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Old Testament Essays

versão On-line ISSN 2312-3621
versão impressa ISSN 1010-9919


VAN DER SPUY, Roelie. Hebrew alphabetic acrostics - Significance and translation. Old testam. essays [online]. 2008, vol.21, n.2, pp.513-532. ISSN 2312-3621.

'In translating poetic texts there must be a concern not only for correct meaning, but also for conveying the poetic impact of the text'. Quotes like these are seen in literature, but the acrostic feature is mostly not included. This article explores the significance of Biblical Hebrew alphabetic acrostics and tries to give an explanation of the purpose of acrostics from the perspective of the Cognitive Sciences. This leads to the question whether this feature should be reproduced in a translation. Because of various obvious reasons, the acrostic form cannot be exactly reproduced in a translation. Is it better to produce a form that at least represents the original acrostic to some extent, or is it better not to endeavour it at all? The author is convinced that any acknowledgement of the acrostic form in a translation contributes much to conveying the poetic impact of the acrostic poem and it should not be ignored completely.

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