Monday, November 20, 2006

Ibn Tibbon And The Genius Of Vilnius

Ibn Tibbon translated the book "Duties of the Heart" from Arabic into Hebrew. In the introduction to his translation he sets down three requirements for one who wishes to embark on such an effort:

1) He must know the language that the original work is written in

2) He must know the language that he is translating the work into

3) He must understand the matter that the work deals with

Conditions 1) and 2) are fairly obvious. The third condition is less so. It is often lacking by those that translate Hebrew into English when the subject matter deals with religious issues.

Why am I writing this? I just saw the English version of a Hebrew article that I mentioned yesterday. As I read it one paragraph made me smile:
The first speaker at the conference, Head of the Hebron Yeshiva Rabbi David Cohen, quoted the Genius of Vilnius, Rabbi Eliyahu, in saying “The evil urge, it’s spice for people is the Torah, and for modest women.

This is the original Hebrew:
ראשון הדוברים, ראש ישיבת חברון הרב דוד כהן, ציטט את הגאון מווילנא ואמר כי "היצר הרע, התבלין שלו לאנשים הוא עסק התורה, ולנשים הצניעות

The "Genius of Vilnius" is of course better known as the Gaon of Vilna or the Vilna Gaon. I wonder if the translator would translate "Rabbi Sa'adyah Gaon" as "Rabbi Sa'adyah Genius".

The rest of the translation is nothing sort of a disaster. It should be the following: "For men, the antidote for the evil urge is learning Torah, and (the antidote) for women is modesty."

I have a feeling that the ynetnews translation was done by a computer program or a drug addict.

1 comment:

yaak said...

Wow. Are there are no religious people in their English-language dept.? That's rediculous.

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