A Translator's Freedom: Modern English Bibles and Their by Cecil Hargreaves

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By Cecil Hargreaves

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Extra info for A Translator's Freedom: Modern English Bibles and Their Language

Example text

Let the earth rejoice' near the beginning of Ps. 1 [AV]) is parnlJeled or twinned by a second line ('Let the multitude of the isles be glad thereof). The second line not only echoes the first but is also by way of being a variation on it. 1bis type of parallelism has sometimes been called the equivalent in Hebrew poetry of rhyme in English poetry. Most modern biblical translators. as most traditional ones. have simply reproduced the distinctive Hebrew structure and pattern of poetic expression, even if they give an altered translation of particular words: for example, the NRSV has in Ps.

Levi declares his aim as that of translating this sort of poetry into English 'through English words of passionate common speech'. He says that in their original form 'the language and form of most of the psalms, and some of their music, seem to be popular', in an age in which court and temple poetry would probably not differ greatly from what was sung by herdsmen in the desert. In some psalms Levfs translation uses fewer words than that of Coverdale, but he is keen to point out that there are far fewer words in the Hebrew original than in his own English translation, and he implies that an English translation has to aim to achieve some terseness or economy.

In J. Drury, Lukt (Fontilna Rdigious Comment:lries; London: Fontana 1973). 2 . B. Phillips, Tht Prict of Succtss (London: Hodder & Stoughton. 1984) p. 94. 3. B. Phillips, utters to Young Churchts (London: Bies, 1947). 46 A Translator's Freedom alliteration in the 'messenger-monarch' clause just mentioned is striking. His rendering is unashamedly modern in its idiom ( 'I have become absolutely convinced'). Above all, while having a certain simplicity about it, it seems to catch, fairly effortlessly, the passage's air of solemn mystery.

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