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A distinction is sometimes taken between a free and a literal translation. In one sense, all translation should be free, that is, it should render the original with intelligence and spirit; in another, all translation should be literal, that is, it should exhibit the grammatical construction of the original as accurately as if the translator had rendered his sentence word for word.
Now these last remarks will not apply, necessarily, to translation from English into Greek or Latin. I say not necessarily, because in this case the translator is not bound, by the very nature of the case, to throw aside the construction of the English, whether in Prose or Verse, and adopt one entirely new. The probability is, that he will have to do so, but it is nevertheless possible that what is the nominative in the English, may continue to be the nominative in the Latin or the Greek sentence, and so on throughout the rest of the construction. But, generally speaking, the sentence will have to be entirely recast, care being taken to preserve the ideas, not the words, but the ideas, as nearly as possible, in the order in which they stand in the original. For the object being to express the author's meaning, it is obvious that if the ideas do not stand nearly in the order in which he has expressed them, or at all events if their relative importance is not kept, much of the author's spirit will be lost. But even here a specific distinction between the Latin and the English modes of expression comes in, which shows how completely different is the spirit of the two languages. For in Latin the most emphatic word in the clause, the most important idea in the sentence, generally stands first; in English generally, not always, but generally,
But this in passing. To go on with the general observations, I would remark, that there is, upon the whole less difference between the English and the Greek language, than between the English and the Latin, in the construction of the sentences and the order of the words. Hence it follows that English may be more often rendered literally into Greek than is the case with Latin. Still the translator is in no instance relieved from the necessity of finding equivalents, not in words, but in phrases; of considering how the author whom he is imitating would have expressed the same idea, and of consulting not the English-Greek part of a Lexicon, but his memory of what he has read for phrases, and his taste for the application of them. What has been hitherto said applies chiefly to Prose translation. But it is evident that the same principles are applicable in the main to Verse translation also. It is generally thought that the constraint of metre makes the difficulty of the latter kind of composition much greater than that of the former. This is only true to a very limited extent. For while in Prose, supposing the choice of words to be made, everything depends upon the order in which they are put, and there is nothing to guide the composer but his knowledge of the laws which should govern that position, it is clear that in verse the metre of itself must and will, to a great extent, determine the position for him. Not, of course, that this will justify such a transposition of any word or words as to take them out of their own clause and place them in another, whereby a mere jumble is produced. The great difficulty in verse composition is, to make it appear that the words naturally, and without effort, assume the metrical order in which they stand. And it must ever be remembered, that no literal expression of the sense of the original will compensate for the appearance of a clumsily constructed, inharmonious line; and that to avoid this, provided no new idea be introduced, any breaking up of the English construction, any conversion of the order of ideas, is not only allowable, but absolutely necessary.
It would be easy to illustrate these remarks by a number of instances from various kinds of translation, of which some admirable specimens, as regards verses, have been published under the title of “Musæ Cantabrigienses. But as it would be useless to illustrate at all without illustrating fully, I have determined to abstain altogether, lest my remarks should extend to a length far beyond what I originally intended. Neither do I pretend in what I have said, to have at all exhausted the subject, but only to have thrown out a few very general hints which will be of more or less service, according to the attention bestowed upon them in practice. For practice, combined with a close, accurate, and observant reading, is the only path to excellence in composition. Let the student, in reading prose, accustom himself to render every phrase into good and idiomatic English, observing what phrases are of most frequent occurrence in the author
whom he is employed; let him, as occasion offers, reproduce these phrases in his composition—let him do the same in poetry, with the addition of a close observation of the frame of the lines he reads, their cadences, pauses, cæsuras, and alternations of feet, with the modes in which those feet are divided
among the words, and he will by these means attain to that which without them would be impossible, even with better graduses and dictionaries than the world has yet seen-excellence in composition.
DEFINITIONS OF, AND RULES FOR,
A word may be accented either on the last syllable (Ultima), the last syllable but one (Penultima), or the last syllable but two (Antepenultima).
The accented vowel in any syllable has generally a small line over it, drawn obliquely downwards from right to left, as
θεός, δάφνη, θάνατος. When the last syllable is accented, the word is said to be OxyTONE, as,
θεός, ανήρ, χιτών, πατήρ. An Oxytone word in the middle of a sentence has the line drawn obliquely downwards from left to right:
θεός αυτός, ανήρ καλός. (So that there is, practically, no difference between what is called the grave and the acute accent, the inclination of the line depending entirely upon the position of the word).
When the last syllable but one is accented, the word is said to be PAROXYTONE, as,
ίππος, όνους, όπλα, άρρην. When the last syllable but two is accented, the word is said to be PROPAROXYTONE, as,
σέλινον, βάτραχε. The last syllable of a Proparoxytone word is always short, and the final al and oi of Nouns, and also of the Indicative and Infinitive Moods of Verbs are considered short with reference to accent :
άργυρος, άνθρωποι, τέτυψαι. In the case of a diphthong, the accent is drawn on the last vowel, as,
αυλαί, οίκους, βασιλεύς.
CIRCUMFLEX. When two vowels, of which the former was accented, have become one vowel, or a diphthong, by contraction, the accent is expressed by the circumflex.
The circumflex cannot fall further back in the word than the last syllable but one.
When the last syllable is circumflexed, the word is said to be PERISPOMENON, as,
αυλής, άγρών, κηρου. When the last syllable but one is circumflexed the word is said to be PROPERISPOMENON :
δήμος, δώρα, χλάιναι. The last syllable of a Properispomenon word is always short, and a word is necessarily Properispomenon when the accent falls on the last syllable but one (being a diphthong or long vowel), and the last syllable is short.
σώμα, χειρες, αιώνος. In Nouns SUBSTANTIVE, the accent of the Nominative being known, the accents of all the other cases are known also; for the syllable which is accented in the Nominative will be accented, if possible, in every other case;
if the inflexion of the cases does not produce such a change in the quantity of the final syllable, or the length of the word, as to make it inconsistent with other laws of accent, that the accent should remain upon the accented syllable of the Nominative, e. g.
Nom. åvopumos. Proparoxytone.
lable becomes long; and, conse-
to be Proparoxytone. Nom. σώμα. Gen. cóuatos, where the same syllable continues to
be accented in accordance with the rule, though the title of the accent is
changed. The accent will return to its original place when it is possible to do so; thus, Gen. åv porov, but Vocat. åvopwme, the last syllable being again short, as in the Nom.
Generally, the accent will continue as near to the accented syllable of the Nominative as it can; thus, Nom. θάνατος, Gen. θανάτου, not θανατου.
Specific rules are, that
The plural Genitive in the first declension is always Perispomenon.
Oxytone Nouns of the first and second declensions are Perispomenon in the Genitive and Dative of all Numbers.