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Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Advent translation

I have been thinking that I would like to have a few posts relating to translation of Advent passages from the Bible. I am short on time these days as I rush to complete formatting the Cheyenne translation for printing. I have to get the files to the printer in time for them to be printed and the books shipped to arrive before the dedication of the Cheyenne translation on January 28.

Anyway, here is a short post, but important translation issue:

In Matthew 1:18 we are told in Greek that Mary, en gastri echousa, literally, "had in the belly." That Greek phrase referred to being pregnant. English versions have translated that Greek in a variety of ways. Some people have mocked the TNIV for revising the NIV translation of the Greek, "be with child," to "be pregnant." I don't understand why translation as "be pregnant" should be mocked and criticized so strongly since it is accurate and clear.

In any case, I'd like to survey visitors to this blog to find out if you feel that your own ways of referring to pregnancy would be a good translation of the Greek in Matthew 1:18.

Please think about the various ways you currently refer to pregnancy. Then answer the survey in the right margin of this blog. Please try to answer based ONLY on how you currently speak, not influenced by any Bible version. This is not a survey to find out what wordings you like in English Bible versions.


At Tue Dec 19, 11:22:00 AM, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

Wayne, is the Greek expression actually a euphemism, or is it just the normal way of saying "pregnant"? Was there actually any other word used in normal written Greek? Of course there might have been a really vulgar one which has not survived in any written document. But is it a euphemism to use the normal polite word for such a matter rather than a vulgar one?

And where is the survey? The only one I can see is the very old "biggest concern about English Bible versions" one.

At Tue Dec 19, 11:32:00 AM, Blogger Wayne Leman said...

Peter, I don't know the answers to your first questions. I hope that that does not detract from the survey, whose results are important to the debate among some as to how the Greek words should be translated to English.

The survey is up now. First I wrote the post, then created the survey.

At Tue Dec 19, 11:37:00 AM, Blogger Wayne Leman said...

Peter, I have removed the word "euphemism" from the post so it will not hinder good discussion and nice surveying.

At Tue Dec 19, 12:51:00 PM, Blogger Carl W. Conrad said...

All I can think of is "shades of Archie Bunker!": "DON'T mention that woid!"

At Tue Dec 19, 01:45:00 PM, Blogger Wayne Leman said...

Carl said:

All I can think of is "shades of Archie Bunker!": "DON'T mention that woid!"

Oh, yes, Carl, your comment reminds me of how my father handles the problem He abbreviates that "woid" to "pg."

At Tue Dec 19, 05:51:00 PM, Blogger exegete77 said...

When I was young(er) (more than 50 years ago) "in a family way" was common. By the time I was in high school, "was pregnant" was accepted, but "knocked up" was the vulgar/slang term. When our grandkids came along, it seemed that "going to have a baby" was the common language phrase, although most still accepted "was pregnant".

Gee, If I live another half century (well, far beyond that!), there might be three more shifts in terminology just for one concept!!!


At Wed Dec 20, 05:50:00 AM, Blogger David said...

For me context plays some role in the choice: If the woman is pregnant (the physical condition) and she is young and not married, the phrase "knocked up" may be used. If the woman is married, and out of her teens, the usage would be "pregnant" or "going to have a baby." If I am talking to a child, I would probably use the phrase "to have a baby."

So I believe that context has a large role in which phrase or word one uses.

At Wed Dec 20, 10:41:00 AM, Blogger Richard A. Rhodes said...

Wayne, sorry I haven't been checking in much recently, but I have my 2¢ on this one.

This is one of those areas with lots of words and phrases (as suggested by the survey): be pregnant, be preggers (Brit.), be expecting, be in a family way, have a bun in the oven (note the difference for me here), and so on, before you even get to the technical and "fancy" ones: be gravid, be parturient, be enceinte.

'be with child' is just Bible-speak.

It's hard to say what's natural in the abstract, just because there are so many options, so I'm with David here. In most contexts I'd say 'be expecting' is the least marked.

Did you hear? Mary's ____.

in a family way (very euphemistic)
going to have a baby (slightly juvenile)
expecting (neutral)
pregnant (a little strong)
knocked up (very strong)

But expecting doesn't work here.

"they found Mary was expecting" (ugh!)

I pretty much have to say 'they found out she was pregnant' to get the most neutral reading.

And the survey says ....


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