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As you probably don't recall, for ages now I've been working on a Giles/Ethan pre-series piece that's titled "Broken Vessel". This is an allusion to Psalms 31:12, and the story has a few other more buried allusions to the rest of that Psalm. While working on this I read a handful of translations, because, well, it was fun. Here are six renderings of the verse that inspired me :


SourceText
Coverdale I am clean forgotten, as a dead man out of mind; I am become like a broken vessel.
KJV I am forgotten as a dead man out of mind: I am like a broken vessel.
Book of Common Prayer 1771 As men once dead are out of mind,
so am I now forgot;
As little use of me they find
as of a broken pot.
RSV I have passed out of mind like one who is dead;
I have become like a broken vessel.
BCP 1979 I am forgotten like a dead man, out of mind;
I am as useless as a broken pot.
NWT Like someone dead [and] not in the heart, I have been forgotten;
I have become like a damaged vessel;



For me, the prose style contest is between Coverdale and the King James. Both sound good when read aloud. The KJV is so economical, which appeals to my sense of style.

I included the New World Translation a) as an example of how the tin-eared can ruin even great material, and b) because it was the one I was most subjected to as a kid. Read the rest of that Psalm to absorb the full horror.

Which one do you like best as English lit?
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They're all quite nice, but have you looked at the English Standard Version? I hear it's know for retaining the linguistic poetry of the source material.
While the NWT is clunky, I'll give them kudos for using 'heart'. As (IIRC), the Hebrew word that is translated as mind in the other versions is a word that also carries the attributes we would give to the heart.

For the fun of it, here's the verse as from a psalter I have that was created by The International Commission on English in the Liturgy:
Forgotten like the dead,
I am a shattered jar.
.
That's terse, and more like poetry than the others: you'd have to work to unpack the meanings there. But I like it aloud.

I think the heart/memory problem is one of those reasons why good translation is so amazingly difficult. People who do it well impress me like woah, but they have to command the idioms and connotations of two languages. What's the right way to get across in English what the original poet might have meant by using the word for "heart"?
Yes, the images and layers that come with the word 'shattered' are intriguing.

People who do it well impress me like woah,

Seconded. On a good day I'm lucky if I recognize good poetry. I know enough to not try to write any type of poetry other than bad!poetry. Add in the layer of not only needing a poetic ear, but a deep grasp of multiple languages to translate poetry and I'm in utter aw.



As you've already indicated your top two choices, I would go with the Coverdale. It is elegant. The addition of "clean" gives the impression of wiping something clean, as if to indicate it never existed and that ties in with "forgotten". I also admire the use of the word "become". But that's just my own sense of style.

As always, just my opinion.
H.
Coverdale, I think, but the King James a very narrow second.
They're both wonderful. This was a neat exercise, and thanks to comments I've learned about two new versions to read!
King James for me.
I like its sharpness and how it sounds. I also like the use of the colon,which gives a sense of exposure and emphasizes the fact that David is baring himself. I just love punctuation.
Lolz. You bring to mind the words of Margaret Edson:

"This is metaphysical poetry, not the modern novel...In the edition you chose, this profoundly simple meaning is sacrificed to hysterical punctuation...If you go in for this sort of thing, I suggest you take up Shakespeare."


I did not know Margaret Edson, a mistake which I'm going to correct soon - Wit intrigues me. Thanks.

And for quotes about punctuation, this is how we are taught in school to use it well (it's silly but I love it) :
"Mange mon fils, dit le père" or "Mange, mon fils, dit le père".
Thanks to a single coma, you can either be a good father or a cannibal. Punctuation is never innocent. And you can play well with it.
The serial comma in English is one of my favorite kinds of commas. The famous example is a book dedication:

To my parents, Ayn Rand and God.
Which implies the author's parents are Ayn Rand and God!

vs the version with the serial comma in place:
To my parents, Ayn Rand, and God.
Which dedicates the book to all three.
Was just thinking about this. The joke works in English:
Eat my son, said the father.
Eat, my son, said the father.

But it wouldn't work in a language with more verb forms, like Latin, where the imperative nature is either in the verb or not. No wonder those Romans got away with no punctuation at all.
Well, maybe they did not really need that particular joke, Saturn has already taken it so seriously.
Clovedale would be my choice, but the KJV is more akin to haiku which is good.

But I object to the sentiment in general. I know this is not what you were asking, but in my experience dead men are not forgotten till all those who knew them are also gone. Then again my Christian education was limited to a couple of Sunday school lessons with friends, so there are probably nuances and contextual information that I'm missing.
I'm not all that much of an expert in the nuances of the Psalm either. But the plaintive wail there works for Giles, who's sort of... well, maybe I'll finish it one of these months and you'll see.
I have prayed the BCP 1979 version so many times that it wins on sheer familiarity; it's in my bones and probably for good. But ultimately it owes what virtue it has to Coverdale, who was not merely a translator but a poet.
Was thinking about Tennyson the other day (which is not actually something I do often since my familiarity with Tennyson is pretty weak), and about "I am become a name", and about how the writing in that Psaltery has echoed through English writing since.
The Authorised Bible of 1611 and the Prayerbook of 1662 are just the foundation of later British literature. You can't even read Sayers without tripping over them.
That classical eddication. Have been thinking about Sayers recently, and why I recommend books like The Nine Tailors and Murder Must Advertise to people, but never ever rec Gaudy Night. And never would. Need to straighten out my brain on that topic and put forward a coherent argument, because I know the book is beloved of my flist.
Well, you don't *start* with Gaudy Night. If you don't like the earlier books, you won't appreciate GN, which I regard as Sayers' masterpiece; that's why I wouldn't recommend it. YMMV.
Aha! I think the 9Tailors is her masterpiece, and am frustrated by GN. But then, I was just reading Bujold's Worldcon GOH speech yesterday, and realizing that in just about every way I am on the SF side of the SF/romance reader divide she's discovered by writing her latest series. I think this affects my reaction.