The Library Basement
Reading under ground

Verbosity in translation

In the midst of all the recent discussion of varying "translation philosophies," I came across an article by Karen H. Jobes on bilingual quotation (like what they do at the UN). The article itself is very interesting. Toward the end there is a discussion on verbosity in Bible translation. The bottom line is that a certain popular translation is more verbose than another certain popular translation. Jobes insists she is not trying to say anything bad about the first or good about the second, just that word counts are not necessarily a good indicator for the "literalness" of translation. I agree on the latter point. Thomas did an interesting workup to show how verbosity correlates to the spectrum of translations. The bottom line: it doesn't, just as Jobes said. More "dynamic" approaches can lead to more or fewer words, it seems. Perhaps the whole point is moot, because I don't know of anyone who counts isomorphism as a positive characteristic in translations