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Author Topic: spells and language  (Read 363 times)

arete

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spells and language
« on: November 03, 2018, 04:33:17 am »
I have a question regarding magical spells and language. My native language is greek, and english is not my native language. When I want to perform a spell that is in english language, should I translate the spell into greek or should I use english? Can we perform spells of foreign languages?

Eastling

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Re: spells and language
« Reply #1 on: November 03, 2018, 04:29:50 pm »
I have a question regarding magical spells and language. My native language is greek, and english is not my native language. When I want to perform a spell that is in english language, should I translate the spell into greek or should I use english? Can we perform spells of foreign languages?

It depends on what works best for you. You might want to try any chants in English first to see if you can make it flow, because foreign-language spells and prayers can be quite effective for some people (I say my Shabbat prayers in Hebrew, for example, and would never change that, even though I don't actually speak Hebrew). But if it winds up being too awkward for you, you might as well see if translating it into your native Greek helps.
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EnderDragonFire

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Re: spells and language
« Reply #2 on: November 03, 2018, 04:41:40 pm »
When I want to perform a spell that is in english language, should I translate the spell into greek or should I use english? Can we perform spells of foreign languages?

Well, I never translate anything metaphysical when I use it in a formal context. Whether the original is Greek, Latin, Sanskrit, or something else, I always use that version. I might look up a translation so I can understand it, but when I use it, I use the original language.

Even in closely related languages, translation is often an approximation. We substitute words that *mostly* mean the same thing, but often, the analogy is not 100% exact, and the idea of using approximated words in a ritual setting doesn't sit well with me personally.
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TheGreenWizard

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Re: spells and language
« Reply #3 on: November 03, 2018, 05:23:55 pm »
I have a question regarding magical spells and language. My native language is greek, and english is not my native language. When I want to perform a spell that is in english language, should I translate the spell into greek or should I use english? Can we perform spells of foreign languages?

This is a wonderful question!!

The beautiful thing about languages is that they exist within a certain framework and common group mindset that is being continuously tweaked and adapted as time goes on. What someone would says now in English mostly will be recognized by someone from 1918 (except for the technological vocabulary that was recently developed in the latter half of the 20th and early 21st centuries), but go back to 1818, and that's a whole other ball game, because the words in those time periods evoked different images and meanings than if said in other time periods.

For example, my husband speaks Italian, however, he learned it from his grandfather, who learned the language around the time of the Great Depression, and came from Calabria Italy. When my husband speaks Italian now with people who speak Italian, they often note his weird way of saying things, because he speaks the Calabrian dialect... from the 1920's/1930's. It's not exactly wrong, per se, however, it's similar to if I said "Hey, your cellular telephone, where is it?" instead of "Where's your cell?"

That said, how does this apply to spells? If you're using spells made by someone else, you're using words that the creator of said spells found familiarity with, and were associated - in their mind(s) - with the purpose and intent of said spell. Trying to substitute words for the spell can modify the spell in unknown ways: make it stronger, make it weaker, or just not work at all. We don't know, thus that's why we go with what we are given.
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Eastling

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Re: spells and language
« Reply #4 on: November 03, 2018, 07:45:39 pm »
That said, how does this apply to spells? If you're using spells made by someone else, you're using words that the creator of said spells found familiarity with, and were associated - in their mind(s) - with the purpose and intent of said spell. Trying to substitute words for the spell can modify the spell in unknown ways: make it stronger, make it weaker, or just not work at all. We don't know, thus that's why we go with what we are given.

I definitely concur with some of your point here--that words can have very subtle and important meanings in their original contexts because of the complexity of language, and that's important to take into account when doing magic. But I feel like you're missing something in your conclusion that we shouldn't mess with the original text of spells.

You mention the creator of the spell and their context, but the thing is that as soon as another person uses a spell, they have a slightly different perspective, and the original creator's framework may need to be adjusted for that.

I agree that if you can do a spell in its original language, in most cases you should, for all the reasons people have given above. But if any given spell-caster lacks the proper context of knowledge of that original language and culture, there's no guarantee that they can just reproduce the effects by rote repetition. And if they find that the attempt doesn't work for them, it's worth carefully examining the spell to see if a translation or adaptation would work better.
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Kylara

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Re: spells and language
« Reply #5 on: November 04, 2018, 01:10:50 pm »
I have a question regarding magical spells and language. My native language is greek, and english is not my native language. When I want to perform a spell that is in english language, should I translate the spell into greek or should I use english? Can we perform spells of foreign languages?

I love doing spells/rituals in other languages, but I find there is a balance between what I want to do and what is practical.  It fully depends on the language and the style of ritual.  Sometimes with languages that are very foreign to my tongue (ones that I find hard to actually speak), I need to stick with short bits, and anything longer just becomes clunky.

Other times, languages just flow.  I know a couple of chants in other languages, and while I do love reading translations, and thinking about what the chant means, I learn it by rote, and just let the words come out of me.  They just work.

I am a memorization person.  I prefer to learn things and repeat them as opposed to reading off of a paper.  Sometimes this just isn't possible.  With some languages, I can't read them straight up, I have to write them out some form of phonetics (so I know how to pronounce them, because I won't remember the correct pronunciation when looking at the actual words).  Sometimes this also makes it feel odd.

So, while I love other languages, and saying spells in other languages, sometimes it just feels so unnatural, or I have to do so many things to make it work, that it takes me away from what I am doing, and making my own translation into my native  language ends up working better.

I'm a big fan of using what works.
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