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Sunday, May 06, 2007

Make a mouth

I have been spending a bit more time in French bibles, using the Dictionnaire Grec-Français, which arrived on Friday. Wow. I will write at greater length about it soon. I have been trying compose a reasonable review of it.

In the meantime, here is a true oddity I only really picked up on, reading in French. I was reading Psalm 22, since it is one of the the few Psalms that I know well in French, when suddenly I looked at a word and thought, there is absolutely no way to say this in English, is there. Sure enough, there isn't really. What do you think?

ils me font la moue Bible Martin 1707

they shoot out the lip KJV
They separate with the lip NASB
they make mouths at me ESV
they make faces at me Message
They sneer NLT, HCSB
makes fun and sneers CEV
they hurl insults TNIV NIV

In French the word moue means to make a face, but definitely it is with the mouth only. It really means to stick out your lips in an expression of disgust. It is best described as a two-lip pout.

But really, I am surprised that the so-called literal English translations have "make a mouth" and "separate with the lip". I don't think I have ever heard the first one, and the second one sounds like an activity in which one divides 6 ply embroidery thread into separate strands. You hold one end with your lips and then both hands are free to untwine the thread. "Hurl insults" sounds close to "shoot off your mouth" - is that what it means?

The Message seems to say it best, although the HCSB and NLT are good too. But I could be wrong. Which one is closest to the Hebrew?


At Sun May 06, 10:36:00 PM, Blogger Charity said...

Very interesting, Suzanne. The Français Courant and the Bible du Semeur also translate this as "faire la moue". The nearest equivalent in English would definitely be to pout.

At Mon May 07, 08:08:00 AM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

Yes, that is the usual equivalent but I think grimace maybe also. Some kind of negative expression.

At Mon May 07, 08:17:00 AM, Blogger Wayne Leman said...

Which one is closest to the Hebrew?

The NASB is closest to the *form* of the Hebrew, but its English wording does not at all communicate the meaning of the Hebrew form to English speakers. Here is the NET Bible footnote on that:

Heb “they separate with a lip.” Apparently this refers to their verbal taunting.

At Mon May 07, 08:30:00 AM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

Then the NIV and TNIV are closer.

At Mon May 07, 11:21:00 AM, Blogger Tim said...

The Hebrew is problematic, a hapax legomenon, though the verb does occur elsewhere in the qal stem. Absent any deeper research I'd assume it means "open their lips" = gape.

One the French "faire la moue" what's wrong with "purse the lips" the gesture is different, cf. and (a bit over half way down) but the meaning is close! Since the phrase "purse the lips" occurs "about 1580" times on Google I'm assuming it is US usage as well as English...

At Mon May 07, 11:22:00 AM, Blogger Tim said...

Read "On the French..." NOT "One the French..." sorry


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