God Didn't Say That

Bible Translations and Mistranslations

What Goes Wrong when we Translate the Grammar

As with words, it makes intuitive sense that a translation should convey the grammar of the original.

“Translating the words and grammar separately doesn’t work. They have to be translated together.”

But, again, our intuition leads us astray.

Here’s an example of what can go wrong if we try to mimic the grammar of one language when we translate it into another.

English and French

With rare exception, adjectives in English come before the nouns they modify. So in English we have “the good man,” not “the man good.” For this reason, when the Greek mneuma (“spirit”) and agion (“holy”) are combined to form the Greek mneuma agion, the English translation is not “spirit holy” but rather “holy spirit.”
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April 27, 2011 Posted by | translation theory | , , , , , | 6 Comments