May 24th, 2009

English translation or equivalent of Unetane Tokeff (title/phrase)

This is a bit of a strange question. It's for a story though, and it's not exactly google-able.

I am trying to translate - or find an English equivalent of - the name of the Hebrew Atonement Day chant, ונתנה תוקף. (On Wikipedia.) It's old and weird Hebrew, and I need a translation that will both preserve the original sense (rather than, say, using the chant's first line as a title) and keep the "high language" feel of it.

Being that my characters are standard US residents of 2003, a paralel phrase that would be native-tongue for them is acceptable also. (I'm an Israeli Jew, so ונתנה תוקף is the phrase I thought of.) The rough translation of the phrase is "Giving/acknowleding strength", "Giving/acknowleding value"/"validating", "Granting Grace". (i'm an idiot in my own tongue) "To tell of the Might/Value/Grace." (Capitalization intentional as this is a religious phrase.) The chant is about the Lord's power over human life and death - Atonement Day is, supposedly, when the Lord decides who will live and who will die in the coming year, and is the People's last chance to repent their sins before their fate for the year is sealed.

You can get a sense of it from Leonard Cohen's "Who by fire and who by water", which is a translation and adaptation of the chant.

Context of the story, if anyone's interested.Collapse )

Many thanks!

ETA: it's coming up in the discussion that a literal translation, as successful as it may be, won't actually hold the meaning i'm looking for, which is more the context and meaning of the prayer. This was intuitive to me, as a Hebrew speaker, so I didn't realize it at first. So, religious catchphrases that would have similar overtones of penance and awe.

ETA 2: at this point I seem to have enough translation of the literal phrase - thans y'all - but i'm still collecting potential Christian parallels, with more emphasis on accountability and penance than forgiveness.

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Time: Modern day, perhaps up to 10 years ago
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Wiki articles read: Capital Punishment in the United States, Capital Punishment, Miscarriage of Justice
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