Liturgiam Authenticam 12

A discussion about dialects:

12. Within the liturgical sphere, moreover, a distinction necessarily arises between languages and dialects. In particular, dialects that do not support common academic and cultural formation cannot be taken into full liturgical use, since they lack that stability and breadth that would be required for their being liturgical languages on a broader scale. In any event, the number of individual liturgical languages is not to be increased too greatly.[S. Congr. for the Sacraments and Divine Worship, Letter to the Presidents of the Conferences of Bishops, De linguis vulgaribus in S. Liturgiam inducendis, 5 June 1976: Notitiae 12 (1976) 300-301.] This latter is necessary so that a certain unity of language may be fostered within the boundaries of one and the same nation.

My assumption and hope is that a depth of linguistic research and consultation went into this principle and is applied today. Linguists themselves assess “dialect” to describe how a language is spoken within a subdivision of a nation, say Newfoundland or Louisiana. But also “dialect” can be used to describe the historical relationship, say Italian and French with one another.

Perhaps today the main principle is a political one. Some third world and Arab nations are constructs of the 20th century colonial realities, not linguistic or cultural ones. So there are many challenges afoot in these countries. Separate cultural and language realities might exist within one set of borders. Or the same language may be spread across two or more nations. Or one might consider the Chinese situation, where the written form is standard, but the spoken languages of Mandarin and Cantonese are not mutually understandable.

Don’t forget the role of class either: often the “standard” version of a language is defined by the usage of the elite. That might have a potential chilling effect on evangelization.

As we’ve read before, there are economic considerations to effecting a translation. A poor nation with two or more languages may be more deeply burdened than several nations sharing the same language.

A lot of consider in this, and hopefully the CDWDS and various bishops’ committees are on top of it all everywhere.



About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
This entry was posted in Liturgiam Authenticam, post-conciliar liturgy documents. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Liturgiam Authenticam 12

  1. Katherine says:

    This entry and the previous one on LA remind me of a story told by a English priest who worked in Uganda, about how there the liturgy was translated into Swahili, a language widely used. For the people he served, however, it was NOT their language, rather that of their traditional rivals. But they dutifully learned it. When the Bishop came to preside at a liturgy, at one point the priest overheard one young server elbow another and whisper loudly, “He means ‘Dominus vobiscum'”.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s