Prince Charles, the Book of Common Prayer, and Dynamic Equivalence Translation Philosophy

I think what Prince Charles says about the Book of Common Prayer is relevant to translation philosophy:

Prince Charles, heir apparent to the British throne, is widely disliked by conservatives because of some of his politically incorrect statements. But his introduction to a new book celebrating the 350th anniversary of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer is one that cultural conservatives should cheer heartily. He writes:

“Over recent years, we have witnessed a concerted effort to devalue the currency of [the 1662 BCP’s] resonant words. But who was it who decided that for people who aren’t very good at reading, the best things to read are those written by people who aren’t very good at writing? Poetry is surely for everybody, even if it’s only a few phrases. But banality is for nobody. It might be accessible for all, but so is a desert.”

HT: Michael Potemra

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  1. I’m not sure that the people who want to rewrite the BCP are doing dynamic equivalency since its not translation but yea, it’s an attempt to dumb it down and people would do better, in my opinion, if they simply had to learn it in the original. The old book of common prayer was a masterpiece of English literature and reformation era spirituality. I had a friend who was an English professor in college and she told me she could always spot the students who had been raised in church, especially the ones who came from a church that used the King James Version, because they always had a noticably higher reading compreension than those who had not.

  2. With all due respect, should modern English speakers really be considered ‘dumb’ simply because they have trouble reading 16th century English? Could it also be that much of the quaint and majestic feel of the KJV and the Book of Common Prayer are owing to an old-fashioned sound that would not have been present to the original audience?

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