Tuesday, December 31, 2013

But does it make sense?

Modernized Bibles may mislead people, but the other alternative—ancient forms of the Bible—would repel them. Translators, interpreters and publishers knowingly accommodate the Bible’s ancient dimensions into language and forms that make more sense in the twenty-first century. But it’s not a straightforward process; multitudes of decisions have to be made about how best to translate the words and the culture of the Bible into understandable forms for modern audiences. And it’s an imperfect process; some of what the Bible meant to the original hearers is inevitably lost.—The Lost World of Scripture, page 129

<idle musing>
I remember hearing someone from Wycliffe Bible Translators telling me many years ago that they originally held quite strictly to a literal translation philosophy. He said they have warehouses full of translations that are accurate—but unintelligible. And consequently, useless.

If it doesn't make sense to the target audience, then it isn't accurate. The purpose of translation is to make the original text understandable to the target audience. Yes, stuff gets lost. But the alternative is that everything gets lost...it's a tradeoff, as they say above. I guess that's why translation is as much art as science...
</idle musing>

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