[b-hebrew] VERBS

Peter Kirk peterkirk at qaya.org
Fri Jul 29 07:27:40 EDT 2005

On 29/07/2005 11:12, Rolf Furuli wrote:

>... If people thinks that their 
>theoretical translation principles are the only ones that can convey meaning 
>from the SL accurately and very different principles/theories cannot, then 
>Jesus` words can be applied.

This does not apply to me. I have never claimed that relatively literal 
translation is invalid, only that it is appropriate only for a certain 
rather limited audience. Whether this applies to Newmark and to 
yourself, I will leave for you to judge. Presumably not to yourself, 
because you do acknowledge below "I do not say that modern idiomatic 
translations should not be made." But the passage you quoted from 
Newmark suggests that he considers such translations invalid, in so far 
as they depart from literalness in ways which are not strictly required 
by referential and pragmatic accuracy. But then you also wrote "Neither 
I nor Newmark has said that a word-by-word translation is the only fine 
translation.", so presumably you understand Newmark's position as more 
qualified than it seems to be from the short passages you quoted.

By the way, I have put some of my observations on this thread on the 
Better Bibles Blog, 

>Any translator wants to convey the SL text clear and accurate to the TL
>readers. However, the methods of modern Bible translators (Newmark deals
>with translation generally) often prevent both goals to be achieved at the 
>same time, and
>the translators do not understand it! Therefore they are fooling themselves,
>according to Newmark.

Well, I am sure that Newmark has some valuable criticisms. But your 
necessarily brief and selective summary of his position requires 
significant qualification.

>I do not say that modern idiomatic translations should not be made. To the
>contrary, such versions serve the interests of the general Bible reader in a 
>fine way. What I do say is that the translators should admit that such
>translations are not the best ones for *any* target group. ...

I am sure that most such translators would admit that. Eugene Nida 
certainly has [not "did" because he is still alive and so has probably 
not stopped admitting it], and so have I. We would agree that other 
styles of translation are required for the relatively small group of 
those who want, need and are capable of in depth Bible study, but do not 
read the original languages. But the needs of such readers have been 
reasonably well met, at least in major languages, for centuries, whereas 
the needs of a more typical audience of non-specialists with little 
Bible background knowledge were not being met when Nida put forward his 
principles of dynamic equivalence and idiomatic translation.

>... Those advocating an idiomatic method believe that the only way to make 
>a good translation is to use clear and natural English.  Those advocating a 
>literal translation accept that this is fine for many or most Bible readers. ...

It seems that the only point on which we really disagree here is which 
group is the majority. And as this issue is hardly related to Hebrew, I 
suggest that we agree to differ on this point.

>I do not appeal to the authority of anybody, but I referred to one author 
>whose book was a part of the curriculum in applied linguistics i Oslo. And I 
>found his thoughts very interesting. I do not fight against translation 
>orthodoxy, but I argue against the view that "our orthodox translation 
>theory is the only theory that can create translations that convey the 
>meaning of the SL accurately," and the keyword here is "target group". ...

Here you are arguing against a straw man, or possibly against Newmark. 
No one else in this thread has suggested that their theory is the only 
valid theory.

>... And 
>I argue against the view that single words are not important for 
>translation, but units above the word must be used.
Well, this is a separate issue, and one on which I strongly disagree if 
you really mean that units above the word must not be used. Now I accept 
that words are important, but how they are organised into phrases, 
clauses, sentences and entire discourses is also important. But in 
practice you seem to admit this, as for example when you wrote in 
another posting (which I have not studied in detail) "there are 
important aspectual distinctions in many contexts which should be 
conveyed in translation" - in other words, you have to take into account 
the context and not just the word in deciding how to translate verb forms.

Peter Kirk
peter at qaya.org (personal)
peterkirk at qaya.org (work)

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