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Tuesday, October 11, 2005

ESV poll on literary excellence

I have had a poll up on this blog for several months asking visitors to this blog if they agree with ESV advertising that it has "literary excellence." 175 respondents have answered so far, with the following results:

ESV poll
Do you agree with ESV advertising that it has "literary excellence"?

yes in some passages, no in others35.4%62


total votes: 175
powered by blogpoll

As we can see, respondents are split as to whether or not the ESV has "literary excellence," as claimed. I recall when the poll was first posted and I was discussing literary excellence in the ESV in blog posts, more votes came in to the poll disagreeing with the claim that the ESV has literary excellence. Somewhere about halfway through the life of the poll, the votes for and against the claim drew closer together. In the last month or so, more responses have come in from individuals who believe that the ESV has literary excellence than from those who do. And all along, a strong percentage of votes came from individuals who feel the ESV has literary excellence in some passages but not in others.

A more accurate poll on this issue would need to test what respondents understand literary excellence to be.

Thank you to each person who voted in this poll. It is now time to end this poll.

My own opinion continues to be that the ESV would have a higher degree of literary excellence if it were written more in some form of standard English (many examples of poor English in the ESV can be found by visiting the ESV section of this blog and by clicking here). I personally find it difficult to consider that a written work has literary excellence if it is composed of many English phrases and sentences which do not follow the rules of good contemporary English, as written by good English authors. The ESV shows a lack of adequate care to ensure that its wordings truly are English, and not English words put together in a way that sound like they might have been written by people who are not native speakers of English.

I expect, or at least hope, that the quality of English in the ESV will improve as its Translation Oversight Committee continues to makes revisions and incorporate them into future editions of the ESV. Good quality English cannot diminish the accuracy or literary quality of a translation. On the contrary, good quality English allows the readers of a translation to understand its intended meanings more accurately and clearly, and appreciate its literary qualities even more.

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At Wed Oct 12, 06:15:00 AM, Blogger Rae Whitlock said...

For as much as I love the ESV, Wayne, reading the BBB over the last few months has served to soften (or at least cause me to think twice about) my views on what constitutes "literary excellence". Ryken's book and your blog have proven invaluable to me in hearing both sides of the argument.

At Sat Oct 15, 12:52:00 AM, Blogger Ted Gossard said...

I voted with those who see literary excellence in some places in the ESV. Yet I share the thought that especially to many readers in our society, ESV renderings would overall be curious- or at least have many curious renderings.

I don't think good translation of works from other languages or eras precludes clear English in an understood and natural- to the recipients- prose (and let footnotes, when helpful, be supplied).


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