Friday, March 7, 2008

Possessions and Positions of the Translator

In this post, I want to do three things: 1. to recognize a few outstanding people who are translators. 2. to rank order the best English translations of a short Greek passage. 3. to offer a bit of Bible translation by a feminist method.


It’s one thing to evaluate translations; it’s quite another thing actually to translate. And there’s more: it takes great courage and skill to do both. Great coaches are not the world-class athletes; and the competitors are not always doing what they intend to do, even at their peak, as the coaches’ video tapes later prove. Nonetheless, there are rare individuals who, as C. S. Lewis puts it, “play both sides of the net.” That is, people who translate not only do something but they also can reflect on what they’ve done and what they must do. I’m thinking now of exceptional persons, some of whom are well known and others less so. I’m thinking of Willis Barnstone who translates into English from Greek, from Chinese, from Hebrew, from Spanish, from the classics, from the Bible, from poetry, from novels, both as a talented individual and as a skilled collaborator; and of the same Barnstone who writes translation theory, history, and practice, and related histories of cultures and language, and related literary criticism. I’m thinking of Anne Carson who translates and speaks of theory of translation, and who writes poetry and essays on the classics and on comparative literature. I’m thinking of Karen H. Jobes who has translated books of the Bible both individually and in collaboration; and who is theorizing textual translation by analogies with oral translation. I’m thinking of Kenneth L. Pike, the maker of a theory of language that has had wide application in more than twenty different disciplines, that insists on “person above logic,” that is demonstrable monolingually, that is constantly aware of whether the person is an outsider going in or is already some sort of an insider; Pike’s a poet, a polyglot, and a practitioner of his translation theory. I’m thinking of Carolyn Custis James, Suzanne McCarthy, John F. Hobbins, Tyson Hausdoerffer, Bob MacDonald, and April DeConick, who not only blog and dialog with other theorists about translation but who also actually do translating, sometimes translation that is a bit different, that makes a good bit of difference. Pakaluk actually invites others in through his challenges.

Today, I want especially to recognize Wayne Leman, Peter Kirk, and one blogger named Nathan. They’ve responded to a translation challenge of mine of a previous post:

What’s the best English translation of the following Greek phrase? What’s your method of translation? How and why is your translation one of the best?

Ἰάκωβος θεο κα κυρίου ησο Χριστο δολος

Wayne, at his Better Bibles Blog, has been outlining a method of translation he’s calling “translation equivalence” (aka a new phrase for “dynamic equivalence” or DE). Lately, he’s focused readers on “possession” or “possessives” marked in English, Hebrew, and Greek. (Wayne’s post actually inspired my challenge.) When he stepped up to my challenge, Wayne has admitted that neither “formal equivalence or dynamic equivalence are particularly relevant concepts here.” (We’ll come back in a moment to why there’s particular distancing from DE and why there’s no mention of Kenneth Pike’s methods.) He then gives us two brilliant translations:

“‘James, God and Jesus Christ's servant.’ Or for those who prefer to include the possessive suffix on both possessors, ‘James, God's and Jesus Christ's servant.’”

Peter likewise offers us the following wonderful translation, and an explanation:

James, a slave of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Peter does not label explicitly his methods for the translation. (He does begin parenthetically by noting that “Wayne omitted ‘the Lord’ presumably by mistake,” which would make Wayne’s translation “James, God's and the Lord Jesus Christ's servant”). In contrast to Wayne, then, Peter gives three reasons to explain why he does not “use the English possessive here” (i.e., possessive marked by apostrophe). First, such a possessive punctuation in English “makes this sentence unwieldy.” Second, “and more importantly, the rendering with the possessive suggests a definiteness not in the original or in the context, as if James is the only servant/slave or some special servant/slave of God and Jesus rather than one of a large number. Thus ‘Millie is Mr Smith's servant’ suggests that she is the only one, in a way ‘Millie is a servant of Mr Smith’ does not.”

Finally Peter appeals to, but almost only hints at, another reason, the reason I think is his most important of all: this may be partly a matter of my English dialect.” Such an appeal forms a more implicit contrast to Wayne’s explicit statements on method. Peter is, rightly I say, personally constrained by how his own English sounds to him. Peter is as astutely attuned to how “James”’s own Greek may sound to the original writer. As understated and apologetic as Peter’s appeal to his own lect is, the constraint of his own subjective position frees him (1) to embrace the longer prepositional phrases instead of punctuated apostrophes for possession, and (2) to leave indefinite the personal possessiveness. The most important aspect of this subtle appeal to personal lect is that it leaves both to the original author and to the translator’s readers a kind of invitation to subjectivity. That is, Peter’s using his own English admittedly allows “James” to use his own Greek, and this allows readers to supply “more importantly” the indefiniteness which the context suggests. But Peter’s method is not far in approach from Wayne’s. Both are pragmatic.

Wayne is all for “simply matching the meaning of the Greek form to an English form that has the same meaning”; in contrast to Peter, Wayne assumes and works from a much more general, abstract, and universal “Greek” albeit a Greek full of “the meaning.” Wayne’s method also assumes a universally normal, native “English”: “How do native English speakers normally express the meaning of the Greek?” He muses whether his method, therefore, is to be classified a “literary translation,” and he wants to “assume so, since it is how native English speakers would say and write that English.” What general English “possessive syntax [is there] for that same possessive relationship” in Greek? He explains that such questions “would be an example of simultaneous translation and translation equivalence, at a minimum. I forget what bilingual quotation is, so it might be that also.” The thing is, he’s already said very clearly that he is not employing either “formal equivalence or dynamic equivalence,” which are two debated methods among Bible translators. Such translators have been distancing themselves from Eugene Nida’s DE, and have abandoned Pike’s monolingual demonstration and tagmemics. The pragmatics of the day is “relevance theory” as developed by Dan Sperber and Deirdre Wilson and applied to Bible translation by Ernst-August Gutt. Karen H. Jobes's invocation of simultaneous interpretation and bilingual quotation is much in contrast to relevance theory. Nonetheless, it’s the distancing from Nida and the absence of Pike that are most interesting. Pragmatics seems to allow Bible translators not to have to be accountable to formal equivalence or to literary issues or to theological constraints. (For all you non-linguistic rhetoricians, “relevance theory” and pragmatics are analogous to Aristotle’s “enthymeme” as a “rhetorical syllogism.” Sperber and Wilson are interested in “how what is only implied in a statement contributes to determining the meaning of what is explicitly said.”) But I’m digressing.

Before we move on to our third translator, let me just say this. The world class athletes may review the video tapes after they get the gold medals; they don’t always use the exact methods they’ve intended but look at what they’ve done! Bravo Wayne and Peter!

Nathan takes two days and works through four translations. They are these:

James, slave to god and master Jesus the anointed one;”

Yakob, slave to god and master Yehoshua the anointed one;”

From: Ya'akov, a slave of God and of the Lord Yeshua the Messiah;” [from the Complete Jewish Bible (Stern), to compare with Nathan’s previous two]

Jacob, slave to god and master Joshua the Anointed;”

By way of method, Nathan wants to “offer something out of the norm.” And he likes to “label it ‘contextual translation’ or something along those lines.” Now his truly is a “literary translation”; Nathan is after both the “Jewish context” of names and also the Greek “word-play of master/slave; and perhaps theos [a]s not implying Father and Son but rather that Jesus is master/god.” The final translation Nathan provides is to avoid “a transliteration from either language” and to offer “purely English terminology” only. I have to say I really like Nathan’s English (non-transliteration) translation of Jacob’s Hebraic Greek; and I’ll say a bit more on that when I offer my own translation at the end of this post.


In addition to Wayne’s, Peter’s, and Nathan’s translations, I list below here some 48 other translations all published at one point or another. (Does anyone have a copy of Julia Evelina Smith Parker’s translation, the first complete translation of the Bible by a woman ever--in 1855, in the United States?) The other translations below are listed in rank order of my preference.

My first and most important criterion for a translation is that it makes and keeps as many personal connections as possible. The connections may be between the writer and the reader, between the translator and the new readers; between the denotations and connotations that make for word play (i.e., playfulness and wiggle room). The best translations are presented with both languages side by side for a trans-translation, or an “interlation” in the “stereotext” as Mikhail Epstein coins it. But I also think any “shock” (as Richard A. Rhodes and I both are very much for) must not just be the shock of the text (either original or translated) but must also be the shock beyond the text (as something the text or its author or translator cannot easily predict or precisely intend); now I’m talking about the subjective effect that a parable-heard has; or that an inside joke involuntarily laughed-at has; or that a hyperbolic statement makes; or that a miracle in nature effects. In section 3. here, I’ll say just a bit more about methods.

Without further ado then, here’s the list:

translation translator my ranking

From: Ya'akov, a slave of God and of the Lord Yeshua the Messiah NJPS 1
From Jacob, a slave of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ: Hackett 2
Ya`akov, a servant of God and of the Lord Yeshua the Messiah, HNV 3

JAMES, SLAVE OF GOD AND OF THE LORD Jesus Christ Lattimore 4
From James, a slave of God and the Lord Jesus Christ, NET Bible 5
From: James, a slave servant of God and of the Lord Jesus the Anointed One. TSNT 6
This letter is from James, a slave of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ. NLT 7
I, James, am a slave of God and the Master Jesus, TM 8
James, a slave of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ: HCSB 9
JAMES, a slave of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, Moffatt 9

From James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus, the Messiah, ISV 10

From James, servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ. NJB 11
From James, a servant of God and of our Lord Jesus Christ. CEV 12
From James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ: GNT 12
From James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ. GW 12
From James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ. NCV 12
FROM James, a servant of God and the Lord Jesus Christ. REB 13

James, a bond-servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, NAB 15
James, a bond-servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, NASB 15
James, a bondservant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, NKJV 15
James, a bondservant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ: Weymouth 15

James, servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ JB Philip's 16
James, of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ a servant, Young 17

James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, 21st Cent 18
James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, ASB 18
JAMES, A servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, Amplified 18
James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, BEB 18
Iames a seruaunt of God, and of the lorde Iesus Christ, Bishop's 18
Iames the seruaunt of God and of the LORDE Iesus Christ Coverdale 18
James the servant of God, and of our Lord Jesus Christ, D-R 18
James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, ERV 18
James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, ESV 18
Iames a seruant of God, and of the Lord Iesus Christ, Geneva 18
Iames a seruant of God, and of the Lord Iesus Christ, KJV 18
James a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, Mace's 18
James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, NIV 18
James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, NRSV 18
James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, RSV 18
James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, Third Mill 18
James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, TNIV 18
Iames the seruaut of God and of the Lorde Iesus Christ Tyndale 18
James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, WEB 18
James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, Webster's 18

This letter is from James. I am a servant owned by God and the Lord Jesus Christ. New Life 19
James, bondman of God and of [the] Lord Jesus Christ, Darby 20
James, the servant of God, and of our Lord Jesus Christ, Wycliffe 21
I, James, am writing this letter. I serve God and the Lord Jesus Christ. NIrV 22
One of Jesus’ followers named James wrote the following letter BLB 23


Now just a bit more about the feminist method of translation. (Then a translation is offered.) I’m just going to refer readers to other places in this blog, to Nancy Mairs’ statements on women’s discourse. Or find Mairs’s books, or Karlyn Kohrs Campbell’s or Cheryl Glenn’s or Andrea Lunsford’s or Sonja K. Foss's or Patricia Bizzell’s. They’ve all written much very well on the personal, even sometime physical, nature of rhetoric that women employ. (And I think I’ll add, since half of us are men, that I’ve written here in this blog elsewhere a bit on how Jesus, C.S. Lewis, Kenneth Pike, Barack Obama, Mahatma Gandhi, and Martin Luther King Jr. have used such rhetoric in contrast to cold logic and objectivity). Personal position in and during and after translation cannot be avoided.

Now, when we’re talking about possession, we think also of the possession of one human by another. Slavery is one label for that. And when we talk about God, we think of a being who is over us earthlings, a person who created us even. Again, position, ours and the others’, is not unimportant.

And when we talk about James, we think of several in the New Testament who might have written the Greek words we’re translating into English. There’s great ambiguity here. Not only is this a human being who’s not claiming to be in the position of master; not only is he not God; but he’s also one of possibly many different men. In the gospels, if he’s not Jesus’s brother, then maybe he’s John’s brother, one of the two sons of Zebedee who’s wife brings them to Jesus to talk about being his right hand and his left hand men, to which Jesus replies something about being slaves. But whichever one in the New Testament he is (or is he Josephus’s scribe? Anyway!); anyway, whichever first century man he is, his namesake is also one of many Jacobs. And Josephus the historian does not distinguish between the Jewish patriarch and this letter writer, by name anyway: and so there’s this literary connection to twelve tribes (both from the heel wounded wrestler of God and from this letter writer). And just to be clear, A. T. Robertson, John Painter, and other contemporary scholars of the church writings agree that Ἰάκωβος and Ἰάκωβ (as a Greek transliteration without the later Greeky inflection) are variants of the same name. (Thanks to so Michael Kruse for bringing our attention to Jacob and the Prodigal: How Jesus Retold Israel's Story by Kenneth E. Bailey. I also like Gary Amirault's observations on Jacob for James).

So since we’re rambling a bit about Greek: the Jewish writer of this letter knows his Greek. Many theologians say he’s arguing with Paul over faith. But rhetoricians could just as easily contend he’s arguing with Aristotle over belief, a central concern of Greek rhetoric. Thus, blogger Nathan who claims his Greek and Hebrew aren’t very good does himself make very important, very personal connections, between the people who are Greek and Hebrew speakers and their God and his anointed one. Enough. Here’s an attempt at another translation, by a feminist method of humility, ambiguity, and personal positions of subjectivity and equal inclusivity:

Ἰάκωβος θεο κα κυρίου ησο Χριστο δολος

FROM: Jacob, slave, of God, and of Master Anointed Joshua



Anonymous said...

Great post, if I had known that such fame would have resulted, I would have offered a translation too!

Reading the translations, though, I think I would have borrowed a bit from all of them with a twist of lime. I don't know what I can say about translation theory. But I do think its important to translate the cultural and historical baggage of the text - what words in English best represent the Jewish cultural and historical situation of James? Something like this, perhaps?

Ἰάκωβος θεοῦ καὶ κυρίου Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ δοῦλος
Jacob, bond servant of God and the Lord Jesus the Messiah.

If we're going to take the Jewish background seriously then κυρίου is probably best rendered as Lord on the basis of the word's LXX background. More likely also, χριστου is a title instead of a name at this point in history. I'm also not sure about δουλος. Slave has its own connotations today in the US and servant isn't necessarily accurate either. But I'm unsure about "bond servant" too. The main reason I went with it is because I think that perhaps something of the historical distance between the 21st century reader and the 1st century James might be conveyed by it.

Finally, stylistically, some of the translations listed maintained the second "of" preceding "the Lord Jesus Christ." Considering how long this whole phrase is already, I don't think its necessary.

J. K. Gayle said...

You must live in Texas. Don't we love to twist lime in every mix?

It's an honor to hear your thoughts and to add your excellent translation to the list of exemplary ones! Yes, you get fame. And you've gotten me to rethink my attempt at the translation a bit.

Following your cautions about U.S. (and maybe European-colonial) notions of slavery, I'm tempted to revise. But, alas, the very English translators who give us James (as in the name of the King who commissions translation) are the ones who use Lord. When Greek writers use κύριός in close proximity with δοῦλος, both textually and relationally as with one over the other, then are "Lord" and "slave" the best terms? Can you use "lord(s)" for Ephesians 6:5,7,8, & 9?

Then, isn't Jacob (aka James) also making us aware of Greek contrasts between δοῦλος (with κύριός) and διάκονος (which he uses through the letter)? I'm thinking of the contrasts between these two words in Mark 10:43-44 and Mt 20:26-27. Whichever James (aka Jacob) is writing the letter, and whichever James (aka Jacob) is in Mark and then Matthew, he (or both of them) know that δοῦλος is the lower position. When the letter writer to assume that lowest position, he's following his advice to his readers to get really low. But this self identity as δοῦλος (especially here in contrast with κύριός) is the only instance of the word in the entire letter.

So I'll revise my translation to punctuate that with English chiasmus (an inverse of the Greek chiasmus:

Ἰάκωβος θεοῦ καὶ κυρίου Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ δοῦλος

FROM: Jacob, slave, of God and of Anointed Joshua, Master


One more note since we're talking about word play. Do you see all of Jacob's phonological play in the next several lines?

πᾶσαν χαρὰν ἡγήσασθε ἀδελφοί μου ὅταν



ποικίλοις 3 γινώσκοντες ὅτι τὸ δοκίμιον ὑμῶν τῆς

πίστεως κατεργάζεται ὑπομονήν

presume it all joy my brothers when

plummeting into a

plethora of

pitfalls, knowing the value of

persuasive beliefs energizing your staying with it.

He knows his Greek (if we'll know our English).

Thanks again for your comments!

Nathan Stitt said...

I'm curious why you insert "FROM:" into your preference. I consider the epistles and the rest of scripture as documents that were read orally. The format you choose seems appropriate for a letter, but I envision someone orating the whole affair... Imagine if you will, an ancient Greek speaker (I prefer a deep male voice, toga, holding aloft the parchment, eyebrow usage, the whole nine) deliberately pausing as he orates the following address:

a slave of God,
of master Joshua,
the anointed one;

To the twelve tribes,
of the dispersion.

Also, you don't seem to have a preference for the word order of anointed, master, and Joshua. I wonder what sort of reasoning there is behind the placement of these descriptive words in relation to his proper name? I certainly prefer a rendering that sounds good when spoken out loud. In this regard I think the traditional renderings (#18) meet that criteria, though I disagree with them.

On a side note, this exercise has been the last straw pushing me towards teaching myself more Greek, and perhaps start a blog about my experience.


J. K. Gayle said...

Yes, start a blog! Notice, I didn't start here with FROM:, but that would be visual rhetoric, wouldn't it be?

You use the word "envision" when you're writing about "someone orating." And you have us "Imagine" (another visual term) "an ancient Greek speaker . . . as he orates." I also notice how your description of this speaker includes "voice . . . pausing" but also mostly things to be seen such as "toga" and "parchment" and "eyebrow." Funny, the gospel writer had Jesus saying (in their Greek) things like "Look! Listen!" (in my English). Now you have Jacob's written Greek being read aloud. How must the individual readers (to the audiences) have interpreted differently? When my kids were younger, I'd read aloud the story books to them when they were in bed. The written language allows so much possible variation and emphases.

So now I say I like (again) your latest translation. You use the different lines to guide my eye, differently from how I see Jacob's Greek on the page. But clever still! Aren't I trying to make you my English readers imagine a MEMO? I wasn't really listening to Jacob was I?

I do hear his appositive Ἰάκωβος . . . δοῦλος as bookends, as semantic rhymes. Wrapped around the God and the Master named Joshua and anointed. The one--or two--who possess(es) him. He knows what he's doing with his Greek, or if he doesn't know it's accidental genius. Or are there any accidents when it comes to earthlings in the image of God?

My digital natives would "say" to me at this point: LOL. :)

J. K. Gayle said...

Just one more little thing (usually the biggest kinds of things there are):

why don't we more easily hear and see a woman's strong voice as she's reading, standing, wearing a long flowing robe, her hair touching her shoulders?

Anonymous said...

Actually, yes, I'm presently living in Texas, South Dallas/Duncanville to be exact. I'm studying at GIAL - Wycliffe's school. I confess though that I don't puts limes in everything because of that. I'm from the far North, Minnesota & Chicago depending on the year. But my mother grew up beside the Rio Grande in Edinburgh. She's a true Texas (well kind of, she has Canadian dual citizenship, which is somewhat less than the typical Texan).

Regarding James, I also must confess that I have never studied the Greek text of the letter. Its on the list, but I need to finish 1 & 2 Corinthians and a few others first. My wife and I are working through Paul's letters together.

With that said, yes, Jacob/James has some nice alliteration in those next lines - especially if you're looking at Historical Greek pronunciation too:

πᾶσαν χαρὰν. . .
ποικίλοις. . .

Nathan Stitt said...

"Notice, I didn't start here with FROM:"

I'm a bit confused with what you mean here. Both of your translations start with "FROM:" in your post and comments. Do you mean that you would include the words "TO:" and "FROM:" as headers, not intended to be read as part of scripture? I've only just woken up (and no coffee yet) so perhaps I'm overlooking something extremely obvious here, hah! Also your comments sparked another thought for me. Have you ever noticed that when someone is quoting from scripture (particularly sermons) that there is a tendency to mix up word orders, substitute words, and even paraphrase while reading directly from the Bible? I wonder if maybe we should be translating extremely literally, and allow for the paraphrasing on the fly? Let me see if I can illustrate this. Starting with a base translation in literal English, followed by an extrapolation:

Jacob, of God and master Joshua the Anointed, a slave;
To the twelve tribes of the dispersion. Greetings!

From that literal English text would come this theoretical oral reading to a modern audience:

...and from the letter of James, or by his Hebrew name, Jacob, the following:
"From Jacob, who is a slave of God, his Master, Joshua the Anointed One."
Commonly called Jesus Christ, from the Greek, or Yeshua the Messiah, from the Hebrew. Continuing...
"Greetings to the twelve tribes of Israel who are now dispersed."

Perhaps I'm overstating my point. I personally dislike paraphrases, or strongly idiomatic translations. However I generally re-phrase scripture, either while I'm reading it or directly after I've finished quoting it. This whole process we've been doing the last few days has been very thought provoking and not sure where I would go from here, hmm.

When you mention a strong woman's voice orating I can sympathize with your sentiments. My natural inclination is to hear the narrator's voice as in a movie, usually male. The toga, etc. just fit into my preconceptions of ancient Rome and Greece. However, last night I watched the play Fiddler on the Roof at my university and there were plenty of strong female orations. Also, I will forever remember the performance of Galadriel in the recent Lord of the Rings trilogy. Not that I imagine these scriptures being read by a dark queen, but that I can imagine a strong feminine performance if I override my initial inclination.

Mike brings up the alliteration of the Greek... Could either of you point me in the direction of a good source (audio CD?) that could help me learn the pronunciation of the words? I have a few charts that have guides for the transliterated English words, but something audio would be better. Maybe there's an online resource for this.

J. K. Gayle said...

I kid you not, my mother is named Margarita, and she too is a Texan. Your mom sounds as fascinating as mine. A Canadian-Texan? Wow! Well, Mike, welcome to the motherland!

Yes, the alliteration you show us is exactly the kind of thing Nathan (and James/Jacob) wants us to hear, I suspect. Keep sharing what you and your wife are learning--I know you have a great blog too!

J. K. Gayle said...

Not sure your coffee would have helped with my vagueness: When I said "here" I was talking about "right there in my comment."

The FROM and TO supplied in English are, to me, like punctuation marks. The Greek writers used various written signals so that the text could be read aloud or silently. I'll just assume my English prepositions, to mark the "epistolary salutation," wouldn't have to be read aloud by the public reader.

I suppose that starts a reply to your question about what you've noticed "when someone is quoting from scripture." No one stops to comment on when a letter is capitalized or when there's a comma or exclamation point. This is the very sort of thing (at an extreme low level here with textual mechanics) that illustrates the power of "Relevance Theory" that Bible translators are grabbing onto these day. It's Sperber and Wilson again: "what is only implied in a statement [even a written statement] contributes to determining the meaning of what is explicitly said." So, conversely, what marks in the text would signal meaning, helps draw out what may be implied in the text. It's the same reason we can read "it is" as "it's" and pretend that they're equal statements. My beef with relevance theory (and more with DE) and other such "pragmatics" methods of translation is this: they don't give enough credit to us human beings doing the interpreting. We are the ones deciding (and not logic, and not the text) that "it is" is the same as "it's."

Nathan, Thanks for letting us hear with you now the different and strong female orators in Fiddler on the Roof! And did you hear the dark Gueen Gorgo, of the strong Spartans, in 300 (the film or the graphic novel)?

On learning Greek pronunciation, there's no substitution for living in Athens. Until you get there, someone recorded Queen Gorgo (I wish!), and you can hear "105 real audio files (around 15 minutes each)" at The people at Kypros also provide a fine English - Greek - ancient Greek dictionary there too. But their Greek pronunciations today are different from Jacob's way back when. (Mike or others may have better suggestions for you to learn New Testament Greek. And if you like, I could suggest more on classical Greek.)

Thanks for your good questions! And I'll be thinking about your "oral reading to a modern audience" for a long time!

J. K. Gayle said...

Hey Mike,
can you email me: jkgayle at gmail dot com?

Anonymous said...

Only a quick minute. I started a blog on WordPress and will comment on the links later when I have some time.

Nathan Stitt said...

Well that was me, apparently I need to configure something somewhere...

Wayne Leman said...

Wayne’s method also assumes a universally normal, native “English”

Actually, I regularly point out that natural English is found in standard dialects (plural) of English. Sorry I missed saying it this time. I don't believe that there is a universal natural native English. Native English is native to individuals within dialect groups.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the link. I think I'm going to blog about the resources I'm planning on using, and try to get some feedback on them.

J. K. Gayle said...

Welcome to the blogosphere!

You say, "I don't believe that there is a universal natural native English." And I say, Thanks for clarifying! I really don't want to misquote, or worse, to misunderstand what you believe or say.

Wayne, you do write in your blog post today these statements that assume a general, universal English:

"the syntax and lexicon of English"

"I think that translators should know English well enough"

"When should we write [in English one thing] instead of [another]?"

"Is the word 'in' in English . . . "

"natural English"

"ungrammatical in English"

"regular English speakers like yourself, lay people, have the same understanding of English grammar that I do. I don't make up things about English. I am a descriptive linguist, which means that I observe how people use English."

"the rules that regular fluent speakers of English like yourself use."

Wayne, I hear you saying you believe in diversity of Englishes, in dialects and in ideolects if you will, but aren't you assuming a universal English and a universal Biblical Greek for your translation project and method?

Peter Kirk said...

Thanks for the recognition. I'm not sure I accept the description "subjective" of my appeal to British English. After all, the preference of 60 million or so people is hardly my personal one! And if the intuitions of an entire language group are "subjective", then everything in linguistics is subjective.

J. K. Gayle said...

You really deserve the recognition. But I didn't mean to slight the empire in the slightest degree.

Hats off to you Brits, especially those of you who are linguists, and especially those of you who are linguists who've invented "corpus linguistics"! What a way, quite literally, to discover the Queen's English (as in Her Majesty's idiolect). Really, Corpus Linguistics is revolutionizing how some of us teach English to adult learners of the language. I'm amazed, for example, at Longman's and Pearson's use of the British National Corpus and of the Academic Word List (developed by Averil Coxhead et all Down Under) and of various American English corpora.

Corpus linguistics is truly descriptive linguistics as Wayne describes it over at BBB. So, since we've mentioned him again, I think it's interesting how you two took slightly different directions in translating James's opening salutation here. I appreciate your making some of the contrasts, and for tolerating my widening the gap a bit between you.

Then again, I don't expect you to have to accept my description "subjective." If we disagree, it's subjective isn't it? Or you'll find me pushing the point, where ever everything or anything in linguistics must be "objective" for anybody.

J. K. Gayle said...

Since my writing this post, Willis Barnstone has published his Restored New Testament, which includes a translation of the above noted Greek. His translation is nearly identical to the NJPS translation above.

Here's an interview in which he discusses his renderings for the NT: