Sunday, August 5, 2012

More Bad Translations

 A Mercenary

A Non-Mercenary

I dissed the Greek titles of the Pentateuch recently. To  be fair, it's time to shed some light on a simply God-awful English translation commonly found within Orthodoxy.

There is a tradition of Saints, who while medical doctors, practiced their craft without taking pay for their services.

One paragon of this righteous act is Saint Panteleimon. In Romanian, he is described as a "Doctor without Silver" (fără de arginţi).

But someone decided to translate this concept into English as "non-mercenary." Certainly, the Latin word merces (from which we get merchandise) has to do with wares for sale. And the word mercenary probably once did mean generically "person selling a service." 

But we all know what today the word mercenary means "gun for hire." And so a non-mercenary would mean "not a gun for hire." And a "Non-Mercenary Doctor" would mean "A Doctor--also not a gun for hire." 

I suggest we clean up this act by calling these people, in the English language Orthodox Tradition: "A doctor who didn't charge money." Plain and simple, that's what they were.  

1 comment:

  1. French has the perfect one-word equivalent of this: