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Sunday, May 21, 2006

Key Issues Re: Bible Translation: critique #1

Wayne Grudem (who helped translate the ESV) and Jerry Thacker have recently co-authored the book Why Is My Choice of a Bible Translation So Important? The essay "Key Issues Regarding Bible Translation" appears to be a summary of the main points of that book. The book is published by The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood and the essay is featured on its website.

In this post I begin critiquing the essay.

The essay begins:
If you went into a Christian bookstore back in the 1960’s, you could usually count on the fingers of just one hand the number of Bible translations on the shelves. Most people knew that there were two broad categories of the types of Bibles you would find. Some followed a “word-for-word” or “essentially literal” translation philosophy.

....

The other category of Bibles was based on a “dynamic equivalence” or “thought-for-thought” translation philosophy.
Grudem and Thacker's essay promotes "essentially literal" Bible versions and these introductory comments about there being "two broad categories of the types of Bibles" are "essentially true". But it is possible to characterize Bible versions and individual translation wordings even more precisely.

Students of translation theory, including as it applies to Bible translation, have recognized for many years that it is more informative to characterize translations as part of a continuum of degrees of literalness. Different English Bible versions are positioned along this continuum. There is no clear qualitative boundary on this continuum between essentially literal translation and another kind of translation. It is all a matter of degree. And it is not even totally accurate to characterize a version as being of a certain degree of literalness. It is more accurate to determine the degree of literalness on a case-by-case, verse-by-verse basis. But there are overall characterizations of English Bible versions which are "essentially true." The NASB is more literal than the ESV. The ESV is more literal than the NIV. The TNIV in a number of passages, and perhaps overall, is more literal than the NIV. The NIV is more literal than the ISV which is more literal than GW. GW is more literal than the TEV (GNB), CEV, and NCV, each of which are more literal than the Living Bible or The Message.

Scholars who have reviewed the ESV, the newest of the "essentially literal" translations, find a number of non-literal translation wordings in it. This is to be expected and it is good translation practice since the biblical scholars who translated the RSV, of which the ESV is a light revision, recognized that some wordings in the biblical texts do not properly translate literally to English or most other languages.

Neither the RSV nor ESV (nor any other "literal" translation that I know of) literally translates to English a Biblical Hebrew idiom for anger as "length of nose" (Ex. 34:6). Instead, they translate God's own reference to himself as being "slow to anger" rather than not being "longnosed". That is accurate thought-for-thought translation.

Neither literally translates the body part metaphor for emotions as "bowels", as does the KJV (Jer. 31:20)
[Is] Ephraim my dear son? [is he] a pleasant child? for since I spake against him, I do earnestly remember him still: therefore my bowels are troubled for him; I will surely have mercy upon him, saith the LORD.
Both the RSV and ESV substitute the English cultural equivalent "heart" for "bowels":
Therefore my heart yearns for him
Such cultural substitution is accurate translation even though it is neither literal nor essentially literal. It is not an example of word-for-word translation, but, rather, of accurate thought-for-thought translation.

Similarly, in the New Testament both the RSV and ESV translate Greek "bowels" idiomatically (thought-for-thought):
For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection (KJV: bowels) of Christ Jesus. (Phil. 1:8)
Other thought-for-thought (idiomatic) translations can also be found in essentially literal Bible translations. Each English Bible version is a mixture of both literal and non-literal translation. There are differences among versions based on the degree of literalness employed in each.

We will continue discussing Grudem and Thacker's essay in future posts.

Categories: ,

24 Comments:

At Sun May 21, 12:13:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

I notice that this article again quotes Revelation 22:18 – “I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book.”

And yet the ESV does add words to the Bible all the time. Here are a few examples of where a word occurs in the ESV that is simply not there at all in the Greek text.

Acts 28:11 ship
Romans 12:19 God
1 Cor. 11:10 symbol of
2 Cor. 4:3 only
Eph. 3:6 mystery
1 Tim. 3:10 if
1 Tim. 5:21 rules
Heb. 6:10 so

This is in addition to all the times that the ESV translates one Greek word by several, 6 or 7, different English words, or translates 2 or 3 Greek words by one English word. This is in addition to the liberties taken in translating anthropos several different ways.

I am not aware of whether the discrepancy between the translation philosophy, as it is presented on the ESV website, and as it it in reality, is a simple misunderstanding, or a deliberate attempt to convince readers that a translation that is not word-for-word, is word-for-word.

This concerns me. Otherwise I wouldn't worry. But the uninformed reader would assume that the ESV does not add words not there in the Greek, when, of course, it does. As do all major translations. Probably the KJV less than most, which is why I use it so often as a base for searches. It has other issues but is the best for not adding words.

 
At Sun May 21, 02:49:00 PM, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

I am not surprised to find some questionable statements in such an article. But I was surprised to find an apparent error of fact as early as the second sentence. As far as I know, in the 1960's there were no Bibles generally available "based on a “dynamic equivalence” or “thought-for-thought” translation philosophy." The first full Bibles which could reasonably be so described were the Living Bible, published in 1971, and the Good News Bible, 1976. There were some New Testaments of this type available: JB Phillips (1958), from 1966 Good News for Modern Man (note that "Man" could be used in this sense without embarrassment in 1966), and from 1967 the Living Bible New Testament. But I don't see any other translations even of only the New Testament which could reasonably be called “dynamic equivalence” or “thought-for-thought”. And was JB Phillips' translation in fact widely available in American Christian bookshops in the 1960's? I would have expected to find as the handful of versions something like KJV, ASV and RSV, plus NAS NT (1963) and Amplified (1965; NT 1958) when they were published, but nothing more dynamic than these. (Data from Michael Marlowe's website, thank you Michael.)

 
At Sun May 21, 09:31:00 PM, Blogger son of abraham said...

Wayne wrote: Neither the RSV nor ESV (nor any other "literal" translation that I know of) literally translates to English a Biblical Hebrew idiom for anger as "length of nose" (Ex. 34:6). Instead, they translate God's own reference to himself as being "slow to anger" rather than not being "longnosed". That is accurate thought-for-thought translation.

Wayne, the Hebrew does not say "length of nose" in Ex. 34:6. There are three different senses for the word aph, and "nostril" is one of them. The other two senses are "face" and "anger." In the place you cite, it is clearly being used in the third sense, "anger." So it's really incorrect to say that the Hebrew word means "nose" here. The ESV and other versions give a fairly literal translation with "slow to anger."

 
At Mon May 22, 03:01:00 AM, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

Michael wrote: "There are three different senses for the word aph, and "nostril" is one of them. The other two senses are "face" and "anger."" Interesting. It is very clear that the original literal sense of the word is "nostril", or in the dual form used in the verse in question "nose". The meanings "face" and "anger" are metaphorical extensions of its meaning. But how do we distinguish between metaphorical uses of the word and established separate senses which have a metaphorical origin?

Perhaps the point Wayne ought to have made here related to the concordant translation technique which some have claimed to prefer. This technique has been championed by the English Revised Version (1881) and the New World Translation. But even these versions do not take their principle of concordance far enough to use "nose" or "nostrils" here.

So, the technique used by ESV and most other literal translations is that a Hebrew or Greek word with multiple meanings may be translated in different ways depending on the meaning in context. But who decides which meaning fits the context? The translation team, of course. In this particular case the choice is obvious, but there are many places in the Bible where multiple senses of a word are not so clearly distinguished, and in a particular verse a finely balanced choice has to be made between two different senses of a word which give a very different overall sense to the passage. So translators, if not using a strictly concordant method, are forced to make an interpretive choice between two or more options. On this basis ESV and almost all other translations are interpretive translations. In fact even strictly concordant translations are interpretive because the translators have to make a choice of the most appropriate concordant rendering - which can be really controversial, as for example with the old "propitiation" vs. "expiation" debate which ESV has reignited.

 
At Mon May 22, 06:22:00 AM, Blogger Wayne Leman said...

Michael, many multiple sense words started out as live metaphors. The fact that they may be dead metaphors now does not obviate that fact. We, of course, must not fall into the etymological fallacy. If you can, try to catch the principle behind what I was saying. Where do we draw the (qualitative) line between multiple senses and an overly literalistic approach to word meanings that brings up dead metaphors and etymology when neither are relevant to current contextual meaning? I think you are on the right track, but how did you determine which forms of literalism were appropriate for that track and which were not? That is a most interesting question for translation theory. I don't see how we can promote literal translation or essentially literal translation without dealing with that question. Otherwise, there is no qualitative difference between essentially literal with its (appropriate) caveats and a more idiomatic approach to translation. The translation result for a particular wording can be identical, as long as translators are being responsible with multiple senses of words and meaning in context under each approach.

 
At Mon May 22, 10:21:00 AM, Blogger M. J. Mansini said...

I understand this has taken a strong "language" emphasis to it, but I find the wierdest thing about Grudem (and others) ESV promotion of essentially literal translation is the ironic fact that the ESV is more a slightly modified RSV. True, it is modified heavily in some places (Romans in particular, as J.I. Packer stated that this was their "showpiece" book). I actually read so much of the ESV that I switched back to the RSV, which has a classier feel to it, while retaining some better translations in places (in my opinion) than the ESV "corrects".

Sorry, rant... I know. Please don't hurt me.

 
At Mon May 22, 01:28:00 PM, Blogger son of abraham said...

Wayne wrote: Michael, many multiple sense words started out as live metaphors. The fact that they may be dead metaphors now does not obviate that fact. We, of course, must not fall into the etymological fallacy. If you can, try to catch the principle behind what I was saying.

I do see what you were trying to say. You have said it many times before. But I also see that this comical "long of nose" example you've been using lately is fictitious, because it obviously involves the etymological fallacy. C'mon Wayne! You know better. You'll have to give up using this example, funny as it may be.

Now, regarding the point you were trying to make -- I don't understand why you demand to have some "qualitative difference" defined between the two approaches. I think everyone who knows the languages and has thought about this subject realizes that it is largely a difference of "quantity" or degree of interpretation that we are talking about. It does not serve a good purpose for you to keep fighting against imaginary opponents who think that every word of the Hebrew and Greek can be put mechanically into English, without any interpretation or any adjustments. I won't say you're doing this deliberately, but you do seem to be beating a straw man.

Let me make an analogy. Suppose that I say to my friend, "drink a little wine for you health's sake," but then someone accuses me of corrupting my friend's morals, because he may wind up being a drunk if he listens to me. I have to admit that there is no qualitative difference between the alcohol in one glass of wine and the alcohol in a bottle of gin. However, I did say "a little wine," and I think the quantitative difference is important. But the teetotaler will not admit that the quantity makes an important difference, because he is a very theoretical sort of person, and he has in mind a hypothetical situation where my friend, having departed from the solid principle of total abstention from alcohol, gets himself drunk. Many people think this way about it, as I'm sure you know. But even so, I will maintain that there is an important difference in the quantity, and that between one quantity and another there is even a qualitative difference in the end. Because a little wine can be good for you, while a lot will be bad for you.

That is how I see the difference in translations. When used cautiously, with moderation, interpretation is good and necessary in a Bible translation. But when used in excess, it is bad. I don't think that attitude can be seen as inconsistent or theoretically inadequate, unless you are going to be like the teetotaler in my analogy, and say that a little wine is no different from a bottle of gin.

 
At Mon May 22, 01:52:00 PM, Blogger Wayne Leman said...

Good analogy, Michael, and I agree with the point you are making with it.

You concluded:

When used cautiously, with moderation, interpretation is good and necessary in a Bible translation. But when used in excess, it is bad.

And I agree with you here. On what basis can we determine what is "moderation" and what is "excess"? Is it simply subjective, e.g. "Well, it's obvious that this version is excessively interpretive!" What's obvious to one person is often not obvious to another, even when working with the same data.

So how can the rhetoric about Bible versions today sound so categorical when we both agree that it's a matter of degree? How does one decide that there are 3,600 "inaccuracies" in the TNIV? Shouldn't there be some kind of objective standards we can agree upon which would allow us to determine what is accurate and what isn't, if we are going to use such terms as Dr. Grudem does?

 
At Mon May 22, 02:10:00 PM, Blogger Wayne Leman said...

Michael, you said:

But I also see that this comical "long of nose" example you've been using lately is fictitious, because it obviously involves the etymological fallacy.

Yes, it does and that's the point, isn't it? When we translate form, but meaning of the original forms is not communicated accurately (as determined by adequate testing; you can design the tests to your satisfaction), how is that qualitatively different from the etymological fallacy? How do we determine which forms need to be "adjusted" (your good term) during translation and which do not? I don't believe it is necessary to "adjust" any forms which accurately communicate original meaning when translated literally. That's how I was trained. If literal or essentially literal translation involves these necessary adjustments that you refer to, then those (like myself) who have been trained to translate idiomatically have misunderstand what essentially literal translation is about, and vice versa, the other side has misunderstood what idiomatic translation is about.

Would there not be some advantage to each side understanding the other side well enough so that all straw men are given a merciful execution and we begin to discover what really are the differences among those who are debating?

 
At Mon May 22, 02:47:00 PM, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

Michael suggested that Wayne was "fighting against imaginary opponents who think that every word of the Hebrew and Greek can be put mechanically into English, without any interpretation or any adjustments" and in the process "beating a straw man". But actually this is not quite fair. Of course it is not Michael's position that "every word of the Hebrew and Greek can be put mechanically into English, without any interpretation or any adjustments", and I am glad to see that he has clarified this. But there are people who do take this position, and Wayne is also opposing their position. We have seen some of them recently on the Bible Translation mailing list (of which Wayne is a moderator), especially some supporters of the New World translation. For example, one of them, Rolf Furuli, wrote on 28th April 2006:

The idea is that when one English word is used for one Hebrew word, and the reader sees this English word in different contexts, the reader´s understanding of the concept of the word will be adjusted.

In other words (and it is clear from ongoing discussion that this really is this writer's position - and he has published a book on Bible translation, so he should know what he is talking about) each Hebrew word should always be translated by the same English word, regardless of how poor the match is between the range of meanings of the Hebrew word and that of the English word in regular English usage (and indeed in the specific example we were discussing, the rendering of נֶפֶשׁ nephesh as "soul", even in the absence of any real overlap between these ranges of meanings). On this principle, it would be the responsibility of the reader to understand that the English word was not being used in the regular English way and instead to learn a completely new set of meanings of the word.

Michael, I am glad that you have clearly distanced yourself from this translation philosophy. But I am not sure that the translators of recent more literal versions from within the evangelical churches have distanced themselves from it so clearly.

 
At Mon May 22, 06:57:00 PM, Blogger son of abraham said...

Wayne wrote: Yes, it does and that's the point, isn't it?

If that is the point you intended to make, it's a very misleading point, because your argument was that this example revealed an inconsistency in the approach to translation exemplified in the RSV and ESV. As if we should have expected them to commit errors of Hebrew philology because of their approach to English translation.

When we translate form, but meaning of the original forms is not communicated accurately (as determined by adequate testing; you can design the tests to your satisfaction), how is that qualitatively different from the etymological fallacy?

It is qualitatively different because the one thing pertains to a method of translation, and the other pertains to the discernment of the meaning of words in the original language. You should not present such a ridiculous error as if it were an example of what the RSV and ESV translators would have written if they were consistent in their method. It is obviously not consistent with their method. Your argument is not fair or reasonable here, and most people who read your blog will not even be aware of the etymological error in your example.

How do we determine which forms need to be "adjusted" (your good term) during translation and which do not? I don't believe it is necessary to "adjust" any forms which accurately communicate original meaning when translated literally. That's how I was trained.

I think the conflict stems mostly from our different expectations about the readers, and about the ministry of the Word in the churches. Evidently you were trained to have some very low expectations. I am more optimistic.

 
At Mon May 22, 07:37:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

(Here is a definition of literal that I found in define google, but I can't access the original.)

literal - the ordinary or natural meaning of an expression, its primary meaning, in contrast to its figurative or secondary meaning

In any case, it is clear that the primary, concrete meaning of a word is the literal meaning. The secondary meaning is the figurative meaning. From this I would expect a literal translation to have a preference for the literal meaning as primary and to consider that first.

This is one reason that I have been surprised at the number of times the ESV and many other translations throw away a metaphor I think is worth keeping, like ορθοτομεω, and στοιχεω. In constrast to Wayne's position, I see that the so-called 'literal' translations ignore the metaphors that might give colour to the Bible, if no great doctrinal flavour of the week is at stake. So I agree completely with Wayne's thesis that they are not literal, but I think a little more colourful literalness could be explored now and then. The choices are not always the best about when to be literal and when not to be.

They keep a literal translation that is completely outmoded somewhere else. So this is a choice between literal and figurative. It is a decision made all the time. Darby at least tried to be literal more often, and he translated ορθοτομεω and σωζω in 1 Tim. 2 (they shall e preserved through childbearing)with their literal and primary meaning. That shows that Darby had a principle of choosing a literal translation first. Not that it was better, sometimes meaningless, but he understood the principle that he was using.

The translations today are always interpretive, but some claim not to be interpretive. What use is that?

You just can't have it both ways. You can't pass off a modern translation as a literal translation to someone like myself who was brought up on 'bowels of mercy.' Anything less than that is not literal.

I am not saying that I would prefer a literal transltion, except that I don't look down on them, they have their use. But What bothers me the most is that the translations are not identified correctly. There are too many misnomers around.

 
At Mon May 22, 07:42:00 PM, Blogger son of abraham said...

Wayne wrote: Yes, it does and that's the point, isn't it?

Wayne, I hate to be a pest about this, but I notice that in Peter's essay, Does God have a long nose? he does state that the "literal" meaning of the Hebrew word in the example is "nostrils," and he says that "anger" is a "metaphorical" sense. This is the etymological fallacy. He is asserting that the word still carries the "literal" meaning of "nostrils" in the contexts where it means anger, because it is a metaphorical usage. And your post here refers to that essay by Peter. So I suggest that if you don't want people to think that you have fallen into this etymological fallacy, you should remove the link and also your mention of this fictitious example of an "idiom" from your post.

 
At Tue May 23, 06:17:00 AM, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

Michael, I stand by my statement that "the "literal" meaning of the Hebrew word in the example is "nostrils," ... "anger" is a "metaphorical" sense". Here I was using a definition of "literal" similar to the one which Suzanne quoted: "the ordinary or natural meaning of an expression, its primary meaning, in contrast to its figurative or secondary meaning". And by "metaphorical" sense, I meant what this definition calls "its figurative or secondary meaning". It is not the etymological fallacy to relate and distinguish between the various meanings of a word.

Now I would expect a strictly literal translation, and certainly one which aims to be concordant like ERV or NWT, always to render the "literal" sense of a word rather than its figurative or secondary meaning. As such, arguably these translations are committing the etymological fallacy - but I am not! To the extent that RSV and ESV avoid excessive consistency, they also avoid the etymological fallacy - but they do need to be interpretive in determining which sense of a word is being used in any particular place.

 
At Tue May 23, 06:54:00 AM, Blogger son of abraham said...

Peter wrote: Michael, I stand by my statement that "the "literal" meaning of the Hebrew word in the example is "nostrils."

Peter, you say more than that. You write, "the LORD describes himself literally as having 'length of nose', or 'length of nostrils' .... So, those who call for idioms to be translated literally should, if they are consistent, call for this statement to be translated something like 'The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, the long-nosed one.'"

You have committed the etymological fallacy here, because you assert that "nostrils" continues to be the meaning of the word in this context. You say, "the LORD describes himself literally as having length of nose." And you explain it as a "metaphor" and an "idiom." This is ridiculous, Peter, and anyone who knows Hebrew will immediately see that you have committed an amateurish error of philology. You really should take this essay down.

 
At Tue May 23, 07:28:00 AM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

Michael,

I agree with Peter's essay completely, If you want a literal translation then you want a long-nosed God. If you don't mind an idiomatic translation then God can be slow to anger. The point is that you can't have it both ways. You can't say that a translation must be literal everwhere you want it to be and nowhere else, and still call it a literal translation.

Once a translation uses the figurative meaning for translating it becomes an idomatic/interpretive translation and they all are. However, the KJ is a little less so. That is why it still has bowels but not a long nose. It wasn't that literal.

 
At Tue May 23, 10:31:00 AM, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

No, Michael, this is not the etymological fallacy. The Hebrew word אַף 'aph really did have the current meaning "nostril", and in the dual "nose", in biblical Hebrew which was probably contemporary with Exodus, cf. Genesis 2:7, 7:22, Numbers 11:20, plus many references in probably rather later Hebrew. The etymological fallacy relates, as Wayne has explained, to a "claim that a previous meaning of a word is its current meaning". I am not making a claim about a previous meaning of the word, but about its contemporary primary and literal sense.

Now I accept that there is a fallacy here, the claim that the primary and literal sense of a word is its sense in every context. But it is not I who am committing this fallacy, but "those who call for idioms to be translated literally". So, Michael, the implication of what you say is that the entire principle of literal translation is built on a fallacy. I wouldn't go that far myself, but there is an argument here which needs to be rebutted.

Also, you misquote me when you state that "you explain it as a "metaphor" and an "idiom."" In that posting I am careful to distinguish between metaphors and idioms, and I call this particular "length of nose" expression an idiom, but do not call it a metaphor. It is an idiom, not a metaphor. I did write that "in Hebrew the word אַף 'af and its dual form אַפַּיִם 'appayim, literally "nose" or "nostrils", have a regular metaphorical sense of "anger"." But at that point I was referring to an extended sense of the word of metaphorical origin. If I was not clear then, I hope I have clarified this issue now.

 
At Tue May 23, 10:32:00 AM, Blogger son of abraham said...

Suzanne wrote: I agree with Peter's essay completely

I'm not surprised that you join with Peter. Neither am I impressed by it, when you merely repeat what he said.

 
At Tue May 23, 10:41:00 AM, Blogger son of abraham said...

Peter wrote: you misquote me.

I did not misquote you, and I have not misunderstood you. Anyone who reads your essay can see what you wrote (unless you change it), and it is quite clear that when you say "the LORD describes himself literally as having 'length of nose', or 'length of nostrils'" you are falsely attributing the meaning "nose" to the word in that context, and on the basis of an etymology. The only reasonable thing you can do about it at this point is to admit your error and revise the essay.

 
At Tue May 23, 11:01:00 AM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

Michael,

I have to ask you a question. I hope you will not be offended. How many languages do you speak fluently? There is something going on in your questions that makes me think you imagine translation as essentially and first a dictionary exercise. I support the use of a dictionary, but it is not the basis of translation. I wonder if there is some misunderstanding here.

I hope you don't mind sharing. I am not asking about your reading ability in Biblical languages, but more about life experience. I say this because I am trying to understand legitimately where you are coming from and if that will help to illuminate the misunderstanding that has developed.

 
At Tue May 23, 11:50:00 AM, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

I will not admit to any error. The only error is yours, Michael. You stated that I said that "length of nose" etc was a metaphor. I did not. Please withdraw your error of fact.

 
At Tue May 23, 02:58:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

Michael,

I don't know that I explained this well. Let me try again. If I learn something as a reading language, then I will take a text and learn the meaning of the words as they relate to a text.

However, if I learn the language in the way that a child does, I will learn all the concrete meanings first and then learn the use of these words in a secondary sense for abstract ideas later.

Just as adults learning to drive who do not speak English as a first langauge might learn the expression 'an elbow in the road', without ever realizing that 'elbow' is a body part. They might also think that 'shoulder' was only a part of the road and not a body part. Regardless of what they think, the body part is the literal and primary meaning of the words elbow and shoulder.

Likewise, in learning Greek and Hebrew some people sit down and learn all the body parts and family members, and concrete nouns and basic verbs, before they ever come to a Biblical text. Then they meet the secondary, or figurative and metaphorical meanings. So they are always aware of the derivative nature of these meanings. They may not use them in translation, but they clearly differentiate in their own mind between the two kinds of meaning.

So a linguist thinks always on these two levels and realizes that some metaphors are set forms, and the relationship to the concrete meaning is lost, they are opaque, and others are still transparent metaphors. So for a transparent metaphor it is worth considering, translate the concrete word and maintain a metaphor in English, or just translate the actual meaning of the word, even though it is a derivative meaning. Of course, the obvious one is 'wind' for 'spirit'. We can't really do that, it is too opaque. However, 'walk' for 'live' is transparent.

I am sure there are other terms for this. However, in my opinion, there is a simple misunderstanding of terms here.

 
At Tue May 23, 03:53:00 PM, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

Michael accused me of "falsely attributing the meaning "nose" to the word ... on the basis of an etymology". I never based anything on an etymology. I have justified this fully in a comment on the follow-up posting.

 
At Tue May 23, 04:07:00 PM, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

In my posting Does God have a long nose?, from August last year, I wrote the following about Exodus 34:6:

Astonishingly to English speakers, the LORD describes himself literally as having "length of nose", or "length of nostrils", Hebrew אֶרֶךְ אַפַּיִם 'erek 'appayim.

I accept that the wording here is somewhat abbreviated. I would have been a little more precise if I had chosen to write:

Astonishingly to English speakers, the LORD describes himself as having what might be literally translated as "length of nose", or "length of nostrils", Hebrew אֶרֶךְ אַפַּיִם 'erek 'appayim.

Also I wrote:

in Hebrew the word אַף 'af and its dual form אַפַּיִם 'appayim, literally "nose" or "nostrils", have a regular metaphorical sense of "anger".

Here it might have been more precise to refer to a primary sense "nose" or "nostrils" and a regular secondary sense of metaphorical origin (i.e. a "dead metaphor" sense) "anger".

But "what I have written, I have written". I stand by my posting, and I am not going to edit it. Note carefully that this posting was not about metaphors, but about idioms.

 

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