Imágenes de páginas

which, and of that into which the version is made, is as great, perhaps, as we have any example of. For, in translating the New Testament into English, it is not to the Greek idiom, nor to the Oriental, that we are required to adapt our own, but to a certain combination of both; often, rather, to the Hebrew and Chaldaic idioms, involved in Greek words and syntax. The analogy and prevailing usage in Greek, will, if we be not on our guard, sometimes mislead us.

On the contrary, these are sometimes safe and proper guides. But, without a considerable acquaintance with both, it will be impossible to determine, when we ought to be directed by the one, and when by the other.

$ 4. There are two extremes in translating, which are commonly taken notice of by those who examine this subject critically ; from one extreme, we derive what is called a close and literal, from the other, a loose and free translation. Each has its advocates. But, though the latter kind is most patronised, when the subject is a performance merely human, the general sentiments, as far as I am able to collect them, seem rather to favour the former, when the subject is any part of holy writ. And this difference appears to proceed from a very laudable principle, that we are not entitled to use so much freedom with the dictates of inspiration, as with the works of a fellow-creature. It often happens, however, on such general topics, when no particular version is referred to as an example of excess on one

side, or on the other, that people agree in words, when their opinions differ, and differ in words, when their opinions agree. For, I may consider a translation as close, which another would denominate free, or as free, which another would denominate close. Indeed, I imagine that, in the best sense of the words, a good translation ought to have both these qualities. To avoid all ambiguity, therefore, I shall call one extreme literal, as manifesting a greater attention to the letter than to the meaning; the other loose, as implying under it, not liberty, but licen. tiousness. In regard even to literal translations, there may be so many differences in degree, that, without specifying, it is in vain to argue, or to hope to lay down any principles that will prove entirely satisfactory



Among the Latin translations of Scripture, therefore, for I shall confine myself to these in this Dissertation, let us select Arias Montanus for an example of the literal. His version of both Testaments is very generally known, and commonly printed along with the original, not in separate columns, but, for the

greater benefit of the learner, interlined. This work of Arias, of all that I know, goes the farthest in this way, being precisely on the model of the Jewish translations, not so much of the Septuagint, though the Septuagint certainly exceeds in this respect, as on the model of Aquila, which, from the fragments that still remain of that version, appears to have been servilely literal, a mere metaphrase. Arias, therefore, is a fit example of what may be expected in this mode of translating

§ 2. Now, that we may proceed more methodi. cally in our examination, let us inquire how far every one of the three ends in translating, above mentioned, is answered by this version, or can be answered by a version constructed on the same plan. The first and principal end is to give a just representation of the sense of the original. But how,' it may be asked, 'can a translator fail of attaining this end,

who never wanders from the path marked out to him; who does not, like others, turn aside for a

moment, to pluck flowers by the way, wherewith " to garnish his performance; who is, on the contra

ry, always found in his author's track ; in short, · who has it as his sole object, to give you, in the words of another language, exactly what his author says, and in the order and manner wherein he says it, and,' I had almost added (for this, too, is his aim, though not always attainable), not one word more or less than he says ?' However he might fail, in

[ocr errors]

respect of the other ends mentioned, one would be apt to think, he must certainly succeed in conveying the sentiments of his author. Yet, upon trial, we find that, in no point whatever does the literal translator fail more remarkably, than in this, of exhibiting the sense. Nor will this be found so unaccountable, upon reflection, as, on a superficial view, it may appear. Were the words of the one language exactly correspondent to those of the other, in meaning and extent ; were the modes of combining the words in both, entirely similar, and the grammatical or customary arrangement, the same ; and were the idioms and phrases resulting thence, perfectly equivalent, such a conclusion might reasonably be deduced : but, when all the material circumstances are nearly the reverse, as is certainly the case of Hebrew, compared with Latin ; when the greater part of the words of one, are far from corresponding accurately, either in meaning or in extent, to those of the other; when the construction is dissimilar, and the idioms, resulting from the like combinations of corresponding words, by no means equivalent, there is the greatest probability that an interpreter, of this stamp, will often exhibit to his readers what has no meaning at all, and sometimes a meaning very different from, or perhaps opposite to, that of his author.

§ 3. I SHALL, from the aforesaid translation, briefly illustrate what I have advanced ; and that, first, in words, next, in phrases or idioms. I had

occasion, in a former Dissertation', to take notice of a pretty numerous class of words which, in no two languages whatever, are found perfectly to correspond, though in those tongues wherein there is a greater affinity, they come nearer to suit each other, than in those tongues wherein the affinity is less. In regard to such, I observed, that the translator's only possible method of rendering them justly, is by attend. ing to the scope of the author, as discovered by the context, and choosing such a term in the language which he writes, as suits best the original term, the particular situation in which he finds it.


$ 4. But, this is far from being the method of the literal translator. The defenders of this manner, would, if possible, have nothing subjected to the judgment of the interpreter, but have every thing determined by general and mechanical rules. Hence, they insist, above all things, on preserving uniformity, and rendering the same word in the original, wherever it occurs, or, however it is connected, by the same word in the version. And, as much the greater part of the words, not of one tongue only, but of every tongue, are equivocal, and have more significations than one, they have adopted these two rules for determining their choice, among the different meanings of which the term is susceptible. The first is, to adopt the meaning, wherever it is discoverable, to which etymology points, though in

[blocks in formation]
« AnteriorContinuar »