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Dynamic Equivalence
or
Manipulation of the Source Text?
There is sometimes a long distance from the original text to
the translation which actually gives us acces to it. Let´s
follow the way of this New Testament verse from the
Ancient Greek manuscript to some of its contemporary
translations.
In the original Greek manuscript, the phrase in
question would have appeared something like this:
THE PHRASE IN THE MANUSCRIPTS
ΤΗΜΙΑΤΩΝΣΑΒΒΑΤΩΝ
Writers used only capital letters and did not put
spaces between words.
Translators today have the Greek in an easier
form to read. The spaces have been inserted, and
a lower case script is used. The phrase we are
using as an example looks like this:
THE PHRASE IN TODAY'S GREEK TEXTS
τη μια των σαββατων
The translator would not simply write an equivalent English
word in place of each Greek word as is done below. A wordfor-word replacement is of little use, because it is only a form
of words equivalent, and does not convey the force of
meaning (the dynamic equivalence). While each English word
is a counterpart of a Greek word, this string of English words
is not a translation, because it fails to convey the meaning
that the string of Greek words conveys.
THE PHRASE IN ENGLISH WORDS
the one of-the sabbaths’
The translator would see three changes that need to be made
in the above English rendering, so that it will give the sense of
the Greek:
the word "σαββατων" rendered "sabbaths'" really means
"week" in this instance;
the word "μια" rendered "one" has the ordinal sense and
actually means "first" in this instance;
there is an elipsis in the Greek phrase and a word implied in
the Greek needs to be supplied in the English, namely the
word "day“.
So the translator writes the phrase this way...
THE PHRASE IN ENGLISH SENSE
the first day of the week
The Greek phrase is now rendered in plain English and
it has been made intelligible. Most translators would be
satisfied with this translation, as it nicely conveys both
the form of words and the force of meaning.
``On the first day of the week, we came together to
break bread. Paul spoke to the people and, because
he intended to leave the next day, kept on talking
until midnight.´´ Acts 20.7
Other translators, however, deliberately forsake the form of
words used by the original writer, and substitute it with their
own form of words, so as not to be restricted in conveying what
they believe to be the force of meaning. They would treat as
paramount the "word" in the sense of "message". They would
treat as secondary the particular words used to express that
"word" or message. They are willing to sacrifice that form of
words for the sake of the message and meaning that the words
convey.
In this "translation" the English word used has no
counterpart in the string of Greek words being translated.
Moreover, the Greek words used are not rendered. We
have no equivalence in words, but only dynamic
equivalence.
THE PHRASE IN DYNAMIC EQUIVALENCE (A)
Sunday
As another example, let’s suppose a translator doesn´t like
the word "Sunday" because of its pagan connotation.
Nevertheless he (or she) still wants to substitute the form
of words in the Greek with a different form of words. So he
(or she) selects a phrase from another part of the Scripture
which a lot of Christians use in place of the name Sunday.
THE PHRASE IN DYNAMIC EQUIVALENCE (B)
the Lord’s day
This third version may be found in a few English translations
of the Bible. The translator believes that the phrase reflects
Jewish time reckoning, by which a day starts with evening,
six hours before midnight, when a day starts according to
Roman reckoning. The translator believes the "midnight"
mentioned in Acts 20:7 is the beginning of Sunday, and
Sunday is "the next day" mentioned in Acts 20:7. Therefore
he thinks that the disciples gathered not on Sunday, but on
Saturday evening. So he replaces the words "the first day of
the week" with "Saturday evening".
THE PHRASE IN DYNAMIC EQUIVALENCE (C)
Saturday evening
Many regard this type of "translation" as dubious dynamic
equivalence because it reflects the translator’s own
interpretation. If the translator has made a mistake and has
got the meaning wrong, then he leads many who read his
translation to make the same mistake. If the translator were
to convey the original words and put "the first day of the
week“, the readers can work out for themselves whether it
was Saturday evening or Sunday evening.
Biblilography
www.simplybible.com – Dynamic Equivalence in
Translation
www.biblegateway.com
Eugène Nida - `The Theory and Practice of the
Translation``
Similar
( ) 154 ` 1 154 1 0 1 4 54 4 5 15 xxxx SS xxxx + = +
( ) 154 ` 1 154 1 0 1 4 54 4 5 15 xxxx SS xxxx + = +