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The Lord's Prayer, a translation exercise

From:Thomas R. Wier <trwier@...>
Date:Sunday, July 14, 2002, 20:31
Quoting Ray Brown:

> If translating the Paternoster is of interest, shouldn't the > proper concern of this list be translating it into one's conlang?
Indeed! Perhaps it's best to look first at the original Greek text from Matthew 6:9-13 again (omitting accent marks): "[9] Houtos oun proseukhesthe humeis: Pater he:mo:n ho en tois ouranois, hagiastheto: to onoma sou, [10] eltheto: he: basileia sou. gene:theto: to thele:ma sou, ho:s en ourano:i kai epi ge:s [11] ton arton he:mo:n ton epiousion dos he:min se:meron [12] kai aphes he:min ta opheile:mata he:mo:n. ho:s kai he:meis aphe:kamen tois ophe:letais he:mo:n [13] kai me: eisenengke:is he:ma:s eis peirasmon, alla rhusai he:ma:s apo tou pone:rou." Making a good translation into Phaleran is complicated in several ways. Although there is a great variety of religious belief in Phalera, mostly they are impersonal or are similar to ancestor worship. Also, the fairly rigid distinction that Christianity makes between the earthly and spiritual planes of existence does not really have an analogue in Phaleran culture, and so many of the facets of this prayer -- the Heavenly Father (Pater), the Heavens (tois ouranois), the Kingdom thereof (he: basileia), the Will of God (to thele:ma) -- can only be approximated in Phaleran, or simply calqued over with an extensive set of annotations for the Phaleran reader. In Phaleran, translating "ho en tois ouranois" would make no sense if it were taken literally, (unless you take the prayer to be an assertion that the Deity resides in a specific tract of atmosphere, _woloi_); the closest thing might be to say that the Father is and causes to be one with Tlelma, the Phaleran notion of an metaphysical force that drives human and natural behavior: Atherwai tlerragwassen, ixnoita entrabroustan. Dessantu iffarinthan, retai xantabroustan, ai samagwassenuo, ai irpagwassenuo. Hnerrantshei hwaitwo wamabrowanten freli gerenka, ai tshalenkantshei hwaitwo xolmainâku tshantei tsh'elasna tshalenkaswastan Ai thateshyei tahnoi shtî xolmairintþan, okserûo nû, elledîku uc'ashyei. Atherwai tlerragwassen (1) father.1Pl.ABS be-at-one-with-tlelma.REL.2SgProgRe.Quot ixnoitata (2) entrabroustan. (3) personal-name.2Sg.ABS praise.DETR.3SgProgIr.Quot dessantu iffarinthan king.archy.ABS come.INTR.3SgPfIr.Quot retai (4) xantabroustan royal-will.ABS carry-out-royal-order.DETR.3SgProgIr.Quot ai samagwassenuo dâ and be-above.REL.3SgProgRe.Quot.DAT in hai irpagwassenuo (5) dâ and be-below.REL.3SgProgRe.Quot.DAT in hnerrantshei hwaitwo wamabrogwanten (6) freli give.2[0]SgPfImp 1PlExDat need.DETR.REL.3SgPfRe.Quot (wheat)-bread gerenka ai tshalenkantshei (7) hwaitwo xolmainâku (8) and cancel.2[0]SgPfImp 1PlExDat transgression.PL.ABE tshantei tsh'elasna tshalenkaswastan this-INV-ST-HON.ADV that-INV-DT.PL cancel.TR.1PlExProgIr.Quot ai thateshyei (9) tahnoi(10) shtî xolmairintþan and be.NEG.2[0]SgProgImp CAUS that transgress.INTR.1PlExPfIr.Quot okserûo (11) nû, ene elledîku uc'ashyei trial.DAT into but evil.ABE save.2[0]SgProgImp (1) < *tlelra-, from C'ali _tlöl-_ "union", and Phaleran _ra_ (obsolete) "cause". (2) An _ixnoita_ is a personal name that one uses for intimates, but not with outsiders, and is obligatorily possessed, like father in the line above. There is a distinct word for the personal name of monarchs -- _alt'aica_ -- and this may work as well, but it is so closely associated with the Phaleran ruler cult that any Phaleran Christians would, I suspect, make every attempt to avoid using it. (3) The notion of "making holy" is alien to most Phaleran cultures -- things are either acting in accordance with _tlelma_, or they aren't. It's not about being right or wrong in the abstract, but about knowing how to make the right decisions and perceiving one's place in the universe rightly (place and hierarchy being very important in Phaleran society). _entraswa_ "to praise" is clearly inadequate to capturing the Greek, but perhaps necessarily so. (4) _retai_ can mean anything from the hopes or dreams of a monarch to his (always his -- kings are always male on Phalera) to actual diktat, depending on context. (5) As I've said above, "heaven" and "earth" don't have good correlates in Phaleran, but for different reasons (see above). Phalerans, being mindful of their Terran origins in remote antiquity, actually mean the planet Earth by _Tr|â_. My gloss as "both above and below" I think captures the original sense without forcing the Greek into the Phaleran. (6) I am perhaps taking some liberty here by taking _epiousion_ as "what is needed". (7) _tshalenkaswa_ is used in Phaleran banking transactions when the government agrees to guarantee grants through intermediary institutions during natural disasters or periods of economic crisis. I think this nicely echoes what I take to be the Greek _aphiemi_, "to remit". (8) The form _xolmai_ is a cranberry-morph using _xol-_ "trans, across", and _mai_, which is found only in the form to transgress; it literally implies a movement across a boundary. (9) The verb _thari_ "be, have the property of" plus the negative and imperative morphemes implies a command consciously not to be something. (10) In the context of _thari_, _tahnoi_ implies indirect causes of behavior (such as failure to act to intervene). The direct causative, with the causative form _-þnu_ would sound like you were asking God not to purposely lead someone into temptation, rather than simply allowing that person to do so. (11) _okseru_ has both juridical and philosophical overtones. ===================================================================== Thomas Wier "...koruphàs hetéras hetére:isi prosápto:n / Dept. of Linguistics mú:tho:n mè: teléein atrapòn mían..." University of Chicago "To join together diverse peaks of thought / 1010 E. 59th Street and not complete one road that has no turn" Chicago, IL 60637 Empedocles, _On Nature_, on speculative thinkers


Thomas R. Wier <trwier@...>
Jan van Steenbergen <ijzeren_jan@...>
Ray Brown <ray.brown@...>