In studying literary works, written in other languages, (and there’s no book this is more true of than the Bible) there is always the question of translation and interpretation.
I’m very conscious and careful with researching words (even simple words) to ascertain the real meaning and ‘feel’ of what is being said or conveyed by the writer. Translators and commentators choose the interpretation they personally feel is “best”. But, translators are human – have biases – preconceived ideas – and cultural backgrounds that influence their selection.
To study honestly and faithfully requires looking at multiple commentaries and interpretations, and then, most times I go back to the original texts and work through the various possible definitions, to select the one I “feel” is best. Of course, what I “feel” is best may not work for someone else.
Words written in one language don’t always have an equivalent word in another language. Worse – even when they do – there could be multiple words or meanings attributed to that word. The key of the translator is to select the proper meaning.
Think I’m wrong?
Or making too much of it?
Okay – let’s take a look at words – all in English alone – without any translation involved.
Here’s just a few examples. As you read them think as if you were a translator:
1) The bandage was wound around the wound.
2) The farm was used to produce produce.
3) The dump was so full that it had to refuse more refuse.
4) We must polish the Polish furniture.
5) He could lead if he would get the lead out.
6) The soldier decided to desert his dessert in the desert.
7) Since there is no time like the present, he thought it was time to present the present.
8) A bass was painted on the head of the bass drum.
9) When shot at, the dove dove into the bushes.
10) I did not object to the object.
11) The insurance was invalid for the invalid.
12) There was a row among the oarsmen about how to row.
13) They were too close to the door to close it.
14) The buck does funny things when the does are present.
15) A seamstress and a sewer fell down into a sewer line.
16) To help with planting, the farmer taught his sow to sow.
17) The wind was too strong to wind the sail.
18) Upon seeing the tear in the painting I shed a tear..
19) I had to subject the subject to a series of tests.
20) How can I intimate this to my most intimate friend?
Isn’t this fun?
Those are some simple examples. Think of a language that has only a few words and uses no vowels (Hebrew) to describe everything. How does the translator decide what is being said?
To give you an idea, let’s look at a language that has a lot of words (English). Surely, with so many words, it must be clear what is being said when one is used – right? After all, it has so many words to choose from – right?
LEt’s take a look at one simple little word – oh let’s take the word “up”. This should be easy-right? After all – everyone knows what “up” means…
…or do they?
Let’s take a gander:
It’s easy to understand UP, meaning toward the sky or at the top of the list, but when we awaken in the morning, why do we wake UP ?
At a meeting, why does a topic come UP?
Why do we speak UP and why are the officers UP for election and why is it UP to the secretary to write UP a report?
We call our friends UP.
We brighten UP a room, polish UP the silver; warm UP the leftovers and clean UP the kitchen.
We lock UP the house and fix UP the old car.
Those are the general usages. At other times this little word has real special meaning..
People stir UP trouble, line UP for tickets, work UP an appetite, and think UP excuses.
To be dressed is one thing, but to be dressed UP is special..
A drain must be opened UP because it is stopped UP.
We open UP a store in the morning but then we close it UP at night.
We seem to be pretty mixed UP about UP!
Well, to be knowledgeable about the proper uses of UP, look UP the word in the dictionary. In a desk-sized dictionary, it takes UP almost 1/4th of the page and can have UP to about thirty definitions.
If you are UP to it, you might try building UP a list of the many ways UP is used. It will take UP a lot of your time, but if you don’t give UP, you may wind UP with a hundred or more.
When it threatens to rain, we say it is clouding UP – but when the sun comes out we say it is clearing UP.
When it rains, it wets the earth and often messes things UP– but when it doesn’t rain for awhile, things dry UP.
One could go on and on, but I’ll wrap it UP, because my time is UPso……..it is time to shut UP!
Now it’s UP to you what you do with this information when you read something.
Until Next Time:
Embrace Life’s Bridges – For they Define Who You Are