Sunday, June 01, 2014

Translation: It's a Cinch!

Keeps the writer secure during translation!

Unexpectedly, I discover that I am a translator after all! I also learn some intriguing things along the way:
translation, n. Etymology: from Old French translation (12th cent. in Godefroy Compl.), or from Latin
The term "translation" comes earlier than I previously thought, and perhaps directly from the French, if not the Latin, as may be portended in Frédéric Godefroy (1826-1897), Complément du dictionnaire de l'ancienne langue française et de tous ses dialectes du IXe au XVe siècle, the dictionary cited above. In any case, the term "translation" has various meanings, a couple of which apply to me -- though most don't . . . or not yet, anyway:
I. 1. a. Transference; removal or conveyance from one person, place, or condition to another.
Why, I could do that! But the devil is in the details:
Specifically: The removal of a bishop from one see to another; in the Church of Scotland, the removal of a minister from one charge to another; also, the removal of the body or relics of a saint to another place of interment.
Oh. That doesn't specifically apply to me, but it might include me if it can refer to secular affairs -- and why not? -- but here's an early ecclesiastical instance:
a 1350 St. Stephen 211 in C. Horstmann Altengl. Leg. (1881) 30 Of þat ilk translacioun / Es named "saynt Steuyn inuencioun".
That reference is to Carl Horstmann's Altenglische Legende, which describes the transference of the martyred St. Stephen's body from one place to another, apparently through miraculous means. I could certainly transfer a body from one place to another -- though only non-miraculously, and I wouldn't enjoy the task. But what's next?
b. Figuratively: of non-material things. translation of a feast (Eccl.), its transference from the usual date to another, to avoid its clashing with another (movable) feast of superior rank.
Hmmm . . . I don't believe I'm qualified to do that sort of translation. Nor the next:
c. Removal from earth to heaven, originally without death, as the translation of Enoch; but in later use also said figuratively of the death of the righteous.
I can't even do that by non-miraculous means! And I'd just as soon not deal with the next sense of translation:
d. Medicine: Transference of a disease from one person or part of the body to another. Now rare or obsolete
Rare or obsolete? Good to hear that medicine has made such great advances. As has science generally, so let's allow the next type of translation to pass with a bare mention:
e. Astrology
Finally, one type of translation I might be able to handle without needing divine assistance:
f. Physics. Transference of a body, or form of energy, from one point of space to another. motion or movement of translation: onward movement without (or considered apart from) rotation; sometimes as distinguished from a reciprocating movement as in a wave or vibration.
I believe I'm qualified for that, though I might need some technical apparatus to transfer energy. But transferring a 'body' would be a cinch -- the term "body" here denoting any sort of material object, and not specifically a corpse. A book, for instance, and in this sense of "translation," I have 'translated' many, many books in my life. You can do it, too! And already have . . .

As with the other etymological entries these past several days, these examples above are found in the Oxford English Dictionary (Vol. 2, 1971, 266ab).

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At 12:25 PM, Blogger Carter Kaplan said...

I wonder... What do other languages use for the word translation?

There must be a few languages that use a word for "translation" that has a completely different etymological genealogy and sense.

By way of a hypothetical example, conceive of a language on an island in the South Pacific that describes translation with a word that means something like "to open an unusually hard coconut and remove the milk."

At 12:33 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Yes, there must be many different etymologies.

Jeffery Hodges

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