First translation

So I thought I’d practice some translation for my upcoming exam. Here’s Luke 15:8-9:

8 τίς γυνὴ δραχμὰς ἔχουσα δέκα, ἐὰν ἀπολέσῃ δραχμὴν μίαν, οὐχὶ ἅπτει λύχνον καὶ σαροῖ τὴν οἰκίαν καὶ ζητεῖ ἐπιμελῶς ἕως ὅτου εὕρῃ; 9 καὶ εὑροῦσα συνκαλεῖ τὰς φίλας καὶ γείτονας λέγουσα· συνχάρητέ μοι, ὅτι εὗρον τὴν δραχμὴν ἣν ἀπώλεσα.

τίς γυνὴ δραχμὰς ἔχουσα δέκα,
Okay, so the first thing I noticed was ἐχ, our favourite verb stem meaning to have. So I should be looking out for two nouns, one nominative and one accusative. γυνη is a singular nominative noun, which I looked up and means woman. δραχμας is a plural accusative which means silver coins.

I looked up δεκα cause I didn’t know it. It’s an adjective meaning ten, which is really obvious considering our English prefix deca-…

That leaves the first two words: ἠ τις. The first is a particle meaning something like or, and τις is an interrogative pronoun.
So my translation:
Or which woman having ten silver coins

ἐὰν ἀπολέσῃ δραχμὴν μίαν,
This time our silver coin is singular, but still accusative. Following it is an adjective meaning one.
ἀπολεσῃ looks like a feminine singular dative noun, apparently it’s actually a subjunctive verb meaning destroy or lose.
And ἐαν means if.
There’s no explicit noun here, but the verb has a 3sg form, so the subject is (probably) the woman.

Updated translation:
Or which woman having ten silver coins, if she loses one silver coin

οὐχὶ ἅπτει λύχνον
οὐχι is a negative marker. I thought I remembered learning οὐ in a class but I couldn’t find it on our workbook…
-ει looks like a 3sg-PRES verb suffix, and the verb means ignite.
-ον is the m-sg-ACC suffix, and the noun is candle.

Or which woman having ten silver coins, if she loses one silver coin, doesn’t light a candle

καὶ σαροῖ τὴν οἰκίαν
σαροι is a verb meaning sweep.
την οἰκιαν is easy: the house (accusative).

Or which woman having ten silver coins, if she loses one silver coin, doesn’t light a candle and sweep the house

καὶ ζητεῖ ἐπιμελῶς
ζητει: verb seeks
ἐπιμελως: adverb diligently, carefully

Or which woman having ten silver coins, if she loses one silver coin, doesn’t light a candle and sweep the house and carefully search

ἕως ὅτου εὕρῃ;
ἑως: until
οτου: relative pronoun
εὑρῃ: finds

Or which woman having ten silver coins, if she loses one silver coin, doesn’t light a candle and sweep the house and carefully search until she finds it?

καὶ εὑροῦσα συνκαλεῖ τὰς φίλας καὶ γείτονας λέγουσα·
εὑρουσα: same verb stem as above, but with a different suffix. It’s an “aorist” and a participle. Wikipedia tells me that probably means a past event
συνκαλει: call together, assemble. present tense, indicative
φιλας: friends
γειτονας: neighbours
λεγουσα: says

And when she finds it, calling together the friends and neighbours, says

συνχάρητέ μοι, ὅτι εὗρον τὴν δραχμὴν ἣν ἀπώλεσα.
συνχαρητε: rejoice with
ὁτι: because, since
εὑρον: find, aorist 1sg
ἡν: relative pronoun
ἀπωλεσα: lost, aorist 1sg

And when she finds it, calling together the friends and neighbours, says “rejoice with me because I found the silver coin which was lost.”

That’s not great English though. So here’s a rewrite:

Or which woman who has ten silver coins, if she loses one, doesn’t light a candle, sweep the house, and carefully search until she finds it? When she finds it she calls together her friends and neighbours and says, “Rejoice with me because I found the lost coin!”

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3 Comments

  1. Wonderful Dannii! Thank you for sharing not only the product (your eventual “rewrite” of your composite, drafted “not [yet] great English”). But also thank you very much for walking us your readers through your process! The “how” of translating is very very important. It’s most important, I think, because it’s so personal (and not necessarily because it is entirely constrained by formalism or logic). In email you ask: “Now I’m guessing I followed a fairly traditionalist translation approach. If I had been translating it more feministically, how would my/our approach have differed?”A feminist approach begins to wonder how gender plays into the Greek text and how English might expose the default categories. Why is a “woman” sweeping? What if she were a man with a broom in the house? Is Luke perpetuating or challenging sexism for his readers? Is Jesus for his listeners? Are any of the readers or listeners outside of the text? How is the parable or the Greek-translated now English-translated text heard by a woman? By a non-Jew? By someone many centuries later? Where is there sexism, abolutism, or centricism that excludes anyone? How can we the translators listen in intentionally with (our) intent? How different does the feminist process make a feminist process (assuming a womanly text is that static).

  2. Looks like a good translation. :)What Greek textbook are you using? Wallace? Mounce? Wenham? Wallace is good (we use him from second year onwards) but his verb chapters aren't so crash hot. Aspectual theory is the hottest thing in Greek studies in the moment. It's not so cool to think 'aorist=past' anymore. (It's more hip to think Aorist (and Imperfect) = remoteness (from the action) and Present/Perfect = proximity (towards the action)). Check out Con Campbell's stuff on Aspect if you want to chase it up. And Lionel Windsor's got some cute stuff to keep up Greek:http://www.lionelwindsor.net/language-tools/greek/

  3. Thanks Diane.We're not using any textbook, just notes that our lecturer has written himself. I'm not sure what his influences are. We have Dobson and Mounce but I haven't looked at either.Yeah I know aorists aren't strictly translatable with the English past, but it is generally a simple way to think of it.

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