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Wednesday, 11 May 2016
Language Differences

Translation, Rewriting and the Manipulation of Literary Fame,
Andre Lefevere, Routledge Publications, 1992, page 100

This extract from Lefevere starts with an obvious statement:

Languages are different and no amount of translator training is ever likely to reduce that difference. Translator training can, however, alert translators both to the relativity of translation poetics and to strategies that mat be used not to "overcome" the difference between languages, which are an undeniable given, but to project "their" image of the original, which may be influenced by various considerations, not just of ideology and/or poetics, but also of the intended audience of the translation. These strategies are by no means limited to the realm of linguistics alone.

So given that two cultures - the Church and the Synagogue - have quite different languages of interpretation regarding the Bible, is it better to try to overcome those differences and produce a single harmonious translation, or is it better to honestly accept those differences and produce interpretations for each target culture? Lefevere continues:

The translation poetics of a given period in a given culture often forces translators to privilege one or two illocutionary strategies at the expense of others. Rhyme and meter have already been mentioned above ... The other privileged illocutionary strategy is, of course, that of the word, the desire to enshrine lexical equivalence (the celebrated "word for word") as the kingpin of the whole translation process, the central element that would guarantee the much desired "fidelity".

So Psalms and the poetry portions of the prophets are already going to be different in a Jewish world (often Hebrew speaking or at least hearing) and a Christian world (almost all non-Hebrew speaking or hearing). By the time you've added both language and cultural translation and the difference between word-for-word and thought-for-thought translation, little wonder that Bibles can be so unlike each other. How much more so, then lifestyles based upon those Bibles and cultures.

Posted By Jonathan, 8:00am Comment Comments: 0