Sunday, November 26, 2023

Examination of Conscience

Ronald Knox (1888-1957), The Trials of a Translator (New York: Sheed & Ward, 1949), p. 25:
Your examination of conscience, when you are doing any translating work, is obviously grouped under three heads: Is it accurate? Is it intelligible? Is it readable?
Id., p. 36:
Any translation is a good one in proportion as you can forget, while reading it, that it is a translation at all.
Id., p. 45:
Legentibus, si semper exactus sit sermo, non erit gratus. I wonder where St. Jerome found that thought-provoking sentiment to end Machabees with? It is not in the Greek.
Knox's translation of the sentence from Machabees:
So it is with reading; if the book be too nicely polished at every point, it grows wearisome.
From Joel Eidsath:
Knox seems to be mistaken here, perhaps confused by the fact that the Latin verse numbering for Maccabees chapter 15 is slightly different from the Greek, with 2Mac 15:40 being 15:39 in the LXX.

Jerome, with his "legentibus si semper exactus sit sermo, non erit gratus", has given the logically equivalent contrapositive of "τὸ τῆς κατασκευῆς τοῦ λόγου τέρπει τὰς ἀκοὰς τῶν ἐντυγχανόντων τῇ συντάξει". It's really a nice bit of translation, and makes for a stylistic improvement on the original.

2 Macc 15:39 LXX:
καθάπερ γὰρ οἶνον κατὰ μόνας πίνειν, ὡσαύτως δὲ καὶ ὕδωρ πάλιν πολέμιον· ὃν δὲ τρόπον οἶνος ὕδατι συγκερασθεὶς ἡδὺς καὶ ἐπιτερπῆ τὴν χάριν ἀποτελεῖ, οὕτως καὶ τὸ τῆς κατασκευῆς τοῦ λόγου τέρπει τὰς ἀκοὰς τῶν ἐντυγχανόντων τῇ συντάξει. ἐνταῦθα δὲ ἔσται ἡ τελευτή.
My translation:
For just like it's harmful to drink wine neat, so again it is with water. But the way it is, is that wine mixed with water is sweet and makes for a nice buzz. So too, the art of prepared speech pleases the senses of the listeners through combination. And here shall be the end.
A sentiment worthy of Scheherazade.