Laudato Si’: on a glimpse of theory masked in translation

Prof. Hayward explores the Pope’s thinking on environmental issues, and notes the importance of good translations!

Tim Hayward

‘To seek only a technical remedy to each environmental problem which comes up is to separate what is in reality interconnected and to mask the true and deepest problems of the global system.’ (Pope Francis, Laudato Si’, English Version, §111.)

These words from the papal encyclical, Laudato Si’, contain a profound and important truth that is worth reflecting on.

Ironically, an aspect of it is also masked by the English text at this point. The locus of problems, according to the English, is ‘the global system’. By contrast, the Italian and Spanish – which I take to reflect more intimately the Italo-Argentinian pope’s mind – refer, respectively, to sistema mondiale and sistema mundial. Their natural translation would be not ‘global system’ but ‘world system (and elsewhere in the text, the translation does let mondiale/mundial be ‘world’ and globale/global be ‘global’.)

The translation thereby…

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