Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

mean or unbecoming, to call low or common things by their common names.

But there are other sorts of vulgarisms in language, with which they are never chargeable, the use of such terms as we call cant words, which belong peculiarly to particular professions, or classes of men, and contemptuous or ludi. crous expressions, such as are always accompanied with ideas of low mirth and ridicule.

§ 4. Of both the extremes in language above mentioned, I shall give examples from an anonymous English translator in 1729, whose version, upon the whole, is the most exceptionable of all I am acquainted with, in any language; and yet it is but doing justice to the author to add that, in rendering some passages, he has been more fortunate than much better translators. For brevity's sake, I shall here only mention the words I think censurable, referring to the margin for the places. Of learned words the following are a specimen : verbose, loquaciousness °, advent', chasmo, grumes', steril ", phenomena", consolated, investigate .", innate", saliva 15; concerning which, and some others of the same kind, his critical examiner, Mr. Twell, says justly, that they are unintelligible to the ignorant, and offensive to the knowing. His fine

5 Matth. vi. 7.

6 Ibid. Luke, xvi. 26. 9 xxii. 44.

12 Acts, xv. 32. 24 Eph. iv. 18.

7 xxiv, 27. 10 i. 17.

11 xii. 56, 13 xvii, 22,

15 John, ix, 6,

words and fashionable phrases, which, on account of their affinity, I shall throw together, the following may serve to exemplify: detachment 16, footguards", brigue", chicanery". Zacharias, we are told 2, vented his divine enthusiasm ; that is, when translated into common speech, prophesied. A later translator, or rather paraphrast, is not much happier in his expression, he was seized with a divine afflatus, here spoken of as a disease. Zaccheus, for chief of the publicans, is made collector-general of the customs ?. Simon Magus, in his hands, becomes the plenipotentiary of God 22. Jesus Christ is titled guarantee of the alliance 23, and the Lord of hosts, the Lord of the celestial militia 24. And, to avoid the fatness of plain prose, he sometimes gives a poe. tical turn to the expression. Before the cock crow, becomes in his hands, Before the cock proclaims the day

The foppery of these last espressions is, if possible, more insufferable than the pedantry of the first. They are, besides, so far from conveying the sense of the author, that they all, less or more, misrepresent it. As to low and ludicrous terms, there is sometimes a greater coincidence in these with quaint and modish words, than one at first would imagine. It would not be easy to assign a motive for rendering OLXODEOTOTns yeoman”, but it is still worse to trans

[ocr errors]

18

20

16 Matth. ii. 16. 17 xxvii, 27.

1 Thess, v. 13. 19 1 Tim. vi. 4.

Luke, i. 67.

21 xix. 2. 22 Acts, viii. 10. 25 Heb. vii. 22.

24 James, v. 4. 25 Luke, xxii. 34.

26 Matth. xiii. 27.

[ocr errors]

in every

late οσοι την θαλασσαν εργαζονται supercargoes 27, aprašiv raparees 29, which he explains in the margin to mean kidnappers, and μεθυοντων sots 29. I am surprised he has not found a place for sharpers, gamblers, and swindlers, fit company, sense, for his sots and raparees. Tawodoxouov is distended into a bank 30, and xenting dwindles into a pilferer 31 : την χαραν το κυριε σε is degraded into thy master's diversions "), and aivos is swoln into a consort of praise 33. The laudable and successful importunity of the two blind men who, notwithstanding the checks they received from the multitude, persisted in their application to Jesus for relief, is contemptuously denoted bawling out 34.

When we are told that our Lord silenced, soyuWoe, the Sadducees, this author acquaints us that he dumbfounded them 35. In short, what by magnifying, what by diminishing, what by distorting and disfiguring, he has, in many places, burlesqued the original. For answering this bad purpose, the extremes of cant and bombast are equally well adapted. The excess, in the instances : now given, is so manifest, as entirely to supersede both argument and illustration.

5. But, in regard to the use of what may be called learned words, it must be owned, after all,

28

27 Rev. xviii. 17.
3n Joho, xii. 6.
33 xxi. 16.

1 Cor. v. 10. 31 Ibid.

xx. 31.

29 Matth. xxiv. 49.
32 Matth. xxv. 21.
35 xxii. 34.

34

that it is not easy, in every case, to fix the boundaries. We sometimes find classed under that denomination, all the words of Greek and Latin etymology, which are not current among the inferior orders of the people. Yet I acknowledge that, if we were rigidly to exclude all such terms, we should be too often obliged, either to adopt circumlocution, or to express the sentiment weakly and improperly. There are other disadvantages, to be remarked afterwards, which might result from the exclusion of every term that may be comprehended in the definition above given. The common translation, if we except the consecrated terms, as some call them, which are not many, is universally admitted to be written in a style that is not only natural, but easily understood by the people : yet, in the common translation, there are many words which can hardly be supposed ever to have been quite familiar among the lower ranks. There is, however, one * advantage possessed by that version, over every other book composed at that period, which is, that from the universality of its use, and (we may now add) its long continuance, it must have greatly contributed to give a currency to those words which are frequently employed in it. Now, it would be absurd, in an interpreter of this age, to expect a similar effect from any private version. A new translation, even though it were authorised by the public, would not have the same advantage at present, when our language is in a more advanced stage.

[ocr errors]

6. I should not be surprised, that a reader not accustomed narrowly to attend to these matters, were disposed, at first hearing, to question the fact, that there are many words' in the vulgar translation which were not in common use at the time among the lower orders. But I am persuaded that a little reflection must soon convince him of it. Abstracted from those terms which have been transferred from the original languages, because there were no corresponding names in our tongue, such as phylactery, tetrarch, synagogue, proselyte, centurion, quaternion, legion, there are many in the English Bible, which cannot be considered as having been, at that time, level to the meanest capacities. They are scarcely so yet, notwithstanding all the advantage which their occurring in that translation has given them.

Of such words I shall give a pretty large specimen in the margin 36 Nor can it be said

36 First, of nouns: scribe, disciple, parable, epistle, infidel, matrix, lunatic, exile, exorcist, suppliant, residue, genealogy, appetite, audience, pollution, perdition, partition, potentate, progenitor, liberality, occurrent, immutability, pre-eminence, remission, diversity, fragment, abjects, frontier, tradition, im. portunity, concupiscence, redemption, intercession, superscription, inquisition, insurrection, communion, instructer, mediator, exactor, intercessor, benefactor, malefactor, prognosticator, ambassador, ambassage, ambushment, meditation, ministration, administration, abomination, consummation, convocation, constellation, consolation, consultation, acceptation, communi. cation, disputation, cogitation, estimation, operation, divination, vocation, desolation, tribulation, regeneration, propitiation, jus

« AnteriorContinuar »