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July 18, 2012 Chris McDonnell, UK
It's all a matter of
We communicate with each other in many ways, through images, touch, facial expressions and writing but above all, by the spoken word. During the course of a day we will meet many people face to face and we exchange a casual greeting or engage in a longer, more detailed discussion. In this way we try to tell our story or listen with attention to the stories of others. Words matter.
In the Introduction to the reprinted Theology of Liberation, Gustavo Gutierrez writes "...all language is to some extent a groping for clarity." How often do we find it difficult to put into words what we actually want to express ? so we resort to other means and often where emotion is deeply involved, we communicate through touch.
Maybe this is why there has been so much concern over the New Translation of the Roman Missal. Language is indeed a groping for clarity and that has something to do with our experience of the words we use in prayer. Literal translation doesn't help with appreciation of expression for it can so easily miss the nuance of language. It can also disturb the historical root that feeds our linguistic exchange.
It is significant that the newly formed Association of US priests begin their recent public statement with these words:
The new English missal has "caused disharmony, disruption and discord among many… frustrating rather than inspiring the Eucharistic prayer experience of the Christian faithful, thus leading to less piety and to less full active and conscious participation.
(for a full discussion see Pray Tell blog posting July 14)
The natural evolution of language is one thing, we can accommodate change and variety in both structure and vocabulary. You only need to see how much science has contributed to everyday speech patterns in recent years. Our difficulty is with a translation that involves the use of archaic phrases and structures that serve only to hinder meaning, not enhance it.
So Gutierrez was right on the mark, language is a groping for clarity and we should make every effort not to get in the way and hinder understandable discourse.