Author Topic: Words, meaning and the language of discourse  (Read 581 times)

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Offline Agabus

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Words, meaning and the language of discourse
« on: February 12, 2012, 07:29:42 PM »
In reference to several threads recently active here:

At what point does one have to resort to using an original language because English (or German, French, whatever) doesn't "properly carry its connotations"?

Examples we often see of people using original languages instead of an English equivalent include the endless debate about Theotokos vs. "Mother of God." Or the insistence on saying "theologoumena" rather than "pious opinion," Prelest vs. "spiritual delusion," Kenosis vs "emptying", etc.?

These, of course, are not words that would stand out for those more learned than I, just the ones that I thought of just now.

So, are there Orthodox words that one must use because they don't have an equivalent? And if they don't have an equivalent, how does one explain the concept?
« Last Edit: February 12, 2012, 07:30:11 PM by Agabus »
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Re: Words, meaning and the language of discourse
« Reply #1 on: February 12, 2012, 07:38:22 PM »
In reference to several threads recently active here:

At what point does one have to resort to using an original language because English (or German, French, whatever) doesn't "properly carry its connotations"?

Examples we often see of people using original languages instead of an English equivalent include the endless debate about Theotokos vs. "Mother of God." Or the insistence on saying "theologoumena" rather than "pious opinion," Prelest vs. "spiritual delusion," Kenosis vs "emptying", etc.?

These, of course, are not words that would stand out for those more learned than I, just the ones that I thought of just now.

So, are there Orthodox words that one must use because they don't have an equivalent? And if they don't have an equivalent, how does one explain the concept?

The word LOVE comes to mind. We only have one word that must be clarified with the use of adjectives, but Greek, being the more precise theological language, has at least four words for love.

For example, when we exclaim, "O God, the only Lover of Mankind" this phrase in English can mean different things to different folks depending on their state of mind.
The memory of God should be treasured in our hearts like the precious pearl mentioned in the Holy Gospel. Our life's goal should be to nurture and contemplate God always within, and never let it depart, for this steadfastness will drive demons away from us. - Paraphrased from St. Philotheus of Sinai
Writings from the Philokalia: On Prayer of the Heart,
Translated from the Russian by E. Kadloubovksy and G.E.H. Palmer, Faber and Faber, London, Boston, 1992 printing.

Offline JamesRottnek

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Re: Words, meaning and the language of discourse
« Reply #2 on: February 12, 2012, 11:03:23 PM »
I think you should resort to the original language when a translation would be a good deal longer (say, for instance, the original is one word, but an English translation would require at least three or four to make the same point) or when the translation has a connotation that stands in contrast to the meaning meant to be conveyed.
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