The "times" of Isaiah

Paul Zellmer zellmer at
Sat Aug 14 07:03:07 EDT 1999

Rolf Furuli wrote:

> Dear Paul,
> You have done an academic translation (=one done in the classroom when
> students work with the text) and shown one *possible* way to translate
> text. Before I comment on your post I have two questions:

Actually, your questions do comment on the post.  Were they not, I would
respond to them, because I have decided not to play the games of "let me
ask you a question first," unless, of course, those questions are
concerning unclear points in the original post.

> You wrote:
> >
> >As far as I know, everything here except the clauses noted by * * in
> >verses 14, 15, and 16 was handled in accordance with the theory as
> >developed in prose.
> Could you please express that theory so we can know exactly what it
> about the translation possibilities for YIQTOL, WAYYIQTOL, WEYIQTOL,
> and WEQATAL.

Just like you normally respond to these type questions, I think that, in
the past, we have explained enough about the theory as I use it.  Your
initial posting was written from the point of view that you understood
the theory you were questioning.  Let me simply refer you (again) to
Brian Rocine's first year grammar and add that I do not think I used any
additional possibilities other than are expressed there.  To narrow down
the options, I read vv 12-17 as historical narrative genre according to
the divisions of his book.

> As a professional translator you know that your task is not finished
> finding one rendition which is coherrent from a linguistic point of
> When there also are other possible renditions, as far as tense and
mood in
> the receptor language is concerned, you have to take other points into
> account as well: Does my translation collocate with the rest of the
> By choosing this particular tense and mood, am I getting the message
> across, or may I mislead the readers? Will the readers get the right
> connotations?
I stated specifically in my post that I was purposefully leaving the
translation wooden, which should have indicated to you that I did not
adjust it for the receptor language.  Those points of "smoothing" that I
did make, I noted by placing the words in square brackets.  I would have
used italics, but I realize that there are still members on the list
that use ASCII-based mailers which cannot handle such niceties.

I do not believe that I misled or misdirected the readers with my
"wooden" choices of consistent translations of the verbal forms.  I will
not make a similar claim about the translation of the vocabulary,
especially in the types of trees.  Nor, of course, will I definitively
state that my choice of "and" as the consistent conjunction would
definitely be the final choice of conjunction in the final product.  But
I was responding to a query from you about the supposed problem for the
four-element theory as applied to Isaiah.

Oh, and, yes, I do believe that my translation collocates with the rest
of the book.  You are free to disagree, but I hope that you will
enumerate the specific points of "non-collocation."

> Did you do these quality evaluations in connection with your
> or did you only think of finding a way to translate the text in
> with your theory?

I approached this passage the way I approach any passage:  I attempted
to determine the boundaries of the discourse of which the passage is a
part.  I attempted to determine by the verb forms found in the passage
the specific type of discourse it is.  I then went to a previously
defined discourse structure (based upon the studies of this type of
discourse by many scholars, some of whom are members of this list) which
gives those forms expected to be found in the discourse type and their
functions in the discourse.  So, no, I did not specificly make those
"quality evaluations," nor did I "only think of finding a way to
translate the text in accordance with the theory."  The first would have
tended toward circular reasoning in translation, and the second would
have been dishonest.

> And even more importent: Have you as yet translated
> Esaiah 44 into the Ibanag language using the same tenses and moods as
> the translation that you sent to the list? If not, is this the way you
> probably will translate into Ibanag or into English?

The draft of Isaiah has been completed, but we are still in the review
process.  However, because both the drafter and myself see great benefit
and much logic in using the discourse analysis procedure in producing
the text which will go on to be checked to eliminate misleading
phraseology, theological bias, and incomprehensible portions, I see no
reason why the same tenses and moods will not be carried over.  In fact,
just this morning we went back and looked at the Isaiah 2:11 question
that you brought up.  When I saw that our two-conjugation language
translation handled it in exactly the same way as the Hebrew, I
questioned the drafter if he was simply blindly following the Hebrew
there.  His response (as translated), "Paul, that's how we would phrase
it if we wanted to call special attention to this passage."  More often
than not, the tense and mood of the Hebrew comes over directly into

Hopes these digressions help you understand the post,

Paul Zellmer

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