Comme Le Prevoit 16-19

More spotlight for English in the following sections:

16. b. Certain other principles should be observed so that a translation will be understood by the hearers in the same sense as the revealed truths expressed in the liturgy.

17. 1. When words are taken from the so-called sacral vocabulary now in use, the translator should consider whether the everyday common meaning of these words and phrases bears or can bear a Christian meaning. These phrases may carry a pre- Christian, quasi-Christian, Christian, or even anti-Christian meaning. The translator should also consider whether such words can convey the exact Christian liturgical action and manifestation of faith. Thus in the Greek Bible, the word hieros (sarer) was often avoided because of its connection with the pagan cults and instead the rarer word hagios (sanctus) was substituted. Another example. The proper meaning of the biblical hesea-eleos-misericordia, is not accurately expressed in English by mercy or pity. Again, the word mereri in classical Latin often signifies to be worthy of something, but in the language of the liturgy it carries a meaning very different from the ancient meaning: “I do something because of which I am worthy of a prize or a reward.” In English the word to deserve when used by itself retains the stricter sense. A translation would lead to error if it did not consider this fact, for example, in translating Quia quem meruisti portare in the hymn Regina caeli as Because you deserved to bear …

18. 2. It often happens that there is no word in common use that exactly corresponds to the biblical or liturgical sense of the term to be translated, as in the use of the biblical iustitia. The nearest suitable word must then be chosen which, through habitual use in various catechetical texts and in prayer, lends itself to take on the biblical and Christian sense intended by the liturgy. Such has been the evolution of the Greek word doxa and the Latin gloria when used to translate the Hebrew kabod. The expression hominibus bonae voluntatis literally translated as to men of good will (or good will to men in order to stress divine favor) will be misleading; no single English word or phrase will completely reflect the original Latin or the Greek which the Latin translates. Similarly in English there is no exact equivalent for mysterium.In English, mystery means something which cannot be readily explained or else a type of drama or fiction. Nor can the word venerabilis (as in sanctas et venerabiles manus) be translated as venerable, which nowadays means elderly.

19. 3. In many modern languages a biblical or liturgical language must be created by use. This will be achieved rather by infusing a Christian meaning into common words than by importing uncommon or technical terms.

Regarding this last point, the infusion of meaning must be accompanied by a certain seriousness of purpose. It is possible to ue common words if they are backed up by particular attitudes–non-verbal communication, if you will. It’s hard to render such vital aspects by black print alone.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
This entry was posted in Comme Le Prevoit, post-conciliar liturgy documents. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Comme Le Prevoit 16-19

  1. Gavin says:

    A translation would lead to error if it did not consider this fact, for example, in translating Quia quem meruisti portare in the hymn Regina caeli as Because you deserved to bear

    In fact, We Celebrate does NOT translate that line as such. Better throw out all of those!

    Seriously, it’s kinda odd that the document would suggest that singing “Regina Coelli” leads someone to error. I think that might be going a bit TOO demanding on translators, any clue how one might translate that hymn well?

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