Can be both the following statements honest translations of the same text?

Art of Rhetoric by Aristotle 1414b

1. he should begin with what takes his fancy (W. Rhys Roberts 1936)

2. by starting immediately whatever it is he wishes to say (Bartlett 2019)



"by starting immediately whatever it is he wishes to say, the speaker states the keynote of the whole speech"

3 Answers

  • 4 weeks ago

    This is one of the tricky aspects of translation.  The words in the one language do not generally correspond directly to equal words in the second language, so the idea has to be translated, not just words.  You need to think in the first language, and think in the second language, to get the main idea through.  So, a translation is an interpretation, by necessity.  Both translations can be honest ones and yet not be in perfect accord.  things that might not be indicated in the original might have to be indicated in the translation (because that is what the second language requires but the first does not).

    Whose version is a better representation of the original Greek?  I do not know because I cannot read Greek.  Usually, the better idea can be figured out through how well the questioned phrasing fits with the rest of the text.

    Basically, it is extremely common that a direct word-for-word translation would be seen as nonsense or very confusing, so you cannot truly do a word-for-word translation. We would never say something in that way in the second language.  So, the translator has to find a good way to say the same basic thing, and there can be several different ways to say it.  Often, it is how the translator would have said it if the idea had been their idea to begin with.

  • Anonymous
    4 weeks ago

    Well, the second one isn't even a "statement." It's not a complete sentence; it's only a prepositional phrase. Are you sure you quoted the whole thing correctly?

  • John P
    Lv 7
    1 month ago

    I do not know the text of Aristotle's statement in Greek, but both of those versions make sense to me, but they do not mean exactly the same thing.

    I have a feeling that the older form is more of a literal translation. More context would help - at least the full sentence and the previous sentence.

    You really need answers from people who know Aristotle in the original Greek, and who are native speakers of good British or American English.

    I have seen many answers on this site which must have been written by non-native speakers.

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