June 15, 2007

What A Literal Translation Does Make

I have long been bothered by claims that a literal translation is one whose word count will most closely approximate the word count of the original. It is the appeal of one word for one word, and even worse, always the same word for the one word whenever possible.

It has long seemed to me is that articulating a desire for a translation that changes as little of the text as possible betrays a flawed understanding of translation. What seems blatantly obvious to me is that the desire to change as little of the text as possible is a desire that comes not from good translation theory but from a theological assertion regarding not altering the exact words of holy scripture as we have received them.