Thursday, July 28, 2005

Lost in Translation

From the "Translation is a Thorny Process" desk, we have something very interesting....

In the Pope's remarks to the clergy at Introd the other day, he said these words:
Vorrei, brevemente in quanto posso, rispondere alle parole di Sua Eccellenza, ma vorrei anche dire che il Papa non è un oracolo, è infallibile in situazioni rarissime, come sappiamo. Quindi condivido con voi queste domande, queste questioni. Soffro anch'io. Ma tutti insieme vogliamo, da una parte, soffrire su questi problemi e anche soffrendo trasformare i problemi, perché proprio la sofferenza è la via della trasformazione e senza sofferenza non si trasforma niente.
The curious word there is "oracolo" -- translated, it says, "...but I want also to say that the Pope is not an oracle, that he is infallible in only the rarest of situations, as we know." The whole paragraph in English reads (translation courtesy ICEL):
I would like as briefly as I can to respond to the words of His Excellency, but I want also to say that the Pope is not an oracle, that he is infallible in only the rarest of situations, as we know. Therefore, I share with you these questions, these issues. And I suffer too. But all of us together want, on the one hand, to suffer from the problems and also by suffering to transform the problems, because suffering is precisely the way of transformation and without suffering nothing is transformed.
CNS, in their piece the other day, rendered "oracolo" as "prophet." That's not a literal translation as the Italian for the latter is "propheta."

I have to ask: Is the Pope using the word "oracle" so bad that it has to be "cleaned up" for him? I'm reminded of a story from when John XXIII came to office. Even until that time -- and remember that, until 1958, visitors didn't just kiss the Pope's ring but his shoes as well -- L'Osservatore Romano would cite the papal remarks using such ostentation as, "The Pope illumined his listeners with these words..." "In an enlightened discourse, the faithful were exhorted..." and other such hysteria.

John, noting this, summoned the editor of the Vatican newspaper and told him, "Just say 'The Pope said...'"

Seems we're back to square one. And if people start kissing shoes again, it's all over.



Blogger Fred said...

Well, the pope is not an oracle or a psychic. But I thought he has been baptized and ordained to be a priest, prophet, and king.

28/7/05 12:29  
Blogger Gyrovagus said...

Quick, Rocco, better get Fred K that pesky cell-phone number that Monsignor Georg the Fabulous refuses to give out!

Just leave the message: "Fred K has a correction for Pope Benedict" - that should get a speedy callback.

The problem, Fred, isn't what the Pope said - he said ORACOLO.

The problem, which Rocco is bringing to our attention, is that the folks at CNS felt THEY had to SUBSTITUTE a DIFFERENT word for the one clearly chosen by the Pope. Maybe you agree with them, but surely the Pope can use whatever word he wants to use and expect CNS to translate it faithfully.

Hey, Rocco, when you get off the phone with Georg, buzz Big George in Sydney and tell him to get the Vox Clara Commission working on this! :-)

28/7/05 12:38  
Blogger Fred said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

28/7/05 13:04  
Blogger Fred said...

My apologies if my first post was less than clear. What I meant to say was that CNS not only translated the quote infelicitously, but ALSO made it sound as if His Holiness were distancing himself from the role of prophet. It could hardly be said that I agree with CNS in its error.

28/7/05 14:09  
Blogger Samuel J. Howard said...

"I have to ask: Is the Pope using the word "oracle" so bad that it has to be "cleaned up" for him?"

It's not clear that CNS translated this. In fact, the way the article puts it suggests that L'Osservato (sp?) did.

You're always telling the commenters or others that they're over the top in their assuming bad faith. How is this different?

29/7/05 09:06  

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