[b-hebrew] NIV v' NWT translation policy
furuli at online.no
Thu Nov 17 08:26:07 EST 2005
See my comments below.
----- Original Message -----
From: "Peter Kirk" <peter at qaya.org>
To: "Read, James C" <K0434995 at kingston.ac.uk>
Cc: <b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org>
Sent: Thursday, November 17, 2005 11:12 AM
Subject: Re: [b-hebrew] NIV v' NWT translation policy
For it is
> fundamental to their whole method that the basic unit of translation is
> the individual word. If they had abandoned this wrong idea they would
> indeed have produced a better translation. Since you are saying that
> they should have changed their fundamental philosophy, you can hardly
> claim to agree with them.
Your comments show that you neither understand fully the basic principles of
a literal translation nor what it means to use the word as the fundamental
translation unit. So your judgement that this is wrong is built on a
When I studied applied linguistics, the following book was a part of the
curriculum: P: Newmark (1988). "A Textbook of translation". This book was
awarded the British Association of Applied Linguitics´prize in 1988. For
the benefit of the list I quote Newmark, p. 36 (you have seen this quote
before on another list):
"Many translators say you should never translate words, you translate
sentences or ideas or messages. I think they are fooling themselves. The SL
texts consists of words, that is all that is there, on the page." Newmark
shows that translation is done on different levels of the text, but he
stresses that to deny the importance of the word is to fool oneself.
I assume that you accept that the word is the basic translation unit in
technical translation (e.g., a description of an engine). If you do that,
then you accept that the word *can* be the basic translation unit - but you
deny this as regards Bible translation. So your judgement is your personal
viewpoint regarding the translation of the text of the Bible, and not based
upon translation theory. It is your privilege to have this viewpoint, but
you do not recommend yourself as a balanced scholar when you deny that other
approaches (e.g. a literal approach) is possible as well.
When Newmark speaks of the basic function of the word, and I do the same, we
do not opt for an interlinear translation. Neither do we insist that most
Hebrew words should be rendered by one English word. It simply means that we
realize that each Hebrew word has a mening without a context, and to
ascertain as much as possible of the meaning of each word is the first step
in the translation process. I would guess that the NWT translators had about
the same view.
>> Also as the word soul in English means 'immortal immaterial part of a
>> which survives the death of the body' this was a very poor choice in a
>> whose aim is to demonstrate that such was not the biblical meaning.
>> Althoug, I
>> have to admit that I struggle to find a single English word which
>> captures the
>> concept which the combination of all its uses conveys.
> Of course you struggle. For this is the fundamental falllacy of the
> literal translation method used in NWT, the presumption that there is a
> single English word, or even a short phrase, which corresponds even
> approximately to the full range of meaning of a Hebrew word. In general
> there is no one word in language B which corresponds to all the senses
> of a word in language A; language simply does not work like that.
Wrong again! I have at least two times pointed out that the NWT uses the
word Sheol. Did the translators think that this is an English word
corresponding to "the full range meaning of a Hebrew word"? Not at all! And
that proves your words above to be wrong, at least in this case. I am also
quite sure that the translators did not view "time indefinite" as "a short
phrase, which corresponds...approximately to the full range of meaning of "
(WLM. Here you show your ignorance of the basic principles of literal
translation. The point is that "time indefinite" is an English phrase that
can be used to represent the core of the concept signaled by the Hebrew word
(WLM. In a way "time indefinite" is a catalyst that Bible students can use
to expand their understanding of the *concept* signaled by (WLM, when they
look at the contexts in which "time indefinite" occur. So even though the
word is the fundamental translation unit, the literal translation does not
attempt not convey words but to conveys concepts.
> Peter Kirk
> peter at qaya.org (personal)
> peterkirk at qaya.org (work)
University of Oslo
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