Monday, September 4, 2017

Thoughts on translation, 9.1: Two weeks in treacherous territory

Song of Solomon: timeless love poetry in contemporary calligraphy.   

Some Biblical translations, through no fault of their own, just don't work for modern use.  They give the viewer (or hearer) the wrong idea, creating embarrassment or confusion instead of inspiration.  From my recent exploration of Song of Solomon, I will describe translation issues from the simplest updating of thee and thou, through the garden of unfamiliar plants, to the dangers of the unintended off-color pun, plus a dozen other ways to make the Song clearer.  

Most people don't even notice when you update
"My beloved spake" to read "My beloved spoke."  
Topic One:  There is no simpler update than the one that clips the st and th off the ends of verbs, as in "Thou hast ravished my heart."  It's easy to do; people seldom object to it; and it does not change the meaning of the text.  You can also choose translations free of the "whither" and "hearken" and "threescore" that threaten to turn this love poetry into costume drama.  

Of course, you will then have to think about pronouns.   Read on about thee and thou.   

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