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vol.60 número4-1Literary aspects of the 2020 translation of the Bible in Afrikaans and the contribution of the literary advisors in the process of translationAuthority and solidarity: Forms of address and pronominal personal references in the Afrikaans Bible translation of 2020 índice de autoresíndice de assuntospesquisa de artigos
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Tydskrif vir Geesteswetenskappe

versão On-line ISSN 2224-7912
versão impressa ISSN 0041-4751


CONRADIE, C Jac. Language change in the Afrikaans translations of the Gospel of Mark. Tydskr. geesteswet. [online]. 2020, vol.60, n.4-1, pp.1047-1065. ISSN 2224-7912.

Seven Afrikaans translations of the Gospel according to Mark are compared in order to determine to what extent they reflect the development of Afrikaans during the past century or more. The method employed is to identify sections of the text that seem amenable to comparison in the various translations, with due regard to the fact that the translations are not representations of one another and that there are underlying diverse theoretical approaches and implicit ideals. The following translations are compared: (i) Die Evangelie volgens die beskrywing van Markus (the Gospel according to Mark) (CP Hoogenhout) (V1878); (ii) Di Evangeli follens Markus (the Gospel according to Mark) (SJ du Toit and collaborators) (V1908); (iii) Die Vier Evangelië en die Psalme (The Four Gospels and the Psalms)(V1922); (iv) the 1933 translation of the Bible (the first official translation of the entire Bible) (V1933); (v) the revised edition of the last-mentioned (V1953); (vi) the Nuwe Vertaling (New Translation)(V1983), and (vii) Die Nuwe Testament en Psalms, 'n Direkte Vertaling (The New Testament and Psalms, a Direct Translation) (V2014) The phenomena that are subject to change are discussed under the following headings: (1) Adjectival and nominal morphology, (2) Pronominal forms of address, (3) Verbal morphology, (4) Selected verbal constructions, (5) Selected non-verbal constructions and (6) Selected lexical items. (1) Adjectival and nominal morphology The -e ending of a number of attributive adjectives is dropped from one translation to another, but the change does not occur at the same time in all adjectives nor does the change occur in every adjective. On the one hand, for instance, the -e of ou(w)e "old" is dropped from V1922 onwards, but on the other hand that of dowe "deaf"is maintained in all translations (as it is in present-day language). Derived nominals such as skrifgeleerde "scribe(s)", which also served as plural in the earliest translations, had the plural -s added from V1922 onwards. (2) Pronominal forms of address The old form gy "you" (singular or plural), which was used in the Cape until the late 18th century (Ponelis 1993:207), occurs only in V1878 and V1922. In all translations but V1908 and V1922 both the familiar forms of address, e.g. the 2nd person pronominals jy "you" (subjectform, singular), jou "you/your" (object/possessive form, singular) and julle "you/ your" (personal/possessive form, plural), and formal u "you" (singular, plural and possessive) are used. V1908 uses informal jy/jou in all contexts, and V1922 uses formal u in all contexts. (3) Verbal morphology In verbs such as sterf/sterwe "to die" the -we variant is generally replaced by the -f variant from one translation to another, the latter becoming the dominant form in V2014. V1983, however, shows preference for the -we variant. The early translators seem to have employed the -we forms, such as sterwe, as infinitives, e.g. hy sal sterwe "he will die", and the -fforms as finite forms, e.g. hy sterf "he is dying". It also seems as though Hoogenhout (V1878), in his use of verbs such as gaan "to go", staan "to stand" and doen "to do", reserved the -t ending for finite forms (singular as well as plural) and the imperative (e.g. hy/hulle gaat "he/ they are going"; gaat heen "go forth") and the -n ending for infinitival usage (e.g. kan gaan "can go" and om te gaan "to go"). Het "to have" is used as imperative of the main verb hê "to have" in the oldest translations, but is later on replaced by jy/julle plus the modal verb moet, e.g. Het sout in julle self"("Have salt in yourselves", V1908) is replaced by "Julle moet sout in julle hê" ("You must have salt in you") from V1933 onwards. While in Dutch the negative imperative, which expresses a prohibition, consists of the imperative form and negation, a contracted form moenie (from moet "must" and nie "not") is used in present-day Afrikaans, e.g. "Gaan nie in die dorp nie" ("Go not into the village") in V1922 is replaced by "Moenie in die dorp gaan ... nie" ("Must-not into the village go") in V1933. In the early translations, V1878 in particular, the strong or ablaut forms of the past participle, e.g. bewoge "moved", are used in verbal function before being supplanted by regularised forms such as beweeg. (4) Selected verbal constructions In a constructional change involving inter alia the expression of tense and modality, a structure such as gelaster sal hê "will have slandered" changed to sal gelaster het, with the bare infinitive hê "to have" being replaced by the finite auxiliary het "have". This change is reflected in translations from V1922 onwards. Counter-factuality is expressed in "kon ... aan die armes gegee gewees het" ("could have been given to the poor", V1933). A construction employed to express wishes has evolved from the modal verb wil "to want/ wish to"plus a dat ("that") clause, to wil hê "to want to have" followed by an independent clause. The difference is reflected by "ons wil dat U aan ons sal doen, wat ons ook mag begeer" ("we want that You will do to us whatever we may desire") in V1922 and "ons wil graag hê U moet vir ons doen wat ons U gaan vra" (literally, "we want to have You must do to us what we are going to ask (from) You") in V1983. After far-reaching preterite loss in the course of the 19th century (cf. Conradie 1998), Afrikaans has only retained was "was, were", dag/dog "thought" and a small set of modal auxiliaries in current usage. Werd "became, was", mog "could, might", wis "knew" and had "had" are among the last preterites to fall into disuse. The passive auxiliary and copula werd was only used in V1908. The preterite of weet "to know", viz. wis, was still used in V1933 but was replaced by the perfect het geweet "have known" in the revision, V1953. Mog, last used in V1908 in mog aanraak "could/ would be permitted to touch", was replaced by its present tense form mag aanraak, or by the near synonym kon "could" in V2014: "dat die siekes selfs net die soom ... kon aanraak" ("that the sick could only touch the seam"). Another change that is reflected in the translations since V1922 is the replacement of the "be" auxiliary by "have" with unaccusative verbs, e.g. "Ekis nie gekom om ... " ( "I am not come to ..."), by "Ek het nie gekom om ..." ("I have not come to ..."). Owing to the demise of the auxiliary had, the preterite of het "to have", Afrikaans lost an explicit pluperfect in the active voice. The had construction is replaced by the het perfect from V1922 onwards, occasionally supported by the adverb vroeër "earlier". In earlier texts, as in the spoken language generally, the historical present is often used for narrating a series of events, e.g. '"en die koors verlaat haar en sy bedien hulle" (Mark 1:31) ("the fever left her and she waited upon them", NEB 70). In later translations the historical present is replaced by the perfect to an ever-increasing extent, for example (in V2014): "die koors het haar verlaat en sy het hulle bedien". (5) Selected non-verbal constructions The preposition van "from", which had formed part of the passive agent, was replaced in older Dutch and Cape Dutch documents by deur "by" (literally "through"). Van was already replaced by deur in V1908. A typical characteristic of Afrikaans is the use of the preposition vir "for" before a direct object, as in "Hy roep vir hom", literally "He calls for him". Even though it is present in all the translations it is used excessively in V1908, particularly before personal pronouns, as in "Wi het fer My angeraak?" ("Who touched me?") of V1908. Nominals such as oorkant "the opposite side" and anderkant "the other side" have changed their category to become prepositions. This is already in evidence in V1878, e.g. "van owerkant die Jordaan" ("from the other side of the Jordan"). The clause-final negative particle of Afrikaans, also nie like the negative proper, is not employed in V1878, but is used consistently in all subsequent translations. Reduplication, which reached Afrikaans through the Malay of the slaves (cf. Raidt 1994b), was already gaining a footing in V1908: "begin fer hulle uit te stuur twe twe" ("begins to send them out in groups of two"). The merging of the non-main verb laat "to let" with the complementiser dat "that" is already in evidence in a phrase such as the following: "breng My een penning laat Ik hom sien" of V1878 (literally, "bring me a coin let me see it"). (6) Selected lexical items The expression om iets kwalik te neem "to take something badly " was amended to om iemand iets kwalik te neem, "to hold something against someone " in the revision of V1953, indicating that the two expressions were probably confused. A number of modal particles, such as tog '"surely", miskien "perhaps", mos "as you know" and darem "still", contribute to the pragmatics of the Afrikaans translations. In conclusion, a few types of language change in Afrikaans that are reflected in the translations are singled out, and it is suggested that if language usage in a particular translation is not in line with that in other translations it may be due to faulty observation of general usage, and that in some translations attempts were made at grammar development and even standardisation.

Palavras-chave : attributive form; forms of address; historical language change; historical present; imperative; language variation; modal particle; negation; negative particle; perfect tense; pluperfect; past participle; preterite; reduplication; standardisation; translation; unaccusative.

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