I’ve studied Latin for decades. I am not Catholic but have attended Catholic masses and witnessed how readily people speak the words of the liturgy. The new translation is more faithful, in the most literal sense, to the Latin original. In response to the priest saying “The Lord be with you” (Dominus vobiscum), the congregation is now to say “and with your spirit,” which almost word for word follows the Latin et cum spiritu tuo (in Latin, word order is not as crucial as it is in English, so the adjective tuo can be placed after spiritu).
Most of the changes are within the prayers the priests say, but there are some notable differences in the responses by worshipers. The Nicene Creed, the central profession of faith, now starts with “I believe in one God” instead of “We believe in one God.” Jesus is now “consubstantial with the Father” rather than “of one Being with the Father.” Communion begins with the words, “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof,” instead of “Lord, I am not worthy to receive you.”
The Latin phrase from the Nicene Creed credo in unum Deum indeed says “I believe in one God.” Saying “consubstantial with the Father” might seem a bit of a tongue-twister. The Latin reads consubstantialem Patri and “consubstantial” is about as literal a translation as you can get to consubstantialem. ”Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof” is definitely much more literal a rendition of Domine, non sum dignus ut intres sub tectum meum, with intres the Latin word for “enter” and tectum meum meaning indeed “my roof” — though, in some ways, “roof” is itself a far too literal rendering of tectum whose basic definition is “roof,” but which is often used to mean “house.”
That is, some aspects of the translation of the new Roman Missal are too literal. Translating a text word-for-word is the most basic kind of translating; it is what you often get when you use Google Translate. Just converting the words of one text into the equivalents of another is not necessarily a translation or, that is, a translation that is more than basic “translatese,” a clunky-sounding text that rings odd in the language it’s been translated into, while still missing something from the original. Latin is a very different language from English in its sounds and its syntax and capturing the sound and sense of the original Latin requires more than just offering the English equivalents of Latin words.
Consider again the determinedly literal translation of consubstantialem Patri as “consubstantial with the Father” rather than “of one Being with the Father.” The word consubstantialem itself means “of like essence, nature or substance.” A literal translation of the phrase consubstantialem Patri could indeed be “of like essence with the Father”: Which version does this sound closer to?
Related Care2 Coverage
Photo by Bowsk
Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may
not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.