a lot of restructuring of sentences.Keeping the "exact form" is an unattainable and unrealistic goal.
     
  19. 4His_glory

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    Very good stuff John. Thank you for the informative work. Personally I just can´t understand why anyone would prefer a DE translation. Even one that supposedly takes a "mediating position" like the TNIV.

    My understanding of greek is rather limited (only studied it for two years) but to me it makes sense to be as formally equivalent as possible in order to avoid the translators bias .
     
  20. MNJacob

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    JOJ, nicely done.
     
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