Liturgiam Authenticam 42-44

More on the Word of God:

42. While caution is advisable lest the historical context of the biblical passages be obscured, the translator should also bear in mind that the word of God proclaimed in the Liturgy is not simply an historical document. For the biblical text treats not only of the great persons and events of the Old and New Testaments, but also of the mysteries of salvation, and thus refers to the faithful of the present age and to their lives. While always maintaining due regard for the norm of fidelity to the original text, one should strive, whenever there is a choice to be made between different ways of translating a term, to make those choices that will enable the hearer to recognize himself and the dimensions of his own life as vividly as possible in the persons and events found in the text.

Except of course for some occasions when the listeners are women and language can be adjusted to account for that.

43. Modes of speech by which heavenly realities and actions are depicted in human form, or designated by means of limited, concrete terminology– as happens quite frequently in biblical language (i.e., anthropomorphisms) – often maintain their full force only if translated somewhat literally, as in the case of words in the Nova Vulgata Editio such as ambulare, brachium, digitus, manus, or vultus [Dei], as well as caro, cornu, os, semen, and visitare. Thus it is best that such terms not be explained or interpreted by more abstract or general vernacular expressions. As regards certain terms, such as those translated in the Nova Vulgata as anima and spiritus, the principles mentioned in above nn. 40-41 should be observed. Therefore, one should avoid replacing these terms by a personal pronoun or a more abstract term, except when this is strictly necessary in a given case. It should be borne in mind that a literal translation of terms which may initially sound odd in a vernacular language may for this very reason provoke inquisitiveness in the hearer and provide an occasion for catechesis.

44. In order for a translation to be more easily proclaimed, it is necessary that any expression be avoided which is confusing or ambiguous when heard, such that the hearer would fail to grasp its meaning.

Flaming braziers come to mind. But seriously, #44 must be considered not only in terms of the written word–which generally only lectors and clergy see–but also how a text is heard by listeners. I’ve always wondered if the Lectionary is lab-tested to get the kinks out.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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3 Responses to Liturgiam Authenticam 42-44

  1. Liam says:

    Fire-pot is not so great, either (at the conversational speed with which most lectors race through readings, it is easily heard as flower pot, and “fire-pot” is about as frequent in common English as brazier; hey, even brassiere is not too common anymore!).

    Annotated punctuation notes might help. With the annotations explaining why a certain pronunciation will help reduce equivocal reception….

  2. Bill Logan says:

    The last time a lectionary was lab-tested for how it was heard was probably when the translators of the King James Version were reading their translations out loud to another. The Vatican’s fetish for formal equivalence would likely rule this out as a translation goal.

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