Tuesday, January 11, 2011

2011, the 400th Anniversary of the King James' Bible Translation

There'll be plenty of occasions this year to commemorate in various ways the 400th anniversary of the King James translation of the Bible in 1611. Here's another. Another recent piece in the New York Times by Verlyn Klinkenborg speaks of the "impossibly learned team of men" producing the translation between 1604 and 1611. Not quite sure how to take that adverb "impossibly." But I agree that the legacy of the KJV and Tyndale is worth celebrating. I intend to do so all year.

Adrian Hamilton in the Independent however, reviews a British Library exhibit "One Language Many Voices" (until April 2011) that makes the point that English has evolved out of its flexible, syncretistic character while giving scarcely a nod to the KJV.

The question inevitably posed by the end of the show is where next in the age of the internet and globalised use of a language. English, as David Crystal – the presiding voice throughout the show – points out is spoken by two billion people today, only 400 million of which are native speakers? In other words, its use is by far and away dominated by those adopting it as a second or third language.

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