In this section I will talk about what information I think is most important in translating this passage of scripture. For this translation to be successful the translator must regard the passage with utmost importance and should always review their work never assuming it’s done on the first try.
A good process for translation is to translate the passage into the target language, keeping in mind the above appendices, and then to ask someone else to do the translation of your text in the input language. Then a third person, in a meeting with the two translators, compares the original document with the two translations and check to see where meaning was lost. The changes should be documented and discussed. Remedies should be found so the meaning of the translation can stay as close as possible to the original. If the original meaning cannot be retained, it can be documented in the footnotes of the translation giving additional information on alternate meanings.
The translator should keep in mind that the input language of the document is not a modern day language, so it could be proper to try to use an older style language for the translation also.
The information that can easily be lost in this passage is the antitheses from the beginning of the passage. The one in charge of translating should pay close attention at the graph I have made in appendix B1. The words find their opposites on the other side of the branch passing in the middle through the key work “time”. These words should maintain their antithesis in the final translation. Also, the key word “time” should be translated. A translation of “A time to be born, and a time to die;” should not be translated in this fashion A time to be born and die. This translation looses the symmetry and parallelism of the original passage making it less strong.
The words “worketh” and “laboreth” (v.9) are very similar and in the translation they should be translated as different synonymic words and not the same word. The pronoun reference should be checked every time a demonstrative pronoun or a personal pronoun is found.
Also of a difficulty of translation is verse 11, care should be taken so that the meaning is not lost. A translator that speaks more than one language should see how other language translators have translated the same passage and see if that will help them.
The hardest things to translate are structures that don’t exist in the target language or expressions that do not transfer.
The stylistic patterns that should be used should be as close to the input text. Repetitions, parallel structures and chiasmus should be kept the same if possible in the target language. For a more detailed look at the parsing for this passage the translator can look at appendix E1. The parsing of the translated text should look fairly similar to the parsing above. This is another safeguard against the loss of meaning.
The verses that seem hard to understand are the hardest verses to translate. To better understand those verses the translators should take a break from translating and inform themselves as much as possible about the historical background of the author of the text. A short historical background with information about the author of the passage can be found in appendix A. All that information is pertinent because it can make a great difference in the translation of this passage. An understanding that the passage is pessimistic can help the translator render a more accurate translation.
In appendix C we see a color map of the passage. The colors represent the words that repeat themselves, the synonyms and antonyms in the passage. These words are important because they show visually some of the words that the translator should pay attention to. These words should be translated preserving their original functions. They are the voce of the text and if they are not translated right they make the passage bland.
The words that repeat themselves should be kept repeating in the translated document. Stylistically it is bad to have repetitions in a passage, but these repetitions are intentional and very important. These repetitions provide a constant in a world where everything changes. They might represent God’s firmness compared to a world that is in the like gale of wind.
The passive voice in the passage should be kept in the translation also. Passive voice keeps the subject hidden and lets the reader interpret it. This is important. I argue to say that the fact that the scriptures have many interpretations is a good thing. They make us think and ponder the messages that are harder to understand. While in this meditation the spirit can guide us to know something personal and relevant only to us. If the passages would be unquestionable we would have little to learn from them and little to learn on our own.
In the appendix D1 I have circled the most meaningful words. These words are also difficult to translate because they offer a wealth of interpretations. Appendix D2 shows the roots of those words in Hebrew and the multiple interpretations they could have. Verse one of the passage is full of meaning. Season, time, purpose and under the heaven are the key words here. They are all related to each other. Season shows the greater time scale when events happen in our life, time is the specific moment when we see the changes. Season shows the general way of things while time is more specific. Purpose is the reason why all these events happen in our life. There is a purpose in our life and we should attribute that purpose to learning to be more like God. Under the heaven is an expression that whenever used it refers to this earthly life only. It is here where these changes happen and where we are supposed to learn. In the life to come things will be different and for that we need to prepare now.
The translation of an ancient text is not easy but it is not without rewards. It is most wonderful to know that you have translated something and that you have kept the true meaning of that passage. The scriptures are the word of God and because of that it is so important that the meaning is kept. On a personal note the translator will have become an expert on that passage and will be able to teach it to others, which is a great privilege.
If you want to see the rest of the paper click on the pdf.