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Theories and practice of Orthodox translation


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#61 David James

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Posted 31 May 2009 - 04:04 AM

Dear Ryan:

The CTOS/Michael Asser psalter is beautifully printed, though the lavish design detracts a bit from the sobriety proper to a liturgical book, IMO. For a more concrete expression of my opinion, read Psalm 74 [below] from the Asser Psalter, then read the same psalm in my rendering.

David

[ASSER]

Psalm 74
Unto the end: destroy not; an odic Psalm for Asaph.


Unto Thee, O God, will we give thanks; we will give thanks unto Thee and call upon Thy name. I will tell of all Thy wondrous works.

When I am given the appointed time, I will judge uprightly.

The earth and all the inhabitants thereof are dissolved; I have made fast the pillars thereof.

I said unto the transgressors, Transgress not; and to the sinners, Lift not up the horn.

Lift not up thy horn on high, and speak not unrighteousness against God.

For judgment cometh neither from the byways, nor from the west, nor from the desert mountains: for God is judge.

He putteth down one, and raiseth up another; for in the hand of the Lord there is a cup full of unmingled wine.

And He hath turned it from this side to that, but the dregs thereof are not wholly emptied out; all the sinners of the earth shall drink of them.

But I will rejoice for ever; I will sing praises to the God of Jacob.

All the horns also of the sinners will I break, but the horn of the righteous shall be exalted.

=============

and my version:

Psalm LXXIV. Confitebimur tibi.

Unto the end, destroy not, a Psalm or Song for Asaph.

We will give thanks unto Thee, O God; we will give thanks unto Thee, and call upon Thy Name; we will declare all Thy wondrous works.

In a time of my reckoning, I shall judge according unto right.

The earth is melting away, and all who live on it; I have shored up the pillars thereof.

I said unto the lawless, Deal not so lawlessly, and to the sinners, Lift not up the horn.

Set not up your horn on high, and speak not injustice against God;

For justice cometh neither from the coming forth of the sun, nor from the west, nor yet from the barren hills,

For God is judge; He putteth down one, and setteth up another.

For the cup in the hand of the Lord is wine undiluted, full to overflowing, and He hath swirled it to and fro, but the dregs thereof did not settle out; all the sinners of the earth shall drink them up.

But I shall rejoice for ever; I shall sing unto the God of Jacob.

And I will break all the horns of sinners, but the horn of the righteous shall be exalted.


And David, I would be keen on looking at your Psalter translation. I'm also wondering what you think of the KJV-based Michael Asser psalter.



#62 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 31 May 2009 - 07:49 AM

I agree with the earlier comments of Ryan and David regarding the heritage of poetical and liturgical English which we share. Michael's aim was to produce a Psalter which stayed as close as possible to the KJV whilst emending the content to match the LXX. That means he has followed, for example, KJV word order even though the LXX word order is different. What I think David has done is something different from what Michael aimed to do, namely to produce a translation from the LXX in early modern English of the early 17th century. There must be many slight variations of style possible, and that may cause a problem: we will have a number of versions and the question then will be, which to choose?

Both renderings of Psalm 74 could work for me. I can't read Church Slavonic but this looks to follow the Greek very closely. I would only say that I prefer 'uprightly' to 'according unto right' since the Greek word seems better served by a single adverb.

What I do notice about such renderings generally is a decision - I assume a conscious one - not to follow KJV punctuation. I think these renderings lose something of the sense of cadence and rhythm in the KJV by their avoidance of the use of semi-colons and colons which are such a feature of the KJV.

#63 David James

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Posted 31 May 2009 - 01:09 PM

Hmmm. I would say that, in general, both Michael and I have tended to follow as much as possible the punctuation of our models - the KJ in Michael's case, and the Coverdale in mine, though I have also considered (but not always deferred to) the punctuation of the Slavonic edition I have at hand. That said, both renditions of Psalm 74 are more similar to each other, than they are to either of our model versions. The main differences that I note are:

1. The clause at the end of the first verse of Michael's version is in the first person singular, following the Greek, while mine is in the first person plural, following the Slavonic [I am a little nervous here, as I am self-taught in Slavonic, and I am not entirely confident of my mastery of the conjugation of the verb "povjesti." The exact wording is "povjem vcja chudjesa tvoja," and I think the future singular would be "povjedu". But the Russian Synodal edition has "povjeshchajut" here, which is third person plural, so go figure].

2. "according unto right" is the Coverdale wording, which is my base text, so I retained it.

3. In verse 7, Michael has "from the byways," following, evidently, the Boston psalter. The Greek is "apo exodhon," [from the going forth (my Greek text has a note here: "Possibly of the sun")] the Slavonic is "ot iskhod," [from the going forth] and the Latin is "ab oriente" [from the East]. So where does "byways" come from?

4. Michael joins the beginning of verse 9 ("for in the hand of the Lord...") to the end of verse 8, and puts the remainder onto a separate line. I think this is because, while the CTOS does follow the verse numbering of the Septuagint, they also appear to follow the verse formatting of the Boston Psalter [which, in general, does not follow the Septuagint numbering]. And, of course, I believe my wording of this verse is more elegant ;-).

There you have it.

David James

I agree with the earlier comments of Ryan and David regarding the heritage of poetical and liturgical English which we share. Michael's aim was to produce a Psalter which stayed as close as possible to the KJV whilst emending the content to match the LXX. That means he has followed, for example, KJV word order even though the LXX word order is different. What I think David has done is something different from what Michael aimed to do, namely to produce a translation from the LXX in early modern English of the early 17th century. There must be many slight variations of style possible, and that may cause a problem: we will have a number of versions and the question then will be, which to choose?

Both renderings of Psalm 74 could work for me. I can't read Church Slavonic but this looks to follow the Greek very closely. I would only say that I prefer 'uprightly' to 'according unto right' since the Greek word seems better served by a single adverb.

What I do notice about such renderings generally is a decision - I assume a conscious one - not to follow KJV punctuation. I think these renderings lose something of the sense of cadence and rhythm in the KJV by their avoidance of the use of semi-colons and colons which are such a feature of the KJV.



#64 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 31 May 2009 - 02:00 PM

Retaining a construction from a preferred text is quite understandable. I wonder if, on occasion, we might have to sacrifice preference for accuracy and simplicity. Many might say, why use three words where one not only serves but is closer to the original?

I hadn't looked at Coverdale for a while but I see that there, colons are used more in this Psalm than in the KJV: 11 to 7 (though David's rendering has none). Also, I see Psalm 74/75 begins, 'Unto thee, O God, do we give thanks:', just as in the KJV. Both have 'of it' rather than 'thereof' in line 3.

Of course, straining out linguistic gnats is not the point; the test of a translation is how prayerfully one feels one can read it and how easy it is to memorise. The first test, though, will depend partly on having as few stylistic and linguisitic distractions as possible. But then, perhaps one man's distraction is another man's preference!

#65 David James

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Posted 31 May 2009 - 05:46 PM

Andreas:

I quite agree with your last sentence. To address your other comments:

RE: The colons - I don't know to what edition of the Coverdale psalms you are referring. If it is from the Book of Common Prayer, those colons indicate antiphonal divisions for the choir, and are not original. Here is a link to an online copy of the non-BCP text of the Coverdale, with the original punctuation:

http://www.lutherans...1476-804675.pdf

As for the word order of the opening verse, in this case I deferred to the word order of the Greek, Latin and Slavonic.

Regarding "of it" vs "thereof" in v4 (v3 in the KJ):

The KJ is "The earth and all the inhabitants thereof are dissolved: I bear up the pillars of it."

The Coverdale is: "The earth is weak, and all the inhabiters thereof; I bear up the pillars of it."

The Greek and Slavonic translate literally as: "The earth is melting, and all who live on it, I have firmly established the pillars of it."

I decided to change "inhabiters", going with the literal "all who live on it." I didn't want to use "on it" and "of it" in the same sentence. The Coverdale has a "thereof" vs "of it" alternation, so I just inverted the Coverdale order and went with "I have shored up the pillars thereof."

I hope these explanations have provided some useful insight into the process, which, of course, is highly subjective. My main quibble with Michael Asser's version of this psalm would be the use of "byways" in v7 for "going forth," as described my earlier message, since I don't understand how the choice of that particular word was arrived at.

David James

Retaining a construction from a preferred text is quite understandable. I wonder if, on occasion, we might have to sacrifice preference for accuracy and simplicity. Many might say, why use three words where one not only serves but is closer to the original?

I hadn't looked at Coverdale for a while but I see that there, colons are used more in this Psalm than in the KJV: 11 to 7 (though David's rendering has none). Also, I see Psalm 74/75 begins, 'Unto thee, O God, do we give thanks:', just as in the KJV. Both have 'of it' rather than 'thereof' in line 3.

Of course, straining out linguistic gnats is not the point; the test of a translation is how prayerfully one feels one can read it and how easy it is to memorise. The first test, though, will depend partly on having as few stylistic and linguisitic distractions as possible. But then, perhaps one man's distraction is another man's preference!



#66 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 31 May 2009 - 06:50 PM

RE: The colons - I don't know to what edition of the Coverdale psalms you are referring. If it is from the Book of Common Prayer, those colons indicate antiphonal divisions for the choir, and are not original. Here is a link to an online copy of the non-BCP text of the Coverdale, with the original punctuation:


Dear David,

I'm obliged for this; I didn't know about this difference, and I was looking at the BCP. I'm no scholar in these matters but just someone who cares about language. I wish I knew English better. Colons indicating antiphonal divisions: is this true of the KJV as well?

I decided to change "inhabiters", going with the literal "all who live on it." I didn't want to use "on it" and "of it" in the same sentence. The Coverdale has a "thereof" vs "of it" alternation, so I just inverted the Coverdale order and went with "I have shored up the pillars thereof."


Thank you - I understand and respectfully agree.

An anecdote. A friend of mine is a retired English tutor. He is convinced - on no evidence but based only his instinct for style - that the KJV version of Psalm 22/23 is by Shakespeare!

#67 David James

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Posted 31 May 2009 - 07:14 PM

Wouldn't that be amazing? FYI, my 11th great grandfather, Arthur Golding (c1536-1606), was the tutor of Edward de Vere, who many believe was the real author of Shakespeare's plays. I am an agnostic on that particular issue, BUT consider this: "Grandsire, 'tis Ovid's Metamorphoses; mother gave it me" [Young Lucius, in Shakespeare's Titus Andronicus IV:1]. Arthur Golding was also the translator of Ovid's Metamorphoses into English (published in 1565). Arthur's half-sister, Margaret Golding, was Edward de Vere's mother.

David

An anecdote. A friend of mine is a retired English tutor. He is convinced - on no evidence but based only his instinct for style - that the KJV version of Psalm 22/23 is by Shakespeare!



#68 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 31 May 2009 - 08:34 PM

Dear David,

I wonder if you would share with us your rendering of Psalm 50?

#69 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 31 May 2009 - 08:58 PM

Further anecdote. Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford, was born in 1550 at Castle Hedingham which is about fifteen minutes' drive north from where I live.

[ATTACH]271[/ATTACH]

de Vere studied law at Gray's Inn and got involved with the Honourable Society's drama productions. Gray's Inn still has a very active drama and music life; a student of mine from when I was teaching law at Cambridge five years ago is very much involved in Gray's Inn drama club. Next month, the Oxford Shakespeare Company are presenting Romeo and Juliet at Gray's Inn.

Sorry - wildy 'off topic'!

Attached Files



#70 David James

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Posted 31 May 2009 - 10:02 PM

Not at all. Here it is:

Psalm L. Miserere mei, Deus.

Unto the end, a Psalm of instruction by David, when Nathan the prophet came unto him, after he had gone in to Bathsheba,the wife of Uriah.


Have mercy upon me, O God, after Thy great mercy, and according to the multitude of Thy compassions blot out my transgression.

Wash me thoroughly from my wickedness, and cleanse me from my sin.

For I know my transgression, and my sin is ever before me.

Against Thee only have I sinned, and done evil before Thee, that Thou mightest be justified in Thy words, and prevail when Thou art judged.

For behold, I was conceived in wickedness, and in sins did my mother bear me.

For behold, Thou hast loved truth; the hidden and secret things of Thy wisdom hast Thou revealed unto me.

Thou shalt sprinkle me with hyssop, and I shall be made clean; Thou shalt wash me, and I shall become whiter than snow.

Thou shalt give joy and gladness to my hearing; the bones that have been humbled will rejoice.

Turn Thy face from my sins, and blot out all my misdeeds.

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.

Cast me not away from Thy presence, and take not Thy Holy Spirit from me.

O give me the joy of Thy salvation, and stablish me with Thy governing Spirit.

Then shall I teach Thy ways unto the wicked, and the ungodly shall be converted unto Thee.

Deliver me from blood-guiltiness, O God, the God of my salvation, and my tongue shall rejoice in Thy righteousness.

O Lord, Thou shalt open my lips, and my mouth shall declare Thy praise.

For if Thou hadst desired sacrifice, I would have given it; but Thou delightest not in burnt offerings.

The sacrifice unto God is a contrite spirit; a contrite and humble heart God shall not despise.

O Lord, be favorable in Thy good will unto Zion, and let the walls of Jerusalem be builded up.

Then shalt Thou be pleased with the sacrifice of righteousness, with oblation and whole-burnt offerings; then shall they offer young bullocks upon Thine altar.

Dear David,

I wonder if you would share with us your rendering of Psalm 50?



#71 Clare G.

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Posted 14 May 2011 - 12:29 AM

Could I resurrect this thread to seek advice on the most appropriate Greek-English lexicon to use for teasing out the meaning of the more specialized vocabulary of the Greek Menaion. The HTM Menaion, which we use at daily Matins and Vespers, seems to follow the Greek found at http://analogion.gr/glt/ quite closely but just occasionally makes a reference that is baffling unless one looks at the original Greek. Even then my Greek is sometimes not adequate to grasp the nuances.

I have the 'intermediate' edition Liddell and Scott's Greek-English Lexicon and Sophocles' Greek Lexicon of the the Roman and Byzantine Periods, but is there a Greek-English lexicon of liturgical Greek?

#72 Christina M.

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Posted 14 May 2011 - 01:03 AM

Could I resurrect this thread to seek advice on the most appropriate Greek-English lexicon to use for teasing out the meaning of the more specialized vocabulary of the Greek Menaion.

Dear Clare,
From Pascha until the Analypsis, we are allowed to resurrect any threads we want. LOL! :)

Seriously though, I also am curious if someone will have a good answer.

If you want, you can PM me whenever you need help finding the translation of a word or phrase, and I can probably help you most of the time. Just please don't ask about the words in the iambic canons! Alloimono those things are impossible! :) When I was younger I had a zeal to try to be able to understand all the Greek words in the iambic canons, and a scholar with a doctorate from Harvard told me: "Don't waste your time. It's not worth it."

#73 Max Percy

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Posted 14 May 2011 - 07:16 PM

A Patristic Greek Lexicon by G.W.H. Lampe is a good, but very pricey start. A Bargain at $600.00!!!
1616 pages
Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA (December 15, 1969)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 019864213X
ISBN-13: 978-0198642138

This is a great resource with many noted contributors including Bishop Basil Krivocheine, among others.

#74 Clare G.

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Posted 15 May 2011 - 11:07 AM

Thank you, Max. I had glanced at that listed somewhere previously but thought it might be limited to the vocabulary of the Church Fathers and might not cover what I wanted. Your recommendation made me look again and I found it at a more reasonable but still expensive price on amazon.uk.

#75 Max Percy

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Posted 15 May 2011 - 07:11 PM

Dear Clare-
At the risk of stating the obvious, perhaps you can borrow or look at one in a library to ensure that it meets your needs. Happy translating!

#76 Clare G.

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Posted 16 May 2011 - 11:05 AM

Great idea! I'm now waiting to see if the local university library will release their copy on an inter-library loan or whether they insist it must be kept in situ for reference only.




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