RE: Translation: Glossing, Domains, Arguments

From: Hultberg, Alan (
Date: Sat May 20 2000 - 20:25:12 EDT

>From: clayton stirling bartholomew on Sat, May 20, 2000 3:04 PM
>Subject: Translation: Glossing, Domains, Arguments
>To: Biblical Greek
>Been reading Simon Dik's "Functional Grammar", 1981.
>This book suggests that you really don't understand a lexical item in a
>language by looking at its semantic distribution alone.
>For example, a verb can be defined by a set of rules governing the types of
>words that can serve as arguments for that verb. These rules might be
>called, restriction rules.
>One of the problems one encounters with translating into English is that we
>must often settle for an English gloss chosen from the semantic domain of a
>particular verb without giving full consideration to the restriction rules
>placed on that Verb in NT Greek.
>In other words, we might find a word that looks like a good match in English
>based on semantic distribution alone but there are other properties of the
>Greek verb that make it a poor match. We may end up having to reconstruct
>the English periphrastically to accommodate the fact the the English verb
>does not have the same set of restriction rules governing the arguments this
>verb may take in a predication.
>This is just one tiny little nit picking point illustrating why English
>translation takes you away from the text.

I couldn't agree with you more (on both the caution about lexical semantics
and translation); I don't think anyone would argue that translation doesn't
remove one from an original text or that it is possible to produce a perfect
translation -- or at least one that is equivalent to the Greek text in every
way. Still, unless all you plan to do is read the text to yourself, or
converse with fluent speakers of the original language, you need in some way
to translate the ideas of the text to a non-Greek speaking audience. You can
begin with a translation as formal or functional as you like, but begin
translating you must.


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