Writers on KJV of the Bible
Posted: 19 February 2011 05:11 AM   [ Ignore ]
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Another Guardian link with David Crystal doing the stats, linguists.

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Posted: 19 February 2011 06:15 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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I highly recommend Crystal’s Begat, which he references here, to anyone interested in the subject.  (While I agree with paeans to the gorgeous language of the KJV, I confess I got tired of reading them long ago; it’s much more interesting to me to read actual analysis.)

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Posted: 19 February 2011 08:28 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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King James does not use sub-clauses or dependent clauses; it is a direct English, and one you can still hear, even now, in northern speech, the kind we celebrate in Alan Bennett.
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I’m not familiar with the term “direct English”. Does it just mean English without sub-clauses and dependent clauses?

Is it _true_ there are no such clauses in the KJV?

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Posted: 20 February 2011 04:17 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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No, direct is not a term of art in this sense, and actually direct speech refers to reporting speech verbatim, with quotation marks, as opposed to indirect speech, which paraphrases and records oral statements in a circumlocutionary fashion. So direct is not a particularly good choice in this case, although Ms. Winterson’s meaning is clear.

I would doubt that there are no sub or dependent clauses in the KJV. That’s a bold and far-reaching statement. But there may be relatively few. But I’ll bet that’s a feature of the underlying Greek and Hebrew texts and not the result of the English translators. The Vulgate is similarly simple in its grammatical construction, lacking the complex phrasing that makes Latin students struggle so.

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Posted: 20 February 2011 07:18 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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But I’ll bet that’s a feature of the underlying Greek and Hebrew texts and not the result of the English translators.

It is both; there is no law saying that translators cannot use standard features of their own language when translating from a language that does not have them.  Articles are used in English to render texts in Russian that lack them, for instance.  Not using subordination is definitely a choice by the translators.

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Posted: 20 February 2011 08:04 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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But in biblical translation there is a strong tradition of using a literal translation as much as possible while maintaining the sense—you don’t want to mess with the word of God. I really can’t speak to the translations from Greek or Hebrew, but the Old English Heptateuch and the Douay-Rheims translation are close to word-for-word translations of the Vulgate. Yes, it’s a deliberate choice to stick to the original as much as possible.

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Posted: 20 February 2011 01:06 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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I would doubt that there are no sub or dependent clauses in the KJV.

“Doubt” is a rather weak reaction.

Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.
Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.
Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.

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Posted: 21 February 2011 09:57 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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There was quite a good book published a few years ago titled “Wide as the Waters” about the early English translations of the Bible, including the Tyndale bible and the KJV.

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Posted: 21 February 2011 10:41 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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Not to beat a dead horse (there’s probably something about that in Leviticus) but a couple of even more famous examples:

Our Father which art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.

I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods before me.

One has to conclude that either Winterson is not nearly as familiar with the KJV as she claims, that she doesn’t know what a dependent clause is, or that she let her words run far ahead of her brain.

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Posted: 21 February 2011 11:08 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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Not to beat a dead horse (there’s probably something about that in Leviticus)

Not quite, Doc. What Leviticus says is not to eat a dead horse.

;-)

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Posted: 21 February 2011 04:30 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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Still, rather simple constructions compared to what you’ll find in other classical writing. Say, Cicero.

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Posted: 22 February 2011 05:51 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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What Leviticus says is not to eat a dead horse.

Quick as a flash and witty too! (© Dylan Thomas) That’s one of the best gags posted here in a long, long time.

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Posted: 22 February 2011 01:53 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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Soory, didn’t know I was infringing a copyright (must have been that fourth vodka, considering whose copyright it was)

;-)
Edited to add a smile

[ Edited: 22 February 2011 02:11 PM by lionello ]
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Posted: 23 February 2011 04:00 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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No, no, I was the one quoting from under Milk Wood!

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Posted: 23 February 2011 05:13 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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Ah!

;-)

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Posted: 07 March 2011 08:27 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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Still, rather simple constructions compared to what you’ll find in other classical writing. Say, Cicero.

But that’s not the relevant comparison. Does it use simpler constructions (and in particular, substantially fewer dependent clauses), than other popular translations of the Bible?  That would be the comparison relevant to the claims in the article.

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