Tuesday, March 13, 2007

What's new? Translation error found in Sacramentum Caritatis

The good news is that Fr. Zuhlsdorf is getting lots of traffic at his blog with everyone wanting his take. As you know, Father always sharpens his pencil on translating Latin and this was no exception. While the error was initially found by someone else, it fell under the Z-light.

The bad news is that Fr. Zuhlsdorf is getting lots of traffic at his blog - so much, the hosting service keeps shutting it down or it's crashing. It's about 3am there now, so he probably doesn't know the blog is down again. The link is there for later use - right now it may not work.






Bad translation in English version of Exhortation about Latin
by Fr. Z on March 13, 2007 (with his original emphases)

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 Lot’s 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.

German: es ist gut, wenn außer den Lesungen, der Predigt und den Fürbitten der Gläubigen die Feier in lateinischer Sprache gehalten wird.

Italian: eccettuate le letture, l’omelia e la preghiera dei fedeli, è bene che tali celebrazioni siano in lingua latina.

French: excepté les lectures, l’homélie et la prière des fidèles, il est bon que ces célébrations soient en langue latine

Spanish: exceptuadas las lecturas, la homilía y la oración de los fieles, sería bueno que dichas celebraciones fueran en latín

Portuguese: exceptuando as leituras, a homilia e a oração dos fiéis, é bom que tais celebrações sejam em língua latina

Polish: z wyjątkiem czytań, homilii oraz modlitwy wiernych, dobrze będzie, jeśli takie celebracje będą odprawiane w języku łacińskim (Literally: "It will be good, if such celebration will be officiated in Latin language").

Are you sensing a pattern in the rendering of aequum est, or rather how aequum est in Latin is more than likely the accurate reading of the original language of composition of the Exortation?

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 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.

I think we must conclude that whoever did the translation into English chose not to stick to the original text which they were given to work from.

3 comments:

japhy said...

What language did the Pope write it in? German? Why isn't the original (non-translated) version made available?

Diane said...

japhy,

I'm not sure what language it was originally written in, but according to Fr. Zuhlsdorf, it was not written in Latin. In this post in which he discusses a second translation error, he says:

Remember: The Exhortation was not written in Latin, but Latin is now and will be the official text when published in the Acta Apostolicae Sedis.

The post with the second translation - along with Father's colorful analysis - can be found in this post. However, very heavy traffic volumes have been causing his site to crash. Last night he shut it down himself with a note to visit in off-peak hours. So, if the link does not work, just try back at different times.

Anonymous said...

Maybe the English "could" is the best translation:
1. "I wish to endorse the proposal made by the Synod of Bishops", the Pope says.
2.The remarkable convergence of the Italian, French, German, etc., texts makes me think they may be the original wording fo the Synod's report. The Synod probably used simultaneous translation in which it is necessary to use simple unambiguous language, like "It is good", i.e., not bad, not to be rejected. "It is good" is the LEAST you can say about a practice that is under examination.
3. Try finding an equivalent for "aequum est" in each of those languages. If anything, the common "it is good" might show that none of them even looked at the Latin.
4. By the way, why would you assume the Pope did not write the whole Exhortation in Latin? Perhaps you know that he writes in German or Italian or French, but it seems to me he could as easily write in Latin, using an editor to polish the text of course.
5. The Latin text actually moves slightly away from the utterly neutral "it is good" towards a positive recommendation: "aequum est". However it stops short of using anything as persuasive as "convenit" or "optandum est" - "it is fitting" or "it is desirable", etc. "Aequum est" is positive, but not the least bit pushy. In Latin you can also say "bonum est".
5. English has a range of subtle differences between "may", "can", "could", "should", "would" and "must". To me, "could" in this case, comes very close to the nuance the Latin "aequum est" gives to the Synod's "e bene".
Tony L