From a reader…
If one knows the Our Father, Hail Mary & Glory Be in Latin, but one’s mind can’t translate the words directly as one prays them, is it OK to pray the rosary this way or should one stick to English instead where the words are easily understood? I’d like to pray my rosary regularly in Latin now but am worried that it would be much less efficacious if I don’t understand the words as easily as I do in English.
Of course it’s okay to pray in Latin. And, as one repeats the prayers, slowly but surely, they become more natural. This is the nature of learning another language. At first, the words remain “outside” you, as it were, even though intellectually you know their meaning. Then, after a while, you internalize them until they become part of the warp and weft of your language and symbol woven mind.
This is how children learn to speak and to understand nuances of words. It’s natural. It takes time and repetition.
After a while they are second nature to you and their meanings broaden and strengthen concepts within you that you don’t get from the other languages in which you pray. This is what I mean when, writing about the Latin of the orations of Holy Mass, I mention “tuning your Latin ear” or “hearing latinly”, and so forth. There are layers and tendrils of meaning in the Latin vocabulary that don’t easily transfer into the English renderings. Something is always lost. The old phrase about the loss of meaning in translation is, “Tradutore, traditore… the translator is a traitor”. Even that limps. The idea is that the translator has to make choices about which direction to go in following the layers of meaning of a word.
Perhaps for a while, alternate your decades of the Rosary in Latin and English. Ease in.