Translations is a three-act play by Irish playwright Brian Friel, written in 1980. It is set in Baile Beag (Ballybeg), a Donegal village in 19th century Ireland. Friel has said that Translations is "a play about language and only about language", but it deals with a wide range of issues, stretching from language and communication to Irish history and cultural imperialism. Friel said that his play "should have been written in Irish" but, despite this fact, he carefully crafted the verbal action in English, bringing the political questions of the play into focus.[1]

Baile Beag ("Small Town") is a fictional village, created by Friel as a setting for several of his plays,[2] although there are many real places called Ballybeg throughout Ireland.

Translations in Kupalauski 15
Translations on stage in Minsk
Written byBrian Friel
Jimmy Jack
Captain Lancey
Lieutenant Yolland
Date premiered23 September 1980
Place premieredGuildhall, Derry, Northern Ireland
Original languageEnglish[a]
SubjectLanguage, colonialism
SettingCounty Donegal, late August 1833

Performance and publication

Translations was first performed at the Guildhall, Derry, Northern Ireland, on Tuesday, 23 September 1980. It was the first production by the Field Day Theatre Company founded by Friel and Stephen Rea. It was directed by Art Ó Briain and featured the following cast:[3]

The staging in Derry was significant for a number reasons. Friel and Stephen Rea thought of Derry as a clean slate where they could have more creative control over their work. Rea also thought that the play had a much profounder impact being staged in Derry than if it had been staged in Dublin. Art Ó Briain also pushed for a Derry staging. Furthermore, Guildhall's proximity to the play's Donegal setting and the strong Northern accents of the mostly Ulster cast created a strong sense of "local pride" and "community passion".[4] Derry itself was also the subject of a name dispute, fitting for a play "concerned with place names".[4]

Translations received its American premiere at Cleveland Play House in 1981, starring Richard Halverson as Hugh. The production was directed by Kenneth Albers with scene and lighting design by Richard Gould.[5] The play was staged in New York City later that year by the Manhattan Theatre Club, starring Barnard Hughes. It was briefly revived on Broadway in 1995 in a production starring Brian Dennehy. In 2006–2007, the Manhattan Theatre Club returned it to the stage at the McCarter Theatre in Princeton, New Jersey and the Biltmore Theatre in New York, directed by Garry Hynes.[6]

The play was published in 1981 by Faber and Faber, who still publish it today. It is published in the United States and performance rights are held by Samuel French Inc. It is a set text on the Leaving Certificate English curriculum in Ireland and, in the United Kingdom, it remains a popular set text among English and Drama & Theatre A-Level students.[7] It won the Christopher Ewart-Biggs Memorial Prize for 1985.

An Irish-language version of the play has been produced.[8] The play has also been translated into Welsh by Elan Closs Stephens. The Welsh version has visited a number of venues in Wales and was first published by Gwasg Carreg Gwalch, under its Welsh title Torri Gair ("Breaking the Word"), in 1982.

Translations was adapted as a radio play directed by Kirsty Williams, broadcast on BBC Radio 4, on 4 September 2010 (see Translations (radio play)).[9]

"Translations" was adapted for a Catalan audience in February, 2014 by Ferran Utzet, and performed at the Biblioteca de Catalunya (Library of Catalonia) in Barcelona. It was produced by Perla 29.[10]

It was performed at the Olivier Theatre from the 22nd May to the 11th August 2018, starring Colin Morgan as Owen and Ciarán Hinds as his father. It was directed by Ian Rickson[11].

Inspirations and Influences

Five years prior to writing Translations, Friel mentioned a number of topics going through his mind: a play set sometime between the Act of Union and the Great Famine in the 19th century; a play about Daniel O'Connell and the Catholic Emancipation; a play about colonialism; and a play about the death of the Irish language, the acquisition of English and its profound effects.[12] During this time, Friel had made a couple of accidental discoveries: that his great-great-grandfather was a hedge-schoolmaster, leading Friel to read about hedge-schools in Ireland; and that the first trignometrical base set up by the Ordnance Survey in 1828 was next to his residence in Muff, leading him to read about the man in charge of the survey, Colonel Thomas Frederick Colby, who would later serve as inspiration for one of Translation's characters, Captain Lancey.[12] Friel then discovered A Paper Landscape in 1976, which synthesized everything he had been thinking about into the perfect metaphor, map-making, serving as the foundation for his work.

A Paper Landscape was written by John Hardwood Andrews and first published in 1975 by Oxford University Press. It examines the Ordnance Survey's map-making operation in Ireland which begun in 1824, with the first maps appearing between 1835 and 1846, and production continuing until almost the end of the century.

"Friel's reading of George Steiner's After Babel was absolutely essential to the creation of Translations."[13]


  • Manus - a scholar who is his late twenties/thirties who is one of Hugh's sons and lame. He speaks only Irish in front of the British, even though he knows how to speak English. He tries to teach Sarah how to speak.
  • Sarah - she has had a speech defect all her life, leading many in the town to consider her dumb.
  • Jimmy Jack Cassie - the "infant prodigy" is a bachelor in his sixties, who never washes or changes his clothes. Despite being fluent in both Latin and Greek, he still enjoys attending the hedge-school.
  • Máire - a strong woman in her twenties, she wants to learn English so that she can emigrate to America.
  • Doalty - a young man who sabotages the theodolite machine. He studies at the local hedge-school.
  • Bridget - a young girl with "a countrywoman's instinctive cunning". She studies at the local hedge-school.
  • Hugh - a large man in his late sixties, perpetually drunk. He is hedge-master at Baile Beag's hedge-school, often quizzing his students on the origins of words.
  • Owen - a well dressed, handsome young man in his twenties, who is also one of Hugh's sons. He is employed part-time by the British to provide English translations of place names in Ireland. The British mistakenly call him Roland.
  • Captain Lancey - a middle-aged officer, competent at cartography but lacking in social skills.
  • Lieutenant Yolland - in his late twenties/early thirties, with a tall awkward appearance. He is in Ireland by chance. Having missed his boat to India, he subsequently enlisted in the Army, was assigned to the Engineers, then posted to Dublin, and finally sent to Baile Beag with the Ordnance Survey. He often proclaims his admiration for the Irish culture and language despite being unable to speak it. He falls in love with Maire.
  • Donnelly Twins - they are referred to several times throughout the play, but are never shown on-stage.


The play is set in the quiet community of Baile Beag (later anglicised to Ballybeg), in County Donegal, in 1833. Many of the inhabitants have little experience of the world outside the village. In spite of this, tales about Greek goddesses are as commonplace as those about the potato crops, and, in addition to Irish, Latin and Greek are spoken in the local hedge school. Friel uses language as a tool to highlight the problems of communication — lingual, cultural, and generational. Both Irish and English characters in the play "speak" their respective languages, but in actuality it is English that is mostly spoken by the actors. This allows the audience to understand all the languages, as if a translator was provided. However, onstage, the characters cannot comprehend each other. This is due to lack of compromise from both parties, the English and Irish, to learn the others' language, a metaphor for the wider barrier that is between the two parties.[14]

The action begins with Owen (mistakenly pronounced as Roland by his English friend), younger son of the alcoholic schoolmaster Hugh and brother to lame aspiring teacher Manus, returning home after six years away in Dublin. With him are Captain Lancey, a middle-aged, pragmatic cartographer, and Lieutenant Yolland, a young, idealistic and romantic orthographer, both working on the six-inch-to-the-mile map survey of Ireland for the Ordnance Survey. Owen acts as a translator and go-between for the English and Irish.

Yolland and Owen work to translate local placenames into English for purposes of the map: Druim Dubh, which means "black shoulder" in Irish, becomes Dromduff in English, and Poll na gCaorach, meaning "hole of the sheep" in Irish, becomes Poolkerry. While Owen has no qualms about anglicising the names of places that form part of his heritage, Yolland, who has fallen in love with Ireland, is unhappy with what he perceives as a destruction of Irish culture and language.

A love triangle between Yolland, Manus, and a local woman, Máire, complicates matters. Yolland and Máire manage to show their feelings for each other despite the fact that Yolland speaks only English and Máire only Irish. Manus, however, had been hoping to marry Máire, and is infuriated by their blossoming relationship. When he finds out about a kiss between the two he sets out to attack Yolland, but in the end cannot bring himself to do it.

Unfortunately, Yolland goes missing overnight (it is hinted that he has been attacked, or worse, by the elusive armed resistance in the form of the Donnelly twins), and Manus flees because his heart has been broken but it is made obvious that the English soldiers will see his disappearance as guilt. It is suggested that Manus will be killed as he is lame and the English will catch up with him. Máire is in denial about Yolland's disappearance and remains convinced that he will return unharmed. The English soldiers, forming a search party, rampage across Baile Beag, and Captain Lancey threatens first to shoot all livestock if Yolland is not found within twenty-four hours, then evict the villagers and destroy their homes if he is not found within forty-eight hours. Owen then realizes what he should do and leaves, seemingly to join the resistance. The play ends ambiguously, with the schoolmaster Hugh drunkenly reciting the opening of Virgil's Aeneid, which tells of the inevitability of conquest but also of its impermanence. Yet, Hugh's stumbling attempts at recitation are evidence that our memory is also perennially mutable.

Friel's play tells of the struggle between England and Ireland during this turbulent time. The play focusses mainly on (mis)communication and language to tell of the desperate situation between these two countries with an unsure and questionable outcome.



Translations as a play focuses primarily on language issues through the lense of 19th century rural Ireland.[15] However through the choice of setting, Friel reveals his attempt to maintain an ideological distance from the ongoing Northern Irish Troubles and the era's extremely divisive political climate.[16] As Friel said of the process of dislocating Translations from the political context of the late 70's and early 80's, "I know of no Irish writer who is not passionately engaged in our current problems. But he must maintain perspective as a writer, and - equally important - he will write about the situation in terms that may not relate even remotely to the squalor of Here and Now."[17]

Friel saw Translations, in his own words as, "...Stepping stones to the other side."[18] In light of these quotations, Translations emerges as an attempt by Friel to reconcile of the divided state of Northern Ireland. This goal was the explicit driving force behind the first production of Translations. Translations premiered on September 23rd, 1980, in Derry's Guildhall, a symbol of Unionism in the politically divided city, the staging of the play there an overt political message of reconciliation attempted by Friel.[19]

Within Translations, the relationship between the British officer Yolland and Máire the native Irish speaker, points to the binary of political belief in Northern Ireland between Unionists and Republicans.[17] The couple, who cannot speak one another's language, nevertheless fall in love, a potent message of reconciliation and co-existantce to the politically divided communities of Northern Ireland.[20] Friel marked Translations as trying to, "...find some kind of generosity that can embrace the whole island."[18]


Friel's engagement with post-colonialism in Translations arises primarily through an examination of the language issues of 19th century Ireland. As Friel himself said of Translations, it, "...has to do with language and only language,”[19] Friel's often quoted denial of the other themes in Translations, is directly at odds with other statements, "...Of course, it‘s also concerned with the English presence here. No matter how benign they may think it has been, finally the presence of any foreigner in your land is malign."[21]

Friel's creation of Translations was inspired by two colonizing projects of the British. Firstly, the ending of independent 'hedgerow' schools which taught subjects in the Irish language, replaced with English language schools.[18] Secondly, the Ordnance Survey which sought to create standardizations of Irish maps, primarily through the Anglicization of Irish place-names.[18] Friel uses these two historical events as the framing for his discussion of Colonialism within Translations. As Frantz Fanon said, colonialism, "...turns to the past of the oppressed people, and distorts, disfigures and destroys it."[22] In this sense, Friel highlights the colonially destructive nature of the projects depicted in Translations, literally 'distorting' the landscape of Ireland by the Anglicization of place-names and replacing the use of native language with a foreign one. One such example of Anglicization provided by the play in the renaming of an Irish river. The characters, Yolland and Owen reject the use of its Irish name, in place choosing a new name, 'Burnfoot', at random.[16] The Irish place name is washed over and replaced with a meaningless English one, a potent allusion to the power of the colonizer, imposing linguistic and cultural domination over the physical spaces of Ireland by the elimination of her native names.

The colonial projects depicted in Translations are used by Friel to discuss post-colonial tensions in modern Northern Ireland. Edward Said, noted scholar of post-colonialism saw Translations as firmly within the post-colonial discourse, “Brian Friel’s immensely resonant play Translations...immediately calls forth many echoes and parallels in an Indian, Algerian, or Palestinian reader...the silencing of their voices, the renaming of places and replacement of languages by the imperial outsider, the creation of colonial maps and divisions also implied the attempted reshaping of societies, the imposition of foreign languages and other forms of dispossession."[18]

Language, identity and culture

a. ^ For much of the play, it is understood that characters are speaking Irish, and the English characters cannot understand them. There are also several passages of Latin and Ancient Greek.

As Friel himself has emphasized, Translation is about "language and only language."[23] However, the Irish language has often been interpreted not only as a mean of communication, but also as "a tool for resistance and a marker of identity"[24] . Language affects many aspects of one's life, and Translations shows "the power of language to give definition not only to thought, but also to history, ethnic identity and national aspiration"[25].

The imposition of the new national school is, in part, an attempt by British colonialism to replace Irish by English as the sole medium of instruction. This change of the educational system, similar to the translation of the place names on the map, has been called the "rape of a country's linguistic and cultural heritage"[26]. As the Irish scholar Declan Kiberd remarks, "one of the first policies formulated by the Norman occupiers was to erase Gaelic culture"[27]. This historical context serves to demonstrate that the "language of any country is seen as a matter of identity, independence and 'sovereignty'"[28]. For this reason, the colonizer will try to seize it and replace with their own.

Though Translations is written almost completely in English (with odd lines of Greek and Latin), Friel intended that the "English onstage represents two separate languages – the Irish we are asked to imagine and the English which is now the 'natural vehicle' for a play on an Irish stage"[29]. "Linguistic and cognitive distance"[30] are shown between characters from the different linguistic parties: the Irish and English characters have been given different voices even though their speech is written in the same language. Friel's dramatic conceit allows the audience access to either side of the language barrier, making the misunderstandings and miscommunications between Yolland and Maire in the love scene evident[31].

The "idioms and rhythms of Irish speech" are depicted through Doalty, Bridget and Jimmy Jack Cassie's speeches, contrasting to the British officer, Lancey, who speaks in the "clipped, efficient tones of the King's English", to emphasize the other central theme "colonialism".

The idea of a "doubleness" in response to the Irish English language conflict brought up by Irish writers is also represented in this play. Considered as "a mid-solution of the Old Gaelic tongue and the modern 'dominant' English", suggests "either to use an Irish version of English, which includes Gaelic expression, or to be a bi-lingual nation in which both Irish and English are acceptable"[32]. In Translations, Friel presents the Irish English to its audience by "trouble[ing] the 'English' surfaces of the play, using Irish English in ways that keep its language 'other' to audiences whose English isn't Irish"[33].

Criticism & Interpretations

Translations received a wide range of interpretations and reactions since its Derry staging. In spite of the irony of it being played in the Guildhall, "a symbol of Unionist power", the Sinn Féin weekly An Phoblacht wrote that "Translations deals powerfully with a number of themes of particular interest to Republicans", and yet the unionist Lord Mayor of Derry led a standing ovation on opening night.[34]

Sean Connolly criticized the historical liberties taken in Translations, writing that Friel "presents a grossly oversimplified view of the forces behind the abandonment of Irish."[35]

The philosopher Richard Kearney argued that Translations presented language not as a naming system, but as a way to find new relationships between the "sundered cultural identities of the island".[34]

Historical Inaccuracies

John H. Andrews challenged many of Friel's representations of the Ordnance Survey, concerned that they be taken as historically plausible or true.[36] For example, anglicized place names were already being used throughout Ireland, so it is "dangerously ambiguous to describe what the Survey did as 'naming'." Many of the names on the new maps were already widely being used in Ireland, and that there were no laws or obligations to use any of the Ordnance Survey names.[36] As well, the soldiers going on survey duty were presented in the play as "prodding every inch of ground with their bayonets"[37], even though they historically would not have had bayonets[38]. When Yolland, one of the Ordnance Survey officers, disappeared, Lancey threatened to retaliate by shooting live-stock and evicting people when in actuality, the soldiers would have left issues of crime and civil disturbance to the local constabulary[38]. There were also inconsistencies in some of the dates. For example, Donegal had already been renamed by the time of the play in 1833, but was actually renamed in 1835, and the actual Yolland that Lieutenant Yolland is based on did not join the survey department until 1838.[38]

Kevin Barry organized a debate in 1983 between Friel and Andrews, where Friel admits to "tiny bruises inflicted on history in the play".[38] Kevin Barry forgave the historical liberties that Translations makes, writing that it revealed the 'hidden Ireland', making use of the 'unreality of fiction in order to imagine answers' to questions that even the English mapmakers had about the Irish people[38]. Even though it is a work of fictional drama, this aspect of it makes the work complementary to A Paper Landscape, which privileged the records of those who had the authority to write, while excluding those who were defeated. [38]


Owen is "by far the most complex character onstage" [39], embodying 'all the conflicts and tensions in the play'. Owen arrives as an interpreter for the English in the Irish village, establishing himself as a pivotal cog in the social fabric of Baile Beag. He is comfortable being called interchangeably as Owen by the locals and Roland by the British, yet denies his heritage - "my job is to translate the quaint, archaic tongue you people persist in speaking into the King's good English".[40] While claiming to be the "same me"; he is not - he is one part Irish and one part British, and acts as a crucial go-between, a role which he also denies, leading him to be less concerned with the social repercussions of his work.[41] In the play, he is responsible for bringing together Maire and Yolland, but refuses to take responsibility for the effects of his actions; without Owen to fill the gap at the center, the union is doomed - just like Baile Beag and the English force.[41] Owen's role in the destruction of Baile Beag is alluded to by Hugh's drunken recitation of the Aeneid near the end of the play.[41] The lines refer to Carthage, the legendary North African settlement of Dido, and, in history, the notorious thorn in imperial Rome’s side that was finally sacked and conquered in the Third Punic War - by analogy the Romans are the British and the Carthaginians the Irish.[41]

Historical references

  • The character Máire contemplates emigration to America, reflecting the mass emigration of Irish people to America in the 19th century. The theme of emigration is key throughout the whole play, as Manus plans to leave after being offered a job in another hedge school.
  • There are fearful references to potato blight, anticipating the Great Famine of 1845–49 (the play is set in 1833).
  • Irish politician and nationalist hero Daniel O'Connell is mentioned and quoted as saying that Irish people should learn English and that the Irish language was a barrier to modern progress.
  • Anglicisation of place names, including Baile Beag (the setting), is prominent in the dialogue, because it is Lieutenant Yolland's professional assignment.
  • A national school is to open in the town, replacing the existing hedge school.
  • Characters Hugh and Jimmy remember how they marched to battle during the 1798 rebellion against the British influence in Ireland, only to march back home upon feeling homesick.
  • The play's focus on the Anglicization of names of the Irish towns and cities is based on the Ordnance Survey during 1824-46, which was intended for more efficient work in tax regulations and military planning.[44]


  1. ^ Agnew, Paddy (December 1980). "Talking to Ourselves: interview with Brian Friel". Magill. Dublin: 59.
  2. ^ Sternlicht, Sanford V. (2005). Masterpieces of modern British and Irish drama. Westport, Conn: Greenwood Press. p. 93. ISBN 978-0-313-33323-1.
  3. ^ Friel, Brian (1981). Translations. London: Faber and Faber.
  4. ^ a b Morash, Christopher (2002). A History of Irish Theatre: 1601-2000. 0-521-64117-9: Cambridge University Press. pp. 233–241.
  5. ^ [1], Article at Retrieved 15 September 2014.
  6. ^ Gluck, Victor. "Translations" Archived 2009-01-06 at the Wayback Machine Review at, 29 January 2007. Retrieved 11 March 2008.
  7. ^ "Texts in shared contexts". Assessment and Qualifications Alliance.
  8. ^ "Aistriúcháin". Plays (in Irish). Irish Theatre Institute.
  9. ^ BBC – Saturday Play – Translations
  10. ^ [2] VilaWeb - Irish play holds lessons for Catalonia
  11. ^ "Translations". National Theatre. Retrieved 31 October 2018.
  12. ^ a b Friel, Brian; Andrews, John; Barry, Kevin (1983). "Translations and a Paper Landscape: Between Fiction and History". The Crane Bag. 7 (2): 118–124. JSTOR 30060606.
  13. ^ O'Gorman, Farrell (1998). "Irish Stage Identities in Friel's Translations and Stoppard's "Travesties": Defenders of the Word in an Age of Linguistic Impoverishment". The Canadian Journal of Irish Studies. 24 (2): 1–13. JSTOR 25515247.
  14. ^ Richtarik, Marilynn J. (1994). Acting Between the Lines: The Field Day Theatre Company and Irish Cultural Politics, 1980-1984. Oxford, England: Clarendon Press. pp. 31–32. ISBN 978-0-19-818247-4.
  15. ^ Porter, Laurin (2009). ""Friel's Questions, O'Neill's Answers: Language, Place and Cultural Identity in "Translations" and "A Moon for the Misbegotten"."". The Eugene O'Neill Review. 31: 41.
  16. ^ a b McGrath, F. C. 1999. Brian Friel’s (Post) Colonial Drama  : Language, Illusion, and Politics. Irish Studies. Syracuse, N.Y. : Syracuse University Press, (1999). 178.
  17. ^ a b McGrath, F. C. 1999. Brian Friel’s (Post) Colonial Drama  : Language, Illusion, and Politics. Irish Studies. Syracuse, N.Y. : Syracuse University Press, (1999). 97-8.
  18. ^ a b c d e Whelan, Kevin (2010). "Between: The Politics of Culture in Friel's Translations". Field Day Review.
  19. ^ a b Roche, A. (2006). The Cambridge Companion to Brian Friel. Cambridge University Press. p. 66.
  20. ^ Pilkington, Lionel (1990). "Language and Politics in Brian Friel's "Translations"". Irish University Review. 20, no. 2.: 295.
  21. ^ Delaney, Paul, ed. (2000). Brian Friel in Conversation. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press. pp. 138–43. doi:10.3998/mpub.10757. ISBN 9780472097104.
  22. ^ Richards, Shaun. "Placed Identities for Placeless Times: Brian Friel and Post-Colonial Criticism." Irish University Review 27, no. 1 (1997): 60.
  23. ^ Bernhard, Klein (2007). On the Uses of History in Recent Irish Writing. Manchester: Manchester University Press. p. 90.
  24. ^ Kitishat, Amal Riyadh (January 2014). "Language And Resistance In Brian Friel's Translations". International Journal of Linguistics and Literature (IJLL). 3 (1): 2. Retrieved 3 December 2018.
  25. ^ Canby, Vincent (20 March 1995). "THEATER REVIEW: TRANSLATIONS; Linking Language and Identity in Friel Territory Long Ago". Retrieved 3 December 2018.
  26. ^ Boltwood, Scott Matthews Peter (1996). A Deposition of Colonialism, and Myths: Nationalism, Post- Identity in Irish Drama 1850- 1990. p. 578.
  27. ^ Kiberd, Declan (1996). Inventing Ireland. London: Jonathan Cape. p. 615–616.
  28. ^ Kitishat, Amal Riyadh (January 2014). "Language And Resistance In Brian Friel's Translations". International Journal of Linguistics and Literature (IJLL). 3 (1): 3. Retrieved 3 December 2018.
  29. ^ Anthony, Roche (2006). The Cambridge Companion to Brian Friel. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 68.
  30. ^ Schmitt-Kilb, Christian (2009). "The End(s) of Language in Brian Friel's Translations and Enda Walsh's Disco Pigs and Misterman". Scenario. 3 (2): 61–70.
  31. ^ Kitishat, Amal Riyadh (January 2014). "Language And Resistance In Brian Friel's Translations". International Journal of Linguistics and Literature (IJLL). 3 (1): 5. Retrieved 3 December 2018.
  32. ^ Kitishat, Amal Riyadh. Brian Friel and the Field Day Theatre (New ed.). Jordan: DAR ALFALAH. p. 52. ISBN 9789957552060.
  33. ^ Worthen, W. B. Spring (Spring 1995). "Homeless Words: Field Day and the Politics of Translations". Modern Drama. 38 (1): 22–41. doi:10.1353/1995.0005 (inactive 2019-02-18).
  34. ^ a b Morash, Christopher (2002). A History of Irish Theatre: 1601-2000. 0-521-64117-9: Cambridge University Press. pp. 233–241.
  35. ^ Connolly, Sean (1987). Friel, Brian, ed. "Dreaming History: Brian Friel's 'Translations'". Theatre Ireland (13): 42–44. JSTOR 25489118.
  36. ^ a b Andrews, J. H. (1992). "Notes for a Future Edition of Brian Friel's "Translations"". The Irish Review (1986-) (13): 93–106. doi:10.2307/29735683. JSTOR 29735683.
  37. ^ Friel, Brian (1981). Translations. London: Faber and Faber. p. 434.
  38. ^ a b c d e f Friel, Brian; Andrews, John; Barry, Kevin (1983). "Translations and a Paper Landscape: Between Fiction and History". The Crane Bag. 7 (2): 118–124. JSTOR 30060606.
  39. ^ Kiberd, Declan (1997). Inventing Ireland. Cambridge: Havard University Press. p. 619. ISBN 9780674463646.
  40. ^ Friel, Brian (1981). Translations. London: Faber and Faber. p. 404.
  41. ^ a b c d Maley, Patrick (2011). "Aeneas in Baile Beag: Friel's Translations, The Aeneid, and the Humanism of the Field Day Theatre Company". New Hibernia Review. 15 (4): 111–126. doi:10.1353/nhr.2011.0058. ISSN 1534-5815.
  42. ^ Bullock, Kurt (2000). "Possessing Wor(l)ds: Brian Friel's Translations and the Ordnance Survey". New Hibernia Review. 4 (2). ISSN 1092-3977.
  43. ^ Boltwood, Scott (2007). Brian Friel, Ireland, and the North. Cambridge Studies in Modern Theatre. New York: Cambridge University Press. pp. 159–160. ISBN 978-0-521-87386-4.
  44. ^ Mahony, Christina Hunt (1998). Contemporary Irish Literature. London: Macmillan.

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Bible translations into English

Partial Bible translations into languages of the English people can be traced back to the late 7th century, including translations into Old and Middle English. More than 450 translations into English have been written.

The New Revised Standard Version is the version most commonly preferred by biblical scholars. In the United States, 55% of survey respondents who read the Bible reported using the King James Version in 2014, followed by 19% for the New International Version, with other versions used by fewer than 10%.

Catholic Bible

Within Catholicism, the Bible comprises the whole 73-book canon recognized by the Catholic Church, including the deuterocanonical books. It is sometimes referred to as the Catholic Bible.

Google Translate

Google Translate is a free multilingual machine translation service developed by Google, to translate text. It offers a website interface, mobile apps for Android and iOS, and an API that helps developers build browser extensions and software applications. Google Translate supports over 100 languages at various levels and as of May 2017, serves over 500 million people daily.

Launched in April 2006 as a statistical machine translation service, it used United Nations and European Parliament transcripts to gather linguistic data. Rather than translating languages directly, it first translates text to English and then to the target language. During a translation, it looks for patterns in millions of documents to help decide on the best translation. Its accuracy has been criticized and ridiculed on several occasions. In November 2016, Google announced that Google Translate would switch to a neural machine translation engine - Google Neural Machine Translation (GNMT) - which translates "whole sentences at a time, rather than just piece by piece. It uses this broader context to help it figure out the most relevant translation, which it then rearranges and adjusts to be more like a human speaking with proper grammar". Originally only enabled for a few languages in 2016, GNMT is gradually being used for more languages.

Hebrew Bible

The Hebrew Bible, also called the Tanakh (; תַּנַ״ךְ, pronounced [taˈnaχ] or [təˈnax]; also Tenakh, Tenak, Tanach) or Mikra, is the canonical collection of Jewish texts, which is also the textual source for the Christian Old Testament. These texts are composed mainly in Biblical Hebrew, with some passages in Biblical Aramaic (in the books of Daniel, Ezra and a few others). The form of this text that is authoritative for Rabbinic Judaism is known as the Masoretic Text (MT), and is divided into 24 books, while the Protestant Bible translations divide the same material into 39 books.

Modern scholars seeking to understand the history of the Hebrew Bible use a range of sources, in addition to the Masoretic Text. These sources include early Greek (Septuagint) and Syriac (Peshitta) translations, the Samaritan Pentateuch, the Dead Sea Scrolls and quotations from rabbinic manuscripts. Many of these sources may be older than the Masoretic Text and often differ from it. These differences have given rise to the theory that yet another text, an Urtext of the Hebrew Bible, once existed and is the source of the versions extant today. However, such an Urtext has never been found, and which of the three commonly known versions (Septuagint, Masoretic Text, Samaritan Pentateuch) is closest to the Urtext is not fully determined.

King James Version

The King James Version (KJV), also known as the King James Bible (KJB) or simply the Authorized Version (AV), is an English translation of the Christian Bible for the Church of England, begun in 1604 and completed as well as published in 1611 under the sponsorship of James VI and I. The books of the King James Version include the 39 books of the Old Testament, an intertestamental section containing 14 books of the Apocrypha, and the 27 books of the New Testament. The translation is noted for its "majesty of style", and has been described as one of the most important books in English culture and a driving force in the shaping of the English-speaking world.It was first printed by Robert Barker, the King's Printer, and was the third translation into English approved by the English Church authorities: The first had been the Great Bible, commissioned in the reign of King Henry VIII (1535), and the second had been the Bishops' Bible, commissioned in the reign of Queen Elizabeth I (1568). On the European continent, the first generation of Calvinists had produced the Geneva Bible of 1560 from the original

Hebrew and Greek Scriptures, which was influential in the writing of the Authorized King James Version. In January 1604, King James convened the Hampton Court Conference, where a new English version was conceived in response to the problems of the earlier translations perceived by the Puritans, a faction of the Church of England.James gave the translators instructions intended to ensure that the new version would conform to the ecclesiology of, and reflect the episcopal structure of, the Church of England and its belief in an ordained clergy. The translation was done by 47 scholars, all of whom were members of the Church of England. In common with most other translations of the period, the New Testament was translated from Greek, the Old Testament from Hebrew and Aramaic, and the Apocrypha from Greek and Latin. In the Book of Common Prayer (1662), the text of the Authorized Version replaced the text of the Great Bible for Epistle and Gospel readings (but not for the Psalter, which substantially retained Coverdale's Great Bible version), and as such was authorised by Act of Parliament.By the first half of the 18th century, the Authorized Version had become effectively unchallenged as the English translation used in Anglican and English Protestant churches, except for the Psalms and some short passages in the Book of Common Prayer of the Church of England. Over the course of the 18th century, the Authorized Version supplanted the Latin Vulgate as the standard version of scripture for English-speaking scholars. With the development of stereotype printing at the beginning of the 19th century, this version of the Bible became the most widely printed book in history, almost all such printings presenting the standard text of 1769 extensively re-edited by Benjamin Blayney at Oxford, and nearly always omitting the books of the Apocrypha. Today the unqualified title "King James Version" usually indicates this Oxford standard text.

List of English Bible translations

The Bible has been translated into many languages from the biblical languages of Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek. The Latin Vulgate translation was dominant in Western Christianity through the Middle Ages. Since then, the Bible has been translated into many more languages. English Bible translations also have a rich and varied history of more than a millennium.

Included when possible are dates and the source language(s) and, for incomplete translations, what portion of the text has been translated. Certain terms that occur in many entries are linked at the bottom of the page.

Because different groups of Jews and Christians differ on the true content of the Bible, the "incomplete translations" section includes only translations seen by their translators as incomplete, such as Christian translations of the New Testament alone. Translations such as Jewish versions of the Tanakh are included in the "complete" category, even though Christians traditionally have considered the Bible to consist properly of more than just the Tanakh.

Literal translation

Literal translation, direct translation, or word-for-word translation is the rendering of text from one language to another one word at a time (Latin: "verbum pro verbo") with or without conveying the sense of the original whole.

In translation studies, "literal translation" denotes technical translation of scientific, technical, technological or legal texts.In translation theory, another term for "literal translation" is "metaphrase"; and for phrasal ("sense") translation — "paraphrase."

When considered a bad practice of conveying word by word (lexeme to lexeme, or morpheme to lexeme) translation of non-technical type literal translations has the meaning of mistranslating idioms, for example, or in the context of translating an analytic language to a synthetic language, it renders even the grammar unintelligible.

The concept of literal translation may be viewed as an oxymoron (contradiction in terms), given that literal denotes something existing without interpretation, whereas a translation, by its very nature, is an interpretation (an interpretation of the meaning of words from one language into another).

Medicine in the medieval Islamic world

In the history of medicine, Islamic medicine is the science of medicine developed in the Islamic Golden Age, and written in Arabic, the lingua franca of Islamic civilization.Islamic medicine preserved, systematized and developed the medical knowledge of classical antiquity, including the major traditions of Hippocrates, Galen and Dioscorides. During the post-classical era, Islamic medicine was the most advanced in the world, integrating concepts of the ancient Greek, Roman, Persian as well as the ancient Indian traditions of Ayurveda. At the same time, the knowledge of the classical medicine was nearly lost to the medieval medicine of Western Europe, only to be regained by European physicians when they became familiar with Islamic medical authors during the Renaissance of the 12th century.Medieval Islamic physicians largely retained their authority until the rise of medicine as a part of the natural sciences, beginning with the Age of Enlightenment, nearly six hundred years after their textbooks were opened by many people. Aspects of their writings remain of interest to physicians even today.


A neologism (; from Greek νέο- néo-, "new" and λόγος lógos, "speech, utterance") describes a relatively recent or isolated term, word, or phrase that may be in the process of entering common use, but that has not yet been fully accepted into mainstream language. Neologisms are often driven by changes in culture and technology, and may be directly attributable to a specific person, publication, period, or event. In the process of language formation, neologisms are more mature than protologisms.

New International Version

The New International Version (NIV) is an English translation of the Bible first published in 1978 by Biblica (formerly the International Bible Society). The NIV was published to meet the need for a modern translation done by Bible scholars using the earliest, highest quality manuscripts available. Of equal importance was that the Bible be expressed in broadly understood modern English.

A team of 15 biblical scholars, representing a variety of denominations, worked from the oldest copies of reliable texts, variously written in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. Each section was subjected to multiple translations and revisions, and those assessed in detail to produce the best option. Everyday Bible readers were used to provide feedback on ease of understanding and comprehensibility. Finally, plans were made to continue revision of the Bible as new discoveries were made and as changes in the use of the English language occurred.

The NIV is published by Zondervan in the United States and Hodder & Stoughton in the UK. The NIV was updated in 1984 and 2011, and has become one of the most popular and best selling modern translations.


Plutarch (; Greek: Πλούταρχος, Ploútarkhos, Koine Greek: [ˈplutarkʰos]; c. AD 46 – AD 120), later named, upon becoming a Roman citizen, Lucius Mestrius Plutarchus, (Λούκιος Μέστριος Πλούταρχος) was a Greek biographer and essayist, known primarily for his Parallel Lives and Moralia.

He is classified as a Middle Platonist. Plutarch's surviving works were written in Greek, but intended for both Greek and Roman readers.

Quran translations

Translations of the Qur'an are interpretations of the scripture of Islam in languages other than Arabic. The Qur'an was originally written in the Arabic language and has been translated into most major African, Asian and European languages.


The Septuagint (from the Latin: septuāgintā literally "seventy", often abbreviated as LXX and sometimes called the Greek Old Testament) is the earliest extant Greek translation of the Hebrew scriptures from the original Hebrew. It is estimated that the first five books of the Old Testament, known as the Torah or Pentateuch, were translated in the mid-3rd century BCE and the remaining texts were translated in the 2nd century BCE. Considered the primary Greek translation of the Old Testament, it is quoted a number of times in the New Testament,particularly in the Pauline epistles,by the Apostolic Fathers, and later by the Greek Church Fathers.

The full title in Ancient Greek: Ἡ τῶν Ἑβδομήκοντα μετάφρασις, literally "The Translation of the Seventy", derives from the story recorded in the Letter of Aristeas that the Septuagint was translated at the request of Ptolemy II Philadelphus(285–247 BCE) by 70 Jewish scholars (or, according to later tradition, 72: six scholars from each of the twelve tribes of Israel) who independently produced identical translations. The miraculous character of the Aristeas legend is indicative of the esteem in which the translation was held in the ancient Jewish diaspora and, later, early Christian circles.

According to later rabbinic tradition (for which the Greek translation was regarded as a distortion of the sacred text, and thus not suitable for use in the synagogue), the Septuagint was handed in to Ptolemy on the date of an annual fast (known as the "Tenth of Tevet fast") and mourning for the Jewish people. Be that as it may, it is clear that a Greek translation was in circulation among the Alexandrian Jews who were not fluent in Hebrew, but in lingua franca Greek. The evidence of Egyptian papyri from the period have led most scholars to view as probable Aristeas's dating of the translation of the Pentateuch to the third century B.C.E. Grätz ("Gesch. der Juden", 3d ed., iii. 615) stands alone in assigning it to the reign of Philometor (181–146 B.C.[E.]). Whatever share the Ptolemaic court may have had in the translation, it evidently satisfied a pressing need felt by the Jewish community, among whom a knowledge of Hebrew was rapidly waning before the demands of every-day life."The Septuagint should not be confused with other Greek versions of the Old Testament, most of which did not survive except as fragments (some parts of these being known from Origen's Hexapla, a comparison of six translations in adjacent columns, now almost wholly lost). Of these, the most important are those by Aquila, Symmachus, and Theodotion.

Modern critical editions of the Septuagint are based on the Codices Vaticanus, Sinaiticus, and Alexandrinus.


The tetragrammaton (; from Greek Τετραγράμματον, meaning "[consisting of] four letters"), יהוה in Hebrew and YHWH in Latin script, is the four-letter biblical name of the God of Israel. The books of the Torah and the rest of the Hebrew Bible (with the exception of Esther and Song of Songs) contain this Hebrew name. Religiously observant Jews and those who follow Talmudic Jewish traditions do not pronounce יהוה, nor do they read aloud transliterated forms such as Yahweh; instead the word is substituted with a different term, whether used to address or to refer to the God of Israel. Common substitutions for Hebrew forms are hakadosh baruch hu ("The Holy One, Blessed Be He"), Adonai ("My Lord") or HaShem ("The Name").


Torah (; Hebrew: תּוֹרָה, "Instruction", "Teaching" or "Law") has a range of meanings. It can most specifically mean the first five books (Pentateuch) of the 24 books of the Tanakh, and it is usually printed with the rabbinic commentaries (perushim). It can mean the continued narrative from the Book of Genesis to the end of the Tanakh (Malachi), and it can even mean the totality of Jewish teaching, culture and practice, whether derived from biblical texts or later rabbinic writings. Common to all these meanings, Torah consists of the origin of Jewish peoplehood: their call into being by God, their trials and tribulations, and their covenant with their God, which involves following a way of life embodied in a set of moral and religious obligations and civil laws (halakha).

In rabbinic literature the word Torah denotes both the five books (Hebrew: תורה שבכתב‎ "Torah that is written") and the Oral Torah (תורה שבעל פה, "Torah that is spoken"). The Oral Torah consists of interpretations and amplifications which according to rabbinic tradition have been handed down from generation to generation and are now embodied in the Talmud and Midrash. According to rabbinic tradition, all of the teachings found in the Torah, both written and oral, were given by God through the prophet Moses, some at Mount Sinai and others at the Tabernacle, and all the teachings were written down by Moses, which resulted in the Torah that exists today. According to the Midrash, the Torah was created prior to the creation of the world, and was used as the blueprint for Creation. The majority of Biblical scholars believe that the written books were a product of the Babylonian captivity (c. 600 BCE), based on earlier written and oral traditions, which could only have arisen from separate communities within ancient Israel, and that it was completed by the period of Achaemenid rule (c. 400 BCE).Traditionally, the words of the Torah are written on a scroll by a scribe (sofer) in Hebrew. A Torah portion is read publicly at least once every three days in the presence of a congregation. Reading the Torah publicly is one of the bases of Jewish communal life.


Translation is the communication of the meaning of a source-language text by means of an equivalent target-language text. The English language draws a terminological distinction (not all languages do) between translating (a written text) and interpreting (oral or sign-language communication between users of different languages); under this distinction, translation can begin only after the appearance of writing within a language community.

A translator always risks inadvertently introducing source-language words, grammar, or syntax into the target-language rendering. On the other hand, such "spill-overs" have sometimes imported useful source-language calques and loanwords that have enriched target languages. Translators, including early translators of sacred texts, have helped shape the very languages into which they have translated.Because of the laboriousness of the translation process, since the 1940s efforts have been made, with varying degrees of success, to automate translation or to mechanically aid the human translator. More recently, the rise of the Internet has fostered a world-wide market for translation services and has facilitated "language localization".

Works by Brian Friel
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