Bad translation in English version of Exhortation about Latin

For a long time I have warned people about bad English translations of papal documents. 

There are methodological problems in that the documents are no longer composed in Latin. 

The Latin text, which is the official text, is itself a translation. 

However, since no one refers to the Latin text… few people know this.  Thus, they are always working with compromised versions of documents. 

Moreover, the texts they are working with were those released at the time of the presentation of the document, even though the LATIN is itself revised before publication in is final official form in the Acta Apostolicae Sedis.  But no one goes back to revise the vernacular versions in keeping with the changes in the Latin!!!  Lot’s of people are misquoting documents because the vernacular docs themselves were never updated.

That said, let us take a look at the Exhortation’s paragraph 62 on Latin in the liturgy and see if there is a disconnect.  I tip my biretta to "stefano" who was alert and caught this before I did.

Latin: exceptis lectionibus, homilia et oratione fidelium, aequum est ut huiusmodi celebrationes fiant lingua Latina.

In Latin, the phrase aequum est means "it is reasonable, proper, right".  It can be rendered as "it is becoming", to use a somewhat archaic turn of phrase.

German: es ist gut, wenn außer den Lesungen, der Predigt und den Fürbitten der Gläubigen die Feier in lateinischer Sprache gehalten wird.

Italian: eccettuate le letture, l’omelia e la preghiera dei fedeli, è bene che tali celebrazioni siano in lingua latina.

French: excepté les lectures, l’homélie et la prière des fidèles, il est bon que ces célébrations soient en langue latine

Spanish: exceptuadas las lecturas, la homilía y la oración de los fieles, sería bueno que dichas celebraciones fueran en latín

Portuguese: exceptuando as leituras, a homilia e a oração dos fiéis, é bom que tais celebrações sejam em língua latina

Polish: z wyjÄ…tkiem czytaÅ„, homilii oraz modlitwy wiernych, dobrze bÄ™dzie, jeÅ›li takie celebracje bÄ™dÄ… odprawiane w jÄ™zyku Å‚aciÅ„skim  (Literally: "It will be good, if such celebration will be officiated in Latin language").

Are you sensing a pattern in the rendering of aequum est, or rather how aequum est in Latin is more than likely the accurate reading of the original language of composition of the Exhortation?  

Let’s see the English.

English:  with the exception of the readings, the homily and the prayer of the faithful, such liturgies could be celebrated in Latin.

WOAH…. wait a minute… "could be" celebrated?  That changes the entire impact of what the Pope said. All the of the other languages reflect one concept and the English alone says another thing entirely.  The English implies that the value of Latin is, at best, a neutral thing.  The Latin and all the other languages imply that Latin is positive.

I think we must conclude that whoever did the translation into English chose not to stick to the original text which they were given to work from.

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About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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