The Library Basement
Reading under ground

Translating glosses

Acts 9:36

Now in Joppa there was a disciple named Tabitha (which in translation means Dorcas).

Here we have an example of a funny aspect of translation. Sometimes in the course of translation there are glosses from other languages. In other words, we are translating translations. So here is the question: should we transliterate the gloss as in the example above, or should we translate it into English? The convention for rendering names in translation is to transliterate, even if the name has a clear translatable meaning (in some cases a footnote is added). But this case is a bit different, because the comment by the author makes it clear that the name has some meaning, but English-speakers are not clued in to that meaning, since Dorcas is a meaningless word. So, why not:

Now in Joppa there was a disciple named Tabitha (which in translation means Gazelle).

Would it work?

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