Author Topic: "It is Truly Meet"  (Read 2381 times)

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Offline drewmeister2

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"It is Truly Meet"
« on: January 22, 2010, 07:07:38 PM »
I recently noticed a difference in translation of the Axios Estin prayer, "It is truly meet to call thee blest, the Theotokos...."  The Greeks translate it as just written, while the Russians translate it as, "It is truly meet to bless thee, ...."

Does anyone know the reason behind the differences?
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Offline wynd

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Re: "It is Truly Meet"
« Reply #1 on: January 22, 2010, 07:57:55 PM »
Probably the same reason we can say "Bless the Lord, O my soul" and "blessed art Thou O Lord" in the same sentence.

Offline Basil 320

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Re: "It is Truly Meet"
« Reply #2 on: January 23, 2010, 05:39:14 AM »
I don't think there is any official theological intent for these translations to have distinct meanings.

Within the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America (GOAA), there are innumerable translations, each of which have some "brilliant" explanations as to why they're better. I've never understood why the church's don't engage a panel of theologians to develop a consistent translation of the Divine Services and prayers.  It took the GOAA how many years (82?) to develop a consistent translation of the Symbol of Faith, and it ends up with "forgiveness" (Article 11) as the translation for "afesin," which is otherwise, always translated, "remission."  The Holy Eparchial Synod endorses this translation, it isn't even used by the Archdiocesan Cathedral, and at least one of its ruling metropolitan's had previously specifically published an opinion as to how wrong this (translation of "afesin" to "forgiveness") is.

A pan-American Orthodox commission should be working on this, composed of theologically knowledgeable linguists, grammarians, hymnologists, and a poet, perhaps.  Traditional language, not common street talk, grammatically correct, clear an understandable, should be the prevailing theme.  Archbishop Chrysostomos of Etna refers to current "contemporary" translations as "you who translations," and I so agree with him. Retired clergy, whose talents are not used typically, could be paid a stipend to work full time on this, along with monastics, other priests, and bishops.

As a chanter, every time our parish buys new books, I have to try to change what I'm singing, and I don't do it well. Our parish priest and I cannot chant together at the same service, both of us having learned hymns from different translations. Except for within the OCA, which does have some semblance of their own standard translations, English speaking Orthodox Christians cannot even recite the Creed together, let alone recite prayers together.

Next to the parallel jurisdiction mess in this hemisphere, to me, this multiple translation issue, is the most serious of our problems.
« Last Edit: January 23, 2010, 05:44:19 AM by Basil 320 »
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Offline Iconodule

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Re: "It is Truly Meet"
« Reply #3 on: January 23, 2010, 04:33:45 PM »
Archbishop Chrysostomos of Etna refers to current "contemporary" translations as "you who translations,"

Haha, I have to steal that one!

In my opinion, attempts to "update" translations by replacing "thou" with "you" make the translation even stranger. It's a distracting affectation. Why? Because the language of the liturgy and hymns is inherently alien to the utilitarian, bland qualities of everyday, contemporary speech. English poetry went way downhill in the 20th century and it makes sense, in liturgical translations, to stick to a more venerable idiom. "You who" translations don't sound more contemporary... they just sound confused.

And we desperately need poets helping with translations... over Theophany I kept hearing about how the Israelites crossed the Red Sea "without getting wet". Ugh!
« Last Edit: January 23, 2010, 04:35:07 PM by Iconodule »
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Offline pensateomnia

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Re: "It is Truly Meet"
« Reply #4 on: January 26, 2010, 12:53:58 PM »
Does anyone know the reason behind the differences?

First, I don't think this is a Greek vs. Russian thing. For example, the "official" translation on says: "It is truly right to bless you, Theotokos, ever blessed, most pure, and mother of our God..."

That aside, the Greek original is open to a variety of translations: μακαρίζειν can mean "to bless, to deem or pronounce happy, or to congratulate."

Regardless of how one translates μακαρίζειν (to bless or to call blest), every translation I've seen that chooses "to call blest" must then mis-translate the double accusative. Such translations usually say: "It is truly right to call thee blest, O Theotokos...", as if Theotokos is in the vocative, when the text really says something like: "It is truly right to bless you as the Theotokos..."
But for I am a man not textueel I wol noght telle of textes neuer a deel. (Chaucer, The Manciple's Tale, 1.131)