Extreme Literal Mistranslation: The Gǝʿǝz Text of Titus 3:1
Keywords:Bible, translation technique, literalism
The Gǝʿǝz translation of Titus 3:1, by following the Greek original literally—word-for-word and even case-for-case—yields a good, clear Gǝʿǝz text which the average Gǝʿǝz reader will take as having a meaning which is opposite to that of the Greek: not (1) ‘Remind them to be obedient to rulers’, as in the Greek (the normal Pauline message), but (2) ‘Remind the rulers to be obedient’. This paper reconstructs how this semantic inversion came about. The Gǝʿǝz word-sequence is syntactically ambiguous, allowing two different parses: one normal (2) and the other highly marked (1). The intended, marked parse (1), which would yield the Greek sense, is unlikely even to occur to the Gǝʿǝz reader. Indeed, the andǝmta to this passage presupposes the unmarked parse (2).
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