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In printing a few passages for translation into Greek and Latin prose and verse, I avail myself of the opportunity of saying a few words upon the principles of such translation in general. If I succeed in giving a few hints which may be serviceable either to those for whom this little book is immediately intended, or to others into whose hands it may fail, my purpose will be answered.
It is, I believe, generally thought that translation from Greek or Latin into English (always supposing the mere English of the individual words to be known) is a very easy, and the converse a very difficult, process. But, in point of fact, allowances being of course made for the greater number of English than Latin or Greek words, which are usually át command, the difficulty in one case is not so much greater than in the other as is usually imagined. For the principle in both cases is precisely the same. Translation is not, as the name would seem to imply, the carrying across a word out of one language into another, but the transfusion of a meaning expressed by a phrase of one language, into a corresponding phrase of another. The words may be rendered word for word; it does not necessarily follow that the translation is bad, if they are so rendered; but the probability is, that they cannot be, even in prose; in verse, of course, the improbability is still greater, because then, not only the spirit of the expression is to be caught, but the words in which it is caught are to take a metrical form. And, in one point of view, translation from a classical language into English is more difficult than the converse, for not only should the full sense of the original be expressed in terse and nervous language, but so expressed as to shew that the translator has not only caught the sense, but is also fully aware of the grammatical construction of every word in the original.