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The Art of Writing Translations by Florian Von Banier

Eighth Chapter: On the Virtues and Vices Involved in Translation, and Furthermore, On the Subject of Translation as Demonstrated by Examples

*1 These are the seven virtues of an excellent translator: Intelligent, Liberal, Patient, Compassionate, Courageous, Strong, and Able to Love

*2 These are the seven vices of an evil translator: Stupid, Unforgiving, Fast, Vain, Spiteful, Weak, and Not Able to Love.

*3 In the following, before ending my treatiste, I provide you with some examples of good translations, commenting upon the translations themselves as well as certain interesting features (where this is possible) of both the native script and the destination script.

(Note by LM: Two examples follow, the first is Von Banier's translation of the first book from The Book of Job from the Latin into the German. I have translated Von Banier's explication into English, but I have left his translation of the scriptures in the German he has provided. The second example is a single sentece from De Ethica of Spinoza. Von Banier gives the text in its original Latin and offers a translation-cum-explanation of the term, facilitating also an exegesis of Spinoza's metaphysics.).

*4 First Example - The Book of Job, first chapter, from St. Jerome's Latin Vulgate translated.

Here is the original Latin of my patron, Saint Jerome:

Job 1:1
vir erat in terra Hus nomine Iob et erat vir ille simplex et rectus ac timens Deum et recedens a malo
Job 1:2
natique sunt ei septem filii et tres filiae
Job 1:3
et fuit possessio eius septem milia ovium et tria milia camelorum quingenta quoque iuga boum et quingentae asinae ac familia multa nimis eratque vir ille magnus inter omnes Orientales
Job 1:4
et ibant filii eius et faciebant convivium per domos unusquisque in die suo et mittentes vocabant tres sorores suas ut comederent et biberent cum eis
Job 1:5
cumque in orbem transissent dies convivii mittebat ad eos Iob et sanctificabat illos consurgensque diluculo offerebat holocausta per singulos dicebat enim ne forte peccaverint filii mei et benedixerint Deo in cordibus suis sic faciebat Iob cunctis diebus
Job 1:6
quadam autem die cum venissent filii Dei ut adsisterent coram Domino adfuit inter eos etiam Satan
Job 1:7
cui dixit Dominus unde venis qui respondens ait circuivi terram et perambulavi eam
Job 1:8
dixitque Dominus ad eum numquid considerasti servum meum Iob quod non sit ei similis in terra homo simplex et rectus et timens Deum ac recedens a malo
Job 1:9
cui respondens Satan ait numquid frustra timet Iob Deum
Job 1:10
nonne tu vallasti eum ac domum eius universamque substantiam per circuitum operibus manuum eius benedixisti et possessio illius crevit in terra
Job 1:11
sed extende paululum manum tuam et tange cuncta quae possidet nisi in facie tua benedixerit tibi
Job 1:12
dixit ergo Dominus ad Satan ecce universa quae habet in manu tua sunt tantum in eum ne extendas manum tuam egressusque est Satan a facie Domini
Job 1:13
cum autem quadam die filii et filiae eius comederent et biberent vinum in domo fratris sui primogeniti
Job 1:14
nuntius venit ad Iob qui diceret boves arabant et asinae pascebantur iuxta eos
Job 1:15
et inruerunt Sabei tuleruntque omnia et pueros percusserunt gladio et evasi ego solus ut nuntiarem tibi
Job 1:16
cumque adhuc ille loqueretur venit alter et dixit ignis Dei cecidit e caelo et tactas oves puerosque consumpsit et effugi ego solus ut nuntiarem tibi
Job 1:17
sed et illo adhuc loquente venit alius et dixit Chaldei fecerunt tres turmas et invaserunt camelos et tulerunt eos necnon et pueros percusserunt gladio et ego fugi solus ut nuntiarem tibi
Job 1:18
loquebatur ille et ecce alius intravit et dixit filiis tuis et filiabus vescentibus et bibentibus vinum in domo fratris sui primogeniti
Job 1:19
repente ventus vehemens inruit a regione deserti et concussit quattuor angulos domus quae corruens oppressit liberos tuos et mortui sunt et effugi ego solus ut nuntiarem tibi
Job 1:20
tunc surrexit Iob et scidit tunicam suam et tonso capite corruens in terram adoravit
Job 1:21
et dixit nudus egressus sum de utero matris meae et nudus revertar illuc Dominus dedit Dominus abstulit sit nomen Domini benedictum
Job 1:22
in omnibus his non peccavit Iob neque stultum quid contra Deum locutus est

Here is a translation into a destination language, in this case German:

Job 1:1
Es war ein Mann im Lande Uz, der hieß Hiob. Derselbe war schlecht und recht, gottesfürchtig und mied das Böse.
Job 1:2
Und zeugte sieben Söhne und drei Töchter;
Job 1:3
und seines Viehs waren siebentausend Schafe, dreitausend Kamele, fünfhundert Joch Rinder und fünfhundert Eselinnen, und er hatte viel Gesinde; und er war herrlicher denn alle, die gegen Morgen wohnten.
Job 1:4
Und seine Söhne gingen und machten ein Mahl, ein jeglicher in seinem Hause auf seinen Tag, und sandten hin und luden ihre drei Schwestern, mit ihnen zu essen und zu trinken.
Job 1:5
Und wenn die Tage des Mahls um waren, sandte Hiob hin und heiligte sie und machte sich des Morgens früh auf und opferte Brandopfer nach ihrer aller Zahl; denn Hiob gedachte: Meine Söhne möchten gesündigt und Gott abgesagt haben in ihrem Herzen. Also tat Hiob allezeit.
Job 1:6
Es begab sich aber auf einen Tag, da die Kinder Gottes kamen und vor den HERRN traten, kam der Satan auch unter ihnen.
Job 1:7
Der HERR aber sprach zu dem Satan: Wo kommst du her? Satan antwortete dem HERRN und sprach: Ich habe das Land umher durchzogen.
Job 1:8
Der HERR sprach zu Satan: Hast du nicht achtgehabt auf meinen Knecht Hiob? Denn es ist seinesgleichen nicht im Lande, schlecht und recht, gottesfürchtig und meidet das Böse.
Job 1:9
Der Satan antwortete dem HERRN und sprach: Meinst du, daß Hiob umsonst Gott fürchtet?
Job 1:10
Hast du doch ihn, sein Haus und alles, was er hat, ringsumher verwahrt. Du hast das Werk seiner Hände gesegnet, und sein Gut hat sich ausgebreitet im Lande.
Job 1:11
Aber recke deine Hand aus und taste an alles, was er hat: was gilt's, er wird dir ins Angesicht absagen?
Job 1:12
Der HERR sprach zum Satan: Siehe, alles, was er hat, sei in deiner Hand; nur an ihn selbst lege deine Hand nicht. Da ging der Satan aus von dem HERRN.
Job 1:13
Des Tages aber, da seine Söhne und Töchter aßen und Wein tranken in ihres Bruders Hause, des Erstgeborenen,
Job 1:14
kam ein Bote zu Hiob und sprach: Die Rinder pflügten, und die Eselinnen gingen neben ihnen auf der Weide,
Job 1:15
da fielen die aus Saba herein und nahmen sie und schlugen die Knechte mit der Schärfe des Schwerts; und ich bin allein entronnen, daß ich dir's ansagte.
Job 1:16
Da er noch redete, kam ein anderer und sprach: Das Feuer Gottes fiel vom Himmel und verbrannte Schafe und Knechte und verzehrte sie; und ich bin allein entronnen, daß ich dir's ansagte.
Job 1:17
Da der noch redete, kam einer und sprach: Die Chaldäer machte drei Rotten und überfielen die Kamele und nahmen sie und schlugen die Knechte mit der Schärfe des Schwerts; und ich bin allein entronnen, daß ich dir's ansagte.
Job 1:18
Da der noch redete, kam einer und sprach: Deine Söhne und Töchter aßen und tranken im Hause ihres Bruders, des Erstgeborenen,
Job 1:19
Und siehe, da kam ein großer Wind von der Wüste her und stieß auf die vier Ecken des Hauses und warf's auf die jungen Leute, daß sie starben; und ich bin allein entronnen, daß ich dir's ansagte.
Job 1:20
Da stand Hiob auf und zerriß seine Kleider und raufte sein Haupt und fiel auf die Erde und betete an
Job 1:21
und sprach: Ich bin nackt von meiner Mutter Leibe gekommen, nackt werde ich wieder dahinfahren. Der HERR hat's gegeben, der HERR hat's genommen; der Name des HERRN sei gelobt.
Job 1:22
In diesem allem sündigte Hiob nicht und tat nichts Törichtes wider Gott.

*5 Explication of the First Example: The First Book of Job

Now let us consider some of the problems of translation from the native Latin into the destination German in the case of the Book of Job, which is an excellent book. Let us consider verse 1:9 which reads "cui respondens Satan ait numquid frustra timet Iob Deum", or in German, "er Satan antwortete dem HERRN und sprach: Meinst du, daß Hiob umsonst Gott fürchtet?". In English the verse reads, "Then Satan answered Jehovah, and said, Does Job fear God for nothing?" In this verse the term "Satan" is used in the Vulgate, and the translation into German is also "Satan". In some versions the term is translated into "The Adversary". In the Septuagint we have this name: "diabolos", which has obvious similarities to the Spanish "diablo" and the English "devil", which is another name for Satan.

Translations of a proper name are a particular problem, particularly when we consider the name of GD, Her Holy Name, or the name of her adversary, who in the Old Testament is given the name of Satan, or Lucifer, of various other names, for He has many of them. So we must perform a functional translation. A translation of the name of Satan as "diabolos" would not have sufficed, and this St. Jerome recognized when he translated The Holy Septuagint. For what is a "diabolos" in Latin? It does not carry the fear or the fury of "Satan". It is not a name of Satan. Likewise, you cannot render the term "de" (from the Vulgate) as "de" in German or English or Japanese, for it is the name of GD, the holy name, and God's name is in all names (and also not there simultaneously), but if that is the name one wants to suggest, then it must be suggested.

If I had another name in France, would you not translate my name into the name I have been given in that country? Likewise, different countries give different names for other countries. Only the Dutch call it "Nederland". A translation into English of "Netherlands" is somewhat unfortunate, because the English term "netherlands" which can mean "lost land", or some such. The Dutch most closely approximates the English "Lowlands", which is a good description of that country. We have here an unfortunate translation because the functionality of the name was not taken as more important than an approximation to the sound. There is in that translation the privileging of the sounds of the words. However, that is not functional. For it is not sounds of words that inspire fear or hold on to our emotions, but it is the effect that the word's have on us,t he way they make us feel, their actual holidng onto our emotions. It is those emotions that the translator must make an effort to feel intimately, in their heart, in their soul's proud name.

The translation of the proper name exemplifies the third principle of translation that I enumerated above, namely The Principle of the Use of a Word, that a word is to be used only for the sake of its relationship to other words. In our example, the word "Satan" does not have the same relationship to the other words in the sentence that "diabolos" does, namely due to connotations and mythologies that invoke that word "Satan" and that that word "Satan" itself invokes.

There is also at work here the seventh principle of translation that I enumerated above, namely The Principle of Audience, that a translation must always be made in respect to an audience. If we were translating this work for skilled theologians and rabbis, we surely would not need to make the substitutions that, for example, King James felt was necessary in the translation of the Bible into the vernacular.

*6 Second Example - Ethica in ordino geometrica demonstrata of Benedictus de Spinoza, or Baruch Spinoza. First Book of De Ethica, paragraph a6, i.e. E-Ia6.

Here is Spinoza's original Latin, which was not written long ago, for which I will provide a translation-cum-explanation:

"Idea vera debet cum suo ideato convenire" (E Ia6).

*7 Explication of De Ethica Ia6 of Spinoza

A first very literal pass at this sentence might be: "Idea true must with its object correspond", i.e., "A true idea must correspond with its object". Of particular interest, here, is the Latin word "convenire", which is of interest not only to the translator, but also the metaphysician, or the geometer of the soul and reality.

Translation of the Latin "convenire" is our problem. This word could be translated as "agree" or "correspond", and it does indeed suggest the notion of agreeing, corresponding, or matching. The French word "convenir" (which is an obvious derivation) suggests agreeing, though not in the sense of corresponding or matching up but rather in the sense of fitting, suiting, or being agreeable with, perhaps in the way that a fragrance may agree with its source. The closest word in English to "convenire", from a graphic standpoint, i.e. according to the alphabetic and linguistic shapes, is "convene". Convening is a coming together of two (or more) things. The graphic resemblance between "convenire" and "convene" will be important for the present translation Ia6.

The Latin "Venire" is a conjugation of the Latin verb "venio". This verb is equivalent to the French "venir" and the English "to come". The prefix "con-" comes from the Latin word "cum" which designates an accompaniment or connection and can simply be translated as "with" or "together". Con-venire literally suggests a together-coming or a coming together of two or more things. In its less technical use, that is, in its by those that are not arithmeticians or pharmacists of the human condition, in fact, the word "convenire" is probably best translated as "to come together" or "to meet up with another".

Application to Spinoza's Geometry of Reality: Applied to Spinoza's metaphysics, we have the notion of the thinking circle convening with the extending circle; they come together. The two essential substances of the world, thought and thing, which Descartes had held as two, is deemed by Spinoza a false bifurcation. In fact, thought and thing, idea and ideato must convenire. Coming together, one might say, comes down to coming to be the same thing—think of two things that go someplace together, rather than two things that were once apart and now come together. This is the ‘coming together’ of Spinoza’s "convenire": the motion is a singular one in which two things come with one other. Spinoza is explicit about this point in saying that, "An extending mode and a thinking mode are one and the same thing, but expressed in two ways" (E IIp7s). When we have truth, a clear and distinct thinking of reality, our idea comes together with its object (they were never really apart) and their true being as the same substance expressed transattribute is expressed, that is, the idea and ideato are the same, but a differing expression, an expression of the same, but from the point of view of two different attributes.

Ninth Chapter: On Love by Florian Von Banier

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