[b-hebrew] Translation theory and NP$

James Read J.Read-2 at sms.ed.ac.uk
Mon Jul 13 11:08:26 EDT 2009

Hi Rolf,

I can see what you are saying in principle. But I think that 'soul' is  
perhaps the poorest choice of word possible if the aim is to guide a  
reader to understanding of NP$ via consistent translation. The  
majority of texts seem to place the semantic domain of NP$ as synonym  
of life but with occasional more abstract shades (and occasional more  
concrete shades). A good choice of word, in English, doesn't spring to  
mind but whatever it is it should be a close synonym of 'life'.  
English 'soul' doesn't really qualify as it carries with it all kinds  
of semantic baggage that 'life' doesn't.

In fact, the more I think about it I don't really think it is possible  
to choose 1 word in English which is a synonym of life and which works  
in all contexts of NP$. But, I agree, that we could definitely do  
better than using 30 different words of completely different meaning.

James Christian

> Second, I would like to have a translation like Youngs literal
> translation  and the New World Translation that are very literal
> (together with Wuest's Expanded translation). A strictly literal
> translation is in a way a semi-translation. For example, when the NWT
> consistently uses the one English word "soul" as a translation of
> NP$, the readers must on the basis of the context find the references
> of "soul". Therefore, the readers have a part in the very process of
> translation.The advantage of a literal translation is that the
> readers may come as close as possible to the original text through
> their mother tongue.  But this can of course be a real challenge. One
> other advantage of such a translation, is that the readers can see
> where other modern translations for different reasons have broken
> fundamental translation rules and in effect has lead their readers
> astray.
> Third, I would like to have an idiomatic translation that is as
> literal as possible, but not is a semi-translation. This means that
> more than one word is used for NP$, but much fewer than the 30 or
> more words that are used in modern translations, Footnotes with
> alternative readings and alternative translation possibilities would
> also be appreciated. When a person who does not know the original
> languages works to get an understanding of Biblical passages, he or
> she will learn a lot by comparing different translations. It is
> impossible to transfer the whole original meaning of the verbs and
> clauses from the source language to the target language-a part, great
> or small, is lost in the process, and a part, great or small, is
> added. Different translations may stress different sides of the
> original meaning, and therefore it is an advantage to use several
> translations.

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