I remember once hearing about the idiom issue from Don Carson (Research Professor of NT at Trinity International University, Deerfield).
He grew up in French Canada and he spoke of the complexities of simple word for word translation with the example of "frog in your throat". To an english speaker that means you have a dry sore throat with a somewhat husky voice. (My guess is that your sort of sound a bit amphibian). However, in French (or at least in French Canada) the exact co-ordinate phrase was "chat dans la gorge" - "a cat in your throat" - (try frog in your throat in google translate). At one level, this is fairly trivial, but what if the idiom had some significant connotation that you wanted to import with it, or alternatively, that it picked up when it came into English from French. Then how do you best translate it? "Cat in your throat" because it's "accurate" or "frog in your throat" because that's actually what you mean?
Yes of course, we can and should educate on this. But let me make a "true confession". I grew up in the Western Suburbs (read hicksville - we call them bogans) in Sydney in the 60s and 70s. Still an awfully bigoted and homophobic time, full of many hate words. For me growing up a "cat" wasn't just a feline of the moggy or otherwise variety, it was a dysphemism for a homosexual. So for me, a teenage (now repentantly I hope) bigot, to have a "cat in your throat" conjured up images that I could not have coped with and still find plague my thoughts over thirty years later. This would have completely obscured the meaning for me.
Translation is a much fraught exercise, and I am so thankful I am not tasked with that particular service of God's people (yet), and even more so that we have such fine translations available with variant philosophies of translation. The biggest issue I think is when the translation does not tell us from what philosophy they translate. There is a place even for the NLT (at times) I think.
Anyway, I have gone on far too long about this.
Edited by Ken Simpson, 05 March 2013 - 11:11 PM.