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Two books on translation

Discussion in '2005 Archive' started by rsr, Apr 19, 2005.

  1. rsr

    rsr <b> 7,000 posts club</b>

    Dec 11, 2001
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  2. mioque

    mioque New Member

    May 23, 2003
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    Some quotes from trom the article
    "Nida's memoir is not much of a narrative—it's structured geographically rather than chronologically, and his anecdotes are random and abbreviated—but it's chock full of fascinating case studies. In South Africa, for instance, while working on a translation of the New Testament in the Shilluk language, Nida wondered whether to translate "forgiveness" with a term that meant "to spit on the ground in front of someone." It was the local custom for the plaintiff and defendant to spit on the ground in front of each other at the completion of a court case to signify its closure. It was a meaningful and culturally distinct way of rendering the concept of forgiveness, but translators were loath to give such theological weight to a word for what they considered a crude act. (Alas, Nida doesn't say what they decided.)

    Elsewhere in Africa, Matthew 25 presented a problem. In that passage, Jesus invites the sheep into heaven but banishes the goats to hell. "But in most of sub-Saharan Africa, goats are prized for their resourcefulness, and sheep are often regarded as filthy scavengers," Nida writes. He considered it off-limits to "make the sheep into goats and the goats into sheep," but he told translators to explain the symbolism in a footnote. Spreading branches in the path of a leader is an insult in many parts of Africa, so a footnote was needed to clarify that Jesus' triumphal entry on Palm Sunday was indeed triumphal.

    Nida also presents word studies from the Greek New Testament, including a partial list of the ways the word logos is rendered in English Scripture. The list includes the figurative title for Christ in John 1:1 ("Word" in English), "reason" in the phrase "the reason for your hope" in 1 Peter 3:15, "financial accounts" in "the servants' accounts" in Matthew 18:23, and a half dozen others. Sarks is similarly versatile, meaning "skin" in Revelation 19:18, "human form" in 1 Timothy 3:16, "humanity" in 1 Peter 1:24, and "race" in Romans 11:14. Nida said he and colleagues once produced a list of 25,000 meanings for the New Testament's 5,000 words. This made Nida skeptical of "the prevalence of 'word-worship,'" which he says "almost always results in skewing the meaning of the original and making artificial the form of the resulting translation." The solution is to find "the closest natural equivalent in meaning and impact."

    "the KJV writers wrote gorgeous English but had a flawed understanding of the original text. Today the problem is just the opposite: translators have superb textual resources at their disposal but can't manage to duplicate the KJV's literary magnificence. Neither Nida nor Ryken satisfactorily answers the crucial question—how can we get the best of both worlds?"
    Maybe it's time to bring in some highly skilled professional authors as language consultants.