Re: Literal translation/target group

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Wed Oct 15 1997 - 07:04:16 EDT

At 5:51 AM -0500 10/15/97, wrote:
>Rolf Furuli writes on 10/15/97:
>> NWT transliterates GEENNA and translates gei hinnom as "the valley of
>> Hinnom", while NASB translates GEENNA as "hell" and gei Hinnom as "the
>> valley of Hinnom".
>> In this case I will commend the NWT and criticize the NASB. The Greek and
>> Hebrew words are proper names, and such may be rendered slightly
>> differently in different languages due to different stocks of phonemes. But
>> names are not in translation substituted by completely different words.
>This brings up a point which I would like to see discussed. I believe that
>proper names should be translated just like any other foreign word in
>"STRICTLY" literal or hyperliteral translations. For example, if a name
>means "YHWH-Saves" or "Man" or "Forethought", it should appear that
>way in translation. I consider this to be especially true when names seem
>custom-tailored to their role in the story.

I would not be against this on principle, but I rather fear that it would
likely have both positive and negative consequences: it would call
attention to the POSSIBILITY of intentional word-play (such as I believe is
actually involved in Luke's addressee in the gospel and Acts, QEOFILOS or
"God's-Friend"); but it would also set in motion speculative processes
about intended word-play where in fact none might be intended (I think of
other theophoric names such as DIONUSIOS, "Belonging-to-Dionysus", for
instance). Generally where we have names like Wheelwright or Cartwright or
Smith or Clark in English, we do not immediately think of these as
indicators of occupational categories into which the bearers of these names
may fall, although we reasonably surmise that the original holder of such
names may have fell into such categories. Similarly in Greek there would be
names like hIPPOKLHS or FEIDIPPIDHS which nobody would really want to
anglicize as "horse-famed" or "horse-sparer." So it seems to me that
adoption of this practice would be a mixed bag: one who knows the ancient
languages doesn't need it, and one who doesn't will have an indication in
footnotes of those instances where it clearly plays a role in the narrative
(e.g. Isaac's name meaning "laughed" or Jacob's name meaning "heel").

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics/Washington University
One Brookings Drive/St. Louis, MO, USA 63130/(314) 935-4018
Home: 7222 Colgate Ave./St. Louis, MO 63130/(314) 726-5649 OR

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