Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Even more on translation.

Jeffrey linked to this, but since Fr. Zuhlsdorf's blog is having some issues right now, and given that it is always good to have such things documented in more than one place, I wanted to place directly here some of Fr. Zuhlsdorf's (as usual) excellent insights.

Some might wonder why this really matters or if this isn't simply looking for problems in a document which one hoped would be more direct. To the latter it must be stated as Fr. Zuhlsdorf has stated, this is not a new problem. It even happened with the Catechism in English which required a 2nd revised edition to make corrections to the translation that could have distorted the message. It is a growing concern that fortunately more people are becoming aware of.

Further, why this does matter is in terms of understanding and implementation on a broader level. If something is unclear, it can affect how some people, including priests and bishops, receive the document and its implications, or whether they feel able to move ahead with concrete action (such as re-introducing Latin, etc.). I am not speaking here of those necessarily who will look for loopholes (such always manage to find something), I am speaking of priests who desire clear precedents for action in their parish, or for laity in understanding a more genuine interpretation of post-conciliar liturgy.

As such, this issue is not only important to analyze with regard to Sacramentum Caritatis, but other documents in translation from the Holy See as well -- and most especially the forthcoming motu proprio. We are ultimately speaking here of hearing, with a clear voice, the voice of the Magisterium and the supreme legislator in the Church.

In this post by Fr. Zuhlsdorf he breaks down but one example (and more seem to be arising) of this issue as effects Sacramentum Caritatis. It is an issue the merits further exploration and discernment.

Here are excepts from Father's text on the matter

For a long time I have warned people about bad English translations of papal documents.

There are methodological problems in that the documents are no longer composed in Latin.

The Latin text, which is the official text, is itself a translation.

However, since no on refers to the Latin text… few people know this. Thus, they are always working with compromised versions of documents.

Moreover, the texts they are working with were those released at the time of the presentation of the document, even though the LATIN is itself revised before publication in is final official form in the Acta Apostolicae Sedis. But no one goes back to revise the vernacular versions in keeping with the changes in the Latin Lots of people are misquoting documents because the vernacular docs themselves were never updated.

That said, let us take a look at the Exhortation’s paragraph on Latin in the liturgy and see if there is a disconnect. I tip my biretta to "stefano" who was alert and caught this before I did.

Latin: exceptis lectionibus, homilia et oratione fidelium, aequum est ut huiusmodi celebrationes fiant lingua Latina.

In Latin, the phrase aequum est means "it is reasonable, proper, right". It can be rendered as "it is becoming", to use a somewhat archaic turn of phrase.


Let’s see the English.

English: with the exception of the readings, the homily and the prayer of the faithful, such liturgies could be celebrated in Latin.

WOAH…. wait a minute… "could be" celebrated? That changes the entire impact of what the Pope said. All the of the other languages [which the document was translated into - NLM] reflect one concept and the English alone says another thing entirely. The English implies that the value of Latin is, at best, a neutral thing. The Latin and all the other languages imply that Latin is positive.

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