Interpretation = Translation

Discussion in 'Bible Versions/Translations' started by Rippon, Mar 27, 2006.

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  1. Rippon

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    I had quoted several experts from the book The Challenge Of Bible Translation in the past. Every translation involves interpretation -- you can't get around that . If one believes that the literal approach is best they will come up short . Maintaining the sense of the original is the important thing . There is a difference between the form of the original and a clear meaning transferred to a given language such as English . A so-called literal rendering may not in-fact be any more accurate than a functional-equivalent rendering .

    Don't you think that the reader's understanding of a translation has to be taken into account before calling a particular version accurate ?

    Is there really anything that is in-fact word-for-word , aside from a very awkward interlinear ? And would such a " translation " really be helpful for readers ?

    And that brings up the subject of italics . Are they really necessary ? Is a rendering so exact that words must be counted and every word must have a corresponding word in the receptor language ?
     
  2. Hope of Glory

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    Interpreting clear idioms, etc., is a necessity. Interpreting to fit pre-formed theology is not. Interpreting something to make it say something that is neither translation nor legitimate interpretation is deplorable.

    The italics in the KJV were added when the translators added something that was not in the Greek. They added to clarify. Sometimes it does, sometimes it merely muddies the water.

    For example, a literal translation of the English expression, "I'm tickled to death to see you" into Japanese or Korean would make no sense, unless you understood the idiom.

    However, if I were to say, "I'm going to the store as we speak", don't interpret it to say something else.
     
  3. robycop3

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    The AV translators italicized them in Psalm 12:7 to show it was not the literal translation of the Hebrew, and added a marginal with the literal translation, "Heb. him, I. euery one of them" to inform the reader. They knew the verse is about plural people, so they improved upon the Geneva Bible's "him" w/o changing the meaning of the verse.

    OTOH, they rendered the Greek "me ginomai" as the British expression "God forbid" several times w/o any explanation. There are certain critics who denounce certain other versions for not pointing out where they've departed from the literal translation for the sake of clarity in English, while ignoring the fact that the KJV does the same thing. That's part of their clearly-illustrated double standard.
     
  4. Rippon

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    Just for clarification , when I say interpretation , I mean deciding what the orginal meant . I do not mean going into translation with the mindset of adding my own thoughts and opinions . There should not be any presuppositions ahead of time .

    And I'm with robycop3 about the issue of italics . Our versions are not so accurate as to do that . Isn't it already acknowledged that there is not a word-for-word correspondence from one language to another in most cases ? I think putting in italics is kind of foolish . Does one need to put in every "is" or " he" in italics ? Footnotes come in handy . But they should not be overtaxed . Good commentaries come in handy for more elaborate explanations . A translation is limited because several options are available -- but only one can be used . ( That is , of course , unless you want to consult The Amplified -- a little unwieldy ) .
     
  5. Logos1560

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    William Ames (1576-1633) observed: "Among interpreters [translators], neither the seventy who turned them into Greek, nor Jerome, nor any other such held the office of a prophet; they were not free from errors in interpretation" (MARROW OF THEOLOGY, p. 188).

    In their preface to the 1611, the KJV translators also referred to translators as "interpreters" and not "prophets."
     
  6. John of Japan

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    Actually, this is less of a problem than you might think. For example, translating narrative rarely calls for interpretation, and look how much of the Bible is narrative (including the book of Revelation, when you think about it). Also, some writers are much easier to translate than others (John, for one), requiring less interpretation.

    The only places where the translator (unlike the exegete) must interpret are those where the original language is ambiguous, usually due to a word with multiple meanings. Even in such cases, it is usually (not always) possible to retain the ambiguity by finding a similarly ambiguous word in the receptor language.

    What I have just described is what the optimal equivalence method does with ambiguity. Dynamic equivalence (now often called functional equivalence) goes much further, and often inserts information into the translation which is not there in the original.

    The dynamic equivalence method interprets far more than necessary, and paraphrasing goes even further. If I were to take on an English-to-Japanese translation project as a pro, and use dynamic equivalence or paraphrasing, I would be cheating the customer, and ought to be fired. [​IMG]
     
  7. Rippon

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    I don't believe mere transcription is the best way to go in translation . All translation involves interpretation -- it is unavoidable . It doesn't mean just letting subjectivity rule though . Keeping the meaning of the text as well as the audience in mind is key . There are many examples of the confusion which takes place with a so-called literal translation . It sounds too mechanistic to just transport the form of the original to the receptors . Form is not meaning , despite what some say . Literal means what the author meant . Going word-for-word is a poor way to convey the original , otherwise someone simply armed with a lexicon could do the work .

    I have some questions for the readers here .

    1) Should the same English word be used every time
    in a translation ? It's called concordance .

    2)Should the same number of words in the Greek be used in the English translation ? Do you need to count them and compare -- otherwise if the English translation has too many then it is not a good translation for that factor alone ( not to mention other items )?
     
  8. robycop3

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    The fact is that Hebrew, Aramaic, or Koine Greek simply WILL NOT translate into English, French, or any other language 100%. Since this fact is NOT lost on GOD, who created all languages, I have no objection to words added for clarity as are found in all English versions, and, I suspect, in every valid translation in every currently-used tongue today.

    As for Rippon's questions:

    1) Should the same English word be used every time
    in a translation ? It's called concordance .


    Yes, if the meaning of the word/phrase being translated is the same every time. An example is pascha=passover, except the ONE PLACE (Acts 12:4) where it's rendered "EASTER". Now, while Doc Cas attributes it to the fact that English speakers often called passover "Easter" insteada just leaving pascha, pask, pasqual, etc. untranslated, this use fell off rapidly when Tyndale couned the word "passover" for the paschal observance. Now, while this use of "Easter MAY have still been correct in 1611, the older Geneva Bible reads "passover", and the facts of the first 3 verses of Acts 12 indicate it was passover. This is coupled with the fact that EASTER AS WE KNOW IT DIDN'T EXIST when Luke wrote Acts.

    Doc Cas also pointed out that this usage is given as an example in the definition of Easter in the OED. However, this is still not the BEST rendering possible, especially in light of the fact that the KJV renders pascha as passover every other time it appears in the Greek.

    The notion that the AV men used Easter to indicate the New Covenant was then in effect is false; it would be adding to the meaning of Scripture.

    This is just an example. However, many Greek or Hebrew words have multiple meanings in English, and the translator should use the English word/words that best convey the meaning for that given usage of the Greek/Hebrew.

    2)Should the same number of words in the Greek be used in the English translation ? Do you need to count them and compare -- otherwise if the English translation has too many then it is not a good translation for that factor alone ( not to mention other items )?

    I believe that however many or few words are necessary to best convey the meaning of the phrase being translated, should be used, whether or not it's mopre than the Greek, equal in number to the Greek, or less than the Greek.
     
  9. John of Japan

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    I for one am certainly not advocating what you are calling "word-for-word" translation. I do advocate a literal translation method, such as the "direct equivalence" (more properly "optimal equivalence," but that term was trumped by a Nelson's editor) method of the NKJV, but that takes into account the grammar of the receptor language. Virtually no bona-fide translator I've ever heard of, unless he is doing an interlinear, will do a formal equivalence translation such as you are describing here.
     
  10. John of Japan

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    Well put, robycop3. I agree with you about pasxa. A word such as this referring to a settled event should always be translated the same, though it is true that the lexicons state that the term was also used to refer to Easter by Christians, many years after the passage in question.

    So is translating with concordance right? It depends on the word and the context. I don't much like Nida's translation method (unless you are using it for a tribal language, since that was Nida's original experience and how he developed his theories), but his work on semantic domains is enlightening. I occasionally even use the Louw-Nida lexicon in my work! :eek:

    I also agree with you on your (2) point. You must use however many words you need to give an optimal equivalant of the original text in the receptor language. In fact, in the example given (Greek to English), it is literally impossible to have the same number of words in your English translation as the original Greek did, since the Greek verbs include both person and number in the declensions, but English does not. Thus, the Greek luw, one word, must be translated with an English pronoun added, thus: "He/she/it destroys."
     
  11. Hope of Glory

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    I think that translating concordantly (not necessarily the same number of words), except when clear Greek or Hebrew idioms are presented, is optimal.
     
  12. Rippon

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    Regarding concordance -- I had quoted from the book " The Challenge Of Bible Translation " in the past . Mark Strouse said " For example , by consistently translating a particular Hebrew word ( such as ruah ) with a single Englishword ( say, 'spirit'), you would retain the verbal parallels in the Hebrew , but you would miss the best sense of the word in each particular context . "

    Douglas Moo has a chapter on the usage of the Greek word " sarx" . It is commonly translated as flesh , or fleshly in many translations .

    Moo says:

    The decision on whether to pursue a generally concordant translation of sarx depends , in the last analysis , on translation philosophy and intended audience . Neither decision is right or wrong apart from such variable considerations . Advocates of translations such as the NRSV and ESV will claim that their translations , following a more concordant approach , provide a better foundation for careful study . But , of course , these translations do not attempt to provide a consistently concordant approach -- an impossible goal for any translation . Careful study will still require the use of a concordance to help the English reader identify the underlying Greek and Hebrew words . On the other hand , what the TNIV may sacrifice on this score may be more than made up for in contextual readibility . Every indication is that the ability of people to read is steadily declining . If we are to hope for a Bible that an entire congregation can use , the readiblility of a more contextually nuanced translation such as the TNIV may be the best option .
     
  13. Hope of Glory

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    Not to mention, they can make it fit pre-formed theology.
     
  14. Rippon

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    Please elaborate HoG .
     
  15. John of Japan

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    In general, yes. But you have to remember that many times a word came have more than one meaning, and then the translation must be decided by context rather than concordance. For example, the Greek word anothen can mean either "from above" or "from the beginning," depending on the context. In Matt. 27:51 it clearly means from the context, "from the top," but in Acts 26:5 it clearly means from the context, "from the beginning." Translating by concordance just does not work with this word. You must translate by context.
     
  16. Hope of Glory

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    Technically, that can still fall under the umbrella of concordant translation, but it's at that point that it becomes subjective in many cases.

    An example, in John 3:3, anothen obviously means "born from above" (same as verse 31), but for some reason it's translated "born again", which makes it mean something different.

    If it were translated concordantly, it would not be "again".
     
  17. John of Japan

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    I have to reluctantly disagree, Hope of Glory. :(

    I believe that John 3:3 is ambiguous in the original and could be translated either "from above" or "again" and still make sense. There is a similar use of anothen in Luke 1:3, where virtually all English versions translate "from the first," interpreting it that Luke did research, but in his commentary on Luke, John R. Rice suggested that this usage should be "from above," indicating that Luke knew he wrote by inspiration.

    So, unless a similar word can be found in the receptor language, meaning both "from above" and "from the first," thus preserving the ambiguity of the original, these two verses must be interpreted one way or the other. Translating by concordance won't do with anothen. It must be translated either by context or by interpretation. [​IMG]
     
  18. Hope of Glory

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    That's an example of what I'm talking about, that it can be concordantly and still subjective. In other words, the word can have two implications, but stick to what it means instead of making it something completely different that it cannot be. In the case of John 3:3, "again" does not fit either category; it's man putting an opinion into that the language cannot permit. The language can permit "from the first" or "from above".
     
  19. John of Japan

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    You make a good case here, Hope of Glory. There are quite a few scholars who would agree with you that anothen ought to be "from above" in this verse. However, I have to go with "again" because of the context of v. 4, where Nicodemus clearly understands that Jesus means "a second time." Also, in Gal. 4:9 it clearly means "again."

    There are many other words that I agree completely should be translated with concordance. One is apostolos. This word is usually translated "messenger(s)" in Phil. 2:25 and 2 Cor. 8:23, and in the KJV is "he that is sent" in John 13:16. The only reason I can think of for not translating apostolos with concordance in these verses is theological bias concerning the term "apostle." [​IMG]
     
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