What motivates translators...

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In his bestseller on the history and practice of translation titled, Is That a Fish in Your Ear?: Translation and the Meaning of Everything, Princeton prof David Bellos points out that translators choose their words carefully in such a way as to make a show of their good breeding and education:

(There is a) general tendency of all translations to adhere more strongly than any original to a normalized idea of what the target language should be. To put that a different way: translation always takes the register and level of naturally written prose up a notch or two. Some degree of raising is and always has been characteristic of translated texts--simply because translators are instinctively averse to the risk of being taken for less than fully cultivated writers of their target tongue. In important ways, translators are the guardians and, to a surprising degree, the creators of the standard form of the language they use. (p. 195)

So we see...

how unbelievers are wise enough to address motive in evaluating the work of their peers.

We also see the venality of the Evangelical Theological Society scholars who translated the text of the New International Version 2011.

As translators are wont to do, guys on the Committee for Bible translation like Doug Moo and my former prof Gordon Fee made word choices that would reassure their readers (readers of their Bible, that is) how "fully cultivated" they are. And thus the Words of God must die.

Bellos's work was one of The Economist's "2011 Books of the Year." (TB)

Tim Bayly

Tim serves Clearnote Church, Bloomington, Indiana. He and Mary Lee have five children and big lots of grandchildren.

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