3 Hofstadter
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I must also mention that Douglas Hofstadter wrote a book "Le Ton Beau de Marot" about translation, especially translation of poetry, which emphasizes the degree to which form and meaning can both be preserved with assiduous effort and constant faith that there must be an answer. I read this book, and tried to take the lessons to heart.

I must also mention that Douglas Hofstadter wrote a book "Le Ton Beau de Marot" about translation, especially translation of poetry, which emphasizes the degree to which form and meaning can both be preserved with assiduous effort and constant faith that there must be an answer. I read this book, and tried to take the lessons to heart.

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For the specific question of philosophy: a good translation preserves both dynamic and formal meaning, so that it is correct in form, and in imagery and meaning. The tradeoff between the two is not as large seeming for someone fluent in both languages. The major impediments to translation is that people have crazy religious interpretations of every sentence, so that they do not translate the simple meaning (the "Pshat" in Jewish terminology) accurately, but translate to preserve all the cockamamie wrongheaded crufty interpretations over the millenia. I didn't do that, I stuck to the Pshat.

For the specific question of philosophy: a good translation preserves both dynamic and formal meaning, so that it is correct in form, and in imagery and meaning. The tradeoff between the two is not as large seeming for someone fluent in both languages. The major impediments to translation is that people have crazy religious interpretations of every sentence, so that they do not translate the simple meaning (the "Pshat" in Jewish terminology) accurately, but translate to preserve all the cockamamie wrongheaded crufty interpretations over the millenia. I didn't do that, I stuck to the Pshat.

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The Wikisource bible translation project is essentially dead. There are a lot of ancient Greek speakers, so there is almost all the New Testament, but the parts I saw were spotty, because many different people contributed, with very different translation styles.

As far as the Hebrew translations, I'm pretty much the only person that did major books (the exceptions are Ruth and Song of Songs at present writing). I can tell you my motivations. I am a secular native Hebrew speaker. Modern Hebrew is about as different from ancient Hebrew as Shakespeare's English is different from modern English. Aramaic is about as different from modern Hebrew as Chaucer's English is different from modern English. This means that a modern Hebrew speaker can read the Bible about as fluently as you read Shakespeare.

That's not 100% fluent, there are obscure words and shifted meanings. But these are easy to catch, since I had access to all previous English translations for help with vocabulary.

My main goal in translation was to preserve the brevity. The Bible is very terse in Hebrew, and religious translators, out of misplaced reverence, bulk up the translation with extra words. For example, one place I saw the word "Vehaya" which means "And it was" translated as "and in due course it came to pass"! This type of nonsense makes the English unreadable in any fluent way, and the following guideline make it simple to keep the readability

  • Preserve the approximate syllable count

This means that "Vehaya" can be "And it was", but not "And as it turned out to be". You can violate this rule, of course, but not too much, so that the flow of the narrative is preserved more or less. All other translations violate this in a gross way, leading people to think that Hebrew is a magic language with terse terms for very specific English meanings. It's not.

The second principle I adhered to is

  • Preserve Aramaic endings

This one means that if "they walked" is rendered "Hithalchun" with the distinctive Aramaic ending, I wrote it as "they did walketh", in faux-archaic English. This lets the English reader date the text by themselves as well as a Hebrew speaker, since Aramic tinged Hebrew is later stuff.

The third principle, important for poetry

  • Preserve meter (when important)

many of the Psalms show a blank verse poetry. Translating the Psalms is challenging (especially compared to the straightforward Genesis or Exodus), and the meter is ignored by many translations, leading to clunky poetry.

The word choices are informed by previous translations, but I only read these after writing a sketch, so as to fix my screw-ups (which I had plenty of, but I think I fixed most of them, and footnoted the rest).

There is absolutely no scholarship used in these translations, beyond the implicit scholarship which kept the Hebrew language alive, and the scholarship that went into previous translations. Everything there is original text, with minor one-word corrections from previous versions (or a reworded sentence when I totally misread something).

I believe the translation I did of Genesis/Exodus/Leviticus/Lamentations/Psalms1-60/Eccelesiastes blows every other translation out of the water. When I read my translation, I get the same feeling as when I read the Hebrew, with the same pacing, and the same style, even distinguishing the different authors. When I read other translations, no, no, no. I will let readers judge for themselves.