14 September 2011

'The cold-blooded murder of the English tongue'

Jeremy Irons and Dame Kiri Te Kanawa in a concert version of My Fair Lady.

If one were at a Mass in English last Sunday in the USA or the Philippines one would have raised one's eyebrows on hearing the first line from the Second Reading (Romans 14:7): None of us lives for oneself, and no one dies for oneself.

This is from the New American Bible, Revised Edition. The New Testament came out in 1986. The website of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops informs one that, Released on March 9, 2011, the New American Bible, Revised Edition (NABRE) is the culmination of nearly 20 years of work by a group of nearly 100 scholars and theologians, including bishops, revisers and editors. One is tempted to say that Professor Henry Higgins is correct when he says of the English language in the song above, In America they haven’t used it for years.

The NABRE is a partly-neutered revision of the New American Bible. If one had been in a church in the Philippines where they still use the older New American Bible lectionary one would have heard, None of us lives as his own master and none of us dies as his own master, identical with the translation of Monsignor Ronald Knox, except for a comma after the first 'master'.

If one had been at Mass in Australia, England and Wales, Ireland or Scotland, one would have heard, For none of us lives for himself or none of dies for himself (Jerusalem Bible) or None of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself (Revised Standard Version). The New Revised Standard Version, which tries to avoid 'non-inclusive' language reads, We do not live to ourselves, and we do not die to ourselves.

The Douai-Rheims translation and that of the Authorised Versions (King James) are identical except for punctuation: For none of us liveth to himself: and no man dieth to himself

One should be careful how one uses 'one' or 'oneself'. One suspects that None of us lives for oneself, and no one dies for oneself would not meet the the approval of Prince Charles, sometimes referred to as 'One', but one who knows a thing or two about the Queen's - and King's - English.

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