Defending the 1973 (current) translation

Not sure I want to… but Fr. Raymond G. Helmick, SJ, who worked on it, does. Many good points worth considering in his piece in last week’s Tablet, “Opaque and clumsy.” Uh, the title refers to 2008/2010, not 1973!     – awr

55 comments

  1. A strange little article. Fr. Helmick says of the “To you, therefore…” for Te igitur, “Syntactically, this is not English, but Latin using English words.” Huh? No, it’s totally fine English. Take Lincoln’s First Inaugural (“To the proposition, then, that slaves whose cases…”) or Dickens (“If I, therefore, lose money…”) for easy examples of how sentences with clauses like that work.

    He also writes much about “non-limiting adjectives,” which despite its formal-sounding name, appears to be nothing but a nonce-term he has invented for the purposes of this article alone. In his mind, a “non-limiting adjective” is what, I guess, ordinary people would call a “throwaway word.” Somehow, then, he takes the additional step to arrive at the notion that a more faithful (more “reverent,” even) translation must omit them: that sanctas ac venerabiles manus is more accurately and more reverently translated “hands” than “holy and venerable hands.” But as much academic-sounding language as he clothes these assertions in, the fact remains that the “non-limiting adjective” is a concept Fr. Helmick just invented the other day, with no academic basis in the slightest.

    His next problem, that we don’t have a concept of “servantship” to match the 4th-century use of servi is just a complaint that the Latin no longer makes sense and should be rewritten. Maybe, but that is decidedly a composition issue, and not a translation issue…

    1. Rather than decrying Helimick’s comments on non-limiting adjectives, just because you have yourself not encountered that particular term before, it would be more useful to discuss the effect of the piling-up of adjectives, which in Latin is cumulative and in English is not. hostiam puram, hostiam sanctam, hostiam immaculatam springs to mind, for example.

      1. Rather than decrying Helimick’s comments on non-limiting adjectives, just because you have yourself not encountered that particular term before,…

        Paul, no one has encountered that term before. It was once used, in a different context and with a different meaning, in a book about Old English. That’s it. It’s a made-up term.

        Why a person who argues for understandability and the elimination of jargon which isn’t immediate and relevant to the common man felt compelled to invent pseudo-academic-sounding terminology to cloak his arguments in, escapes me.

      2. Mark, you’re wrong. The reason your search came up empty is because “non-limiting” describes other linguistic parts besides adjectives. Please see my reply below, and search Google Books for non limiting adjectives. Or just address the actual argument instead of quibbling with words.

      3. Thank you, Kimberley. I am told that English majors in the US are quite familiar with the term, and I have certainly encountered it in the UK. Perhaps Mr Thompson is from elsewhere?

        And to base one’s knowledge on a Google search is, as it were, the height of shallowness….

    2. Even if the name, “non-limiting adjective”, has been invented by Fr Helmick, his use and the way he defines makes sense to me.

      It seems the bishops and experts in the Consilium knew about these too. To quote from their very sensible guidelines in Comme le prévoit (my emphasis):

      12. (c ) The translator must always keep in mind that the “unit of meaning” is not the individual word but the whole passage. The translator must therefore be careful that the translation is not so analytical that it exaggerates the importance of particular phrases while it obscures or weakens the meaning of the whole. Thus, in Latin, the piling up of ratam, rationabilem, acceptabilem may increase the sense of invocation. In other tongues, a succession of adjectives may actually weaken the force of the prayer. The same is true of beatissima Virgo or beata et gloriosa or the routine addition of sanctus or beatus to a saint’s name, or the too casual use of superlatives. Understatement in English is sometimes the most effective means of emphasis.

    3. Rather than assuming a word one has not encountered is nonsense, one could look it up. Google Books produces plenty of evidence that this is a standard linguistic term; sometimes these are also called non-restrictive adjectives (or phrases or clauses). Moreover, he provided a cogent definition, which is enough to prevent its being nonsense. In essence, a non-restrictive adjective gives additional information without limiting the potential meanings of the noun. “Brave Tarzan” is an excellent example: the “brave” doesn’t tell us anything new; we knew Tarzan was brave already. It doesn’t answer “which Tarzan?” It serves a rhetorical, not an informative purpose. This is an uncommon construction in English, which is why some English speakers will think, if there are several chalices on the table, that “this precious chalice” is intended to distinguish the most ornate one. That would be a restrictive or limiting adjective, which is not what is meant by the Latin.

      As for servi I think Fr. Raymond is assuming, first, that we don’t have the authority to rewrite the Roman Canon; second, that the purpose of translation is to make the meaning for the contemporary English speaker that the prayer would have had for the fourth-century Latin speaker. I agree with this purpose, but I know there is room for disagreement on what translation should accomplish.

  2. The current translation has “his sacred hands” which is fine. I admire the current translation of the Roman Canon. “To you, therefore” is not the way modern English speakers pray, and it has not the grace and smoothness of “Te igitur.”

    1. Even though Te igitur means “we come to you”, “To you, therefore…” was apparently deliberately chosen by Mgr Harbert and his colleages so that any illuminated sacramentary in English could follow one Latin paleographic convention that presents the first letter of the Roman Canon, “T“, as a stylised crucifix.

      Is such a sentimental engineering of English justified or have we completely lost the liturgical translation plot?

      1. +JMJ+

        I’m not sure why Te igitur means “We come to you.” Are you saying that based on how the current English translation renders it? What other words in the Latin text are you eliding into “Te igitur”? (Remember, I’m not a scholar.)

        I’m also not sure why “To you, therefore” is problematic. Why is it about that construct that makes it problematic? (Remember, I am not a scholar.) I seem to remember singing a psalm in the not-too-distant past that went, “To you, O Lord, I lift my soul, to you I lift my soul.” Should it have been written “I lift my soul to you, O Lord, I lift my soul to you” instead?

        As for the leading T, this could also have been accomplished by starting with “Therefore…”

      2. Sorry, Jeffrey, I wrote the above post too quickly. “We come to you” is not the literal translation and I was thinking of our present translation.

        I should have been clearer: “Although Te igitur
        means ‘To you therefore’, the awkward construction was deliberately chosen…”

  3. “To you, therefore” is not a normal English construction, which is why the best translation of the Te Deum is still “Holy God, we praise thy name,” even though it doesn’t start with “thee” as the Latin does, and thus misses some of the lovely rhetoric of the hymn. Te Deum.

    1. “To you, therefore” is not a normal English construction

      Since when are we assuming that the liturgy is or ever was intended to be cast in a conversational idiom? In my culture, we call this “begging the question”.

      Concerning the Te Deum, the commonly-known English hymn you mention is only a paraphrase. A more accurate English translation, set to music twice by GF Handel, includes the phrases

      To thee all Angels cry aloud :
      the Heavens, and all the Powers therein.
      To thee Cherubin and Seraphin :
      continually do cry.

      Then of course there’s the English translation of the Salve Regina: “To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve;
      to thee do we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this valley of tears.”

      English needn’t be flat and demotic you know: though ours is not an inflected language, words can still be nudged around quite a bit to serve a rhetorical or stylistic need.

      Beauty in speech is a good thing and worthy to glorify God.

      1. I didn’t say the Te igitur in English couldn’t start with “To you, therefore,” and the arguments you make above would be good ones in its favor (i.e., rhetoric or style).

        Is it too much to hope they didn’t actually do it so they could still illustrate the Te igitur with a full-page crucifix? (They could do this anyway – in any illuminated edition the T of the crucifix is not obviously the T of Te igitur…)

        Rhetoric and style, “what does this mean to an English speaker,” is precisely the kind of question we should be addressing. Thanks.

      2. Is it too much to hope they didn’t actually do it so they could still illustrate the Te igitur with a full-page crucifix?

        I hope so. It strikes me as a happy turn of events that the association with the image of the crucifix can be preserved, and I don’t doubt that the word order is chosen with that in mind. It used to be that priests were trained to keep their eyes on an image of the crucifix at this point of the Mass. Why would we want to discard that practice?

  4. Perhaps not directly applicable, but take a look at JFK’s inaugural address:

    http://www.bartleby.com/124/pres56.html

    It is full of sentences which begin with prepositional phrases, addressing others, eg

    ” To those old allies…, we pledge…”
    ” To those new States whom we welcome to the ranks of the free, we pledge…”

    Seems like perfectly understandable, and somewhat “elevated” English.

  5. Mr Helmick is to be praised for being so forthcoming about his reservations. His most substantial reservations seem to be related to a distaste for the style of the translation. Fair enough. Matters of taste cannot be objectively disputed, but they are important in matters of translation, and we all deserve a hearing regarding our own preferences.

    Since he is describing his personal reactions, he can be forgiven for lacking technical exactness. Nevertheless, the nitpicker in me cannot let pass his statement that his favorite translation of the creed is from the Greek, and not the Latin. Surely this cannot be true. If it were, then the egregious proposed “consubstantial” surely pales in comparison to the enormities of “God from God”, and “and the Son”, both of which are missing from the Greek version of the creed used in Rome for the last 16 centuries. These phrases exist only in the Latin credo.

    1. both of which are missing from the Greek version of the creed used in Rome for the last 16 centuries.

      What are you talking about? The only Greek creed used in Rome has been used by the Orthodox Churches.

      The Greek original of the Niceno-Constantinopolitan creed used in the Western Roman Church is what we are talking about. Go and consult Denzinger.

      1. That would be the same Greek creed recited in Greek liturgies in the Greek rite Catholic churches of Rome. It is identical to the Constantinopolitan creed adopted in 381, of which the Latin creed is a variant. The Latin creed contains the lines “Deum de Deo” and “filioque”, which do not have direct equivalents in the Greek version. Interestingly, the old ICEL creed preferred by Mr Helmick does contain English equivalents to these Latin terms. This could only be possible if that creed is a translation of the Latin, and not of the Greek.

        What on earth should I consult Denzinger for? Doesn’t he list the Latin version? If Denzinger’s Latin differs from the missal’s, which version should ICEL translate?

      2. (a) It’s the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed.
        (b) Helmick is not talking about an ICEL Creed because ICEL never produced one. They adopted the 1970 ICET Creed.
        (c) ICET specifically used the Greek text as a starting-point for their work. (The Greek begins with the word pisteuomen — “We believe”.)
        (d) Denzinger is not one person but two, since the full title of this work is Denzinger-Schönmetzer.

  6. “To you, therefore” is not a normal English construction

    Since when are we assuming that the liturgy is or ever was intended to be cast in a conversational idiom? In my culture, we call this “begging the question”.

    1. Is prayer not a conversation with God?

      Back to basics: let’s look at the the Te igitur in context. Which is better for the purposes of the liturgy, remembering what the liturgy is really about?

      2010

      To you, therefore, most merciful Father,
      we make humble prayer and petition
      through Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord:
      that you accept and bless these gifts, these offerings, these holy and unblemished sacrifices,
      which we offer you firstly for your holy catholic Church.
      Be pleased to grant her peace,
      to guard, unite and govern her throughout the whole world,
      together with your servant N. our Pope and N. our Bishop,
      and all those who, holding to the truth,
      hand on the catholic and apostolic faith.

      1973

      We come to you, Father, with praise and thanksgiving,
      through Jesus Christ your Son.
      Through him we ask you to accept and bless these gifts
      we offer you in sacrifice.
      We offer them for your holy catholic Church,
      watch over it, Lord, and guide it;
      grant it peace and unity throughout the world.
      We offer them for N. our Pope,
      for N. our bishop,
      and for all who hold and teach the catholic faith
      that comes from the apostles.

      1. Since you ask, Graham, I prefer the 2010 version, chiefly because it is a more accurate rendering of the Latin. It would be charitable to call the 1973 version even a paraphrase; re-write is more like it. Fidelity is important. So is continuity. So is universality. These principles are better served by the pending version, notwithstanding the numerous technical defects it appears still to possess.

      2. I like the fact that the 2010 better conveys the Latin but what is important is that the content in the Latin is worth translating. In Latin, the emphasis is on the word “Te”, the topic of the prayer. The focus is on the Father, not on us. One way to translate the line would be, “Accordingly, it is you, merciful Father, through your son, our Lord, Jesus Christ, you whom we suppliants ask and request to accept and bless. To start off with “we” already misses the point. Igitur does not necessarily mean “therefore” or “accordingly” but simply shows a resumption of a train of thought, something like, “as I was saying.”

        Moreover, in the Latin, we’e not coming with praise and thanksgiving, we’re asking God for something–something big–and we better be humble about it. The 1973 verson is confused about what we are doing. Not so, the 2010, not so.

      3. Iohannes, I see your point (or many good points, actually). But “confused” seems unfair, as if they couldn’t read Latin. They could, and very well. In fairness to them, they wished to re-emphasize central themes of what the eucharist is about – namely, praise and thanksgiving – which had become underemphasized in the course of history. They could find justification in “Sacrosanctum concilium” for the position that some things need re-emphasizing, and that some things had gotten lost in history. SC says both explicitly. Perhaps this is why Rome readily approved their work. You probably don’t agree with their position, but I think it is only fair to them to state their position accurately.
        awr

      4. +JMJ+

        Fr. Anthony, re: “thanks and praise”, I see a trend of that in the 1973 translation, almost always translating “gratias” and “thanks and praise“, in the Preface dialogue, Preface itself, and the Eucharistic Prayers.

        “Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.” — “It is right to give him thanks and praise.”

        EP I: “We come to you, Father, with praise and thanksgiving … he gave you thanks and praise … Again he gave you thanks and praise … ”

        EP II: “Father, it is our duty and salvation, always and everywhere to give you thanks through your beloved Son, Jesus Christ. … We offer you this sacrifice of praise … he took bread and gave you thanks … Again he gave you thanks and praise

        EP III: “he took bread and gave you thanks and praise … Again he gave you thanks and praise

        EP IV: “He gave you thanks”

        Oddly enough, 1973 EP IV chose “we acknowledge your greatness” for “Confitémur tibi .. quia magnus es”, whereas 2010 has “We give you praise.” !

        It seems to me the Latin could have been revised — or new Latin texts written up — that expressed sentiments of “praise and thanksgiving” if needed. Or better attention could have been drawn to those elements of the Liturgy of the Eucharist which express those very sentiments. “Giving thanks” is very clearly there.

        I mean, the priest says “Let us give thanks…” He’s basically saying “Let’s do the Eucharist!”

      5. +JMJ+

        Fr. Anthony, one other general comment.

        “They could find justification in “Sacrosanctum concilium” for the position that some things need re-emphasizing, and that some things had gotten lost in history. SC says both explicitly.”

        But how many of SC’s prescriptions about liturgical reform were meant to be applied to translations of the Latin, rather than to the Latin text itself? For example, SC 50 says something about discarding duplicated elements. Well, the Latin Gloria still has a three-fold invocation (“qui tollis / qui tollis / qui sedes”), but the 1973 English translation reduced it to two. Could the translators have legitimately laid claim to SC 50 in doing so?

      6. Jeffrey – good point.

        I think in the 60s and 70s it wasn’t clarified how much Rome (the Latin text) had to carry out the reforms, and how much conferences and their resources (the English text) could carry out the reforms and go beyond Rome. In the excitement of it all, they just lived with the lack of clarity. Now Rome is trying to take charge and reign things in, but we’re not sure the results will be better because of the competence (or lack of) they’ve shown on the missal.

        awr

      7. I remember a distinguished Latin teacher in about 1967 telling me how good he thought the interim translation of ‘igitur’ was: ‘in this spirit of praise and thanksgiving’. The point was that the particle established continuity between the ‘canon’ and what had happened in the ‘preface’ (which we were too easily inclined to understand in its trivial modern English sense). The consideration was an important one at the time, and still remains a valid one. We needed and need to rescue the ‘canon’, and in particular the institution narrative, from overtones of magic.

  7. +JMJ+

    Graham, regarding “what the liturgy is really about”…

    Prayer is conversation with God, cooperation with God, a relationship with God, a response of faith in God, and the “raising of one’s mind and heart to God” (John Damascene). It’s also a struggle and a battle, sometimes against ourselves, sometimes against the Enemy.

    The liturgy is, above all, the worship of God in all His majesty, but it is also a source of instruction in faith and morals. It is hierarchical and communal, didactic and pastoral. It is corporate prayer in which each member participates, so its purpose takes into account the body which prays and each member who prays.

    That in mind… if I had to choose between 1973 and 2010 (and I don’t), I would say each has its strengths. 2010 comes across as a bit more expressive and didactic: “most merciful Father”, “holy and unblemished”, the Church-subject as “she” (rather than “it”), the Church’s need for a guardian. Those details help raise my mind to God’s divine majesty.

    But the 1973 text, being made up of short sentences, is a bit more direct, and didactic in its own way: “we come to you”, “we ask you”, “we offer you”, “we offer them”.

    The contrast between “humble prayer and petition” vs. “praise and thanksgiving” would make me wonder what the underlying text was, and why one translation took a different approach to the words.

  8. I must say that I am hard pressed to find anything in this article with which I remotely agree. I have no idea what his non-limiting adjective nonsense is. Does he mean epithet? In many of the cases he adduces, the adjectives are actually restrictive, such as “the Great” or “the Terrrible”, which actually pick out a specific person out of a larger set (lots of czars were named Ivan, only 1 was is “the Terrible”) & must be considered restrictive rather than descriptive. Thus, I don’t think that Ms. Belcher’s view expressed above is tenable.

    In any case, I’d like to identify two difficulties of approaching the translation process. The first is whether an ancient prayer such as the Roman Canon should be considered a model form for our prayer or we should recast it according to our notions of prayer. If we are not modeling our prayers upon ancient Biblical & liturgical forms, what are the standards for good prayer form? On what basis do we say, “Too many adjectives deprive the words of reverence.”?

    The second concern is whether the diction in that prayer form needs to be diction that all could spontaneously replicate. Much of the diction of FDR’s “fireside chats” was not the diction of the majority of his listeners. Yet the elevated register of his talks helped to comfort vast numbers of Americans, even if not every word was understood by a large segment of listeners. An elevated register has benefits that I wonder whether Fr. Helmick has…

    1. +JMJ+

      “On what basis do we say, “Too many adjectives deprive the words of reverence.”?”

      Yes, I was hoping to see some evidence for that claim. I’m sure it can be true, but I’m not sure is true for the Missal in general. Maybe it’s true for certain texts of the Missal, but for the whole thing?

      And what might be the case for typical English is not necessarily the case for liturgical English.

      1. I think making a rule about “Too Many Adjectives” a la Emperor “Too Many Notes” Joseph II is simply not justified. Like the concerns about pleonasms, they are based on an academic style approach that is belied in English speech in many parts of the world. Someone took Strunk & White too much to heart, it seems, and fortunately English stylists are no longer in as much thrall to that approach as they were 40 years ago.

        If one were simply to caution that too many adjectives *might* have an effect in English that does not well serve their use in Latin, then we have something that is more appropriate. A more general caution is that replicating Latin syntax in English may have an effect in English that does not well serve its purpose in Latin: syntax that conveys gravity in Latin can convey effeteness in English, for example. Latin cognate word choices will often (not always) lack the vigor of Saxon word choices, and so there can be a loss of texture from the Latin by the very employment of Latin cognates. Et cet.

  9. This from “Comme le prévoit” is intelligent: “In other tongues, a succession of adjectives may actually weaken the force of the prayer. The same is true of beatissima Virgo or beata et gloriosa or the routine addition of sanctus or beatus to a saint’s name, or the too casual use of superlatives. Understatement in English is sometimes the most effective means of emphasis.”

    As applied to Vatican documents, “intelligent” is surely not a non-limiting adjective. Nor is “sensible”.

    1. +JMJ+

      CLP didn’t offer guidance as to when “a succession of adjectives” would “weaken the force of the prayer.” It did not provide examples of when understatement is (and is NOT) “the most effective means of emphasis” in English.

      I could see “most blessed Virgin” or “blessed and glorious John” getting a bit laborious in typical conversation, but I don’t see it that way in liturgical “conversation”. Hrm… and why do we attach adjectives to our invocations of God? We know there’s only one God.

  10. “O most glorious, wonderful and divine Master…”, for example, is the language of the over-obsequious flunkey, and we do not take it seriously; we know it is insincere. The risk is that we have the same reaction if we encounter the piling-up of adjectives in the rite.

    1. +JMJ+

      Is that example from the liturgy, or is it a theoretical example?

      I’ve seen similar language used in an OCP hymn (“In Perfect Charity”): “O most high and glorious God…”

    2. Yes, it’s obsequious in English conversation when addressing someone who is not a glorious, wonderful, divine master. It’s actually obsequious and insincere in any language in such a circumstance.

      Its inappropriateness in those contexts is *heightened* by its use when it *is* appropriate. This idea has been the root of much art devoted over the centuries to subverting Caesar and his kith and kin. In our desire to flatten and reduce, we lose sight of the rich possibilities of former uses, that are not always what they seem to many now. That’s a value worth remembering.

    3. People have a much higher acceptance of such language in prayer and song. Take the “Hail Holy Queen,” for example, with phrases like “our life, our sweetness, and our hope,” “turn, then, most gracious advocate, thine eyes of mercy” and “O clement, O loving, O sweet.” If I talked to my boss like that I’d be laughed at and called a brown-noser, but few people bat an eye at such language being used to refer to the Mother of God.

      1. But, Jack
        In this day and age does that kind of language really conntect to people who pray or sing it, or is it just someone else’s not very meaningful sentimentality from a bygone era? How many today actually appreciate the words and are moved by them to relate to Mary in the manner they suggest?

      2. +JMJ+

        Graham, I’d say it depends on how much they pay attention to (and understand) the words they’re saying/singing/praying.

        I’m a firm believer that these things are not outside our powers of comprehension, we just have to pay attention to them and think for a minute.

      3. “How many today actually appreciate the words and are moved by them to relate to Mary in the manner they suggest?”

        I for one. Of course, being conservative/traditional, I am used to being accused on this blog of blind sentimentality and debilitating fear of the modern world.

      4. I too, Ioannes. (Uhm, relating to Mary, not the sentimental and fearful parts! 🙂 ) But there is a crucial difference between archaic elements which remain in continuous use (Hail, holy queen; Hail, Mary; the monastic habit) and long gone archaic elements which are re-introduced as part of an agenda. The first is normal and uncontrived. The second is problematic.
        awr

      5. Fr. Anthony,
        You use the word “agenda” like it’s a bad thing. You do reocognize, I hope, that non-hieratic diction was introduced as part of an agendum as well.

        I have to admit that the difference does not appear crucial to me at all. “Long-gone” and “archaic” is indeed but a generation or two ago. Moreover, archaic structures and vocabulary are still retained in other sacraments, such as the act of contrition and wedding vows. When else do we ever use the word “heartily?” When else do we say, “to have and to hold.”? Where you seee a difference to be perpetuated, I see a dichotomy that welcomes resolution.

        May God vouchsafe, I pray, that you have a happy and joyous rest of your Sunday.

      6. “and long gone archaic elements which are re-introduced as part of an agenda…”

        The agenda is evident in the effort to remove the expressions. The best example is the effort to eliminate references to “grace” from so many collects in the present translation, something that has nothing to do with CLP, and most expressions of high regard for the BVM.

        Forty years is but a brief period in ecclesiastical history. We are not too far removed to make the corrections that provide us with a better translation of the already existing official (Latin) ordo.

      7. “In this day and age does that kind of language really conntect to people who pray or sing it, or is it just someone else’s not very meaningful sentimentality from a bygone era?”

        I think it does connect for many people. It certainly did for me well before I ever had any traditionalist tendencies. I can’t speak for everyone, of course. I could pose the opposite question: Is spare “contemporary” language something that truly connects with people, or is it just someone else’s not-very-meaningful idea of how modern Christians should pray?

        IMO, one of the biggest failures of the 1973 translation is that it ignored the accepted “liturgical language” that had become a part of English-speaking culture (i.e. inculturation) and ended up perpetuating the parrallel forms of prayer that already existed (the division between “hieratic English” for private devotions and Latin for public worship was replaced by hieratic English for private devotions and “contemporary” English for public worship. Some contemporary forms of popular prayers have replaced the traditional ones, but it’s taken quite a long time and mostly been in the form of just replacing “thee” with “you”).

        We really can’t go back to the sort of English that was entrenched in our culture prior to the 1960’s (well, we could in some circles), but we can certainly use elements from it that still speak to people. People use and accept different ways of speaking in different contexts all the time.

  11. Ioannes Andreades said I have no idea what his non-limiting adjective nonsense is.

    You have obviously never taught English grammar to freshmen, then. (Nor have I, but I know people who have, and who have confirmed to me that this is standard terminology.)

    1. The generally used terms are descriptive adjectives as opposed to restrictive, limiting, or defining adjectives. The same terminology is used about relative clauses, which are essentially just big adjectives. Tell your friends about the term “descriptive” because it’s the proper word. Don’t worry; you don’t have to give me credit. FYI, the Oxford English Dictionary does not have an article for “non-limiting” but it does for “descriptive.” When I run a search on all current linguistics periodicals for “non-limiting adjective” I get exactly no hits. When I do one for “descriptive adjective” I get 47.

      A major problem with the article was that the author included “non-limiting adjectives” some adjectives that were clearly limiting. He needs to get both his concept and terminology in order.

      1. But we all know that the OED is always 20-30 years out-of-date….

        And linguistic periodicals do not normally deal with freshman-level English grammar. Why bother to search any of them? (I bet you didn’t actually search them all.) You wouldn’t get a hit.

        I wouldn’t dream of telling my teaching friends about their basic terminology. They know their profession and have walked the walk. I don’t know what yours is, but it clearly isn’t the same.

  12. I just don’t think you can defend the 1973 translations when such defects and loss in words, which produce imagery, have been so well documented for 40 years. If there are too many adjectives for the writer, in his opinion, lay people will simply pass over them. But some will get it. For the ones who don’t it will not distort the meaning. They simply will look at it as if it is not there. But for those of us who want the full meaning., and will strive to understand what we do not, this translation is good. I fully support the new translations as an improvement over what we had.

  13. A second reading of “therefore” allows for a secondary effect. A pause, a reflection on what is being said. So even if not easily understood (which I think it will be), it commands a pause, a good thing when we are saying something important.

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