Ungrammatical translation wordings -- Part 2
First, here's a brief reminder of the difference between intransitive and transitive verbs. An intransitive verb does not take an object, that is, something or someone upon which "action" is done. The following are each intransitive sentences:
Peter ran.Some intransitive verbs never take an object. Others can take an object in certain contexts, as in:
Peter ran the meeting.Transitive verbs usually require an object, as in these sentences:
Martha sang a lullaby.
Rachel sold her book.The object can be another sentence or clause, as in:
George killed an elk.
John wants to go to college.Most English Bible versions word sentences with intransitive and transitive verbs properly in most cases. But there are a number of sentences in some English versions where a transitive verb is used which requires an object, but the object is missing. This creates an ungrammatical wording. I find such sentences jarring when I read them.
Mary forgot to buy bread.
Here are wordings from a verse where the object of a transitive verb is missing. As in yesterday's post, I will not identify the version yet, so that we can evaluate these wordings as objectively as possible:
1. I sent to know your faithSentences 1-7 lack a required object of the verb "send" and so are ungrammatical. The remaining sentences are grammatical, having a required object.
2. I sent that I might know your faith
3. I sent to learn about your faith
4. I sent to find out about your faith
5. I also sent to find out about your faith
6. I sent to find out about your faith
7. I sent to assure myself of your faith
8. I sent Timothy to find out about your faith
9. I sent Timothy to you so I could learn about your faith
10. I sent Timothy to find out whether your faith was still strong
In English (unlike some other languages) it is not grammatical to say "I sent" without an object. A person who hears someone say a sentence with "sent" without an object is left hanging and may ask "sent whom?" for clarification.
There are a number of other transitive verbs in some Bible versions which similarly lack their required objects, as in:
John 1:20 He confessed and did not deny ("deny" requires an object)In my opinion, any Bible version which aspires to have good quality literary English should be revised to repair the ungrammatical portion of such translation wordings. We do not want our children to learn to speak ungrammatical English, based on ungrammatical wordings they read in Bible versions. It is easy to revise ungrammatical wordings to be grammatical, without changing the basic translation approach used in a Bible version. What is required is a commitment on the part of Bible translators to respect the grammar of the target language, in this case, English, just as much as we respect the grammars of the biblical source languages. And it is also required that each translation team have checking procedures which spot ungrammatical wordings and English scholars who are able to revise ungrammatical wordings to become grammatical. No meaning change takes place during this revision process. No translator interpretations are placed in the text. No thought-for-thought translation occurs. A translation can continue to be "essentially literal" while having only grammatical sentences in English or any other language into which the translation is made.
James 4:2a: You desire and do not have. ("have" requires an object)
James 4:2b: You covet and cannot obtain ("obtain" requires an object)
For those who are curious, in yesterday post, in the list of 11 sentences, the wordings were taken from the following versions (1-3 were ungrammatical; the remaining were all grammatical):
Proverbs 11:8In the list of 10 wordings in today's post, above, the versions are (1-7 are ungrammatical; the remainder are grammatical):
1. RSV, NASB, NKJV, ESV: The righteous is delivered from trouble.
2. HCSB: The righteous is rescued from trouble.
3. NJB: The upright escapes affliction.
4. REB: The righteous are rescued from disaster.
5. NET: The righteous person is delivered out of trouble.
6. NIV, Tanakh: The righteous man is rescued from trouble.
7. TNIV: The righteous are rescued from trouble.
8. TEV: The righteous are protected from trouble.
9. GW: A righteous person is rescued from trouble.
10. NCV: The good person is saved from trouble.
11. NRSV: The righteous are delivered from trouble.
1 Thess. 3:5For any of you who are not familiar with the Bible version abbreviations, they can be found in the right margin of this blog. If you do not see them now, click here.
1. KJV, NKJV: I sent to know your faith
2. RSV: I sent that I might know your faith
3. ESV: I sent to learn about your faith
4. NRSV, NET, REB, NIV, TNIV: I sent to find out about your faith
5. NASB, HCSB: I also sent to find out about your faith
6. NJB: I sent to assure myself of your faith
7. TEV: I sent him to find out about your faith
8. CEV, GW, ISV: I sent Timothy to find out about your faith
9. NCV: I sent Timothy to you so I could learn about your faith
10. NLT: I sent Timothy to find out whether your faith was still strong
This blog is dedicated to helping Bibles become better. One way of bettering Bibles is to revise them so that ungrammatical wordings become grammatical.
Category: Bible translation, ungrammatical, transitive