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scriptural sense either schismatic or heretic; and that he, on the contrary, whatever sect he belong to, is more entitled to these odious appellations, who is most apt to throw the imputation upon others, Both terms, for they denote only different degrees of the same bad quality, always indicate a disposition and practice unfriendly to peace, harmony, and love.
THE CHIEF THINGS TO BE ATTENDED TO IN TRANSLATING.-A
COMPARATIVE VIEW OF THE OPPOSITE METHODS TAKEN BY
TRANSLATORS OF HOLY WRIT.
THE THINGS TO BE ATTENDED TO IN TRANSLATING.
To translate has been thought, by some, a very easy matter to one who understands tolerably the language from which, and has made some proficiency in the language into which, the translation is to be made. To translate well is, however, in my opinion, a task of more difficulty than is commonly imagined. That we may be the better able to judge in this question, let us consider what a translator, who would do justice to his author and his subject, has to perform. The first thing, without doubt, which claims his attention is, to give a just representation of the sense of the original. This, it must be acknowledged, is the most essential of all. The second thing is, to convey into his version, as much as possible, in a consistency with the genius of the language which he writes, the author's spirit and manner, and, if I may so express myself, the very character of his style. The third, and last thing is, to take care that the version have at least so far the quality of an origina} performance, as to appear natural and easy, such as shall give no handle to the critic to charge the translator with applying words improperly, or in a meaning not warranted by use, or combining them in a way which renders the sense obscure, and the construction ungranımatical, or even harsh.
2. Now, to adjust matters so as in a considerable degree to altain all these objects, will be found upon inquiry not a little arduous, even to men who are well acquainted with the two languages, and have great command of words. In pursuit of one of the ends above-mentioned, we are often in danger of losing sight totally of another ; nay, on some occasions, it will appear impossible to attain one without sacrificing both the others. It may happen, that I cannot do justice to the sense without frequent recourse to circumlocutions; for the words of no language whatever will at all times exactly correspond with those of another. Yet by this method, a writer, whose manner is concise, simple, and energetic, is exhibited in the translation as employing a style which is at once diffuse, complex, and languid. Again, in endeavoring to exhibit the author's manner, and to confine myself as nearly as possible to the same number of words and the like turn of expression, I may very imperfectly render his sense, relating obscurely, ambiguously and even improperly, what is expressed with great propriety and perspicuity in the original. Anil, in regard to the third object mentioned, it is evident, that when the two languages differ very much in their genius and structure, it must be exceedingly difficult for a translator to render this end perfectly compatible with the other two. It will perhaps be said, that this is of less importance, as it seems solely to regard the quality of the work as a performance in the translator's language, whereas the other two regard the work only as an exhibition of the original. I admit that this is an object inferior to the other two; I meant it should be understood so by mentioning it last. Yet even this is by no means so unimportant as some would imagine. That a writing be perspicuous in any language, much depends on the observance of propriety; and the beauty of the work (at least as far as purity is concerned) contributes not a little to its utility. What is well written, or well said, is always more attended to, better understood, and longer remembered, than what is improperly, weakly, or awkwardly expressed.
3. Now, if translation is in general attended with so much difficulty, what must we think of the chance of success which a translator has, when the subject is of so great importance that an uncommon degree of attention to all the above-mentioned objects will be exacted of him; and when the difference, in point of idiom, of the language from wbich, and of that into which the version is made, is as great perhaps as we have any example of. For, in translating the New Testament into English, it is not to the Greek idiom, nor to the oriental, that we are required to adapt our own, but to a certain combination of both ; often, rather, to the Hebrew and Chaldaic idioms involved in Greek words and syntax. The analogy and prevailing usage in Greek will, if we be not on our guard, sometimes mislead us. On the contrary, these are sometimes safe and proper guides. But, without a considerable acquaintance with both, it will be impossible to determine when we ought to be directed by the one, and when by the other.
4. There are two extremes in translating, which are commonly taken notice of by those who examine this subject critically; from one extreine we derive what is called a close and literal, from the other a loose and free translation. Each has its advocates. But though
the latter kind is most patronized when the subject is a performance merely human, the general sentiments, as far as I am able to collect them, seem rather to favor the former when the subject is any part of holy writ. And this difference appears to proceed from a very laudable principle—that we are not entitled to use so much freedom with the dictates of inspiration, as with the works of a fellowcreature. It often happens, however, on such general topics, when no particular version is reserred to as an example of excess on one side or on the other, that people agree in words when their opinions differ, and differ in words when their opinions agree ; for I may consider a translation as close, which another would denominate free, or as free, which another would denominate close. Indeed I imagine, that, in the best sense of the words, a good translation ought to have both these qualities. To avoid all ambiguity, therefore, I shall call one extreme literal, as manifesting a greater attention to the letter than to the meaning ; the other loose, as implying under it, not liberty, but licentiousness. In regard even to literal translations, there may be so many differences in degree, that, without specifying, it is in vain to argue, or to hope to lay down any principles that will prove entirely satisfactory.
STRICTURES ON ARIAS MONTANUS. Among the Latin translations of Scripture, therefore, for I shall confine myself to these in this Dissertation, let us select Arias Montanus for an example of the literal. His version of both Testaments is very generally known, and commonly printed along with the original, not in separate columns, but, for the greater benefit of the learner, interlined. This work of Arias, of all that I know, goes the farthest in this way, being precisely on the model of the Jewish translations—not so much of the Septuagint, though the Septuagint certainly exceeds in this respect, as on the model of Aquila, which, from the fragments that still remain of that version, appears to have been servilely literal, a mere metaphrase. Arias, therefore, is a fit example of what may be expected in this mode of translating.
2. Now, that we may proceed more methodically in our examination, let us inquire how far every one of the three ends in translating above mentioned is answered by this version, or can be answered by a version constructed on the same plan. The first and principal end is to give a just representation of the sense of the original. “But how,” it may be asked, “can a translator fail of attaining this end, who never wanders from the path marked out to him; who does not, like others, turn aside for a moment to pluck flowers by the way, wherewith to garnish his performance ; who is, on the contrary, always found in his author's track ; in short, who has it as his sole object to give you, in the words of another language, exacıly what his author says, and in the order and manner wherein he says it; and," I had almost added (for this, 100, is his aim, though not always attainable) “not one word more or less than he says?" However he might fail in respect of the other ends mentioned, one would be apt to think he must certainly succeed in conveying the sentiments of his author. Yet upon trial we find, that in no point whatever does the literal translator fail more remarkably than in this of exhibiting the sense.
Nor will this be found so unaccountable upon reflection, as on a superficial view it may appear. Were the words of the one language exactly correspondent to those of the other, in meaning and extent; were the modes of combining the words in both entirely similar, and the grammatical or customary arrangement the same; and were the idioms and phrases resulting thence perfectly equivalent-such a conclusion might reasonably be deduced : but, when all the material circumstances are nearly the reverse, as is certainly the case of Hebrew compared with Latin ; when the greater part of the words of one are far from corresponding accurately, either in meaning or in extent, to those of the other ; when the construction is dissimilar, and the idoms resulting from the like combinations of corresponding words by no means equivalent there is the greatest probability, that an interpreter of this stamp will often exhibit to his readers what has no meaning at all, and sometimes a meaning very different from, or perhaps opposite to, that of his author.
3. I shall, from the aforesaid translation, briefly illustrate what I have advanced; and that first in words, next in phrases or idioms. I had occasion, in a former Dissertation,* to take notice of a pretty numerous class of words which, in no two languages whatever, are found perfectly to correspond; though, in those tongues wherein there is a greater affinity, they come nearer to suit each other than in those tongues wherein the affinity is less. In regard to such 1 observed, that the translator's only possible method of rendering them justly, is by attending to the scope of the author as discovered by the context, and choosing such a term in the language which he writes, as suits best the original term in the particular situation in which he finds it.
4. But this is far from being the method of the literal translator. The defenders of this manner would, if possible, have nothing subjected to the judgment of the interpreter, but have every thing determined by general and mechanical rules. Hence they insist, above all things, on preserving uniformity, and rendering the same
* Diss. II. Part i. sect. 4.