10 January 2012

Saying a Statement in the Name of the Person Who Said It 3: Let's Just Call a Rabbi a Rabbi

Books don't write themselves
I recently found the following that I had sent myself a couple of years ago and hadn't previously posted, but should be:
A previous entry of mine focused on the rabbinic notion of quoting the person who made a particular statement, which is important and I wanted to build upon it (for another similar entry, see here).
     When reading halakhic literature in Hebrew it can be a bit strange to see the title of a book referenced, rather than the author referenced (such as "and Book Such-and-Such wrote.."), but I've accepted it as an idiosyncratic characteristic of that genre of literature. However, what's annoying is when that is replicated in English.  My being disturbed is on account of a few reasons:
           1) The principle of repeating the author's name (akin to the aforementioned article)
           2) Saying a book wrote something is nonsense (imagine reading that "Romeo and Juliet" wrote such-and-such rather than Shakespeare having written it), at least in English.
           3) The consideration of the English-reading audience: oftentimes (although not always), the people who are reading it are not only unfamiliar with the idiosyncratic form of halakhic literature, but also don't know what the book in question is. Moreover, for those and many others, it generally serves to promote ignorance of who these great rabbis of our tradition were.
           4) Lastly, I don't think it is respectful to not give these great rabbis of our tradition the proper כבוד (honor) - instead, they are mostly ignored: we should have respect for the forebears of our tradition and their books - not their bound words, alone.
     Therefore, when I translate into English, I make sure I attribute the writings to those who wrote them and not simply the books' titles.

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