more on literary translation
Let's not confuse awkward or obsolescent or esoteric English with literary English. "Foreignizing" a Bible translation (that is, translating it is such a way that readers feel they are reading a translation of an ancient document, not a current composition) does not create a literary translation. We do not create literary English by increasing the number of Latinate words used as we write. We do not create literary English by including outdated words such as "thee" and "thou". We do not create a literary Bible translation by using theological words such as "sanctification," "justification," "redemption," or "propitiation." We do not create a literary translation by translating literally. The words "literal" and "literary" have related etymologies but they refer to quite different things.
It seems to me that a literary translation is a document which sounds like it was originally by a native speaker of a language in the written (as opposed to oral/spoken) style of that language. A number of studies have investigated the different properties of written vs. spoken English. See the following which discuss such differences:
- Perspectives on Written & Spoken English
- Differences between Speech and Writing
- Word Frequencies in Written and Spoken English
- Longman Student Grammar of Spoken and Written English
What are some of the characteristics of literary English?
Who are some contemporary (within the past fifty years) authors who write in good literary English?
Which, if any, English Bible versions read as if they could have been written by such authors?