Dust up in Japan over new translation

In the UK’s weekly liberal fishwrap The Tablet (aka The Pill aka RU486) there is a note about a tussle over the new translation in Japan.

JAPAN

JAPAN’S BISHOPS have clashed with the Vatican in an effort to keep their version of the Mass culturally sensitive, writes William Grimm. The bishops are working on a re-translation of the liturgy in accordance with the 2001 instruction Liturgiam Authenticam, which mandates a more literal translation of the Latin text of the Mass into the vernacular. They are awaiting a response to a request to the Vatican’s Congregation for Divine Worship (CDW) that a new translation of the Mass not use the word “spirit” in the response to the greeting, “The Lord be with you.” The bishops want to use a Japanese equivalent of “And also with you”, as is presently the case in English translations (although the version due for introduction in 2011 returns to “and with your spirit”). The Japanese language does not have an equivalent to the Latin spiritus. The English word “spirit” is usually translated into a Japanese word for “ghost” used by groups that dabble in the occult. Bishop Masahiro Umemura of Yokohama, chairman of the bishops’ liturgy commission, said that in 2006 he warned the then-prefect of the CDW, Cardinal Francis Arinze, that non-Christians attending church weddings and funerals could conclude that Catholicism is a sort of cult.

In other news, the same issue has a story entitled… and I apologize in advance for the use of this haaard word:

Born with ineffable love

 

Hmmm… the appearance of this word in that weekly perhaps undermines the contention of a certain crowd that the new translation is tooo haaard.

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67 Responses to Dust up in Japan over new translation

  1. moon1234 says:

    How about just using the Church’s mother tongue and have the problem solved. Latin around the world would quiet all of these silly squabbles.

  2. Perhaps they should use whatever word they use in the Japanese translation of Holy Scripture for the word used by Elisha when he asks Elijah for a double portion of Elijah’s “spirit.”

  3. vox borealis says:

    On the one hand, I could be persuaded that a particular cultural-linguistic obstacle (such as Japan lacking a word for spirit) should be weighed when working on vernacular translations. On the other hand, this is really is, to use the words of Col. Sherman Potter, horse hockey. Presumably Japanese Catholics use SOME word for spirit, or else they never mention the Holy Spirit, or Christ pouring forth His spirit, etc. If so, then simply use the same word for the response.

    As for the argument about weddings/funerals: are we supposed to take seriously that Catholics should tailor their liturgical translations (and thus their liturgies) to the sensitivities of NON-Catholics? Is this a serious problem, really? Can you imagine if the ancient Church responded similarly to charges of cannibalism? Did the Church Fathers stop using “body and blood” of Christ so as not to give their Roman friends the wrong idea?

    Indeed, if the occasional attendee at a Catholic wedding hears “spirit” and is taken back, perhaps this could be seized as a teachable moment.

    Good heavens.

  4. Oneros says:

    “And with your spirit” IS an IDIOM, after all. Translating it literally doesnt necessarily make sense in all cases.

    It is a Hebraism that is entirely equivalent to “and also with you”.

    This idea Catholics have that “spirit” refers to the spirit of ordination or something like that…is an after-the-fact explanation needed because of early, perhaps over-literal, translation of the Hebrew into Greek and Latin.

    Even Catholic Encyclopedia said, in 1917 mind you:

    “The greeting of peace (eirene pasin) is the common one in the Eastern liturgies. In either case the answer is: Et cum spiritu tuo. This is a Hebraism that occurs constantly in both the Old and the New Testament. “Thy spirit” simply means “thee” (Cf. e.g. Daniel 3:86; Galatians 6:18; Philippians 4:23; Philemon 25). Nefesh (Heb.), Nafs (Ar.), with a pronominal suffix, in all Semitic languages means simply the person in question.”

    “Thy spirit” means simply the person in question, means simply “thee”. It’s a Hebrew IDIOM.

    Should we really be translating IDIOMS literally?

    It’s weird enough in the Latin, but became a sort of ritual formula that clearly has tradition behind it. However, in the third-step-removed-from-the-original translations into the vernacular…should we really be keeping Idioms literal? Especially when people have gotten used to another Formula already?

    The Japanese issue shows the problem this can cause.

    And I’m saying this as someone who voted yes for “thees and thous”.

  5. Apparently, “Holy Spirit” in Japanese is “seirei” (??), and so is “spirit, ghost, soul” (??). So there are different words, but they sound identical. There actually might be some theological worries about oral presentation of identically pronounced words.

    OTOH, English and German speakers managed to tell the difference between ghost/geist=spirit and ghost/geist=ghost for more than a thousand years — and those were actually the same words, differentiated only by usage. So this isn’t asking too much of catechists.

  6. ghp95134 says:

    Father,

    This stance by the Japanese bishops strikes me as disingenuous at best. EVERYONE knows that ? — Tamashii [soul] — is also translated as “spirit.” The Japanese are well aware of “kotodama” [the soul of a word — although Shinto] and “Yamatodamashi [Soul of Japan] …. “damashi” in both of these cases can be accurately translated as “spirit”.

    ?(P); ?; ? ?????(?; ?)(P); ????(?; ?); ??? (n) soul; spirit;

    re “kotodama”:
    …?? ?????? (n) soul or power of language

    Let me take this opportunity to introduce you to a GREAT online JapaneseEnglish resource: http://www.csse.monash.edu.au/~jwb/cgi-bin/wwwjdic.cgi?1C Perhaps you can forward this link to the Japanese Bishops? The word the Bishops throw up as the “boogeyman” is ? rei (as in reiki!); in this usage it means: (n) soul; spirit; departed soul; ghost;

    Merry Christ Mass!
    –Guy

  7. Roland de Chanson says:

    I wonder what they’ll do when they get to “Son of Man”!

    The Jesuits have been in Japan forever. Why don’t they have someone in the theology department of Sophia University translate it and be done with it? Where’s Bill Fulco when we need him?

    I agree with Oneros. The first rule of translation is to render the thought not the words. Actually, “cum spiritu tuo” or “meta tou pneumatos sou” don’t make much sense unless the Hebrew “ruach” is kept in mind. Now that I think of it, the expression, even with “spirit” sounds rather ghostly.

    That said, how do you say “dust up” in Japanese?

    Dominus vobiscum
    Et cum larva tua.

    Der Herr sei mit euch.
    Und mit deinem Gespenst.

  8. Jono says:

    @ Oneros

    “son of man” is also an idiom in the various Aramaic dialogues, meaning “human”. Nevertheless, in the New Testament, it is rendered literally as “son of man”. The primary reason for doing so is that a deeper meaning was found, especially identifying Jesus as the “Son of Man” mentioned in Daniel.

    In like manner, Eastern and Western liturgies have likewise used this hyper-literal translation because it is understood to be pregant with more meaning. It is for this reason that it was literally translated in Missals prior to Vatican II.

    While it may be understandable to search for a better equivalent word in Japanese (especially as there are virtually no cognates with Latin) a merely idiomatic translation annihilates the textual transmission history and traditional understanding of this phrase.

  9. ghp95134 says:

    Hmmmmmmm ….. the kanji didn’t appear this time!

    Suffice it to say there are two distinct Chinese characters (kanji). The kanji for “tamashii” means “soul or spirit”; the kanji for “rei” means “departed spirit/ghost.” The current translation is ??????? mata shisai to tomo ni [And also with the priest]. It would be so easy to say ????????? “mata shisai no tamashii to tomo ni.”

    Japanese bishops: Please get onboard and say????????? “mata shisai no tamashii to tomo ni” (or whatever the grammatically correct Japanese would be).

    Here’s the current Ordo Missae in Japanese:
    http://www.geocities.co.jp/HeartLand-Gaien/2696/ordinarium_missae1.html

    –GHP

  10. ghp95134 says:

    Father Grimm’s Article:
    http://www.ucanews.com/2009/11/30/humpty-dumpty-in-the-vatican/

    Needless to say, almost every comment (except mine) is “radical party line”! Perhaps those more erudite and educated than I could give the good Maryknoll father some words of wisdom?

    –GHP

  11. Tom A. says:

    I went to a TLM Low Mass at the Basillica of the Immaculate Conception in Waterbury, CT last night. There were no translation issues.

  12. ghp95134 says:

    ?? — Seirei is the “dictionary translation” of Holy Spirit. I’ve never thought it conveyed a “spooky” implication! I just conferred with my wife who is Japanese and has her MA in translation (JapaneseEnglish). She says “Seirei” is a BEAUTIFUL word and has absolutely NO spooky feelings. Even the Shinto use “Mitama” [Honorable Spirit] which was also borrowed in the Japanese language Holy Bible. These priests & bishops are disingenuous to the MAX!

    –GHP

  13. vox borealis says:

    Oneros,

    But one could turn your arguments on their head. Why not translate an idiom, especially one that is found throughout scripture and has such a rich history of liturgical use? The fact that you were able to explain the meaning in but a few words suggests that any priest or deacon could do the same. The faithful could be catechized as to the meaning of their liturgical responses, while at the same time preserving a phrase (albeit in translation) with ancient usage, while at the same time preserving a liturgical language that is someone jarring upon first hearing it–that is, a special, sacred, elevated, distinct (etc, etc.) language that immediately marks out a liturgical rather than conversational context.

  14. Oneros says:

    I dont necessarily disagree.

    It just annoys me when “in the know” traditionalists or neocons use THIS particular example to show how bad the old translation is and how much of an improvement the new one is (though I dont disagree with that in general), and just ooze all over “and with your spirit”…as if “your spirit” is different than “you” for some mystical reason when it’s really not, [Well… it is, actually.] it’s just a Hebrew idiom that was translated over-literally.

    I’m not saying there is anything wrong with that over-literal translation, especially when there are centuries of tradition behind it, but it’s meaning is absolutely equivalent to “And also with you” [No, is really isn’t.] so people acting all smug about knowing that the “real” phrase is “your spirit”…really are showing their linguistic ignorance about a fact easily available in Catholic Encyclopedia. [And you might adjust your spirit of conversation or you might not be also with us. o{];¬) ]

  15. vox borealis says:

    Oneros,

    Accepting your premise that the Hebrew phrase was over-translated to begin with, that surely undermines your proposition that “With your spirit” is identical in meaning to “with you,” right? For once the “over-translation” was put in place and then rendered into Latin (what, 1700 years ago), the liturgical text took on a life of its own…not entirely separate from its origins, but a separate track nonetheless.

    Thus, centuries later, “and with your spirit” does NOT mean exactly the same thing as “and also with you.” Indeed, that there is such hue and cry over the re-translation of this response is clear evidence of this. Whatever its origins, “et cum spiritu tuo” has evolved over time to mean something not quite the same as “and with you”, and an attempt to recover some lost Hebrew original is the sort of archaizing that befouled much of the liturgical reform. The retranslation to something closer in literal meaning to “et cum spiritu tuo” (whatever its extended meanings, history, symbolism, etc.) is an attempt to get back to an organic development of the liturgy.

  16. patrick_f says:

    Am I missing something, why wouldnt the translation to “Soul” work with Japanese?

    I certainly understand spirit, because it has a different connotation in Japanese, being a point of contention, especially with the more ancient religions that exist in Japan including Shinto.

    Truly though, they have to have some sort of understanding of Spirit in this case. Especially given the dominant religion in Japan, Buddhism. Does that not mention the concept of an “Inner Self” ? That to me denotes more a Soul, then anything.

    Since the Japanese and Chinese languages are more “pictoral” (IE, symbols are meant to invoke images, etc (I know I am not totally articulating that right)) , this to me seems like a no brainer.

    It just means the Bishop has to teach a little bit more at first, but,,, isnt that his job?

  17. People are confusing the function of an expression with the meaning of an expression.

    The function is the same between “Welcome” and “Dia do bheatha” and “Okaeri-nasai”. But the meaning is not the same; and it’s those differences in the idiom that tell you what’s going on in the culture that produces the language. You can go on for a while, just living on function. But sooner or later, you have to mean what you say, not just say what you mean.

    “And with your spirit” might appear to have the same function as “Right back at ya”, because they’re both reciprocations of a greeting. But… they just don’t mean the same thing; and “Et cum spiritu tuo” is talking about the priest’s spirit of Christ that’s part of his ordaining, not just Joe Random Spirit Back at Ya.

    The fact that we don’t know this is proof that we need to say what the Church means, not “Ditto”.

  18. Dr. Eric says:

    ?? (nikokoro?)

    According to the link, this is the kanji that is associated with Christianity.

    http://www.edrdg.org/cgi-bin/wwwjdic/wwwjdic?1E

  19. Oneros,
    I am not skilled in languages or Theology, however I understand that when we say at Mass “and also with thy spirit” it means we are uniting our will and collective spirits and intent to the priest’s. When the priest says “the LORD be with you” and we respond “and also with you” it seems as if we are saying an empty “back at you”. I can clearly see the translation matters it can change the Theology. A good example would be the “many/all” debate.

  20. Trevor says:

    Unless generations of Japanese Catholics have been catechized solely in another language (Latin perhaps?), then I can’t see how they don’t have a word that is equivalent to “soul” or “spirit”.

  21. Dr. Eric says:

    When watching “Ninja Warrior” I was fairly shocked to hear a Japanization of “Spider Walk” for the “spider walk” in the obstacle course instead of hearing a Japanese phrase.

    It seems that Japanese borrows heavily from other languages like English does. The site linked to above has the word “gaisto” from the German “Geist.”

  22. twherge says:

    Maybe this would be a case for inventing a word, or taking a loan-word. After all, I believe Cicero once said something along the lines of having a latin equivalent for the greek word “soter” was absurd, and yet the Christians create the word “salvator” in Latin to express the thought.

  23. Joshua08 says:

    It is not true that an idiom carries no more import than saying something in plain language to begin with. Usually metaphors and idioms have reasons for them. It is a very false assumption to assume that the opinions in the Catholic Encyclopedia are anything more than the opinions of certain scholars…helpful? Yes, but not necessarily always right. There are in fact several articles in the 1913 CE that make me think that the poltergeist of the 60’s was already present (the one on usury, “we don´t have to listen to this papal document because not ex cathedra” crap.

    And with thy spirit. Let’s grant that it is an idiom used to mean “also with you”. Why identify the person with his spirit? Does that mean nothing? At the very least as a universal expression, whether in Greek, Slavonic, Latin it is also on the status of Alleluia or Kyrie eleison (neither of which should, imo, even be translated nor should sabbaoth. If the Latin leaves it in the Greek/Aramaic/Hebrew I think we should, but that is another matter). The Japanese either have a suitable word or they must never really do much philosophy/theology in their own tongue. In which case they should start and figure out a suitable word

  24. Roland de Chanson says:

    I will confirm what Oneros has said. The “with your spirit” is a Hebrew idiom for “with you”. I base this upon my course in Old Testament at a Jesuit University. The professor, a Jesuit, was a Semiticist by specialty. The other idiom which he translated was “Son of Man.” It means “Me”.

    No doubt there was a lot of later eisegesis into the “true meaning” of “cum spiritu tuo”. This is what theologians get paid to do. Linguists have to be more cautious.

  25. Oneros says:

    “Accepting your premise that the Hebrew phrase was over-translated to begin with, that surely undermines your proposition that “With your spirit” is identical in meaning to “with you,” right? For once the “over-translation” was put in place and then rendered into Latin (what, 1700 years ago), the liturgical text took on a life of its own…not entirely separate from its origins, but a separate track nonetheless.

    Thus, centuries later, “and with your spirit” does NOT mean exactly the same thing as “and also with you.” Indeed, that there is such hue and cry over the re-translation of this response is clear evidence of this. Whatever its origins, “et cum spiritu tuo” has evolved over time to mean something not quite the same as “and with you”, and an attempt to recover some lost Hebrew original is the sort of archaizing that befouled much of the liturgical reform. The retranslation to something closer in literal meaning to “et cum spiritu tuo” (whatever its extended meanings, history, symbolism, etc.) is an attempt to get back to an organic development of the liturgy.”

    You insist that “your spirit” has taken on a different meaning in the liturgical tradition than just the “thee” it meant in old Hebrew…and therefore the translation should reflect that development of deeper meaning.

    Fine then, so here’s an interesting hypothetical: what to do when a translation is being prepared of the Roman Rite in HEBREW, for Hebrew Catholics or whatever…

    Do we actually CHANGE the original Hebrew idiom from which “et cum spiritu tuo” is derived to reflect the “new, developed meaning” it took on in the Latin??? Or do we leave it stand in the Hebrew meaning just idiomatically “and with thee”? The former seems absurd, and yet just that sort of thing was sometimes done to the Byzantine Catholics back in the days of Latinization (ie, they had to alter a Septuagint quote in the Greek in order to reflect the rendering of the Latin Vulgate!). But the latter seems to leave out this new deeper meaning that it took on in the Latin, since in Hebrew (and most semitic languages) the use of the idiom remains idiomatic without the alleged “deeper” meaning.

    There is an issue of consistency here. “Your spirit” is a hieratic way of saying “you (sg)”…but, exactly because it is hieratic, it indeed takes on different connotations. However, if we’re going to use an elevated, out-of-the-ordinary parsing like that…why can’t we just use “thou and thee”. If we can use “your spirit” as an elevated, hieratic “you”…why can’t we also use “thy”??

    That’s one of the main issues I see with the new translation. It’s an odd compromise of “modern” English with many very Latinate constructions which make it rather different from ordinary speech, rather stilted (in an elevated, hieratic sort of way). But if we are going to have unusual constructions and elevated language ANYWAY…why not just go ahead and use a sort of Shakespearian archaic hieratic form??

    If we’re already saying something as arcane as “and with your spirit”…we might as well just say “and with THY spirit”.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for “And with thy spirit”…it’s just the inconsistency which is frustrating.

  26. Random Friar says:

    The Spirit dust-up is not as big for me as this dust-up was (and I’m not sure of the final resolution):

    http://www.adoremus.org/0401Fukushima.html (and see the link at the bottom).

  27. vox borealis says:

    Oneros,

    “There is an issue of consistency here.”

    Yes. Translate the Latin into other languages as closely to the LATIN as possible. Then explain to the laity–in homilies, on websites, in conversation, in practice, in general catechesis–what the ROMAN (that is LATIN) liturgy means and has come do mean as it has evolved organically over the years.

    As such, what “and with your spirit” meant in Judea in the first century AD is significantly (though not entirely) irrelevant…and certainly irrelevant to how the phrase should be rendered in English or Japanese.

  28. vox borealis says:

    Oneros,

    “Fine then, so here’s an interesting hypothetical: what to do when a translation is being prepared of the Roman Rite in HEBREW, for Hebrew Catholics or whatever…”

    To follow up…you are coming at this entirely incorrectly, in my opinion. You are hung up on the original meaning in Hebrew. As such, you are barking up the same flawed archaizing tree as the liturgists of the 1960s. Liturgicam Authenticam solves the problem: translate the LATIN accurately.

    If, in your extreme hypothetical, that means translating et cum spiritu tuo back into a Hbrew phrase that is somewhat unlike the original Hebrew idion whence came the Latin translation (via Greek)…so be it. In practical terms, however, I think your objection will be largely irrelevant.

  29. SidMJr says:

    “The bishops want to use a Japanese equivalent of “And also with you”, as is presently the case in English translations”

    Well, it’s better than the portuguese version: “Ele está no meio de nós” (“He is among us”)…

  30. Timbot2000 says:

    Well, as one with long experience in Japan, I cannot say I am surprised. The Japanese episcopate is, man for man, the greatest concentration of material heretics in the church. The most orthodox among them are less orthodox than the current See ho LA, and that is a frightening thought. As a Japanese translator, I can tell you unequivocally that this translation argument is a red herring. At very minimum the “tamashi/tama” etymology can be fruitfully used to produce an elegant translation of “and with your spirit” (and in some ways superior as it avoids the phonological ambiguity of “rei”, a loanword from Chinese.

  31. JonM says:

    First five things that came to mind when I read this snippet were, well, L-A-T-I-N.

    I think if an indigenous language cannot support the theology of the Mass, it is clear that some other means of verbal expression is necessary (note the qualifier verbal…I want to leave no means of entry for the ‘seriously misguided’ (I am being as charitable as I can, it is Advent) puppet people.

    But Japanese, I am sure, has in its language some word or idiom that is equivalent to the English word ‘spirit’ and the Latin spiritus. We are not talking about a dialect that cannot be written and is spoken by only a handful of people: We are talking about Japanese!(!!)

    It seems like a little bit of stalling. I wonder why progressives were not so pensive when the new missal came out in 1969…

  32. Oneros says:

    “As such, what “and with your spirit” meant in Judea in the first century AD is significantly (though not entirely) irrelevant…and certainly irrelevant to how the phrase should be rendered in English or Japanese.”

    But this phrase is not purely liturgical. It is, in fact, a commonplace, and found in much of Scripture. It’s use in the liturgy is, in fact, basically a quotation from Scripture.

    While organic development of meaning in the liturgy might be the norm, I dont think the meaning of Scripture itself is supposed to change.

    Should our Biblical translations of this phrase, where it occurs in the Bible, reflect the “developed” meaning, or the meaning of idiom when the Scripture was originally written? Consider Daniel 3:86; Galatians 6:18; Philippians 4:23; Philemon 25.

    If the latter, why should the “scriptural” translation of this idiom, where it occurs, be different from its translation in the Ordinary of the liturgy…where it basically represents just a scriptural snippet?

    It’s clear when Paul concludes his letters with “The grace of Our Lord Jesus Christ be with your Spirit, brethren. Amen.” (the Douay does render it literally)…he is not necessarily talking to an Ordained figure. He appears to be addressing simply the whole local church in question, the “brethren” addressed.

    Dont you think the “after-the-fact” explanation about it representing the “spirit of ordination” or whatever could confuse people when they see the SAME idiom being used, by Paul, in Scripture itself, to address the non-ordained??

    You seem to want to give the “developed meaning” precedence over the original Hebrew to avoid “achaeologism”…but isnt that, in some way, giving the Liturgical text precedence over Scripture itself, which WAS written when the original Hebrew meaning was important??

  33. vox borealis says:

    “But this phrase is not purely liturgical. It is, in fact, a commonplace, and found in much of Scripture. It’s use in the liturgy is, in fact, basically a quotation from Scripture.”

    This is largely irrelevant. Much of liturgy recalls and even echoes Scripture, but it is not Scripture. The translation of the liturgy should reflect the Latin of the liturgy, not the original Hebrew utterances whence came the Greek and, subsequently, Latin derivations.

    I’m sorry, but I reject your hermeneutic on this, so we will continue to talk past each other. Liturgican Authenticam is very clear: translate more accurately and literally the Latin of the Liturgy. How that relates to the Scriptues is largely besides the point.

    Your beef seems to be with the (Latin) liturgical texts themselves (e.g., “overtranslations”). That’s another matter altogether. If those “problems” exist, they need to fixed by amending the liturgical texts, not jimmying with the translations.

    Finally, will this confuse the faithful? Perhaps. If so, this seems like a job for proper catechesis, study, and homiletics.

  34. tewter says:

    It would be great if everything were in Latin, but that isn’t likely to happen any time soon, so, dealing with reality, it really does appear that the Japanese bishops are being disingenuous. Since when is it NOT the job of the bishops to catechise? Moreover, based on what some of the posters have said here, there are perfectly good Japanese words to convey the meaning. How are we to convert Bhuddists or Shintoists if we hide the deep meaning our our Faith??? I am so tired of false ecumenism I could scream and I think that is a major part of what is going on here.

  35. johnnyboy says:

    what baptism rite the japan’s bishops use ? think people if in japan the word spirit is ghost the bishops use word holy ghost if bishop is not useing the word holy ghost the baptism rite is invalid

    the tablet Propaganda

    in my Diocese the tablet magazine is sold. im going to buy all the tablet magazine and i will tell my bishop im going to burn all the magazine

  36. Re: “Son of Man”

    That’s a beautiful example of proving my point. The functional meaning is “human being”. But obviously, there are other ways in Hebrew to say that. Why not pick a shorter one, like plain old “man”? Why spiel it out like that? Hmmmm. Maybe because using a different expression adds meaning???

    When Jesus called Himself “the Son of Man”, he didn’t mean “me”. If he’d meant that, he’d have said it. He meant, “I am the son of Adam, and every time the Bible talks about ‘son of man’, you’d better be paying attention because it’s all about Me.”

    Btw, if we were really just translating “et cum spiritu tuo” in a functional way, there’s no way we’d say “And also with you.” Very repetitive. A functional translation would have been, “And with you” or even “And you” or “Likewise.” (Or “Back at ya.” Functionality itself.)

    But the translators obviously had the vague feeling that they should spiel it out, because it was more important than a strictly functional translation would allow. It certainly wasn’t for the purpose of scanning better to the opening chant; fewer syllables makes scansion easier. (Go, melisma!) Rather, it was an inadvertent announcement that they didn’t believe their own theory of translation.

    It won’t do anybody any harm to greet the priest with a Hebrew idiom, especially one that acknowledges the existence of spirit. Crimony, people, we’re in church. Might want to say something religious. Especially something that the Church has ALWAYS said.

    Unless you want to functionally translate “Amen” now. Since the function of this idiom is simple assent, despite its literal meaning being more elaborate, I suggest that at the end of every prayer, we say, “Yeah.” Or “Yup”, depending on inculturation.

  37. Oneros says:

    “Unless you want to functionally translate “Amen” now. Since the function of this idiom is simple assent, despite its literal meaning being more elaborate, I suggest that at the end of every prayer, we say, “Yeah.” Or “Yup”, depending on inculturation.”

    Good point, good point. But what do we do with “Amen” or “Son of Man” in a HEBREW translation??

    Again, I’m all for arcane elevated forms like that. What annoys me is two things. 1) that people claim “spirit” refers to something about ordination when really it just means the person in question, and Paul clearly uses this greeting in his letters to refer to non-ordained persons, and 2) if we’re going to say something as elevated as arcane as “and with your spirit”…why can’t we just go ahead and say “and with THY spirit” etc…

  38. Henry Edwards says:

    Paul clearly uses this greeting in his letters to refer to non-ordained persons

    So? Possibly different meanings: What a phrase originally meant in Hebrew usage, what it meant in the usage of early Christians, and what it means now in liturgical usage.

  39. Traductora says:

    Joshua 08 is right in noting that the 1913 documents contained hints of the 1960s. This was a time, after all, when modernism was acknowledged as a grave problem in the Church, and also when Protestant Biblical scholarship began to exert a significant influence on Catholic scholars, particularly linguists. Such scholarship was often aimed getting back to the “original” and some mythical state of purity that Protestants believed existed before the malign influence of the Church, and unfortunately, this attitude was adopted by some Catholic scholars as well.

    Out of this eventually came the dread “dynamic equivalence” or “functional equivalence,” which no longer translated the words but attempted to provide what the translator/scholar in question believed to be a modern-day equivalent to a given phrase. The earlier approach was known as “formal equivalence,” meaning the translation of the words as written, allowing the reader to determine the meaning. The definition of the canon by the Church and the liturgical use of the Latin and Greek translations solidified this and made the meaning something that the entire Church and not just the individual reader agreed upon and accepted.

    Thus, as the words of the earlier translations became fixed in the mind of both scholars and people, primarily through the liturgy, they then picked up another layer of meaning, that attributed to them by centuries of use in the Church, although this was in no way in conflict with their literal meaning.

    It was this layer of meaning that the Protestant Biblical scholars and their followers, including many of the Catholic Biblical scholars whose work influenced Vatican II, wanted to abolish. And once they had gotten rid of the formal language of the Church and its meaning, all bets were off, and we were ready for the ultimate Protestant dream, individual interpretation (well, guided by the all-knowing “scholars,” of course) of the Scriptures and rejection of the authority of the Church.

    This is actually what most modern disputes over translation are all about, and it is what underlies the Japanese objections as well.

    Saying that the phrase simply means “with you” and doesn’t have any other implication is like saying that two very different Austrian greetings used not that many years ago were really identical because they both basically meant hello. The words? “Gruss Gott” and “Heil Hitler.” But everybody knew that you could tell all you needed about a person based on the greeting he chose to use. It’s disingenous to say otherwise.

  40. Roland de Chanson says:

    Just to be clear, I am not advocating a liturgical translation into English of “with you” for “cum spiritu tuo” or of “Me” for “Son of Man.” I am merely confirming that the Hebrew (or Aramaic) meaning is less fraught with overtones than is commonly thought.

    Literal translation has its place. Both Jerome’s Vulgate and Cyril and Methodius’ Slavonic are extremely literal translations of the Greek, even to the point of introducing non-idiomatic grammatical constructs. But these things are enshrined by long and venerable tradition. I am no enemy of the recherché.

    The ideal solution in my opinion is to trash the novus ordo and restore the True Mass in Latin semper et ubique. The Bishop of Rome could set the example saying the 10 PM Christmas Mass in his own diocese according to the Usus Antiquior.

    That would be extraordinary.

  41. Eric says:

    Of course this post should have been titled.

    Vatican denies Japaneese bishop’s request to “give up the Ghost.”

    I’m hoping that falls on the right side of the irreverent fence.

  42. ttagert says:

    i with twherg. if it is untranslatable, then use the latin or the greek. japanese is the richer for having the additional word. either that, or leave the whole mass in latin if you can’t accurately translate it. just have the explanations in the missal and move on.

  43. haleype says:

    How about “And with your soul”? Isn’t the soul the resting place of the Incarnate Word in the human species and don’t the Japanese have a word for soul? I agree, however, that the Latin expression is one that should be used if only it were not so easily suppressed following Vatican II. But that’s a whole other story, isn’t it?

  44. You know… in the Latin Church we could use Latin and tell people to use the translation they prefer.

    I’m just sayin’…

  45. Oleksander says:

    I’m surprised nobody has mentioned the fact that the current Japanese translations are not translated from the Latin, in 1970 the Japanese based their translations off the 1970 ICEL English, not the Latin Roman missal

  46. Timbot2000 says:

    Traductora…

    Brava! A fantastic illustration of the true nature of the problem!

  47. pelerin says:

    Roland de Chanson – do you happen to know why the French were able to keep ‘et avec votre esprit’ as the translation whereas in English we have the clumsy ‘and also with you?’

  48. ssoldie says:

    From the 6th century, of St. Gregory The Great, to the 15th of the Council of Trent and the codefying of the Traditional Latin Mass,( The Gregorian Rite)it has been known tradition, now for the last 50 years it has been that every one wants to do it thier way. Gosh! just like the prods do. Guess I will stick with tradition and translations of the past 1500 years. Ahhh! Roland de Chanson, the solution, as common sense and wisdom does thou speak. I happen to believe that when that happens, then the Holy Ghost will again lead the Church. Is not the Holy Ghost ‘wisdom’ and not confusion?

  49. Melody says:

    I was at first inclined to be sympathetic, given the desire to avoid association with Shinto. I’m glad we have people knowledge about Japanese on here.

    What is the difference between rei and seirei?

  50. Roland de Chanson says:

    Pelerin,

    I don’t know why. Perhaps because the French are better at languages than the Americans? Just joking.

    Italian has e con il tuo spirito and Spanish y con tu espíritu, Catalan i amb el vostre esperit, So it may just be a Romance language thing (though above someone cited the Portuguese as different.)

    But maybe not. German has und mit deinem Geiste, Russian i so dukhom tvoim, Polish i z duchem twoim, Croatian and Slovak the equivalents. All mean “and with (thy/your) spirit”.

    So maybe I wasn’t joking? ;-)

  51. I have been in Japan one year as an exchange student. The present Mass translation is extremely liberal. For example, the word “sacrifice” (ikenie) is thought to be too offensive, so the people’s answer to “Orate fratres” is made optional. And this leads to priests in some cases exchanging the Orate fratres to simply “Let us pray”. I have read two Japanese books about the liturgy, one by a conservative Korean Jesuit (Handbook for the Liturgy and Sacraments by Choo Kun Mo) and one by a liberal passionist (Misa wo iwau by Kunii), both professors at Sophia university. While the former takes up the question of the sacrificial character of the Mass and comments on the translation difficulties, the latter laments that the liturgical reform didn’t go far enough. I think the Vatican has to be really hard on the Japanese bishop’s conference about the new translation.

  52. Oh, and I forgot to say that in the current Japanese missal genuflections everywhere are exchanged for bows, while kissing of the altar and the book of gospels are abolished alltogether, since these gestures are seen to be incomprehensible for the Japense mentality or something like that.

  53. ghp95134 says:

    For those interested in the Japanese-English translations of the Novus Ordo, I finally found an online copy of Let’s Pray Together at Mass:
    http://www.snsi-j.jp/boards/undefine/83.html [there is no romaji transcription of the Japanese in this online source!]. If you are in Japan, you can get a copy from the Tokyo Cathedral, or directly fromMatsugamine Catholic Church [http://www2.ucatv.ne.jp/~matumine.sea/] tel: 028-635-0405. I bought mine about 4 years ago at ¥200.

    In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost is “Chichi to Ko to Seirei no mi-Na ni yotte.”

    –Guy Power

  54. pelerin says:

    Thanks Roland de Chanson – I did wonder whether we were the odd one out and from your evidence it does look as though this is so.

  55. ghp95134 says:

    Melody asks What is the difference between rei and seirei?

    Father Grim states the best Japanese word for “spiritu” [Rei] shouldn’t be used because it means spook. As a stand-alone word, Rei means “spirit,” and by itself does not evince scary thoughts of ghosts and gobblins. However, when used in the compound word “yu-rei” (invisible spirit) the meaning “solidifies” into those spectres who reportedly inhabit graveyards and spook haunted houses: GHOSTS! (cue eerie music here). When “Rei” is suffexed behind “Sei” [Holy], the word imparts a beautiful feeling …. “Holy Spirit” (cue Gregorian Chant here). Fr. Grimm and the bishops are making excuses as to why they cannot use “rei” … even though the Japanese-language Mass CURRENTLY use the word “Seirei” in Mass!

    Fr. Grimm further implies that another direct translation for Spiritu has a strong ultra-nationalistic implication an should not be used; he is referring to the word “tamashii,” and he is only partially correct while withholding important information! “Yamato-damashii” (the “t” morphs to a “d” in this case) WAS a nationalistic rallying cry before 1945 and is still used by ultra-conservative whackos. Yamatodamashii translates to “Japanese Spirit!” However, “tamashii” is only nationalistic when suffixet onto “Yamato” etc.; otherwise, tamashii by itself simply means soul/spirit.

    Both “rei” and “tamashii” are very nice words full of …. erhum … “spirit!”

    –Guy

  56. Henry Edwards says:

    Oleksander: the current Japanese translations are not translated from the Latin, in 1970 the Japanese based their translations off the 1970 ICEL English, not the Latin Roman missal

    I believe this is a principal reason that the Holy See made such a special case of English, intervening directly to reconstitute ICEL for the new English translation and appointing the Vox Clara commission to supervise it, and finally leaning on the bishops conferences recently to expedite its approval. Because 57 (or some such number) of other vernacular translations would be made from the new English translation rather than from the original Latin.

  57. patrick_f says:

    “You know… in the Latin Church we could use Latin and tell people to use the translation they prefer.

    I’m just sayin’…”

    Surely you jest good sir!

    Next you will be suggesting we believe that Jesus Christ is …gulp…Lord and Savior. :) (All in good kidding I am)

    Its a very good point, Vernacular is a luxury right, a “pastoral right”.

    If we are going to have the vernacular, why not have national churches? There is strength in Rome, if we were concilliar, we would only be exchanging one problem for others.

  58. Timbot2000 says:

    “I believe this is a principal reason that the Holy See made such a special case of English, intervening directly to reconstitute ICEL for the new English translation and appointing the Vox Clara commission to supervise it, and finally leaning on the bishops conferences recently to expedite its approval. Because 57 (or some such number) of other vernacular translations would be made from the new English translation rather than from the original Latin.”

    The scandal though is that there is no reason for this to be the case for Japanese. This is Japan, a land of high educational achievement, somebody has the linguistic competence to translate the Missale Romanum into Japanese. There are many skilled Latinists in East Asia, and know the Chinese and suspect Koreans do quite well translating from the Latin. But then according to one Japanese Cardinal “Latin is too hard for Asians”

  59. catholicmidwest says:

    Oneros, the 1970 translation *is* a bad job. There’s nothing we can further do to hide that or make that worse. It just is.

    Roland, you said,”The first rule of translation is to render the thought not the words.”
    Are you contradicting the Holy See then? That’s not what Litugiam Authenticam said.

    Fr Z and all,
    I don’t understand how Catholics in Japan can cross themselves if they can’t say “Holy Spirit” or “Holy Ghost” or something of the like. What do they make of scripture?

    Perhaps their bishops are as out to lunch as ours? (And also are as convinced that their people are stoooopid.)

    Somebody bring them up to date. This is past monotonous.

  60. tired student says:

    @gustav ahlman:

    If the Orate Fratres has been supressed, then I wonder what the Eucharistic Prayers (especially the Canon) look like if the word “sacrifice” is not permitted. There is no orthodox way to translate the Roman Canon without directly and unambiguously referring to sacrifice. I would like to see a translation of the Japanese version of the Roman Canon translated back into English. I wonder if it would still be recognizeable as a Catholic anaphora.

    It would also be great if someone could get their hands on a Japanese-English hand missal or catechist’s manual for the Extraordinary Form and see how these terms were translated before the Novus Ordo. Maybe Japanese Catholics before 1970 were merely given paraphrased explanations of the Mass? That seems to be a rather impoverished way to participate in the liturgy, and I doubt that the Jesuits and others would not attempt Japanese translations of the ordinary and propers.

  61. @tired student

    The Eucharistic Prayers are translated correctly, and in some traditional-minded parishes the people’s answer to the Orate fratres is used as well as Eucharistic prayer III. But in almost all of the parishes I visited, Eucharistic prayer II is used exclusively even on Sundays (an abuse brought up in the above-mentioned book by the Korean jesuit). And Eucharistic prayers I and IV are obviously used so rarely that they (at least in folk missals) are put away in an appendix.

  62. Roland de Chanson says:

    catholicmidwest: Roland, you said,”The first rule of translation is to render the thought not the words.” Are you contradicting the Holy See then? That’s not what Litugiam Authenticam said.

    Quod scripsi, scripsi. ;-)

    I have contradicted the Holy See on two previous occasions. So far the score is Holy See 2, Roland 0.

  63. Henry Edwards says:

    Gustav Ahlman: Attending Mass in numerous parishes (including both liberal and conservative ones) in several states in three different regions of the country, I have never seen the people’s response to the Orate fratres altered or omitted. In my present round-church parish, Eucharistic Prayer I (the Roman Canon) is used in about half the daily and Sunday Masses. In some parishes the brief EP II is used mostly on week days and seldom on Sundays, while EPs I and III are used on feast days and solemnities; I understand this is what’s intended, since EP II is apparently not to be used on a day having its own proper preface (as do all Sundays, feasts, and solemnities).

  64. CharlesG says:

    The Chinese use “xinling” (??)?as in “ye yu nide xinling tongzai” (????????) for “and with your spirit”. Perhaps the Japanese could adapt “xinling” as a Chinese loan word.

  65. ghp95134 says:

    Henry Edwards states, Attending Mass in numerous parishes (including both liberal and conservative ones) in several states in three different regions of the country, I have never seen the people’s response to the Orate fratres altered or omitted….

    In what part of Japan can conservative parishes be found? I go to Sapporo and Tokyo frequently and will retire in Japan in about 3~5 years.

    Many thanks,
    –GHP

  66. ghp95134 says:

    Henry: Nevermind … I just realized what you wrote! My misunderstanding.

    –GHP