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By reason of its weight, the body strives to its own place. Yet a weight strives not so much to sink to the very lowest depths, but rather to its proper place. Fire tends upward; a stone downward. Oil poured out beneath water is raised up above water. Water poured on top of oil sinks down…...

Grupo de participantes en el encuentro de centros
October 2014. México

Mexico hosts the First Interprovincial Encounter of Augustinian Recollect Educational Centers in Central America

During the week of October 6-10 Colegio Fray Luis de León in Querétaro, Mexico, hosted the First Interprovincial Encounter of Augustinian Recollect Educational Centers. In attendance were the administrative personnel (both religious and lay) of the Mexican host school, the Ciudad de los Niños in Costa Rica, the Colegio…

Laura and Itziar , two volunteers from Pamplona (Navarre, Spain) have continued their journey…

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September 2012. UNITED KINGDOM

Mark Powell: “Translating the Constitutions left me with a greatly increased sense of my belonging to the Order”

Mark Powell: “Translating the Constitutions left me with a greatly increased sense of my belonging to the Order”

2012-09-07 OAR
Mark Powell

Question.– Would you give us your views regarding the previous English translation of the Constitutions? How does it compare to the translation you have just made?
Answer.– My understanding is that the previous English translation of the Constitutions, which has been in use for more than twenty years, was a work carried out in a very short space of time. I would say that it was perhaps a too-literal translation of the Spanish original, so that it sometimes reads as a Spanish text which, although the words have been changed into English, still sounds very Spanish. My impression is of a first draft that was perhaps printed before an appropriate process of revision and editing had been implemented. Nevertheless, we must acknowledge that it has been in use for a considerable time, and whatever may be its failings, it has served us well.

Haren A working session Q.– How did you carry out the task of making the new translation? Did you start from scratch, or did you simply translate the new amendments? How long did it take, and what were the difficulties?
A.– In October 2011 I was asked by the vicar provincial of England to translate the new amendments to the Constitutions, a task which the Prior General had entrusted to our vicariate. At first my plan was simply to incorporate the amendments into the original text, but I soon realized that this was not practical. My style was completely different to that of the earlier version, and I had became aware of certain inaccuracies in it. Because of this, I decided to attempt a completely new translation of everything.

I had finished the draft translation by the end of March this year. As I have pastoral commitments in the parish where I serve, I found periods of time when I could dedicate myself to the job, squeezed in between my everyday duties. The hardest part of the translation was simply finding the time, but as the translation progressed, it gradually became easier.

One difficulty was the question of the use of capital letters for titles and designations within the Order- Vicar Provincial or vicar provincial? Provincial Chapter or provincial chapter? I must admit that I tended to capitalize everything! The problem is that in England we have the habit of using capitals where they are not strictly required. In addition, there are no clear rules concerning this question, which really did become a major concern for me.

One word that caused a headache was the Spanish word ecónomo, which I believe is universally understood within the Order- by friars of all nationalities and languages- as referring to the person in charge of finances, at whatever level of authority. In English, there is no such universal word. Possible choices would include treasurer, bursar, procurator, or finance officer. In my original draft, I opted for “procurator” at most levels, with the title of General Treasurer for the official in charge at generalate level. Here in England, “procurator” is the word in everyday use. I expected this to be a subject of some discussion, bearing in mind that there is also a Procurator General before the Holy See, who has nothing to do with finances!

Throughout the process, my greatest concern was to ensure that my translation was completely clear, accurate, and easily followed whenever matters of vital importance were concerned. I understood these matters to especially include the ways of electing those who hold office, and their duties and powers, and the administrative procedures to be followed in chapters and councils.

The second stage: team task

Haren Charles Huse Q.– How do you assess the advisability or necessity of the commission appointed to revise the translation? How did you work together and function as a team?
A.– With regard to the necessity of a commission to review my translation, I believe that this is an essential part of the process of arriving at a final text. Translation can never be done by a committee: it is by definition a job for one person alone, but the second stage of the task is to submit that translation to review and to whatever amendments may be necessary. This procedure worked extraordinarily well, and I would suggest it as the most appropriate method of tackling any future major translations of whatever type carried out by the Order.

All three of us on the Commission - Fr Charles Huse, Fr Romeo Potencio and I - were perhaps rather apprehensive about working together! Fr Charles and Fr Romeo had met briefly some time ago in the United States, but it was the first time I had met either of them, let alone had we ever worked as a team.

I believe the Holy Spirit was powerfully present, as from the moment of our first meeting, it was obvious that the three of us had great enthusiasm for the task with which we had been entrusted by the Order. It was also clear that the fact that we were of different ages and cultural backgrounds was a distinct advantage. Right from the start, we felt a strong bond of understanding, support, and friendship.

Our method of working was very simple. We projected the text of my translation onto a wall of the conference room where we met each day from 9.30 a.m. to 1 p.m. and again from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. I read the text aloud, and all three of us intervened as necessary with comments, possible amendments, and corrections to grammar or syntax. Fr Romeo’s skill with computer technology made our task much simpler, and Fr Charles’ grammatical knowledge was enviable. Nevertheless, it was very much a team effort.

Our method of working became an enjoyable, if tiring, way of tackling what we had to do. After having completed my translation in March, I had put it to one side and forgotten about it. This meant that when we sat down to revise it at the beginning of July I felt that I was approaching my work from a disinterested, even detached point of view. I no longer regarded it as my version that had to be defended at all costs! Rather, all three of us were able to be objective in our analysis.

Haren Romeo Ben Potencio Q.– Which matters needed to be resolved? What criteria did you adopt in establishing norms to be followed?
A.– From the start, we agreed that the text would remain faithful to my style of English, and that in questions of different usage or spelling, the word or phrase used in the United Kingdom would be the preferred option. I hasten to add that this was not my suggestion! This general guideline created no difficulties, as we always ensured that the agreed word would be readily understandable elsewhere, even if not in general use.

As I have already mentioned, I had made very lavish use of capital letters in my text, and I was glad that we achieved agreement on this issue. We decided that titles of officials and their offices, and the names of the administrative and governing bodies and divisions of the Order, would always be in lower case unless a particular specific person, post, body or event was referred to. As an example, prior provincial would be in lower case, whereas Prior General would be capitalized. With regard to the government of the Order, we would refer to provincial chapters, but would write of the 1998 Provincial Chapter. To sum up, the agreed norm was that capitals were to be kept to a minimum. Some readers will probably question our reasoning, but the alternative was to give free rein to excessive capitalization. Perhaps one of my first impressions of the earlier English version of the Constitutions was the very wide use of capitals. At the end of the day, we have to remember that English is always a unwilling language when it comes to establishing norms and rules, as there is no regulatory academy to which to refer!

While noting that some readers may feel uncomfortable at our decision, we determined that pronouns referring to the Divine Persons should also be in lower case, except when doing so would make a sentence difficult to understand.

Haren A working session Q.– Where there any words which caused difficulties?
A.– I mentioned earlier that I expected difficulties with the translation of the Spanish ecónomo. After we had looked at the options and their particular meanings: treasurer, bursar, finance officer, etc. a decision was readily arrived at by the simple measure of asking ourselves which word we use every day for the holder of that particular office. In the Philippines, the United States, and in England, the usual word is “procurator”, and this is what we chose for each of the corresponding office-holders from local to provincial level.

It is clear that at no time has this use of the word “procurator” ever caused misunderstandings, except possibly at the level of the general administration of the Order, where there is the office of General Procurator before the Holy See. To avoid any possibility of confusion, therefore, we decided to use the title General Treasurer for the one person responsible for finances at that level of government.

Other translations

Haren Huse, Powell and Potencio Q.– Have you also made a translation of the indexes, the Rule of St Augustine, and of the Forma de Vivir?
A.– We translated the indexes, regarding that as an integral part of our work. Although we discussed the possibility of attempting a translation of the Rule and of the Forma de Vivir , we agreed immediately that this was outside our remit; the Rule is in Latin, and none of us has the necessary expertise to produce a translation. To simply translate the Spanish translation into English would serve no purpose. In addition, we felt that the Rule is part of the universal patrimony of the whole Church, so that it is preferable to use an established translation by an expert in that field.

We adopted a similar point of view concerning the Forma de Vivir. Being written in an archaic form of Spanish, any new translation of the document needs to be done by a specialist translator who would be able to accurately reflect the text’s original peculiarities in English translation. Quite frankly, we did not see the need of a new translation, although we understand that a very few words had been translated incorrectly. Any amendments can be done as necessary.

Q.– Do you have any further comments on the work that has been done or on the functioning of the commission?
A.– Never having had previous experience of a major translation project, I was pleased to have been able to offer this service to the Order. The three of us on the commission received every help and support from the members of the community in the Generalate house, as well as having the opportunity to visit the Via Sistina and enjoy the hospitality of that house, too. It was perhaps something of a surprise to see the seriousness and the importance given to our work. I certainly found that the whole process left me with a greatly increased sense of my belonging to the Order, and for that I am profoundly grateful.

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