Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Thoughts on translation, Part 9.16: Stet

Topic fifteen: After a fortnight, I have one final thought; sometimes, you don't need to change a thing. The King James Version--as close to the "original version" as any English speaker is likely to get--still sometimes hits the nail on the head.  Mark Twain said it best; “The difference between the almost right word and the right word is really a large matter—it's the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.” When lightening strikes, you know it.      

But don't stop searching; every different translation offers a window into a different time and place and mind, and gives new appreciation for the wordsmith's art.  After five centuries it's still hard to improve on the King James Version's "jealousy is cruel as the grave." But even such perfection wasn't inevitable; less than a century earlier, Wycliffe's translation had it as "evil is hard as hell."  

"The important thing is not to stop questioning," as Albert Einstein said.   Now I will go back to writing about how to arrange these carefully translated words with pen and ink.            

1 comment:

  1. Wycliffe said, when asked why he advocated translating the Bible into English, “Christ and his apostles taught the people in that tongue that was best known to them. Why should men not do so now?”