Saturday, February 28, 2009

Bad Form.

[Lightly edited 4 March, 2009]

Modern translations, usually for reasons of style rather than translation, alter "and" into many other terms, but, for, so, then, etc., as they put it, as context seems to require. Frequently "and" is also dropped altogether.

But a good translation needn't do this: context will give the sense; if there even is one: these alterations often seem to color the translations and imply what is not original, whether consecutive order, or specificity, or introductions to what appears to be a conclusion, for instance "so" as in "therefore...". There are plenty of situations where using different words to render an underlying word is fine: "flood" vs. "deluge"? Doesn't matter, but often the "simple" things elude such choice without altering the text, and "and" is quite simple to render; so again, let the context indicate anything if it's there to be indicated.

The frequent dropping of "and" also leaves a jarring, disconnected, horrid text to read. There's no narrative flow, no appreciation of a progressing thought: instead of a train, we have a bumper-to-bumper traffic jam: disconnected thoughts in a series. I'm trying to read more modern versions in the OT, and it. jars. me. and. feels. like. I'm. grinding. my. teeth. for. se.nt.tence. Like modern punctuating1 that oversimplifies the situation rather than being literary and grammatical, [instead] all for style: thought is go--in...gng.....STOP. Okay thought is contin-u-ing STOP. Okay re-picking STOP up the STOP though. Picking-uSTOPp. thouSTOPougSTOPht.

Many of the changes seem made just because a few people don't like repetition of the use of "and", or because "authorities" protest using conjunctions at the beginning of sentences or too frequently (they don't now historical English, I suppose, or appreciate literature or device), though using them at the beginning, if such a problem, just suggests we ought not slovenly punctuate an originally unpunctuated text: punctuate for utility of conveying the text accurately, not stylistic tastes. And the specificity or nuances forced into the text by swapping something else in for "and" often just isn't there. The dropping of words is inappropriate: style be damned. I'll repeat: style be damned.

I'm not cursing: I'm using the hardest word of condemnation I know. Read the KJV sometime: it's not afraid to be so bold with such good-ol' terms, either. To hell with style when it interferes severely with accuracy.

1 punctuating, not punctuation, indicating the act of punctuating, not the signs themselves.

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