Wednesday, April 19, 2006


Liturgiam Authenticam rightly stresses exactness in rendering liturgical and biblical texts into the vernacular in order to assure doctrinal fidelity. But even St. Jerome, the great doctor of the Sacred Scriptures, who spent twenty years translating the Bible, was not a literalist. He himself said: “If I translate word by word, it sounds absurd.” Father Chupungco has observed: “Fidelity to the original refers to the content or meaning of the text, not to its form or component words and phrases. That is why a word for word translation is not a guarantee of fidelity to the original text.” And yet Liturgiam Authenticam in norm 43 specifies: “It should be born in mind that a literal translation of terms which may initially sound ODD in the vernacular language may for this very reason provoke inquisitiveness in the hearer and provide an occasion for catechesis.” I see this statement clashing with the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy which states: “The rites should be distinguished by a noble simplicity…They should be written within the people’s powers of comprehension and normally should not require much explanation.” There is even a fundamental inconsistency between norm 43 of Liturgiam Authenticam and its own general principle which says that the content of the original text should “be evident and comprehensible even to the faithful who lack any specialized intellectual formation”.

Seems some lines are being drawn in the sand here. The short form goes something like "we don't need Italians to tell us how to speak English, thank you very much." I find Trautman - he's the bishop in charge of the new translations for the USCCB - and his arguments pretty compelling. And you?

Oh, and for more fun, and sort of on topic:

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