Thursday, August 04, 2016


Translations from Greek

Alfred North Whitehead (1861-1947), Dialogues of Alfred North Whitehead. As Recorded by Lucien Price (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1954), pp. 56-57:
As for the value of studying the language in the original, I think most of the good can be got out of translations. As a young man I read the New Testament in the original. The Greek, as Greek, was quite beneath contempt and the translation into early seventeenth-century English is far superior. Ninety per cent of good old Herodotus can be got in translation, and sixty or seventy per cent of Thucydides. Even the sainted Plato doesn't lose so much. I have to teach several of his best Dialogues to successive classes of students, and I often ask myself what value there is to the ideas in them that would justify a man for the labour of going to get up the language. It being forty years since I read Greek fluently I now take a Loeb translation with the English on a parallel page, but with the help of Liddell and Scott's lexicon I can generally tell where old Jowett is making a fool of himself, which is about every other sentence....

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