In this study the translation paradigms will strongly depend on two early sources: translation of the Bible, with its frequent goal of literalism and absolute fidelity, asserted but rarely practiced; and classical translation, with its free-minded Roman poets and rhetoricians who chose to re-create, to paraphrase Greek letters into their Latin tongue. The Roman method was to dominate the practice, if not the pretensions, of secular translation from the Middle Ages, when antiquity strongly re-entered the West, until the early twentieth century.
The two paragraphs above are from page 29 of Willis Barnstone’s The Poetics of Translation: History, Theory, Practice. Clearly, he’s outlining approaches to translation and is noting two early and rather persistent approaches: “Bible translation” and “Roman translation of Greek poetry and rhetoric.”
Barnstone translates both the Bible and Greek poetry and rhetoric. But I suspect Bible translators are more reluctant to include him in their society of Bible translators although, I think, Barnstone fairly understands their concerns.
I’d like to see Bible translators and Greek classicists and Greek rhetoricians today talk more together about our approaches. Can we muse about whether we’re rather dogmatic, for instance? Might we be brave enough to confess our translation-approach lineage? Could we find ourselves on Willis’s chart? Here’s the abbreviated version from page 25:
- Register, or translation level
b) middle ground
- Structure, or degree of source text in translation
a) retaining structure of source text in target text
b) naturalizing structure of source text in target text
c) abandonment of original structure and creation of new one
- Authorship, or dominant voice
a) retaining voice of source language author in target language
b) yielding voice of source language author to translator’s voice in target language(And Barnstone sidesteps what most translators of most approaches sidestep: the absence of women in our histories of translation. But that's another discussion.)