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[ustav] Liturgical translations

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  • Expanding Edge LLC
    Blessed be God! Dr. Elizabeth W. Riggs provided some translations which I append in full below, from which I cull the following examples for comment. This is
    Message 1 of 24 , Mar 30 4:26 PM
      Blessed be God!

      Dr. Elizabeth W. Riggs provided some translations which I append in full
      below, from which I cull the following examples for comment. This is not
      intended as a personal affront to her or to any translator (in fact, I
      don't know if these are her translations or not), but only for thought
      and discussion, and as a general comment on some of the reasons for the
      wretched and impossible state of our liturgical prose:

      First of all, note how we translate nearly every Greek aorist-- a simple
      past-- in the 2d person (but not the 3d) into an English periphrastic
      past. Compare the following:

      > O Christ, Thou hast cast out of Paradise Adam, the forefather,
      > And in Thy compassion, Thou hast made to dwell therein
      > the thief confessing Thee upon the Cross and crying: Remember me...

      Now try this:

      "O Christ, Thou cast Adam the forefather out of Paradise... but in Thy
      compassion, made the thief to dwell therein, who upon the cross
      confessed Thee crying, Remember me..."

      Or again:

      > Thou hast condemned us having sinned to the
      > curse of death. And ... Thou hast made
      > mortal men live crying: Remember us also in Thy Kingdom.

      vs. "Thou condemned us who had sinned to the curse of death, and ...
      madest mortal men to live, who cry, Remember us..."

      Or again:

      > O Lord, risen from the dead, Thou hast raised us from passions by Thy
      > Resurrection. And Thou hast destroyed all the might of death.

      vs. "Thou raised us... and destroyed... death."

      Or even this:

      vs. "You raised us... and destroyed... death."

      Well now, isn't that the gospel, plain and simple?

      So why do we constantly complicate it with extraneous periphrastic
      tense-markers ('hast... hast... hast... hast...', often in an endless
      stream, in long stichera)?

      > Thou hast crushed death, O Christ, and risen as a mighty King; Thou
      > hast recalled us from the depths of hell and brought us to the
      > land of immortality,

      First of all, the Greek aorist is more definite than "Thou hast
      crushed": It means, simply, "You crushed!". Sometimes it makes sense to
      say "You did crush!" or, in archaizing English, "Thou didst crush". We
      would look in vain even for this form in the vast majority of
      translations like those provided by Mother Mary (or by Dr. Riggs
      herein). (Don't get me wrong-- where would we be without Mother Mary?
      but already some time back in Sourozh, Archim. Ephrem Lash discussed
      some of the infelicities of our usual translations, so I'm sure I'm not
      saying anything new here.)

      So how about this: "You crushed death, O Christ, and rose as a mighty
      King; You recalled us from the depths of hell, and brought us to the
      land of immortality!"

      How simple! How elegant! How direct! How more to the point, and bold!
      How, in fact, faithful to the sense and meaning of the original, which
      speaks of our Savior's direct, complete actions done in the past which
      changed everything "once and for all", as St. Paul said, forever!

      If of course we need to insist on "Thou" instead of "You", well ok. I
      don't think it adds anything to the text, nor should it, but I
      understand some people are attached to it. Personally, to be honest, I
      think it draws attention from what is being said to the way we are
      saying it, and that is not the point-- the point is the gospel! I
      realize, though, that some people are prepared to die rather than to
      give up "Thee" and "Thou", believing-- actually contrary to what was
      really going on in archaic English usage-- that we should address God
      more "formally" (the archaic English 2d person formal, like that of most
      other languages, is the 2d person plural-- 'you'; as in Spanish and
      other languages that use the 2d person formal today, one addressed the
      king etc formally, but God in the familiar form only, which was 'Thou'.
      So you could argue that traditional English usage requires us to speak
      to God in familiar terms, not formal ones!) So all right-- use Thee and
      Thou if you like, but let's talk about the way we're going to treat
      verbs.

      There is in fact a difference in tense between the simple past form
      ("did") and the periphrastic ones ("have/hast done" and "did/didst do").
      The simple past is grammatically perfective-- i.e., the action indicated
      by the verb is complete, finished, and over and done with. The other
      forms actually shade off into the present condition which is the result
      of an action in the past, and because of this, they are somewhat
      ambiguous as to whether the action is completely over and done with or
      not-- 'you have set the thief in Paradise'-- but one could ask, is that
      once and for all, or is it a temporary condition; is it finished, or
      does it need to be done again and again and again? Note that I write
      (this was not premeditated, but came spontaneously to my fingers), 'is'
      that action done once and for all, 'is' it finished-- not 'was' it done
      once and for all, 'was' it finished?-- because by saying, 'you have done
      such-and-such', one places the listener(s) in the present: 'you have
      done that, and now...". Which is great, and valid, but not the usual
      sense of a Greek aorist, which is a very direct, perfective (simple)
      aorist (a simple past). (To be fair, an aorist can sometimes be
      translated by a periphrastic form *if* the context requires it. It
      usually does not, though, and certainly does not require it consistently
      in the 2d person singular, as we are wont to do!)

      In this regard, note that in the third person, we do usually use a
      simple past:

      > On the mountain, Moses, holding his arms outspread, forefigured the
      > Cross and defeated Amalek.

      In fact, the only reason we (i.e., Mother Mary, and then all who imitate
      her, consciously or unconsciously) use the periphrastic past ('hast
      done' or 'didst do') in the 2nd person is because we want to avoid the
      piling up of consonants in the '-edst' ending of the simple 2d person
      past that would be proper to our archaized English. (By the same token,
      we also avoid 'hath' and other '-th' endings for the 3d singular because
      of their awkwardness for singing.)

      Granted, '-edst' is hard to sing and is best avoided. However, the
      simpler '-ed' form is often acceptable in archaic English for the 2d
      person, at least for weak verbs (ones that do not have a separate form
      for the past, but simply use the present with '-ed(st)': raise/raised
      but not make/made) (and it is not used in the subjunctive, if anyone is
      paying attention to that-- another big mistake we make in our archaizing
      diction!) And if we're going to create a modern archaized English for
      liturgical use, then we can certainly use the '-ed' form for the 2d
      person past of weak verbs, if we are sensitive and skillful about it.
      We, after all, are actually creating this archaizing diction for
      ourselves, in the interests of elevation and formality of style; but
      certainly, no one is quite altogether entirely imitating the KJV or
      Shakespeare in all respects!

      So my point is: the addition of extraneous auxiliary verbs ("hast,
      didst, hath, did") overloads and complicates the sense, making it less
      transparent, harder to understand, unduly burdensome. Compare:

      > Risen from the tomb, Thou hast first appeared to the women bearing
      > myrrh

      --to:

      Risen from the tomb, You appeared first to the myrrh-bearing women....


      Amen!

      Now-- next issue:

      When we badly translate the modifying participles, it is often not
      immediately clear who the subject of the participle is-- compare

      > Thou hast condemned us having sinned to the
      > curse of death. And suffering in Thy sinless body Thou hast made
      > mortal men live crying: Remember us also in Thy Kingdom.

      Who sinned here? "Us"? or "Thou"? This verse is awkward in any case, but
      since in English normally a participle of this form and position would
      modify the subject, not the object of the verb, the reader (hearer!) has
      to do a mental 'double-take' to fix the correct meaning in his/her mind.

      Or again, 'suffering in thy sinless body' is clear enough, but who is
      'crying'-- the 'mortal men' or 'thou'? Given (again) not only the fact
      that participles of this form and position normally would modify the
      subject of the verb, *but also* given the parallelism of 'crying' with
      'suffering', I think at first hearing it's rather unambiguously
      'thou'(Christ!) who is 'crying Remember us in thy kingdom'! Again I have
      to resort to theology to understand this sentence properly; the sentence
      does not set forth the theology I have to resort to, very clearly.

      Why do we insist on such nonsense? "Literal" translations? But what is
      "literal"? I submit that a literal translation would be one that clearly
      communicated what the original was saying, not just one that reproduced
      its word order!

      Try this: "Thou condemnedst us who had sinned to the curse of death and,
      suffering in Thy sinless body, madest mortal men to live, who cry,
      Remember us..."

      Or even: "You condemned us who had sinned to the curse of death and,
      suffering in your sinless body, you made mortal men to live, who cry
      aloud, Remember us..."


      Ok. Next issue:

      If all the above were not enough, we even separate the various parts of
      our periphrastic perfects with modifying participial phrases:

      > By Thy three days' burial hast Thou, making them live, raised those lying
      > dead in hell. And Thou as good hast poured forth incorruption upon us
      > all who at all times cry with faith: Remember us also in Thy Kingdom.

      No, in Greek it's more clear: "By Thy three-day burial, You raised those
      lying dead in hell, making them to live and, as the Good One, poured
      forth incorruption...

      We could go on and on. You know, sometimes with all these sins and more,
      the sense gets so complicated, the grammar so at odds with itself, and
      the language so garbled, that we just trip on ourselves and stop making
      any sense at all. But in such cases, I have to admit that we've been
      using the same mistranslations for so many years that I think I'm the
      only person paying attention to what we sing in church. Could that be
      because our people (and we ourselves, to be honest) don't really even
      *expect* our hymnography to make sense, but just to sound *holy*?

      As mentioned, Dr. Riggs' originals are appended in full below.

      Regards,

      John Burnett






      > O Christ, Thou hast cast out of Paradise Adam, the forefather,
      > who had set aside Thy commandment.
      > And in Thy compassion, Thou hast made to dwell therein
      > the thief confessing Thee upon the Cross and crying:
      > Remember me, O Saviour, in Thy Kingdom.
      >
      > O Giver of life and Lord, Thou hast condemned us having sinned to the
      > curse of death. And suffering in Thy sinless body Thou hast made
      > mortal men live crying: Remember us also in Thy Kingdom.
      >
      > O Lord, risen from the dead, Thou hast raised us from passions by Thy
      > Resurrection. And Thou hast destroyed all the might of death.
      > Therefore we cry with faith to Thee: Remember us also in
      > Thy Kingdom.
      >
      > By Thy three days' burial hast Thou, making them live, raised those lying
      > dead in hell. And Thou as good hast poured forth incorruption upon us
      > all who at all times cry with faith: Remember us also in Thy Kingdom.
      >
      > Risen from the tomb, Thou hast first appeared to the women bearing
      > myrrh and hast cried: Hail! and through them Thou dost make known
      > Thy rising to Thy friends, O Christ: Remember us also in Thy Kingdom.
      >
      > On the mountain, Moses, holding his arms outspread forefigured the
      > Cross and defeated Amalek. And we having received it with faith as
      > a strong weapon against devils all cry: Remember us also in Thy Kingdom.
      >
      > Thou hast crushed death, O Christ, and risen as a mighty King; Thou
      > hast recalled us from the depths of hell and brought us to the
      > land of immortality, granting us the joy of the kingdom of Heaven.
    • Thomas George
      Dear eGroup, John Burnett wrote an excellent posting. To him I say: Kind sir, you are reasonable and intelligent, as anyone can see from your posting. However,
      Message 2 of 24 , Mar 30 6:19 PM
        Dear eGroup,

        John Burnett wrote an excellent posting. To him I say:

        Kind sir, you are reasonable and intelligent,
        as anyone can see from your posting.

        However, 'liturgical' language and those who cling
        to it as though it was a part of Holy Tradition
        (it is part of human nature) will not be parted easily,
        no matter now reasonably and intelligently you present
        your proposal.

        Many translations available in 'liturgical English' have
        translators who either,

        1. do not know the original Greek texts and Greek grammar,

        or

        2. bend the meaning so the texts can be sung or read
        more conveniently, in preference to translating accurately.

        It is a tender subject with me also. I see no REAL value
        in keeping these texts in archaic English from a view of
        literary quality, especially in face of the decrease of
        audible perception of content from the general population,
        especially the younger population.

        I can see a dogmatic value in explaining and clarifying
        the pronouns of a theological text, but IMHO that is
        hardly worth the cost of loss of accuracy in translation.
        The relationships the texts proclaim are often masked
        by the improper use of verbs and participles.

        It is much easier to relate that 'You' in verse 16 is singular
        when teaching that it is to explain why the verbal relationships
        in the translation are muddled.

        I worked hard in my Gk-Eng Interlinear Study Edition of the Liturgies
        to carefully express the proper relationships of tense in both main
        verbs and participles so the meanings of St. Basil and St. John
        are expressed clearly.

        I could give examples of verbal distortion in hymnography from
        the ROCOR, the OCA, the GOA, etc etc etc, but that won't directly
        address the issue you brought up and is not worth your time now.

        Those who wish to keep 'archaic liturgical English' and reject the
        use of 'modern liturgical English' have to decide if they are
        serious about their claims of its superior literary value.
        They must be consistent and use all its grammatical forms, ie. keep
        the 'edst' forms and all the other difficult forms.

        Or do they just want the flavor of the old language and just keep the
        portion that is convenient? I don't know if that is true but I wonder.

        In other words, use it ALL so you can translate accurately
        or don't use it. That is my request.

        After all, it has to do with proclaiming the message of the Gospel
        clearly and with our salvation.

        John, keep complaining. Someday, you might be heard.

        May you (singular) and all the eGroup have a profitable Lent.

        Love,

        Fr. Thomas George (OCA priest)
        4 hours from everywhere in quiet Central Pennsylvania
      • David Eric Mikulak
        forgive me, but I feel compelled to speak. the Orthodox Church uses archaic English because it is a pretty and exalted form of the language, which is also
        Message 3 of 24 , Mar 30 9:22 PM
          forgive me, but I feel compelled to speak. the Orthodox Church uses archaic English because it is a "pretty" and exalted form of the language, which is also capable of maintaining the great (and salvific) difference lying between God and man. This is a vital distinction that must remain intact so that people are continually aware of the difference between Holy and common. It may be difficult to learn at first, but is not that the hallmark of Orthodoxy. Those catechumens who wait, learn, and struggle for years to become Orthodox are always the most faithful. The most attractive aspect of our Holy Church is that it is at the same time easily accessible and yet the most difficult thing to obtain. May we not throw away the very supportive structures we have been given by which to keep Orthodox theology a way of life and not a mental activity. Glory be to God for all things. David.

          Thomas George wrote:

          Dear eGroup,

          John Burnett wrote an excellent posting. To him I say:

          Kind sir, you are reasonable and intelligent,
          as anyone can see from your posting.

          However, 'liturgical' language and those who cling
          to it as though it was a part of Holy Tradition
          (it is part of human nature) will not be parted easily,
          no matter now reasonably and intelligently you present
          your proposal.

          Many translations available in 'liturgical English' have
          translators who either,

          1.  do not know the original Greek texts and Greek grammar,

           or

          2.  bend the meaning so the texts can be sung or read
          more conveniently, in preference to translating accurately.

          It is a tender subject with me also.  I see no REAL value
          in keeping these texts in archaic English from a view of
          literary quality, especially in face of the decrease of
          audible perception of content from the general population,
          especially the younger population.

          I can see a dogmatic value in explaining and clarifying
          the pronouns of a theological text, but IMHO that is
          hardly worth the cost of loss of accuracy in translation.
          The relationships the texts proclaim are often masked
          by the improper use of verbs and participles.

          It is much easier to relate that 'You' in verse 16 is singular
          when teaching that it is to explain why the verbal relationships
          in the translation are muddled.

          I worked hard in my Gk-Eng Interlinear Study Edition of the Liturgies
          to carefully express the proper relationships of tense in both main
          verbs and participles so the meanings of St. Basil and St. John
          are expressed clearly.

          I could give examples of verbal distortion in hymnography from
          the ROCOR, the OCA, the GOA, etc etc etc, but that won't directly
          address the issue you brought up and is not worth your time now.

          Those who wish to keep 'archaic liturgical English' and reject the
          use of 'modern liturgical English' have to decide if they are
          serious about their claims of its superior literary value.
          They must be consistent and use all its grammatical forms, ie. keep
          the 'edst' forms and all the other difficult forms.

          Or do they just want the flavor of the old language and just keep the
          portion that is convenient? I don't know if that is true but I wonder.

          In other words, use it ALL so you can translate accurately
          or don't use it. That is my request.

          After all, it has to do with proclaiming the message of the Gospel
          clearly and with our salvation.

          John, keep complaining.  Someday, you might be heard.

          May you (singular) and all the eGroup have a profitable Lent.

          Love,

          Fr. Thomas George (OCA priest)
          4 hours from everywhere in quiet Central Pennsylvania

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          This mailing list's archives are at http://www.egroups.com/group/ustav

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        • David Eric Mikulak
          forgive me, but I feel compelled to speak. the Orthodox Church uses archaic English because it is a pretty and exalted form of the language, which is also
          Message 4 of 24 , Mar 30 9:23 PM
            forgive me, but I feel compelled to speak. the Orthodox Church uses archaic English because it is a "pretty" and exalted form of the language, which is also capable of maintaining the great (and salvific) difference lying between God and man. This is a vital distinction that must remain intact so that people are continually aware of the difference between Holy and common. It may be difficult to learn at first, but is not that the hallmark of Orthodoxy. Those catechumens who wait, learn, and struggle for years to become Orthodox are always the most faithful. The most attractive aspect of our Holy Church is that it is at the same time easily accessible and yet the most difficult thing to obtain. May we not throw away the very supportive structures we have been given by which to keep Orthodox theology a way of life and not a mental activity. Glory be to God for all things. David.

            Thomas George wrote:

            Dear eGroup,

            John Burnett wrote an excellent posting. To him I say:

            Kind sir, you are reasonable and intelligent,
            as anyone can see from your posting.

            However, 'liturgical' language and those who cling
            to it as though it was a part of Holy Tradition
            (it is part of human nature) will not be parted easily,
            no matter now reasonably and intelligently you present
            your proposal.

            Many translations available in 'liturgical English' have
            translators who either,

            1.  do not know the original Greek texts and Greek grammar,

             or

            2.  bend the meaning so the texts can be sung or read
            more conveniently, in preference to translating accurately.

            It is a tender subject with me also.  I see no REAL value
            in keeping these texts in archaic English from a view of
            literary quality, especially in face of the decrease of
            audible perception of content from the general population,
            especially the younger population.

            I can see a dogmatic value in explaining and clarifying
            the pronouns of a theological text, but IMHO that is
            hardly worth the cost of loss of accuracy in translation.
            The relationships the texts proclaim are often masked
            by the improper use of verbs and participles.

            It is much easier to relate that 'You' in verse 16 is singular
            when teaching that it is to explain why the verbal relationships
            in the translation are muddled.

            I worked hard in my Gk-Eng Interlinear Study Edition of the Liturgies
            to carefully express the proper relationships of tense in both main
            verbs and participles so the meanings of St. Basil and St. John
            are expressed clearly.

            I could give examples of verbal distortion in hymnography from
            the ROCOR, the OCA, the GOA, etc etc etc, but that won't directly
            address the issue you brought up and is not worth your time now.

            Those who wish to keep 'archaic liturgical English' and reject the
            use of 'modern liturgical English' have to decide if they are
            serious about their claims of its superior literary value.
            They must be consistent and use all its grammatical forms, ie. keep
            the 'edst' forms and all the other difficult forms.

            Or do they just want the flavor of the old language and just keep the
            portion that is convenient? I don't know if that is true but I wonder.

            In other words, use it ALL so you can translate accurately
            or don't use it. That is my request.

            After all, it has to do with proclaiming the message of the Gospel
            clearly and with our salvation.

            John, keep complaining.  Someday, you might be heard.

            May you (singular) and all the eGroup have a profitable Lent.

            Love,

            Fr. Thomas George (OCA priest)
            4 hours from everywhere in quiet Central Pennsylvania

            ------------------------------------------------------------------------
            See Ustav information at http://www.orthodox.net/ustav
            This mailing list's archives are at http://www.egroups.com/group/ustav

            ------------------------------------------------------------------------
            Get paid for the stuff you know!
            Get answers for the stuff you don’t. And get $10 to spend on the site!
            http://click.egroups.com/1/2200/5/_/2046/_/954469196/

            -- Easily schedule meetings and events using the group calendar!
            -- http://www.egroups.com/cal?listname=ustav&m=1

          • Kenneth Doll
            Forgive me for disagreeing with both of you, but it seems that the main point of Mr. Burnett s posting had less or nothing to do with archaic/liturgical vs.
            Message 5 of 24 , Mar 31 4:50 AM
              Forgive me for disagreeing with both of you, but it seems that the main
              point of Mr. Burnett's posting had less or nothing to do with
              "archaic/liturgical" vs. "modern" English, as he posted corrected
              examples
              in both, but much more to do with convoluted word order, incorrect
              grammar,
              etc. that obscured the clear meaning of the text in the English
              translations!
              Kenneth Doll



              Please respond to ustav@egroups.com@INTERNET@wtgw
              To: ustav@egroups.com@INTERNET@wtgw
              cc:
              Subject: [ustav] Re: Liturgical translations revisited

              forgive me, but I feel compelled to speak. the Orthodox Church uses
              archaic
              English because it is a "pretty" and exalted form of the language,
              which is
              also capable of maintaining the great (and salvific) difference lying
              between God and man. This is a vital distinction that must remain
              intact so
              that people are continually aware of the difference between Holy and
              common.
              It may be difficult to learn at first, but is not that the hallmark of
              Orthodoxy. Those catechumens who wait, learn, and struggle for years to
              become Orthodox are always the most faithful. The most attractive
              aspect of
              our Holy Church is that it is at the same time easily accessible and
              yet the
              most difficult thing to obtain. May we not throw away the very
              supportive
              structures we have been given by which to keep Orthodox theology a way
              of
              life and not a mental activity. Glory be to God for all things. David.

              Thomas George wrote:

              > Dear eGroup,
              >
              > John Burnett wrote an excellent posting. To him I say:
              >
              > Kind sir, you are reasonable and intelligent,
              > as anyone can see from your posting.
              >
              > However, 'liturgical' language and those who cling
              > to it as though it was a part of Holy Tradition
              > (it is part of human nature) will not be parted easily,
              > no matter now reasonably and intelligently you present
              > your proposal.
              >
              > Many translations available in 'liturgical English' have
              > translators who either,
              >
              > 1. do not know the original Greek texts and Greek grammar,
              >
              > or
              >
              > 2. bend the meaning so the texts can be sung or read
              > more conveniently, in preference to translating accurately.
              >
              > It is a tender subject with me also. I see no REAL value
              > in keeping these texts in archaic English from a view of
              > literary quality, especially in face of the decrease of
              > audible perception of content from the general population,
              > especially the younger population.
              >
              > I can see a dogmatic value in explaining and clarifying
              > the pronouns of a theological text, but IMHO that is
              > hardly worth the cost of loss of accuracy in translation.
              > The relationships the texts proclaim are often masked
              > by the improper use of verbs and participles.
              >
              > It is much easier to relate that 'You' in verse 16 is singular
              > when teaching that it is to explain why the verbal relationships
              > in the translation are muddled.
              >
              > I worked hard in my Gk-Eng Interlinear Study Edition of the Liturgies
              > to carefully express the proper relationships of tense in both main
              > verbs and participles so the meanings of St. Basil and St. John
              > are expressed clearly.
              >
              > I could give examples of verbal distortion in hymnography from
              > the ROCOR, the OCA, the GOA, etc etc etc, but that won't directly
              > address the issue you brought up and is not worth your time now.
              >
              > Those who wish to keep 'archaic liturgical English' and reject the
              > use of 'modern liturgical English' have to decide if they are
              > serious about their claims of its superior literary value.
              > They must be consistent and use all its grammatical forms, ie. keep
              > the 'edst' forms and all the other difficult forms.
              >
              > Or do they just want the flavor of the old language and just keep the
              > portion that is convenient? I don't know if that is true but I wonder.
              >
              > In other words, use it ALL so you can translate accurately
              > or don't use it. That is my request.
              >
              > After all, it has to do with proclaiming the message of the Gospel
              > clearly and with our salvation.
              >
              > John, keep complaining. Someday, you might be heard.
              >
              > May you (singular) and all the eGroup have a profitable Lent.
              >
              > Love,
              >
              > Fr. Thomas George (OCA priest)
              > 4 hours from everywhere in quiet Central Pennsylvania
              >
            • Kenneth Doll
              Forgive me for disagreeing with both of you, but it seemed that the main point of Mr. Burnett s posting had less or nothing to do with archaic vs. modern
              Message 6 of 24 , Mar 31 5:32 AM
                Forgive me for disagreeing with both of you, but it seemed that the main point of Mr. Burnett's
                posting had less or nothing to do with "archaic" vs. "modern" English, as he posted corrected
                examples in both, but much more to do with convoluted word order, incorrect grammar, etc.
                that obscured the clear meaning of the text in the English translations!
                Kenneth Doll






                orthodox@... on 03/31/2000 12:32:42 AM
                Please respond to ustav@egroups.com@INTERNET@wtgw
                To: ustav@egroups.com@INTERNET@wtgw
                cc:
                Subject: [ustav] Re: Liturgical translations revisited

                forgive me, but I feel compelled to speak. the Orthodox Church uses archaic
                English because it is a "pretty" and exalted form of the language, which is
                also capable of maintaining the great (and salvific) difference lying
                between God and man. This is a vital distinction that must remain intact so
                that people are continually aware of the difference between Holy and common.
                It may be difficult to learn at first, but is not that the hallmark of
                Orthodoxy. Those catechumens who wait, learn, and struggle for years to
                become Orthodox are always the most faithful. The most attractive aspect of
                our Holy Church is that it is at the same time easily accessible and yet the
                most difficult thing to obtain. May we not throw away the very supportive
                structures we have been given by which to keep Orthodox theology a way of
                life and not a mental activity. Glory be to God for all things. David.

                Thomas George wrote:

                > Dear eGroup,
                >
                > John Burnett wrote an excellent posting. To him I say:
                >
                > Kind sir, you are reasonable and intelligent,
                > as anyone can see from your posting.
                >
                > However, 'liturgical' language and those who cling
                > to it as though it was a part of Holy Tradition
                > (it is part of human nature) will not be parted easily,
                > no matter now reasonably and intelligently you present
                > your proposal.
                >
                > Many translations available in 'liturgical English' have
                > translators who either,
                >
                > 1. do not know the original Greek texts and Greek grammar,
                >
                > or
                >
                > 2. bend the meaning so the texts can be sung or read
                > more conveniently, in preference to translating accurately.
                >
                > It is a tender subject with me also. I see no REAL value
                > in keeping these texts in archaic English from a view of
                > literary quality, especially in face of the decrease of
                > audible perception of content from the general population,
                > especially the younger population.
                >
                > I can see a dogmatic value in explaining and clarifying
                > the pronouns of a theological text, but IMHO that is
                > hardly worth the cost of loss of accuracy in translation.
                > The relationships the texts proclaim are often masked
                > by the improper use of verbs and participles.
                >
                > It is much easier to relate that 'You' in verse 16 is singular
                > when teaching that it is to explain why the verbal relationships
                > in the translation are muddled.
                >
                > I worked hard in my Gk-Eng Interlinear Study Edition of the Liturgies
                > to carefully express the proper relationships of tense in both main
                > verbs and participles so the meanings of St. Basil and St. John
                > are expressed clearly.
                >
                > I could give examples of verbal distortion in hymnography from
                > the ROCOR, the OCA, the GOA, etc etc etc, but that won't directly
                > address the issue you brought up and is not worth your time now.
                >
                > Those who wish to keep 'archaic liturgical English' and reject the
                > use of 'modern liturgical English' have to decide if they are
                > serious about their claims of its superior literary value.
                > They must be consistent and use all its grammatical forms, ie. keep
                > the 'edst' forms and all the other difficult forms.
                >
                > Or do they just want the flavor of the old language and just keep the
                > portion that is convenient? I don't know if that is true but I wonder.
                >
                > In other words, use it ALL so you can translate accurately
                > or don't use it. That is my request.
                >
                > After all, it has to do with proclaiming the message of the Gospel
                > clearly and with our salvation.
                >
                > John, keep complaining. Someday, you might be heard.
                >
                > May you (singular) and all the eGroup have a profitable Lent.
                >
                > Love,
                >
                > Fr. Thomas George (OCA priest)
                > 4 hours from everywhere in quiet Central Pennsylvania
                >
              • Paul Ferrari
                From my limited understanding it seems that the reason for using some archaic forms is to keep the language we address God with from simply being common.
                Message 7 of 24 , Mar 31 10:19 AM
                  From my limited understanding it seems that the reason for using some
                  archaic forms is to keep the language we address God with from simply being
                  common. Accuracy of translation and sing/readability should be near the top
                  of a value scale. Sometimes the edst etc. are veritable tongue twisters. Why
                  do some translations of Psalm 50 use the word "builded instead of built? But
                  the criteria should not be what modern people and especially the young
                  understand. We are all trying to learn the language of Heaven that I at
                  least am far from fluent in. I had no Christian background when I became a
                  protestant Christian at age 19. I was given a King Jimmy Bible. I learned
                  the language. Eventually I could transliterate it on sight. In the hope of
                  reaching kids and the unchurched the Protestants came out with many versions
                  of "scripture" in various street vernacular or common language forms. These
                  paraphrases do not have the power to call a person away from their usual
                  state of life to an Other.

                  Many of you are so used to Orthodoxy you may have forgotten what it is like
                  for some of us standing in Church the first time(s). I couldn't understand
                  anything that was going on. I barely knew what they were talking about no
                  matter what was being said exalted or common or whatever. I was a baby
                  beginning to hang around the adults who spoke a language I had yet to learn.
                  Their rhythm of speech, inflection, and pronunciation become mine. At first
                  I mimic it. Little by little it becomes my own language and I understand it.
                  Like a child who grows up with a language I understand more deeply than the
                  foreigner who learned it as a second language. I hear more than the words,
                  grammar and syntax alone. Yet it is here that an accurate rendering becomes
                  essential because it has entered my being and formed me.

                  When we enter Church we bow and venerate in a particular way that is
                  different from the way I got out of my car or went shopping. An inner
                  alignment is taking place pulling me toward God. Isn't this is the purpose
                  of liturgical language? It doesn't have to be and shouldn't be a whole other
                  language but it should be different enough to pull me out of my commonplace
                  state of being. What comes to mind is the way an icon depicts earthly
                  reality transfigured. I am brought to "the things that are eternal" thereby.

                  I don't understand why a liturgical language has to be an all or nothing
                  archaic proposition. Why can't it just be different, not just archaic, but
                  having a form that that is able to stir my soul?

                  Forgive me. I'm so new to the Faith I shouldn't speak.
                  Paul Ferrari

                  -----Original Message-----
                  From: Thomas George [mailto:frthomas@...]
                  Sent: Thursday, March 30, 2000 6:19 PM
                  To: ustav@...
                  Subject: [ustav] Liturgical translations revisited


                  >>>>
                  It is a tender subject with me also. I see no REAL value
                  in keeping these texts in archaic English from a view of
                  literary quality, especially in face of the decrease of
                  audible perception of content from the general population,
                  especially the younger population.

                  I can see a dogmatic value in explaining and clarifying
                  the pronouns of a theological text, but IMHO that is
                  hardly worth the cost of loss of accuracy in translation.
                  The relationships the texts proclaim are often masked
                  by the improper use of verbs and participles.

                  .
                  >>>>
                  Those who wish to keep 'archaic liturgical English' and reject the
                  use of 'modern liturgical English' have to decide if they are
                  serious about their claims of its superior literary value.
                  They must be consistent and use all its grammatical forms, ie. keep
                  the 'edst' forms and all the other difficult forms.

                  Or do they just want the flavor of the old language and just keep the
                  portion that is convenient? I don't know if that is true but I wonder.

                  In other words, use it ALL so you can translate accurately
                  or don't use it. That is my request.

                  After all, it has to do with proclaiming the message of the Gospel
                  clearly and with our salvation.
                  >>>
                  Love,

                  Fr. Thomas George (OCA priest)
                  4 hours from everywhere in quiet Central Pennsylvania


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                • Ploverleigh@aol.com
                  Fr. Thomas has made some good points. I was brought up on the KJV myself--even the RSV was suspect!--and I m used to its diction. HOWEVER.... There is more to
                  Message 8 of 24 , Mar 31 12:19 PM
                    Fr. Thomas has made some good points.

                    I was brought up on the KJV myself--even the RSV was suspect!--and I'm used
                    to its diction.

                    HOWEVER....

                    There is more to this style than funny verb endings and obsolete pronouns.

                    We do have to remember that there are many parishioners for whom English is a
                    second language, and when we do services in English (or partially in English)
                    it might be best to not throw linguistic stumbling blocks at their feet.

                    I myself have heard an eminent translator of texts say that if he had to do
                    it all over again, their Lenten Triodion and Festal Menaion would be on
                    contemporary English. (Bp. Kallistos, in case you didn't guess.)

                    In fact, His Grace said that in the UK, the jurisdictions have agreed to use
                    contemporary English for pastoral reason: first, the immigrants, and second
                    the converts, who are coming from UNchurched backgrounds and aren't familiar
                    with KJV diction anyway!

                    There is precedent for this. Liturgical Romanian IS vernacular Romanian.
                    Whenver a new edition of the liturgical books are needed, they are carefully
                    examined and words that are obsolete or have changed their meanings or might
                    otherwise be misunderstood are replaced by current terms. Thus, the language
                    of the Church is truly the language of the people.

                    Again, I used to prefer Tudor style, and I was quite vociferous about stating
                    my case. But I eventually realized that all arguments I raised were the same
                    raised by those who wished to keep the services in Slavonic or Greek!

                    Whatever style, it will be determined by actual USE of the faithful.
                  • Ploverleigh@aol.com
                    In a message dated 3/30/00 10:35:56 PM, orthodox@imap4.asu.edu writes:
                    Message 9 of 24 , Mar 31 12:22 PM
                      In a message dated 3/30/00 10:35:56 PM, orthodox@... writes:

                      << the Orthodox Church uses archaic

                      English because it is a "pretty" and exalted form of the language, which is

                      also capable of maintaining the great (and salvific) difference lying

                      between God and man. >>

                      Is it any more exalted than the bawdier passages of Shakespear and his
                      predecessors?

                      The Orthodox Church ALSO uses modern English, don't forget!

                      Or has the kingdom of God become words and syllables, and have verb forms
                      become the new doctrinal test?

                      <<This is a vital distinction that must remain intact so

                      that people are continually aware of the difference between Holy and common.>>

                      As I understand it, the process of Theosis makes even the common to become
                      holy!
                    • Matanna@aol.com
                      ... a second language, and when we do services in English (or partially in English) it might be best to not throw linguistic stumbling blocks at their feet.
                      Message 10 of 24 , Mar 31 1:10 PM
                        >We do have to remember that there are many parishioners for whom English is
                        a
                        second language, and when we do services in English (or partially in English)
                        it might be best to not throw linguistic stumbling blocks at their feet.<

                        I'm always wary when someone says, "Of course you and I can understand this,
                        but it will be so difficult for the others!" In other settings I've heard
                        similar logic applied to the fast, the length of the services, and whether or
                        not to have Saturday night vigil. We do not have the right to deprive others
                        of their chance to struggle as we do. Because KJ English is harder to
                        untangle, we have to work harder at getting the meaning, and in the process,
                        it becomes more our own. It's like the difference in the classroom between
                        listening, reading, and doing. When the language used in church is just a
                        little different than the language used at breakfast (or, on Sundays, at
                        lunch), we are pulled into the services because we don't just hear them, we
                        have to work at listening and understanding.

                        Actually, KJ English is easier to parse than contemporary English. There's a
                        singular and plural form of "you," also, which makes it easier for the
                        listener to know exactly how many people are being addressed.

                        >I myself have heard an eminent translator of texts say that if he had to do
                        it all over again, their Lenten Triodion and Festal Menaion would be on
                        contemporary English. <

                        Aiie. I recently had to buy a Bible, and there are so MANY contemporary
                        translations out there that nobody can quote quite the same passage one to
                        another. There was the African American New King James version, among the
                        various other translations. Do we need this kind of fragmentation?

                        Plus, what's contemporary now may be passe sooner than we expect. For
                        example, Ezra Pound translated some ancient Chinese poetry into the English
                        of his time and called someone "Hep cat." Now it needs to be annotated.

                        In the sixties, especially, there were some pretty dreadful efforts. In an
                        attempt to make the Bible "accessible" for contemporary Americans, they took
                        out the universal, timeless parts. So Proverbs 15:17 went from being "Better
                        is a dinner of bitter herbs where love is than a stalled ox, and hatred
                        therewith," to "It's better to have soup with someone you love than steak
                        with someone you hate." (Requesting permission to scream, sir!)

                        It's been hundreds of years since KJV English has been contemporary, but that
                        gives all speakers of English the shared experience of struggling through the
                        difficult passages and arcane meanings to find what it is that Christ taught.
                        Not too unlike the parables in which He spoke. We honor that for which we
                        labor.

                        Matushka Ann Lardas
                      • Mary E. Lanser
                        ... ...that would be me...but the more I am exposed to multilingual liturgies the more I think that we ought to be exuberantly poetic and daring and
                        Message 11 of 24 , Mar 31 1:43 PM
                          At 3:19 PM 3/31/0, Ploverleigh@... wrote:

                          >Again, I used to prefer Tudor style, and I was quite vociferous about stating
                          >my case. But I eventually realized that all arguments I raised were the same
                          >raised by those who wished to keep the services in Slavonic or Greek!

                          <smile>...that would be me...but the more I am exposed to multilingual
                          liturgies the more I think that we ought to be exuberantly poetic and
                          daring and learn liturgical prayer in as many languages as possible in one
                          lifetime...and pray them interchangably...s'there....mary elizabeth...The
                          Irish-American woman who spent Wednesday night learning the Our Father in
                          Lithunian, Polish, Slavonic and Russian...

                          ___________________________

                          People are like tea bags; you never get the full flavor of them until after
                          they've been in hot water for a while............ F.O.R.P.
                        • Mary E. Lanser
                          ... Oh...a sense of humor...I wasn t certain it was allowed....mary ___________________________ People are like tea bags; you never get the full flavor of them
                          Message 12 of 24 , Mar 31 1:44 PM
                            At 3:22 PM 3/31/0, Ploverleigh@... wrote:

                            >As I understand it, the process of Theosis makes even the common to become
                            >holy!

                            Oh...a sense of humor...I wasn't certain it was allowed....mary

                            ___________________________

                            People are like tea bags; you never get the full flavor of them until after
                            they've been in hot water for a while............ F.O.R.P.
                          • Expanding Edge LLC
                            Blessed be God! Dear members: In my message yesterday, I complained about the constant interchange of the present perfect (as I believe it s called) with the
                            Message 13 of 24 , Mar 31 4:46 PM
                              Blessed be God!

                              Dear members:

                              In my message yesterday, I complained about the constant interchange of
                              the present perfect (as I believe it's called) with the simple past in
                              our translations of 2d person sg. Greek aorists. In other words, my
                              issue was with the substitution of the first of the following, when the
                              second is usually intended by the Greek:

                              I have gone and I have seen and I have done

                              -vs.-

                              I went and I saw and I did.

                              This is inaccurate; it actually changes the meaning, in addition to
                              filling the air with more words and thus obscuring *access* to the
                              meaning.

                              However, almost no one commented on that point (which was my main one),
                              but instead we have gone on to discuss the merits of archaizing (not:
                              archaic!) English vs. modern, which is another topic that I mentioned
                              more in passing.

                              In what I wrote, I was asking translators to *please* bear in mind the
                              difference between

                              'I have gone and I have seen and I have done', and
                              'I went and I saw and I did'--

                              in English, it's a significant difference, and we will just have to deal
                              with it, whatever choice we make about archaizing diction.

                              That being said, I will respond to a few of the comments made regarding
                              the value (or not) of archaizing diction itself:

                              Thomas George wrote:
                              >
                              > However, 'liturgical' language and those who cling
                              > to it as though it was a part of Holy Tradition
                              > (it is part of human nature) will not be parted easily,
                              > no matter now reasonably and intelligently you present
                              > your proposal.

                              Yes, I recognize this. But it seems worthwhile to discuss it from time
                              to time.

                              > It is much easier to relate that 'You' in verse 16 is singular
                              > when teaching that it is to explain why the verbal relationships
                              > in the translation are muddled.

                              Good point! Also, whether 'you' is singular or plural is not *usually*
                              crucial to our understanding of the main sense of most texts, though of
                              course a fully educated person ought to know these things.

                              > Those who wish to keep 'archaic liturgical English' and reject the
                              > use of 'modern liturgical English' have to decide if they are
                              > serious about their claims of its superior literary value.
                              > They must be consistent and use all its grammatical forms, ie. keep
                              > the 'edst' forms and all the other difficult forms.

                              I agree. Though in general I think the OCA has made an interesting and
                              possibly reasonable compromise by addressing God in archaizing English,
                              and everyone else (Theotokos, saints, bishop, etc) in modern.

                              > Or do they just want the flavor of the old language and just keep the
                              > portion that is convenient? I don't know if that is true but I wonder.

                              Woe to those who come to church, seeking 'flavor'!! Anathema!!!
                              Anathema!!!

                              > After all, it has to do with proclaiming the message of the Gospel
                              > clearly and with our salvation.

                              Amen!

                              > John, keep complaining. Someday, you might be heard.

                              Ya think? (You probably don't want to egg me on...)


                              Ok, so then David Eric Mikulak wrote:
                              >
                              > forgive me, but I feel compelled to speak. the Orthodox Church uses
                              > archaic English because it is a "pretty" and exalted form of the
                              > language,

                              What makes it more pretty and exalted than, say, T.S. Eliot or, for that
                              matter, J.R.R. Tolkien?

                              Is modern English not capable of great poetry, even really great poetry?

                              > which is also capable of maintaining the great (and
                              > salvific) difference lying between God and man. This is a vital
                              > distinction that must remain intact so that people are continually
                              > aware of the difference between Holy and common. It may be difficult
                              > to learn at first, but is not that the hallmark of Orthodoxy.

                              I think not. The New Testament was written in Koine-- that is,
                              Business-- Greek.

                              I thought the hallmark of Orthodoxy was the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

                              > Those
                              > catechumens who wait, learn, and struggle for years to become Orthodox
                              > are always the most faithful. The most attractive aspect of our Holy
                              > Church is that it is at the same time easily accessible and yet the
                              > most difficult thing to obtain.

                              What is difficult for us is acquiring the life and mind of the fathers
                              and the scriptures. But why should simply understanding what they say or
                              mean be difficult, and in particular, artifically difficult? Let's make
                              stuff like that as accessible as we can-- St. Paul and St. John
                              Chrysostom did!


                              Next, Paul Ferrari wrote:
                              >
                              > >From my limited understanding it seems that the reason for using some
                              > archaic forms is to keep the language we address God with from simply being
                              > common.

                              Nice idea but neither the NT nor St. John Chrysostom spoke a
                              particularly elevated and certainly not an archaizing form of Greek. For
                              them, it's all about Message and not about Style. I often fear we prefer
                              form to substance!

                              > Accuracy of translation and sing/readability should be near the top
                              > of a value scale.

                              *Near* the top??

                              > Sometimes the edst etc. are veritable tongue twisters. Why
                              > do some translations of Psalm 50 use the word "builded instead of built?

                              Just because, that's why!

                              > But
                              > the criteria should not be what modern people and especially the young
                              > understand.

                              Yes, but that the criterion should be what reasonably educated people
                              can readily understand without going through unnecessary contortions.
                              After all, isn't the point to communicate a message, not to wallow in
                              the sentimentality of 'flavor'?

                              > We are all trying to learn the language of Heaven that I at
                              > least am far from fluent in.

                              And what is the relationship between that language and
                              Elizabethan-like(!) English?

                              > I had no Christian background when I became a
                              > protestant Christian at age 19. I was given a King Jimmy Bible. I learned
                              > the language. Eventually I could transliterate it on sight. In the hope of
                              > reaching kids and the unchurched the Protestants came out with many versions
                              > of "scripture" in various street vernacular or common language forms. These
                              > paraphrases do not have the power to call a person away from their usual
                              > state of life to an Other.

                              I grew up RC, and the KJV was absolutely anathema to us! Therefore we
                              had no attachment whatever to it, or to its language-- we used the Douai
                              and the Confraternity editions. I think the KJV has gotten to be a big
                              thing in the Orthodox Church in this country only because of the influx
                              in recent years of converts from Episcopalianism and other forms of
                              Protestantism, who have some attachment to it. But it is by no means
                              always accurate.

                              Apart from accuracy, though, I seriously wonder how many priests
                              actually read exactly as written when it says, for example, that "Jesus
                              went about, healing the impotent"? Even the Russian Synod occasionally
                              changed words in the official editions of the scripture, when the
                              meanings of words had shifted so as to become likely to be
                              misunderstood.

                              > Many of you are so used to Orthodoxy you may have forgotten what it is like
                              > for some of us standing in Church the first time(s). I couldn't understand
                              > anything that was going on.

                              So why make it harder than it needs to be? "I had rather pray one word
                              with understanding, than ten thousand in a tongue."

                              > When we enter Church we bow and venerate in a particular way that is
                              > different from the way I got out of my car or went shopping. An inner
                              > alignment is taking place pulling me toward God. Isn't this is the purpose
                              > of liturgical language?

                              Yes, but you should always keep in mind that Islam is the religion that
                              requires everyone to speak one language only-- we have always accepted
                              the vernacular.

                              That being said, this is an interesting comment:

                              > I don't understand why a liturgical language has to be an all or nothing
                              > archaic proposition. Why can't it just be different, not just archaic, but
                              > having a form that that is able to stir my soul?

                              I can't see why we should necessarily require an all-or-nothing approach
                              either, personally. Some things are very beautiful in one (accurate)
                              translation, and not so much in another. So keep the beautiful one, even
                              if it's antique(d)-- as long as it's accurate and intelligible!

                              On the other hand, we should not fear to jettison our time-honored
                              traditional translations if they're inaccurate. It's "remit our debts to
                              us, even as we remit to our debtors" and not "forgive us our trespasses"
                              (the difference being exactly a matter of who ends up with the property
                              in question, once the story is over). Or the "good guerilla" (or:
                              "insurgent"), not "good thief".

                              > Forgive me. I'm so new to the Faith I shouldn't speak.

                              I am reminded of something Golda Meir said to a subordinate who kept
                              displaying great self-abnegation: "Don't be so humble-- you're not that
                              great!"

                              If we have something to say, we should just say it, simply, and let it
                              go at that. Remember: "Out of the mouths of babes and infants hast thou
                              fashioned praise!" Or as Fr. Hopko fondly points out, if God can bring
                              wisdom out of Balaam's ass....


                              Ploverleigh@... wrote:
                              >
                              > I was brought up on the KJV myself--even the RSV was suspect!--and I'm used
                              > to its diction. HOWEVER.... There is more to this style than funny verb
                              > endings and obsolete pronouns.

                              Absolutely!

                              > We do have to remember that there are many parishioners for whom English is a
                              > second language, and when we do services in English (or partially in English)
                              > it might be best to not throw linguistic stumbling blocks at their feet.

                              This is a very real, and serious, concern. In my parish there are many
                              new Russian immigrants who really struggle with modern English. They
                              don't get the archaizing stuff at all! I have to really admire their
                              patience and longsuffering. Regarding us, though, let us keep in mind
                              our Savior's injunction: "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!
                              You tie heavier and heavier burdens on men's backs and lift not a finger
                              to help them!"

                              > In fact, His Grace said that in the UK, the jurisdictions have agreed to use
                              > contemporary English for pastoral reason: first, the immigrants, and second
                              > the converts, who are coming from UNchurched backgrounds and aren't familiar
                              > with KJV diction anyway!

                              It's interesting that many of the new Russian immigrants are coming to
                              us unchurched also. They have no particular fondness for, or attachment
                              to, Slavonic, much less KJ-like English, and both are a real obstacle to
                              their understanding.

                              We read psalms while people go to confession in my parish; when I have
                              one of our new Russians read, they usually prefer, and even have to,
                              read in Russian rather than Slavonic, which they don't understand and
                              find difficult even to decipher (the alphabet has changed somewhat).

                              We need to be very sensitive to this situation.

                              > There is precedent for this. Liturgical Romanian IS vernacular Romanian.

                              Yeah, and liturgical Slavonic WAS more or less ordinary Slavonic; and
                              liturgical Aleut was regular Aleut. Etc.

                              By the way, it would be an interesting discussion if we were to talk
                              about the challenges met and resolved sometimes in surprising ways by
                              Ss. Cyril and Euthemius of Trnovo etc.

                              > Whenver a new edition of the liturgical books are needed, they are carefully
                              > examined and words that are obsolete or have changed their meanings or might
                              > otherwise be misunderstood are replaced by current terms. Thus, the language
                              > of the Church is truly the language of the people.

                              As I mentioned, the Russian church occasionally updates its liturgical
                              books when words change meaning, like our KJV 'impotent' has (it used to
                              mean 'sick', not 'sexually dysfunctional').

                              Sooner or later, though, the whole language will need to be updated or
                              it will in fact NOT be the language of the people, but the language only
                              of specialists. And we know what kind of caste situation that created in
                              19th century Russia! (not good.)

                              > Again, I used to prefer Tudor style, and I was quite vociferous about stating
                              > my case. But I eventually realized that all arguments I raised were the same
                              > raised by those who wished to keep the services in Slavonic or Greek!

                              And what would have been the value for us English speakers of that, eh?

                              > Whatever style, it will be determined by actual USE of the faithful.

                              And hopefully their needs.


                              Matushka Ann Lardas wrote:
                              >
                              > I'm always wary when someone says, "Of course you and I can understand this,
                              > but it will be so difficult for the others!" In other settings I've heard
                              > similar logic applied to the fast, the length of the services, and whether or
                              > not to have Saturday night vigil. We do not have the right to deprive others
                              > of their chance to struggle as we do.

                              No but the problems I've become all too familiar with in two parishes
                              over a period of some 20 years are very real. We have no right to impose
                              our tastes on people if it is simply a matter of taste and if in doing
                              so we are simply making things harder for them for no other reason, if
                              matters would be adequately served by contemporary (but of course well
                              spoken) English.

                              > Because KJ English is harder to
                              > untangle, we have to work harder at getting the meaning, and in the process,
                              > it becomes more our own. It's like the difference in the classroom between
                              > listening, reading, and doing. When the language used in church is just a
                              > little different than the language used at breakfast (or, on Sundays, at
                              > lunch), we are pulled into the services because we don't just hear them, we
                              > have to work at listening and understanding.

                              Many are just not pulled into the church at all, but are shut out by
                              this sort of thing.

                              > Actually, KJ English is easier to parse than contemporary English. There's a
                              > singular and plural form of "you," also, which makes it easier for the
                              > listener to know exactly how many people are being addressed.

                              Other than that minor example, do you have others?

                              > Aiie. I recently had to buy a Bible, and there are so MANY contemporary
                              > translations out there that nobody can quote quite the same passage one to
                              > another. There was the African American New King James version, among the
                              > various other translations. Do we need this kind of fragmentation?

                              As a sometime scripture scholar, I would have to say that at this point,
                              we do.

                              In fact the KJV already represented the final product of a long process
                              that produced a number of translations; in some ways the KJV itself is a
                              compromise and a summation of a hundred years or so of previous
                              scholarship and work that had been done. With its publication, the
                              English text of the bible was stabilized for some centuries.

                              However, with the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, and marked advances
                              in the understanding of the intra-Israelite, Canaanite, and ancient
                              Middle Eastern linguistic and social background of the text, we really
                              do need a new authoritative text. This is not an easy challenge, and
                              will require some fidgeting and fiddling with translations until we get
                              one that satisfactorily expresses the meaning of the text and sounds
                              good at the same time. There is still a lot that is yet up in the air;
                              and let us remember that a hundred years in the 15th century was just as
                              long and painful as a hundred years will be in the 21st!

                              Each modern translation has its good and bad points; and the KJV itself
                              has its inadequacies and inaccuracies. So a person who really loves the
                              scripture will enjoy all of them comparatively and try to understand how
                              and why they differ, not as knowledge for its own sake but because this
                              is a very useful way of getting at what the prophets (etc) really were
                              talking about. If you want to struggle to enter into the meaning of what
                              we read in church, then that would be a struggle that's useful!-- but it
                              might challenge some of one's cherished opinions and received 'wisdom'.
                              Just to struggle with diction, though-- what's the point?

                              Also, we Orthodox need to understand that the "bible" simply does not
                              exist, even in our liturgical tradition, as one absolutely settled and
                              fixed text-- there are different manuscript traditions and throughout
                              the history of the church there have been local variations. Now that
                              technology is perforce imposing a more uniform text on us, which shall
                              we use, and how shall we translate it?

                              > Plus, what's contemporary now may be passe sooner than we expect. For
                              > example, Ezra Pound translated some ancient Chinese poetry into the English
                              > of his time and called someone "Hep cat." Now it needs to be annotated.

                              This is true, and that's why slang should be avoided. But Shakespeare
                              and the KJV can hardly do without footnotes these days, either!

                              > In the sixties, especially, there were some pretty dreadful efforts. In an
                              > attempt to make the Bible "accessible" for contemporary Americans, they took
                              > out the universal, timeless parts. So Proverbs 15:17 went from being "Better
                              > is a dinner of bitter herbs where love is than a stalled ox, and hatred
                              > therewith," to "It's better to have soup with someone you love than steak
                              > with someone you hate." (Requesting permission to scream, sir!)

                              There were some good efforts too. Did you know that JRR Tolkien had a
                              hand in the Englishing of the Psalms and Job, in the Jerusalem Bible?
                              That's what I grew up on, and to this day nothing feels so sonorous to
                              my tongue, even though I occasionally criticize the translation! (an
                              occupational hazard of knowing Hebrew and Greek). (The New Jerusalem
                              Bible is not at all as good, by the way, in my opinion-- but the
                              footnotes of either the New or the old Jerusalem Bible are invaluable,
                              and without parallel anywhere.)


                              "Mary E. Lanser" wrote:
                              >
                              > <smile>...that would be me...but the more I am exposed to multilingual
                              > liturgies the more I think that we ought to be exuberantly poetic and
                              > daring and learn liturgical prayer in as many languages as possible in one
                              > lifetime...and pray them interchangably...s'there....mary elizabeth...The
                              > Irish-American woman who spent Wednesday night learning the Our Father in
                              > Lithunian, Polish, Slavonic and Russian...

                              I agree, and I can and do pray fluently in Hebrew, Greek, Latin,
                              Spanish, English, French, Italian, and even sometimes in Russian and
                              Slavonic (where I'm weak)-- but we should never, ever unnecessarily
                              impose these things on people who are not so inclined.

                              The same, I think, goes for archaizing diction.

                              Sorry for the length of this post. I'll try to keep it down in the
                              future.

                              Regards,

                              John Burnett
                            • Thomas George
                              Dear Kenneth and eGroup, You have corrected me truly as I waxed on. However, the point I failed to make clear at least in what I wanted to say about John
                              Message 14 of 24 , Mar 31 8:24 PM
                                Dear Kenneth and eGroup,

                                You have corrected me truly as I waxed on. However, the point I failed
                                to make clear at least in what I wanted to say about John Burnett's
                                posting is this:

                                Incorrect grammar is often a problem caused by the articulation of a
                                proper translation in the archaic English; i.e. 'hast' is easier to
                                pronounce or sing CLEARLY than 'didst'.

                                Many 'miss'-translations are actually intentional.

                                The Church musician-translator (some individuals can do both or are
                                capable of understanding when one affects the other) desires texts that
                                are easy to sing and easier to understood when sung. (This is not a bad
                                goal and one with which I sympathize) The job is much easier in modern
                                English IMHO.

                                Sorry I did not make my point obvious last time.

                                I hope I did this time.

                                Late nights make foggy heads.

                                Love,

                                Fr. TG

                                kenneth doll wrote:
                                original article:http://www.egroups.com/group/ustav/?start=4625
                                > Forgive me for disagreeing with both of you, but it seemed that the
                                main point of Mr. Burnett's
                                > posting had less or nothing to do with "archaic" vs. "modern"
                                English, as he posted corrected
                                > examples in both, but much more to do with convoluted word order,
                                incorrect grammar, etc.
                                > that obscured the clear meaning of the text in the English
                                translations!
                                > Kenneth Doll
                                >
                              • Ploverleigh@aol.com
                                In a message dated 3/31/00 1:50:21 PM, mel5@psu.edu writes:
                                Message 15 of 24 , Apr 1, 2000
                                  In a message dated 3/31/00 1:50:21 PM, mel5@... writes:

                                  << but the more I am exposed to multilingual
                                  liturgies the more I think that we ought to be exuberantly poetic and
                                  daring and learn liturgical prayer in as many languages as possible in one
                                  lifetime. >>

                                  Not a bad idea in and of itself, especially with the Divine Liturgy, which
                                  except for the T, K, readings and associated chants and a few other
                                  occasional hymns, is fairly fixed. I recall my father, who did not know a
                                  word of Slavonic, watching clips of the Divine Liturgy in St. Sergius Lavra
                                  in Russia and knowing exactly what was happening at that point from the
                                  ceremonial and music.

                                  When we get to Matins and Vespers, which contain the biggest part of the
                                  teaching of the Church, especially concerning the various feasts being
                                  celebrated, what do we do?
                                • Ploverleigh@aol.com
                                  In a message dated 3/31/00 2:14:20 PM, Matanna@aol.com writes:
                                  Message 16 of 24 , Apr 1, 2000
                                    In a message dated 3/31/00 2:14:20 PM, Matanna@... writes:

                                    << There was the African American New King James version, among the
                                    various other translations. >>

                                    I've not heard of that one! More info, please.

                                    BTW--the people who brought you the Orthodox Study Bible are translating the
                                    OT from the LXX.

                                    For information about this, please go to www.lxx.org

                                    There will be excerpts and draft versions free for the downloading.

                                    <<Ezra Pound translated some ancient Chinese poetry into the English
                                    of his time and called someone "Hep cat." Now it needs to be annotated.>>

                                    I recall Mario Pei translating an 18th century poem written in gutter French:
                                    "You yeggs who pull a real good heist/and swipe some moolah from the
                                    square....."

                                    Of course, even Shakespeare (who is Modern English) needs annotations for us
                                    today.

                                    <<So Proverbs 15:17 went from being "Better
                                    is a dinner of bitter herbs where love is than a stalled ox, and hatred
                                    therewith," to "It's better to have soup with someone you love than steak
                                    with someone you hate." (Requesting permission to scream, sir!)>>

                                    Might not be an accurate translation, or as elegant, but has the meaning
                                    changed? (Dynamic versus formal equivalence, though "salad" might be a better
                                    equivalent of "bitter herbs" than "soup".)

                                    <<It's been hundreds of years since KJV English has been contemporary,>>

                                    It never was "contemporary", even for the 17th century, as comparing its
                                    style with the Epistle Dedicatory (To the most high and mighty prince JAMES,
                                    by the grace of God....) in most editions of the KJV.
                                  • Ploverleigh@aol.com
                                    In a message dated 3/31/00 5:42:47 PM, business@expandingedge.com writes:
                                    Message 17 of 24 , Apr 1, 2000
                                      In a message dated 3/31/00 5:42:47 PM, business@... writes:

                                      << Or as Fr. Hopko fondly points out, if God can bring
                                      wisdom out of Balaam's ass.... >>

                                      A Pentecostal preacher chewing out his flock said that Balaam's ass was the
                                      same ass after as before speaking in a new language she didn't understand.
                                    • Ploverleigh@aol.com
                                      In a message dated 3/31/00 5:42:47 PM, business@expandingedge.com writes:
                                      Message 18 of 24 , Apr 1, 2000
                                        In a message dated 3/31/00 5:42:47 PM, business@... writes:

                                        << Yeah, and liturgical Slavonic WAS more or less ordinary Slavonic; and
                                        liturgical Aleut was regular Aleut. >>

                                        Forgive me. I thought that Slavonic was always a more-or-less artificial
                                        ecclesiastical language--similar to ecclesiastical Latin in this regard.

                                        It was also similar to Latin in that it was not limited to any one place.
                                        Some areas, such as the Carpatho-Rusin region, even used it as its literary
                                        langauge for a while, until the CR dialects had coalesced and stabilized.
                                      • Ploverleigh@aol.com
                                        In a message dated 3/31/00 5:42:47 PM, business@expandingedge.com writes:
                                        Message 19 of 24 , Apr 1, 2000
                                          In a message dated 3/31/00 5:42:47 PM, business@... writes:

                                          << As I mentioned, the Russian church occasionally updates its liturgical
                                          books when words change meaning, like our KJV 'impotent' has (it used to
                                          mean 'sick', not 'sexually dysfunctional'). >>

                                          Compare with some words in the KJV that have shifted meanings 180 degrees!

                                          For example, "let" used to mean PREVENT, not PERMIT.

                                          For that matter, "prevent" simply meant "to go before", usually with the idea
                                          of assisting. "Prevent us, O Lord, in all our actions...." Now it
                                          specifically means "to go before to stop something from happening."
                                        • Ploverleigh@aol.com
                                          In a message dated 3/31/00 5:42:47 PM, business@expandingedge.com writes: Because KJ English is harder to ... Many are just not pulled into the church at
                                          Message 20 of 24 , Apr 1, 2000
                                            In a message dated 3/31/00 5:42:47 PM, business@... writes:

                                            << > Because KJ English is harder to
                                            > untangle, we have to work harder at getting the meaning, and in the process,
                                            > it becomes more our own. It's like the difference in the classroom between
                                            > listening, reading, and doing. When the language used in church is just a
                                            > little different than the language used at breakfast (or, on Sundays, at
                                            > lunch), we are pulled into the services because we don't just hear them, we
                                            > have to work at listening and understanding.

                                            Many are just not pulled into the church at all, but are shut out by
                                            this sort of thing. >>

                                            I've heard Mathushka's argument used as a good reason to NOT use English
                                            liturgically.

                                            Much the same thing was heard on the other side of the Tiber about keeping
                                            Latin before Vatican II.
                                          • Ploverleigh@aol.com
                                            In a message dated 3/31/00 5:42:47 PM, business@expandingedge.com writes: Actually, KJ English is easier to parse than contemporary English. There s a ...
                                            Message 21 of 24 , Apr 1, 2000
                                              In a message dated 3/31/00 5:42:47 PM, business@... writes:

                                              << > Actually, KJ English is easier to parse than contemporary English.
                                              There's a
                                              > singular and plural form of "you," also, which makes it easier for the
                                              > listener to know exactly how many people are being addressed.

                                              Other than that minor example, do you have others? >>

                                              When, according to the KJV, Jesus told Nicodemus, "YE must be born again,"
                                              though He was addressing one person, did He mean two, thirty-seven, or
                                              millions?

                                              While the answer here is obvious doctrinally, it's not so obvious
                                              gramatically. "Ye" (nominative) and "you" (objective) can be any number from
                                              two up.

                                              Slavonic at least has a dual number.
                                            • Ploverleigh@aol.com
                                              In a message dated 3/31/00 5:42:47 PM, business@expandingedge.com writes:
                                              Message 22 of 24 , Apr 1, 2000
                                                In a message dated 3/31/00 5:42:47 PM, business@... writes:

                                                << In fact the KJV already represented the final product of a long process
                                                that produced a number of translations; in some ways the KJV itself is a
                                                compromise and a summation of a hundred years or so of previous
                                                scholarship and work that had been done. With its publication, the
                                                English text of the bible was stabilized for some centuries. >>

                                                Not quite THAt stabile!

                                                There were four revisions of it before the publication of the English Revised
                                                of 1881.

                                                There are no fewer than four changes of spelling and punctuation between 1611
                                                and 1769 (last official revision) in the verse "For by grace are ye
                                                saved....." And we know what change of meaning the placement of a comma make!

                                                And the "KJV as originally written" doesn't exist, as the ms delivered to the
                                                printer was lost. There were at least two dozen changes demanded by the then
                                                Abp. of Canterbury before the first edition was typeset from what the
                                                translation company had approved.

                                                And then you get into the issue of the Cambridge vs. Oxford exemplar.

                                                And then there's the revision by American Bible Society in 1904, normalizing
                                                it according to American spellings.

                                                And then the so called "marginal readings" version issued in 1940 or so.

                                                BTW-- those interested in pursuing this further might want to read works by
                                                Dr. Ward Allen professor emeritus of English of Auburn University. Dr. Allen,
                                                a convert to Orthodoxy, has written several books and articles about the KJV
                                                from a linguistic, lexicographical, and stylistic standpoint. He would be the
                                                ideal man to have on a translation committee, if this style were to be the
                                                standard.
                                              • Paul Ferrari
                                                I think Phillips translated Greet one another with a holy kiss to Give one another a handshake all around . Few among the English speaking people greet with
                                                Message 23 of 24 , Apr 1, 2000
                                                  I think Phillips translated "Greet one another with a holy kiss" to "Give
                                                  one another a handshake all around". Few among the English speaking people
                                                  greet with a kiss. It doesn't change the meaning if you interpret it to mean
                                                  a cultural form of greeting. However it is hard to shake hands with an icon.
                                                  Paul Ferrari

                                                  -----Original Message-----
                                                  From: Ploverleigh@... [mailto:Ploverleigh@...]
                                                  Sent: Saturday, April 01, 2000 10:51 AM
                                                  To: ustav@egroups.com
                                                  Subject: [ustav] Re: Liturgical translations revisited



                                                  Of course, even Shakespeare (who is Modern English) needs annotations for us
                                                  today.

                                                  <<So Proverbs 15:17 went from being "Better
                                                  is a dinner of bitter herbs where love is than a stalled ox, and hatred
                                                  therewith," to "It's better to have soup with someone you love than steak
                                                  with someone you hate." (Requesting permission to scream, sir!)>>

                                                  Might not be an accurate translation, or as elegant, but has the meaning
                                                  changed? (Dynamic versus formal equivalence, though "salad" might be a
                                                  better
                                                  equivalent of "bitter herbs" than "soup".)

                                                  <<It's been hundreds of years since KJV English has been contemporary,>>






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                                                • Mary E. Lanser
                                                  ... ...so much for prophets and teachers!!...without the overshadowing we are all just so many...ah well...you get the picture....mary
                                                  Message 24 of 24 , Apr 1, 2000
                                                    At 1:55 PM 4/1/0, Ploverleigh@... wrote:
                                                    >In a message dated 3/31/00 5:42:47 PM, business@... writes:
                                                    >
                                                    ><< Or as Fr. Hopko fondly points out, if God can bring
                                                    >wisdom out of Balaam's ass.... >>
                                                    >
                                                    >A Pentecostal preacher chewing out his flock said that Balaam's ass was the
                                                    >same ass after as before speaking in a new language she didn't understand.

                                                    <laff>...so much for prophets and teachers!!...without the overshadowing we
                                                    are all just so many...ah well...you get the picture....mary

                                                    ___________________________

                                                    People are like tea bags; you never get the full flavor of them until after
                                                    they've been in hot water for a while............ F.O.R.P.
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