Sunday, January 18, 2009

babble from Babel 8

Genesis 11:4

    And they said Come on!
    let us build for ourselves a city,
    and a tower with its head in the heavens,
    so let us make for ourselves a name,
    - lest we be scattered abroad
    over the face of all the earth. Rotherham

    And they will say, Come,
    we will build to us a city,
    and a tower, its head to the heavens;
    and we will make to us a name,
    lest we shall be dispensed
    over the face of the earth. Julia Smith

    Dixerunt itaque, Agite
    aedificemus nobis civitatem & turrim,
    cuius caput centingat caelum, atq;
    ita faciamus nobis nomen;
    ne forte dispergamur
    super faciem universae terrae. Pagnini

    et dixerunt venite
    faciamus nobis civitatem
    et turrem cuius culmen pertingat ad caelum
    et celebremus nomen nostrum
    antequam dividamur in universas terras. Vulgate

It is striking that both Smith and Rotherham retain the terms "head" and "face." The tower has a "head" and the earth has a "face." These are not translated into the Latin of the Vulgate but do find a place in Pagnini's Latin translation. Pagnini is known for a more literal rendering of the Hebrew than Jerome. Jerome's translation must be considered to be of the dynamic equivalent type for this passage.

Whatever your views on translation, it is good to know these names, Pagnini, Rotherham and Smith. They are the heroes of transparency and word for word translation. They have a sense of the sound and flow of the language. They are not just translating meaning, but metaphor and imagery, alliteration and assonance.

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