A classic dilemma: The translation of the Book of Mormon into Japanese

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  • NDM Vienna, Austria
    Feb. 25, 2012 12:45 a.m.

    Fascinating on the tradeoff between elegance and understandability. Having some translation experience, I have long felt that the "clunky" passages in the Book of Mormon read exactly like a painstakingly translated document where the translator struggles to maintain a certain style while still sticking as close to the original as possible.

    Language evolution can be just as hard as the "hand of men" on the plain and precious. "Comprehend" in John 1:5 ("and the darkness comprehendeth it not") means swallow up or defeat (not "understand"). English has changed even since Joseph Smith's day. "Goodly" can mean many things -- beautiful, abundant, rich, having many goods -- but it has never meant "good" as in morally upright. When Nephi says "Having been born of goodly parents, therefore I was instructed...," people in Joseph Smith's day would have instantly understood: "Because my parents were well-to-do, I was blessed to have the good education that enabled me to write these things."