Good Translation for Plato's Republic?

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stutterin' steve
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Re: Good Translation for Plato's Republic?

Post by stutterin' steve » Fri Apr 17, 2015 2:53 pm

Melchior wrote:
stutterin' steve wrote:Melchior! I knew I recognized that spleen-venting vitriol, and your later comments confirmed it. You're the guy who used to argue with all the good Amazon reviews of West's Four Texts.

Bloom is a fine translation, folks. If you don't like Bloom, try Sachs. Jowett is beautiful, I grant, but it is not reliable enough for the Greekless reader to use in study. It's as simple as that.
"A fine translation"? Bullshit! You haven't the slightest idea what you are talking about! You are totally clueless about what a translation can and cannot do. I'm sick and tired of moronic academics like you, who don't have the faintest knowledge of translation, spouting your ignorance. Bloom is a cultural terrorist! His translation is not even readable! West should be prosecuted for fraud! How he holds an academic position is beyond comprehension, and in saying that I'm being kind! I will be glad to send you my paper on the subject to show you how formal equivalence is hopelessly inadequate as a translation method
Why are you so angry? All this rage really can't be good for your health.

For the record, I do know what I am talking about: I hold a doctorate in philosophy, and have spent quite a good amount of time translating the writings of Plato and Xenophon as well as Nietzsche. Perhaps - just perhaps! - people can hold different opinions than yours without being "totally clueless" or "moronic." Perhaps - just perhaps! - you should consider what exactly it is in your own soul that makes you rant like this. You come off not as a thoughtful person whose views ought to be considered, but instead as a misologist who is incapable of reasonable discourse and instead resorts to invective and abuse. You do not present yourself in a flattering light.

Again, folks: Jowett is quite beautiful. It is not that accurate, however. Bloom is less beautiful. It is more accurate and precise, however. It is a fine translation.

Melchior
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Re: Good Translation for Plato's Republic?

Post by Melchior » Fri Apr 17, 2015 3:19 pm

stutterin' steve wrote:
Melchior wrote:
stutterin' steve wrote:Melchior! I knew I recognized that spleen-venting vitriol, and your later comments confirmed it. You're the guy who used to argue with all the good Amazon reviews of West's Four Texts.

Bloom is a fine translation, folks. If you don't like Bloom, try Sachs. Jowett is beautiful, I grant, but it is not reliable enough for the Greekless reader to use in study. It's as simple as that.
"A fine translation"? Bullshit! You haven't the slightest idea what you are talking about! You are totally clueless about what a translation can and cannot do. I'm sick and tired of moronic academics like you, who don't have the faintest knowledge of translation, spouting your ignorance. Bloom is a cultural terrorist! His translation is not even readable! West should be prosecuted for fraud! How he holds an academic position is beyond comprehension, and in saying that I'm being kind! I will be glad to send you my paper on the subject to show you how formal equivalence is hopelessly inadequate as a translation method
Why are you so angry? All this rage really can't be good for your health.

For the record, I do know what I am talking about: I hold a doctorate in philosophy, and have spent quite a good amount of time translating the writings of Plato and Xenophon as well as Nietzsche. Perhaps - just perhaps! - people can hold different opinions than yours without being "totally clueless" or "moronic." Perhaps - just perhaps! - you should consider what exactly it is in your own soul that makes you rant like this. You come off not as a thoughtful person whose views ought to be considered, but instead as a misologist who is incapable of reasonable discourse and instead resorts to invective and abuse. You do not present yourself in a flattering light.

Again, folks: Jowett is quite beautiful. It is not that accurate, however. Bloom is less beautiful. It is more accurate and precise, however. It is a fine translation.

This is totally false and you know it. Bloom's translation is a travesty and worthless, unintelligible garbage (see the comparison, above). Like many, you haven't the faintest hint of understanding translation. It is not part of your academic training. A PhD in philosophy does not qualify you to speak about translation or prepare translations, which requires special training, knowledge, and skill. From my experience, people in philosophy, of all the disciplines, know the least about translation. You are like a cargo cult member trying to fashion an airplane made of twigs. That won't fly, my friend. I will be glad to send you my paper so you can learn and understand.

Being a race car driver does not qualify you as a race car mechanic, now does it?

stutterin' steve
Posts: 7
Joined: Wed Apr 15, 2015 9:08 pm

Re: Good Translation for Plato's Republic?

Post by stutterin' steve » Fri Apr 17, 2015 4:08 pm

Melchior wrote:
This is totally false and you know it. Bloom's translation is a travesty and worthless, unintelligible garbage. Like many, you haven't the faintest hint of understanding translation. It is not part of your academic training. A PhD in philosophy does not qualify you to speak about translation or prepare translations, which requires special training, knowledge, and skill. From my experience, people in philosophy, of all the disciplines, know the least about translation. You are like a cargo cult member trying to fashion an airplane made of twigs. That won't fly, my friend. I will be glad to send you my paper so you can learn and understand.

Being a race car driver does not qualify you as a race car mechanic, now does it?
Do you actually have an argument to make? I don't see one.

Why don't you look at Bloom's discussion of the principles that guided his choices in making his translation and explain why they're wrong? Invective is not argument. Name-calling is not argument. These are things people do when they don't actually have an argument. If you have an argument, make it. Try to change people's minds - but recognize that name-calling and spleen-venting don't make people more open to your point of view. Such rhetorical tactics just make people write you off as yet another angry Internet Tough Guy.

Melchior
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Re: Good Translation for Plato's Republic?

Post by Melchior » Fri Apr 17, 2015 4:32 pm

stutterin' steve wrote:
Melchior wrote:
This is totally false and you know it. Bloom's translation is a travesty and worthless, unintelligible garbage. Like many, you haven't the faintest hint of understanding translation. It is not part of your academic training. A PhD in philosophy does not qualify you to speak about translation or prepare translations, which requires special training, knowledge, and skill. From my experience, people in philosophy, of all the disciplines, know the least about translation. You are like a cargo cult member trying to fashion an airplane made of twigs. That won't fly, my friend. I will be glad to send you my paper so you can learn and understand.

Being a race car driver does not qualify you as a race car mechanic, now does it?
Do you actually have an argument to make? I don't see one.

Why don't you look at Bloom's discussion of the principles that guided his choices in making his translation and explain why they're wrong?
I have done exactly that and wrote a 50-page paper, which I offered to you. Do you want it or not? Bloom is so stupid it makes me sick to my stomach.
Last edited by Melchior on Fri Apr 17, 2015 4:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.

stutterin' steve
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Re: Good Translation for Plato's Republic?

Post by stutterin' steve » Fri Apr 17, 2015 4:41 pm

Dude. Take a deep breath. Relax. It's an informal discussion on an internet discussion board. Summarize the argument for people. You don't need to go into all the details. Your thesis is "Bloom's translation is a travesty." Provide some of the supporting evidence. Calling people names and shouting "go read my paper!" doesn't do it. And no offense, but if I'm going to spend some time poring over 50 pages of scholarly writing, it's not going to be something by someone who seems to think name-calling is argument. You have an argument. So tell us what it is, please. Don't say "go read my article." Summarize your argument. If your summary is compelling, maybe I will think it is worth my effort to go read your article. But at the moment, you're just the guy who says "shut up!", who explodes in rage, and who calls people names - these things don't make me think the article is worth my time. So change my mind.

Melchior
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Re: Good Translation for Plato's Republic?

Post by Melchior » Fri Apr 17, 2015 4:44 pm

stutterin' steve wrote:Dude. Take a deep breath. Relax. It's an informal discussion on an internet discussion board. Summarize the argument for people. You don't need to go into all the details. Your thesis is "Bloom's translation is a travesty." Provide some of the supporting evidence. Calling people names and shouting "go read my paper!" doesn't do it. And no offense, but if I'm going to spend some time poring over 50 pages of scholarly writing, it's not going to be something by someone who seems to think name-calling is argument. You have an argument. So tell us what it is, please. Don't say "go read my article." Summarize your argument. If your summary is compelling, maybe I will think it is worth my effort to go read your article. But at the moment, you're just the guy who says "shut up!", who explodes in rage, and who calls people names - these things don't make me think the article is worth my time. So change my mind.

My paper cites Bloom's statements and discusses them in detail, showing where the faults are. I would not have written such a detailed paper if I could have summarized it in a web post. If you want to read it, I will be glad to send it to you. Philosophers seem to be infuriatingly obtuse, and only by shouting at them can I get through. Otherwise, I'm wasting my time. Philosophers seem to think they know about translation. The problem is that they don't.

Mark Twain said it best:

"It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so."

Philosophers know a lot about translation that just ain't so.
Last edited by Melchior on Fri Apr 17, 2015 4:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.

stutterin' steve
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Re: Good Translation for Plato's Republic?

Post by stutterin' steve » Fri Apr 17, 2015 4:48 pm

If you understand your own argument, you should be able to present a cogent summary of the major points. If we were on an elevator together, and I said "tell me about your paper - what are the main lines of argument?" what would you tell me? Would you say "go read it?" If you were interviewing for a job, and the hiring committee said "tell us about this paper - what are the main lines of the argument?" what would be your response?

It is not, or at least it should not be, a hard question.

Melchior
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Re: Good Translation for Plato's Republic?

Post by Melchior » Fri Apr 17, 2015 4:52 pm

stutterin' steve wrote:If you understand your own argument, you should be able to present a cogent summary of the major points. If we were on an elevator together, and I said "tell me about your paper - what are the main lines of argument?" what would you tell me? Would you say "go read it?" If you were interviewing for a job, and the hiring committee said "tell us about this paper - what are the main lines of the argument?" what would be your response?

It is not, or at least it should not be, a hard question.
This is not a summary, but the principal assertion of my paper. There is much more to it.

The "formal equivalence" approach to translation (which is what Bloom advocates) captures only the superficial structure but not the meaning, which is independent of that. Formal equivalence fails to live up to the claims made for it. It is not more accurate but less so, and "accuracy" is a problematic concept in translation to begin with.

Melchior
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Re: Good Translation for Plato's Republic?

Post by Melchior » Fri Apr 17, 2015 6:47 pm

stutterin' steve wrote:If you understand your own argument, you should be able to present a cogent summary of the major points. If we were on an elevator together, and I said "tell me about your paper - what are the main lines of argument?" what would you tell me? Would you say "go read it?" If you were interviewing for a job, and the hiring committee said "tell us about this paper - what are the main lines of the argument?" what would be your response?

It is not, or at least it should not be, a hard question.

Well?

stutterin' steve
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Re: Good Translation for Plato's Republic?

Post by stutterin' steve » Sat Apr 18, 2015 4:35 am

Well?

Well, it's the weekend, and I spend the weekend with my friends, not on the internet.

What part of the country are you in (you don't have to answer)? I'm more than happy to spring for a few pints and talk about this, if you're in my neck of the woods.

Melchior
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Re: Good Translation for Plato's Republic?

Post by Melchior » Sun Apr 19, 2015 1:13 am

stutterin' steve wrote:Well?

Well, it's the weekend, and I spend the weekend with my friends, not on the internet.

What part of the country are you in (you don't have to answer)? I'm more than happy to spring for a few pints and talk about this, if you're in my neck of the woods.
Send me a PM.

stutterin' steve
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Re: Good Translation for Plato's Republic?

Post by stutterin' steve » Mon Apr 20, 2015 10:22 pm

No need, I think. I'm in the Washington DC metro area; it's not a state secret.

You wrote: "The "formal equivalence" approach to translation (which is what Bloom advocates) captures only the superficial structure but not the meaning, which is independent of that. Formal equivalence fails to live up to the claims made for it. It is not more accurate but less so, and "accuracy" is a problematic concept in translation to begin with"

Do you think Bloom would accept your characterization of his method? Or would he agree that the meaning is independent of the "superficial structure"? I think he would agree - though he would also say that the superficial structure is the key to discovering the meaning. Those interpreters who "compress" the text in order to discover "doctrines" are at least as guilty of violence to the text as you seem to think Bloom is (I have in mind the sort of argument advanced by Gilbert Ryle in his famous review of Bloom, etc., which argues that one must "Aristotelianize" Plato, purging the text of all drama, poetry, and humanity. What an insulting idea, to both Plato and Aristotle).

Bloom would suggest that he is trying to maintain the ambiguity and hesitations present in Plato's Greek, out of a belief that those ambiguities are deliberately present. Another way to approach it is to ask: how can we translate a work without always already imposing an interpretation on it (think about the effect of medieval interpretations of Aristotle on the choices made by many later translators of Aristotle's work)? If the translator wants - as much as is possible within the limits of the possible- to get out of the reader's way, what should he or she do? When Machiavelli speaks of virtu, should we now render it as "strength" and later as "virtue" and still later as something else? Or should we just use the English virtue, precisely because it maintains the shocking ambiguity of Machiavelli's teaching despite (or because of) the common meaning of the word?

Melchior
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Re: Good Translation for Plato's Republic?

Post by Melchior » Tue Apr 21, 2015 1:55 am

stutterin' steve wrote:No need, I think. I'm in the Washington DC metro area; it's not a state secret.

You wrote: "The "formal equivalence" approach to translation (which is what Bloom advocates) captures only the superficial structure but not the meaning, which is independent of that. Formal equivalence fails to live up to the claims made for it. It is not more accurate but less so, and "accuracy" is a problematic concept in translation to begin with"

Do you think Bloom would accept your characterization of his method? Or would he agree that the meaning is independent of the "superficial structure"? I think he would agree - though he would also say that the superficial structure is the key to discovering the meaning.
I don't know or care what he would say. He wrote enough for me to understand what he tried to do. I answer his arguments and show that they don't hold water.
Those interpreters who "compress" the text in order to discover "doctrines" are at least as guilty of violence to the text as you seem to think Bloom is (I have in mind the sort of argument advanced by Gilbert Ryle in his famous review of Bloom, etc., which argues that one must "Aristotelianize" Plato, purging the text of all drama, poetry, and humanity. What an insulting idea, to both Plato and Aristotle).

Bloom would suggest that he is trying to maintain the ambiguity and hesitations present in Plato's Greek, out of a belief that those ambiguities are deliberately present.
You need to read the paper. Also, I don't know what you mean by 'compress'.
Another way to approach it is to ask: how can we translate a work without always already imposing an interpretation on it (think about the effect of medieval interpretations of Aristotle on the choices made by many later translators of Aristotle's work)? If the translator wants - as much as is possible within the limits of the possible- to get out of the reader's way, what should he or she do?
Tell the reader to learn the foreign language. He can't 'get out of the reader's way'. It's impossible. The reader is reading him , not the original author.
When Machiavelli speaks of virtu, should we now render it as "strength" and later as "virtue" and still later as something else?
Yes, as appropriate for English idiom.
Or should we just use the English virtue, precisely because it maintains the shocking ambiguity of Machiavelli's teaching despite (or because of) the common meaning of the word?
It depends on the context, as always.

Melchior
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Re: Good Translation for Plato's Republic?

Post by Melchior » Tue Apr 21, 2015 2:12 am

stutterin' steve wrote:No need, I think. I'm in the Washington DC metro area; it's not a state secret.

You wrote: "The "formal equivalence" approach to translation (which is what Bloom advocates) captures only the superficial structure but not the meaning, which is independent of that. Formal equivalence fails to live up to the claims made for it. It is not more accurate but less so, and "accuracy" is a problematic concept in translation to begin with"

Do you think Bloom would accept your characterization of his method? Or would he agree that the meaning is independent of the "superficial structure"? I think he would agree - though he would also say that the superficial structure is the key to discovering the meaning. Those interpreters who "compress" the text in order to discover "doctrines" are at least as guilty of violence to the text as you seem to think Bloom is (I have in mind the sort of argument advanced by Gilbert Ryle in his famous review of Bloom, etc., which argues that one must "Aristotelianize" Plato, purging the text of all drama, poetry, and humanity. What an insulting idea, to both Plato and Aristotle).

Bloom would suggest that he is trying to maintain the ambiguity and hesitations present in Plato's Greek, out of a belief that those ambiguities are deliberately present. Another way to approach it is to ask: how can we translate a work without always already imposing an interpretation on it (think about the effect of medieval interpretations of Aristotle on the choices made by many later translators of Aristotle's work)? If the translator wants - as much as is possible within the limits of the possible- to get out of the reader's way, what should he or she do? When Machiavelli speaks of virtu, should we now render it as "strength" and later as "virtue" and still later as something else? Or should we just use the English virtue, precisely because it maintains the shocking ambiguity of Machiavelli's teaching despite (or because of) the common meaning of the word?
Consider this passage in Nietzsche's Gay Science:

Das aber können wir nicht:—so wollen wir denn thun, was wir einzig können: der Erde Licht bringen, "das Licht der Erde" sein! Und dazu haben wir unsere Flügel und unsere Schnelligkeit und Strenge, um dessenthalben sind wir männlich und selbst schrecklich, gleich dem Feuer. Mögen Die uns fürchten, welche sich nicht an uns zu wärmen und zu erhellen verstehen!

and my translation:

That, however, we cannot do, so we shall do only what we can do, which is to bring light to the world, to be ‘the light of the world’! And that is why we have our wings and our swiftness and our severity, which makes us manly, and even terrifying, like fire. Let those fear us who do not know how to warm themselves, and light their way, by our flame!

The word 'flame' is an addition justified by the context. Is that 'inaccurate'? Of course not! It 'fuses' the concepts 'fire' and 'light' and synthesizes the word 'flame' which is fire that gives light.

Here is a recent translation of the same passage:

That, however, we cannot do. So let us do all we can do: bring light to the earth; be 'the light of the earth' !And for that, we have our wings and our speed and our severity; for that, we are masculine and even terrifying, like fire. May those be terrified of us who do not know how to gain warmth and light from us!

and another:

That, however, we cannot do. Let us therefore do what alone we can do: bring light to the earth. be "the light of the earth"!
And to that end we have our wings and our speed and severity; for this are we virile and even terrible like fire. Let those be terrified by us who do not know how to gain warmth and light from us!

maïnaymeistúlong
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Re: Good Translation for Plato's Republic?

Post by maïnaymeistúlong » Wed Jul 12, 2017 3:17 am

Melchior wrote:
Tue Apr 21, 2015 2:12 am

Consider this passage in Nietzsche's Gay Science:

Das aber können wir nicht:—so wollen wir denn thun, was wir einzig können: der Erde Licht bringen, "das Licht der Erde" sein! Und dazu haben wir unsere Flügel und unsere Schnelligkeit und Strenge, um dessenthalben sind wir männlich und selbst schrecklich, gleich dem Feuer. Mögen Die uns fürchten, welche sich nicht an uns zu wärmen und zu erhellen verstehen!

and my translation:

That, however, we cannot do, so we shall do only what we can do, which is to bring light to the world, to be ‘the light of the world’! And that is why we have our wings and our swiftness and our severity, which makes us manly, and even terrifying, like fire. Let those fear us who do not know how to warm themselves, and light their way, by our flame!

The word 'flame' is an addition justified by the context. Is that 'inaccurate'? Of course not! It 'fuses' the concepts 'fire' and 'light' and synthesizes the word 'flame' which is fire that gives light.

Here is a recent translation of the same passage:

That, however, we cannot do. So let us do all we can do: bring light to the earth; be 'the light of the earth' !And for that, we have our wings and our speed and our severity; for that, we are masculine and even terrifying, like fire. May those be terrified of us who do not know how to gain warmth and light from us!

and another:

That, however, we cannot do. Let us therefore do what alone we can do: bring light to the earth. be "the light of the earth"!
And to that end we have our wings and our speed and severity; for this are we virile and even terrible like fire. Let those be terrified by us who do not know how to gain warmth and light from us!
The third translation is the closest to the original and the most accurate. Also, your translation is wrong. "thun, was wir einzig können" means "do what we can only do" (i.e. "do the only thing we are capable of") not "do only what we can do" (i.e "do no more than what we are capable of") as you put it. (The first translation after your own is also wrong in that instance.)

Further, your addition of the word "flame" is not the only addition to the content of the passage you make. There is also no mention of a "way" to be lit in the original. Both additions are unnecessary. They are not only a creative interpretation, but actually a development of the ideas of Nietzsche, and that, precisely, is what a translation should avoid. As much as readers may be aware that (as you accurately point out) they are reading you, not the original, what they want to achieve through their reading (for the overwhelming majority of readers) is not to learn about your idiosyncratic interpretation of the work (for which they're better off reading a commentary, rather than a translation), but to get as close as possible to what the original words mean(t). This is all the more difficult as the original is old, of course, since the meaning of words constantly changes. But limiting yourself as far as possible to the original content comes closest to fulfilling this. Adding words and concepts that are not present in the original, as far as this can be avoided (and in the example you give it could be), is doing a bad job as a translator, and may only be justified by the hubris of thinking that one's own additional 'information' better conveys the meaning than the original (i.e. believing that you better understand what the author wanted to say than the author her/himself).

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