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Thursday, August 27, 2009
  Style sensitive translation
Nuyorcian Poets Cafe by Salim Virji
PoetJohn, the Hebrew Poet, has a really stimulating post (but then you'll say his posts usually are) A Style-Sensitive Translation of Luke 1:1-4. In it he agrues that: the style and register of the opening of Luke is "the high falutin’ prose in which the best history is traditionally written. In English, think Edward Gibbon or Thomas Macaulay."and offers a good first draft of what a rendering of these verses in such style would sound like.

This is a drum several of us have banged before, most Bible versions obscure the style and register differences among biblical authors and passages. So a passage from Mark and one from Luke will sound more alike than the same passage from REV and CEV or even REV and NRSV. Thus the style and register preferred by the translation team takes precedence over that of the composers! This is plain barmy, nuts, and a great shame as it hides the human fingerprints that readers of Greek and the Semitic languages find all over Scripture.

Thomas Babington Macaulay, 1st Baron Macaulay from Wikipedia
Macaulay

J. K. Gayle and Doug Chaplin both post fine comments on John's post, suggesting how the following passages should sound. Is this a project that a team of bibliobloggers could collaborate on? Maybe, in view of the start already made Luke would be a good book to begin with? The contributors could all be authors on a site at Digress.it. Digress.it is a successor to CommentPress, a WordPress derivative that allows commenting at "paragraph" level on posts. Thus if the text of the proposed translation were posted with each verse as a separate "paragraph" others could comment at that level, and the translators could easily then produced a revised version in the light of suggestions.

Declaration of interest: I am exploring Digress.it with another project in view. I will describe that in another post soon.

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