Translation Theory

      Speaking as an "Evangelical" whatever that precisely means, I would
like to add a few comments to the discussion of translation.  I mention
"Evangelical" simply to say that I don't have any theoretical problems
with using dynamic equivalency per se.  I do, however, favor Larry
Hurtado's view that a stricter, more "literal" rendering has its
advantages.  The issue of the "two horizons" for hermenuetics is
big enough without adding the challenge of restating the meaning of the
source language in cultural imagery of the target language.  That's
why I am a strong advocate for study purposes of the NASB.  It seeks,
it seems to me, to translate "literally", some would say "woodenly"
the source language.  Among the advantages of this technique are that
every reader of the translation has to come to grips somehow with
the meaning of source language idioms.  DE "can" be much more of an
interpretation here than a translation.  The other point that I want
to raise is the issue of words having one meaning.  Obviously,
few words convey one and only one meaning.  On the other hand,
I don't think it is accurate to say that claiming a word has
a limited set of meanings that a translator can choose from
is unreasonable or "positivistic".  Obviously, sarx may have a certain
semantic range, i.e., flesh, body, and some metaphorical meanings
as seen in Paul's letters, but that does not mean that sarx can
be rendered "cheese pizza".  So I guess I'm a little confused
over the issue of a word having a univocal meaning.  Granted
you cannot look at sarx in isolation from its rhetorical, social,
cultural, religious context and in isolation from the
words around it in determining what the best equivalent in the
target language is, but surely that does not mean that words don't
have a limited set of possible meanings and thus it is not
"positivistic" to assert otherwise.  One of the appends on
this subject used "literal" in a different sense than I am.  I use
"literal" to mean what does the word refer to in its source language.
This sense, it seems to me, was mixed with a critique of interpreting
recorded events "literally", i.e., as though what was written happened,
when obviously the author did not "mean" that.  I have two problems with this.
First, it once again uses word "myth" without defining it or defending its use.
Also,  it assumes that we can know somehow, a priori, when an author intends
a story to be taken as a myth and when it is intended to be taken as an
account of a real event.  It is an assertion that the  Hebrew Bible contains
myth; it is not a demonstrated fact except among authors who are preaching to
the choir.  A final point I want to raise about some of the appends on this
thread (a word, I might note, way outside of any of the uses of the word
thread in my profession, while we are talking about meaning).  It almost
seems like some of these appends are expressing some sort of
reader-response translation theory in which thing "mean" something to the
reader and that need have nothing to do with what the author "meant".
Am I misreading something?  That's an interesting point of view but
I hardly think that any writer writes with the intention that her/his
readers will  impart any old meaning to the text.  This touches on a subject
that has also been part of this thread.  What's the difference between
translation and meaning?  Is there really a difference between what a
word refers to and what it means?  I'm not an expert in linguistics by
any means so maybe I'm missing a nuance here?

Ken Litwak
IBM, San Jose, CA


    This is unrelated but to avoid clutting up the net, I have been trying
to communicate with David Mealand off-line and Internet rejects the
address that I generally see in his appends.  Is there anyone out there
who might be able to help me solve this problem? David?  I know I have
it right because I cut and pasted it (one of the many virtues of OS/2).