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Japan bishops finalize Ave Maria text
- July 5, 2011
The new prayerâ€™s formal Japanese name is Ave Maria no Inori, or â€śThe Ave Maria Prayer.â€ť A first draft of this translation underwent a nationwide trial period of provisional use from December 8, 2010, to March 25, 2011. During that time, 446 people contacted the CBCJ with their opinions.
In response to some questions and concerns that formed part of this feedback, the CBCJ recently issued a guide to the revised prayer on its website. That document highlighted nine features of the translation and offered the rationale for the translations used in each.
Here is the final text of the prayer in Japanese, with the official Latin and English texts provided in parallel for reference. Each numbered passage has accompanying notes summarizing the most important clarifications offered in their guide.
? Ave Maria,
? gratia plena,
? Dominus tecum.
? Benedicta tu in mulieribus,
? et benedictus fructus ventris tui, Iesus.
Sancta Maria, Mater Dei, ora ? pro nobis peccatoribus, nunc, et in hora mortis nostrae. Amen.
? Ave, Maria,
? megumi ni michita kata,
? Shu wa anata to tomo ni oraremasu.
? Anata wa onna no uchi de shukufuku sare,
? go-tainai no on-ko Iesu mo shukufuku sarete imasu.
Kami no haha Sei Maria, ? watashi-tachi tsumi-bito no tame ni, ima mo shi o mukaeru toki mo, o-inori kudasai. Amen.
? Hail Mary,
? full of grace,
? the Lord is with thee.
? Blessed art thou among women,
? and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray ? for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.
? Ave, Maria
The Latin prayer begins with the greeting, Ave Maria. Among Japanese translations of the Bible, this is translated using phrases such as omedeto (â€śCongratulationsâ€ť) or yorokobinasai (â€śBe joyfulâ€ť).
However, there have long been objections that, in many situations when the Rosary is prayed, such as at a deathbed or during a vigil ceremony, it would be awkward to pray â€ścongratulationsâ€ť or â€śbe of good cheer.â€ť
The phrase Ave Maria is already well-established in peopleâ€™s minds, even outside the realm of Christianity, through the names of songs and the like. Therefore, the CBCJ opted to retain the opening words of the Latin original in the Japanese, as they had for the provisional translation.
? megumi ni michita kata
The previous official colloquial translation from 1993 used the Japanese phrase megumi afureru, (â€śbrimming over with graceâ€ť), but has been revised in this translation to use the verb michiru, (â€śto be fullâ€ť), as a more faithful translation of the Latin. During the provisional phase, some felt that this would not capture the fact that Mary was filled with grace by God, but this phrase was ratified as-is out of consideration for ease of recitation and with the confidence that the possibility of misunderstanding is small.
? Shu wa anata to tomo ni oraremasu
Some wondered whether the verb orareru, which is an honorific form of an alternate version of the standard Japanese verb iru, â€śto be,â€ť was grammatical. However, the legitimacy of the form was confirmed with Japanese linguistic specialists and preserved in the prayerâ€™s final text.
? Anata wa onna no uchi de shukufuku sare
Until now, the official Japanese Hail Mary contained the passage, Shu wa anata o erabi, shukufuku shi (â€śThe Lord chose you and blessed youâ€ť). It has been observed that the Latin phrase in mulieribus (â€śamong womenâ€ť) was not reflected in this rendition. The older translation also shifted the grammatical subject from Mary in the Latin to the Lord God in the Japanese. Finally, in the phrase Shu wa anata o erabi (â€śThe Lord chose youâ€ť), the verb erabu (to choose) represents and addition not present in the Latin original.
Some objections were raised to the use of onna instead of josei, which both mean â€śwomanâ€ť but of which the latter is considered most appropriate in modern rules of Japanese usage. Nevertheless, the CBCJ decided to leave the original, onna, in the final translation.
? go-tainai no on-ko Iesu mo shukufuku sarete imasu
The 1993 translation rendered the Latin fructus ventris tui (â€śfruit of your wombâ€ť) as simply anata no ko (â€śyour childâ€ť). To capture the Latin ventris (â€śwombâ€ť) explicitly in the new translation, go-tainai no on-ko (â€śthe child within your wombâ€ť) was selected instead. Some felt that the word tainai (â€śinside of the wombâ€ť) seemed like too much like medical technical terminology, but no adequate substitute could be found.
It is true that a literal translation of fructus (â€śfruitâ€ť) would be either mi or kajitsu, but because this would be utterly foreign as an element of a Japanese prayer, the CBCJ adopted on-ko (â€śchildâ€ť) instead.
? watashi-tachi tsumi-bito no tame ni
The provisional translation retained the 1993 phrase tsumi-bukai watashi-tachi no tame ni (â€śfor us, deeply sinfulâ€ť). After some reconsideration about the difference between tsumi-bukai (â€śdeeply sinfulâ€ť) and tsumi-bito (â€śsinnersâ€ť), the CBCJ revised the text to watashi-tachi tsumi-bito no tame ni (â€śfor us sinnersâ€ť) to be closer to the Latin pro nobis peccatoribus.