The (missing) brackets in the NWT

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    F kifoy posted Thu, 21 Feb 2008 00:37:00 GMT(2/21/2008)

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    It was a great day, that convention day they announced that the New World Translation now was to be released in the Norwegian language. First the Greek Scriptures in 1991, and in 1996 the whole Bible. Finally we too were able to read the best translation ever made!

    I was all over it from the beginning. And in the back of the Bible (on the 2nd page after the last chapter of Revelation), I found a small text with some explanations. The same explanations can be found also in the English NWT, but the Norwegian text is less extensive, as it only contains these small paragraphs:
    - Capital letters (where English needs to separate "you" and "you", Norwegian needs to separate "theirs" and "yours")
    - Brackets/double brackets
    - Accentuation marks

    It was the second paragraph that really puzzled me. The brackets. In the English NWT the explanation says:

    BRACKETS: Single brackets [ ] enclose words inserted to complete the sense in the English text.

    The Norwegian text do not say exaclty the same, but says something like this:

    BRACKETS: Single brackets [ ] enclose words inserted to reproduce the sense from the "original text" more complete in the Norwegian text.

    (* I don't know the correct English word or term for the "reconstructed original texts". In Norwegian: grundtekst; German: Grundtext)

    But no matter how thoroughly I looked through my NWT, I could not find one single bracket. I found a couple of double brackets, but no single bracket. Nothing. I thought it was strange, but after a while I stopped thinking about it.

    It was not until after I left the org. that it hit me. I was looking in the Kingdom Interlinear. And, wow, did I see brackets! They were all over the place! Almost on every page I looked, there was a word enclosed in brackets. But why were they nowhere to be found in my Norwegian translation?

    Did they remove the brackets? The Norwegian NWT is indeed a secondary translation, translated from English, not from the "original texts". So they translated from the English text, but failed to notice the brackets?

    I'll give you one example (the marked word is the word "inserted to complete the sense in the English text"), John 7:46:

    (English NWT): The officers replied: “Never has [another] man spoken like this.”
    (Norwegian NWT): Betjentene svarte: «Aldri har noe annet menneske talt på denne måten.»

    So you read your English NWT, and understand that something was inserted here, because of the brackets. But when I read my Norwegian NWT, I do not get that understanding at all? I feel really fooled!

    Why did they do this? One question is of course if the word should be inserted there in the first place. But when you translate this text to another language, and remove the brackets? Yes, brackets do look stupid in a Bible. But if they felt that way, why didn't they remove the whole word with it?

    Did this also happened to other translations of NWT?

    Leolaia posted Thu, 21 Feb 2008 01:15:00 GMT(2/21/2008)

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    That's pretty interesting. I always found it very lazy that foreign-language NWTs were generally translated from the English (a translation of a translation). I guess this is the kind of effect that results from that.

    F kifoy posted Thu, 21 Feb 2008 09:03:00 GMT(2/21/2008)

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    Yes, it is, isn't it?

    I showed what I had found to a friend of mine (xjw), and he told me that he always wondered about this too. Why he could not find any brackets even if there was an explanation in the back telling there should be.

    Are ALL foreign-language NWTs really translated from English?
    How is it possible to make "the most accurate translation" in X number of languages this way?

    I already know the answer, but still...

    lost-in-time posted Thu, 21 Feb 2008 12:16:00 GMT(2/21/2008)

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    It was the second paragraph that really puzzled me. The brackets. In the English NWT the explanation says:

    BRACKETS: Single brackets [ ] enclose words inserted to complete the sense in the English text.

    The Norwegian text do not say exaclty the same, but says something like this:

    BRACKETS: Single brackets [ ] enclose words inserted to reproduce the sense from the "original text" more complete in the Norwegian text.

    -----------

    "original text" = English text!

    All NWTranslations is based on English text, and in many languages (slavic, for ex.) occasionally need an extra word to complete sense from English.

    Simmilar, English text occasionally need an extra word to complete sense from Hebrew or Greek. Usually, it is not same words in both cases.

    F kifoy posted Thu, 21 Feb 2008 12:49:00 GMT(2/21/2008)

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    lost-in-time
    "original text" = English text!

    All NWTranslations is based on English text, and in many languages (slavic, for ex.) occasionally need an extra word to complete sense from English.

    Simmilar, English text occasionally need an extra word to complete sense from Hebrew or Greek. Usually, it is not same words in both cases.

    Welcome to the forum, lost-in-time!

    No. The "original text" here, as it is written in Norwegian, can never be understood as the original English text. The word in the Norwegian explanation is "grunntekst". This word's only meaning in this context, is the Greek, Latin, Hebrew (and other) manuscripts that is the basis for all Bible translators. I wish I knew more about this, but this is as good as I can describe it.

    This explanation, as it is written, has no connection with the English text. At all. On the contrary it gives the impression (as I see it) that the words enclosed by brackets are there to complete the sense from the "original" manuscripts. Not to complete the sense in English.

    But in the Norwegian NWT itself, the brackets are removed, and the inserted words appear to be "original", which they are not.
    They were put there to "make sense" in the English text. And this was obviously not taken into proper consideration when they used this text to translate into Norwegian.

    That's why I feel fooled.

    I hope this was understandable

    M oompa posted Thu, 21 Feb 2008 13:26:00 GMT(2/21/2008)

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    Kifoy, did you know they "inserted" the name Jehovah 237 times in the Greek Scriptures without ANY manuscript support in the world? (check insight book under Jehovah--use in Gree Scriptures) Did you know they say they "restored" it when quoting from the Hebrew Scriptures (appendix 1-d) This is not really true though as not only does the entire book of Revelation not contain a Hebrew Scripture quote containing the divine name, but there are dozens of other places we have ADDED it where there is no quote....just look for quotaion marks and cross references. Revelation has added it where not quoted about a dozen times, Jude just once with no quote...two with quotes....but there is NO support in ancient manuscripts or among scholors or other Bibles for this supposed "restoration."

    I would have rather believed God cared enough to keep his Word intact, protected from those who would want to change or corrupt it.....WT says he did not...............I have 6 pages of research on this if you want it.....oompa

    F kifoy posted Thu, 21 Feb 2008 14:20:00 GMT(2/21/2008)

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    Kifoy, did you know they "inserted" the name Jehovah 237 times in the Greek Scriptures without ANY manuscript support in the world?

    Yes, oompa. I know.

    I would have rather believed God cared enough to keep his Word intact, protected from those who would want to change or corrupt it.....WT says he did not...............

    Yes, you're spot on! I have been asking the same question myself.

    Why can we trust the Bible, that is has been preserved? Jehovah has preserved it:

    Insight p. 313:
    All credit and thanksgiving for the Bible’s survival in view of such violent opposition is due Jehovah, the Preserver of his Word

    But if Jehovah really has looked after his Word, how did it happen that his name dissapeared? If it is ONE thing I would think of, that would be of utterly importance for Jehovah to preserve, it would be his name, right? The most important thing: His name.

    So why did he not preserve his name, but let it dissapear? If he let his own name dissapear, can we really trust the rest of the Bible? No matter how you look at it, something does not make sense here.

    I have 6 pages of research on this if you want it.....oompa

    Yes. That would be great!
    Thanks!

    But back "on topic":
    Can anyone tell if the brackets were lost also in other translations of the NWT?

    WTWizard posted Thu, 21 Feb 2008 15:04:00 GMT(2/21/2008)

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    What stopped them from translating directly from Hebrew and/or Greek? Basically, they don't have any mastery of either language (they didn't when they translated the damn thing in English). All they did was take a basic King James version, update the language, and alter passages where it was necessary to make the Bible fit the cult. Some verses were left out (the Dash). Some words were added to make the New World Translation fit the cult (the [ ]'s). Still others were added without any sort of notation (a). And there was the transported , .

    Which doesn't surprise me. They did all the dirty work in tampering with the Bible in English. Now, they are translating it from English, so they will have the bad version copied in the new language. Translate directly, and there is a chance of making a transcription error and having the correct wording come in the finished product. Then, when someone finds it, they see the scam of the Tower and leave.

    F kifoy posted Thu, 21 Feb 2008 16:05:00 GMT(2/21/2008)

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    WTWizard
    They did all the dirty work in tampering with the Bible in English.

    A bad translation of a bad translation would make it the most INaccurate translation ever made, I guess...

    M OnTheWayOut posted Thu, 21 Feb 2008 16:29:00 GMT(2/21/2008)

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    Why did they do this

    The short answer:

    They do this because they are just a printing company, not "inspired" by God.
    They did all their work of translating and incorporating their doctrines into the English
    version, and just want to make it easy to get their version into the hands of people
    of all other languages.

    Someone just goofed up on the brackets. That wouldn't happen if their works were
    "inspired." God would make sure the brackets highlighted the added words.

    Leolaia posted Thu, 21 Feb 2008 16:47:00 GMT(2/21/2008)

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    kifoy....Narkissos has detailed information that shows that the French NWT is a partial exception:

    http://www.jehovahs-witness.com/9/86744/1.ashx

    F kifoy posted Thu, 21 Feb 2008 17:57:00 GMT(2/21/2008)

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    Thank you, Leolaia. That was interesting.

    Just wanted to quote the_classicist:

    I would suspect, though, and you would know more about this than me, that in other countries where there are less JWs, the NWT is translated directly from English. Y'know this proves two things: 1) JWs aren't as concerned about true biblical scholarship as they seem, and 2) The WT is an Anglophone and American religion.
    F kifoy posted Thu, 21 Feb 2008 18:04:00 GMT(2/21/2008)

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    OTWO:
    Someone just goofed up on the brackets. That wouldn't happen if their works were "inspired." God would make sure the brackets highlighted the added words.

    Good point. God would have made sure of a lot of things... He is after all the "Preserver of his Word" (Insight p. 313)...

    M AlmostAtheist posted Thu, 21 Feb 2008 18:13:00 GMT(2/21/2008)

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    It's part of the Watchtower style-guide that when quoting from the NWT, they don't include the brackets. So the NWT might say, Dave 1:1 "Give me [another] beer", but when quoting Dave 1:1 in the Watchtower they would say, "Give me another beer."

    Maybe they excuse it on that basis?

    Dave

    Leolaia posted Thu, 21 Feb 2008 19:06:00 GMT(2/21/2008)

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    Well, here is another interesting thing:

    The officers replied: “Never has [another] man spoken like this.”

    What exactly does the "another" add? Doesn't it mean almost the same thing? Never has a man spoken like this -- of course any other man would be "another man" from Jesus. The difference is one of emphasis that seems to, at least, rule out one implication about Jesus himself: If no man has ever spoken like this, maybe Jesus isn't a man. Not that this is necessarily an implication in the Greek text itself (I'm not sure if it is, and I personally doubt it), but it could read that way in English. So adding "another" doesn't change anything referentially, but it might preclude a reading that could be suggestive of Christ's deity.

    M Narkissos posted Thu, 21 Feb 2008 19:42:00 GMT(2/21/2008)

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    So adding "another" doesn't change anything referentially, but it might preclude a reading that could be suggestive of Christ's deity.

    On top of that the addition of bracketed "[(an)other]"s where the idea is implied(hence where other Bibles may use it without brackets/italics) serves as a justification for its addition in more controversial places, e.g. Colossians 1:15ff.

    Never forget that the NWT is not primarily meant to be "simply read" as any other Bible but to serve as a material store for self-referential argument. From this perspective it makes a lot of sense.

    Of course this use of brackets is bound to be inconsistent. If everyEnglish/Norwegian word that has no formal equivalent in either Hebrew or Greek had to be marked out this way, several brackets would be needed in every sentence.

    However it's quite interesting to see that such markers have indeed been lost in the process of translation from English to other languages...

    F kifoy posted Thu, 21 Feb 2008 19:55:00 GMT(2/21/2008)

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    What exactly does the "another" add? Doesn't it mean almost the same thing? Never has a man spoken like this -- of course any other man would be "another man" from Jesus. The difference is one of emphasis that seems to, at least, rule out one implication about Jesus himself: If no man has ever spoken like this, maybe Jesus isn't a man. Not that this is necessarily an implication in the Greek text itself (I'm not sure if it is), but it could read that way in English. So adding "another" doesn't change anything referentially, but it might preclude a reading that could be suggestive of Christ's deity.

    Yes, the Norwegian text with and without the word "annet" (another), brings up exactly the same issue. The Norwegian text without the word "annet", does not have to mean that Jesus was not a man, but it can be understood that way. So in order to keep the "complete sense" of the original texts, they put in [another], so it will not be misunderstood...

    So the witnesses have got a pre-interpreted Bible, if it is possible to say it that way.
    Well, I guess they're used to it.

    F kifoy posted Thu, 21 Feb 2008 20:10:00 GMT(2/21/2008)

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    Narkissos:
    On top of that the addition of bracketed "[(an)other]"s where the idea is implied(hence where other Bibles may use it without brackets/italics) serves as a justification for its addition in more controversial places, e.g. Colossians 1:15ff.

    Never forget that the NWT is not primarily meant to be "simply read" as any other Bible but to serve as a material store for self-referential argument. From this perspective it makes a lot of sense.

    Yes, in the Colossians the same has happened to the brackets in the Norwegian translation. I have got the Kingdom Interlinear here, and it is really easy to see that the word "another" gives a different meaning to this verses.

    Of course this use of brackets is bound to be inconsistent. If everyEnglish/Norwegian word that has no formal equivalent in either Hebrew or Greek had to be marked out this way, several brackets would be needed in every sentence.

    However it's quite interesting to see that such markers have indeed been lost in the process of translation from English to other languages...

    Yes, of course. That's translation and languages in a nutshell. But a conscientious translator would not use words that changed the meaning of the text, would he?
    And that's also why it is even more difficult to understand how they could see it as a smart move to use English as the "basic" language for other translations, and "unctitically" also translate the bracketed words (I don't even know if they checked other manuscript in the process...)

    lost-in-time posted Thu, 21 Feb 2008 20:51:00 GMT(2/21/2008)

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    But back "on topic":
    Can anyone tell if the brackets were lost also in other translations of the NWT?

    Well, I have Italian edition (1986), have brackets just like English edition. But new Croatian edition (2006) have no brackets at all, but have many references with explanations about meanings of the words and other possible translations. For example, Mathew 23:5:

    5 All the works they do they do to be viewed by men; for they broaden the [scripture-containing] cases that they wear as safeguards, and enlarge the fringes [of their garments]

    Croatian:

    5 Sva djela svoja cine zato da ih vide ljudi. Povecavaju filakterije svoje i produljuju rese na haljinama svojim.

    with explanation what "filakterija" (Phylactery) is, but no brackets or comment about [na haljinama svojim].

    M Narkissos posted Thu, 21 Feb 2008 21:14:00 GMT(2/21/2008)

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    So the witnesses have got a pre-interpreted Bible

    Yes that sums it up nicely.

    Of course in a sense every Bible translation is, but there is a quantitative difference (how much, how far?).

    Honesty normally counter-balances tha natural interpretative will of the translator and constrains him/her to respect the obscurity, ambiguity, and even inconsistency of the texts...

    Lost-in-time,

    Your Croatian example is quite interesting inasmuch as filakterija actually transliterates the Greek phulaktèria instead of following the painful English "scripture-containing cases that they wear as safeguards" which (as often in the NWT) is more of a definition than a translation.

    I haven't my old (1974) French NWT at hand but I wonder if it did not do the same thing in that particular passage (in which case it might have influenced the Croatian translator). The current (1995, I think) French revision has " les boîtes [renfermant des passages de l’Écriture et] qu’ils portent comme des moyens de protection" which slavishly follows the English. If somebody could check in a pre-1995 French NWT it would be quite interesting.

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