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Monday, March 12, 2007

my familiar friend

In my man of my peace post on Ps. 41:9, I did not include the translation wording from the KJV. I should have: I have gotten the message from comments to the post! So here is the KJV translation of the Hebrew idiom (which would be literally translated as "man of my peace"):
mine own familiar friend
The same wording is used in the ASV (1901). Translations of the Hebrew idiom prior to the KJV were:
the man of my pees (Wycliffe, 1395)
myne owne familier frende (Coverdale Bible, 1535)
myne owne friende whom I trusted (Bishop's Bible, 1568)
my familiar friend (Geneva Bible, 1587)
I mentioned in my previous post on this topic that none of the 21 versions I had checked translated the Hebrew idiom literally. With the ASV, Wycliffe, Bishop's, and Geneva Bible, we have four more English translations. And, finally, we get to see that one English version translated the Hebrew idiom literally. It is the Wycliffe translation of 1395 A.D. which translates the idiom as "the man of my peace" (current spelling).

As some of you may have noticed, Anonymous and I have been having a spirited discussion about how we can best discover what kind of language the people for whom we are translating use. Anonymous understands the wording "my familiar friend" to refer to a friend with whom I am familiar. I have mentioned to him that in my idiolect (my personal dialect) of English, I do not use "familiar" as an adjective modifying a noun, as in:
my familiar book
my familiar teacher
my familiar friend
As a descriptive linguist, I simply observe these dialect differences. They are important. They are even important for what words we use in Bible translations.

So, I'd like to try to do what I have been trained to do and that is conduct an empirical study of "my familiar friend." Yes, it means another poll on our blog! And, yes, I recognize that such polls are not scientifically accurate. For us to have a scientifically accurate, we would need to field test a truly random sample of English speakers. But such tests are not easy to conduct, unless you are standing in a parking lot of a K-Mart, Wal-Mart, Macey's, or whichever store you choose, hoping to get a random sample of typical English speakers.

Please vote in the newest poll (red background) in the margin of our blog. There will be a place in the poll where you can add comments about your responses or the poll itself. It is not necessary for you to add your name with your comments, but you can if you wish.

Anonymous and I both recognize that the results of this poll will not determine with any certainty how the word "familiar" is used and understood today. We both know that such polls are not scientific. But, at a minimum, this exercise should be fun, at least it will be for me. I hope it will be for you, and Anonymous, as well.

5 Comments:

At Mon Mar 12, 06:14:00 PM, Blogger Michael Sly said...

Wayne, as an FYI, I just looked this up in the several versions I have in e-Sword and I see that the Douay-Rheims Bible of 1899 has it translated, "Psa 41:9 (41:10) For even the man of my peace, in whom I trusted, who ate my bread, hath greatly supplanted me." as well as the Apostles Bible translation, "Psa 41:9 For even the man of my peace, in whom I trusted, who ate my bread, lifted up his heel against me."

 
At Mon Mar 12, 07:05:00 PM, Blogger Wayne Leman said...

Oh, thank you, Michael, for noting more versions that have the literal translation. I find it interesting.

 
At Tue Mar 13, 01:18:00 AM, Blogger Ruud Vermeij said...

The Dutch Statenvertaling has a literal translation "Zelfs de man mijns vredes" (Even the man of my peace)

(The Statenvertaling is to Holland what KJV is to England...)

 
At Tue Mar 13, 08:35:00 AM, Blogger Jeremy Pierce said...

When I hear someone talking about their familiar friend, I will likely expect them to pull out some small animal that they intend to use as a magical aid for spell-casting.

 
At Tue Mar 13, 12:18:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

When I hear someone talking about their familiar friend, I will likely expect them to pull out some small animal that they intend to use as a magical aid for spell-casting.

Jeremy,

If you had said "if I heard", instead of "when I hear" then your statement might have some credibility.

Are you seriously telling me that this has happened, that you have friends who use small animals as magical aids for spell-casting?

 

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