Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam

Essential thinking for reading Catholics.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Here We Go Again or "Lousy English Translations, Pt. CCXVIII"

I clicked on the Vatican site to read the Holy Father's Apostolic Exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium ("The Gospel of Joy"). As I started on it some things didn't quite "read" right. Immediately the old neuralgia flared up: This is one of THOSE English translations, innit?

Regular readers will note my ceaseless tilting at this particular windmill. Some may even recall my outburst of lunacy when I correctly translated into English one of B16's. (Some days the tic won't leave me.)

But my problem with catastrophic translations into English are twofold:

1- They are so bad they cannot be ineptitude or an occasional lapse. They are willful.
2- The Anglosphere, while comprising +/-10% of the world's Catholics, account for outsized percentage of its influence, in finance/economy, culture etc. It is for this reason I double-down on my assertion these incorrect translations are willful; they have an agenda.

Let me offer just ONE compare 'n' contrast, adding some emphasis to underscore that what you've been told "ain't necessarily so."

Official English Version

54. In this context, some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world. This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system. Meanwhile, the excluded are still waiting. To sustain a lifestyle which excludes others, or to sustain enthusiasm for that selfish ideal, a globalization of indifference has developed. Almost without being aware of it, we end up being incapable of feeling compassion at the outcry of the poor, weeping for other people’s pain, and feeling a need to help them, as though all this were someone else’s responsibility and not our own. The culture of prosperity deadens us; we are thrilled if the market offers us something new to purchase; and in the meantime all those lives stunted for lack of opportunity seem a mere spectacle; they fail to move us.

Correct English Translation

54. In this context, some still defend "spillover" theories which suppose that all economic growth, for which a free market is [most] favorable, by itself brings about greater equity and social inclusion in the world. This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naïve confidence in the generosity of those who wield economic power and in the sacralized mechanisms of that ruling economic system. [This sounds to me like a description of the oligarchic systems prevalent in Latin America and the rest of the developing world more than anything else.] Meanwhile, the excluded are still waiting. To sustain a lifestyle which excludes others, or to be enthusiastic about that egotistical ideal, a globalization of indifference has developed. Almost [i.e. practically] without warning, we end up being incapable of feeling compassion for others, weeping at the anguish of others, and being disinterested in helping them, as though all this were a foreign responsibility which does not concern us. The culture of wellbeing anesthetizes us; we lose our composure [literally "lose our calm"] if the market offers something we have not yet purchased; and in the meantime all those lives truncated from a lack of opportunity seem to be mere spectacle which in no way alters us.

The whole translation is awash with horrors. Elsewhere it specifically talks about, more deeply, about the lack of economic opportunity for the poor, lack of jobs and upward mobility.

I'll try to get the whole thing translated...96pp in Spanish is easier for me than 120pp in Latin. But still, be patient.

-J.

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