I am desperate to find ways to integrate French into my studies. I did one semester of theological French and then sat on it. I don’t want what little I know to go to waste. Since I will be studying the Book of Psalms this summer I hope to read the Psalms in French. I invite anyone with any knowledge of the language to comment and interact with me. I need people to interact with me!

I imagine on of the best approaches will be to compare a few French translations at a time examining the differences and asking why this or that translation frames it as it does. For consistency sake I will look at (1) the traditional Luis Segond (LSG), (2) the Segond 21 or La Nouvelle Bible Segond (SG21/NBS), (3) Le Bible de Semeur (BDS), and (4) La Bible en français courant (BFC).


Heureux l’homme qui ne marche pas selon le conseil des méchants,
Qui ne s’arrête pas sur la voie des pécheurs,
Et qui ne s’assied pas en compagnie des moqueurs,


Heureux l’homme qui ne suit pas le conseil des méchants,
qui ne s’arrête pas sur la voie des pécheurs
et ne s’assied pas en compagnie des moqueurs,


Heureux l’homme qui ne marche pas selon les conseils des méchants,
qui ne va pas se tenir sur le chemin des pécheurs,
qui ne s’assied pas en compagnie des moqueurs.


Heureux qui ne suit pas les conseils des gens sans foi ni loi,
qui ne s’arrête pas sur le chemin de ceux qui se détournent de Dieu,
et qui ne s’assied pas avec ceux qui se moquent de tout !

All four translations open with Heureux, an adjective meaning “lucky, fortunate, happy.” It seems the word that has the closest association with the English “blessed” is sanctifie, but none of these translation use it. It seems that sanctifie would have more to do with something holy, so this nuance of blessedness is not appropriate.

The BFC is the one translation that moves away from the more gender specific l’homme (“the man”) to the generic qui (“who”). The LSG and BDS both describe the walking action as marche (with the negating ne…pas) while the SG21 and BFC (more recent translations) prefer suit. These two seem like synonyms, but I am curious as to why it seems the older translations used marche and the newer use suit.

The LSG/BDS divide against the SG21 and BFC in the use of selon. It seems the more modern translations find it superfluous. Only the BFC departs from the phrase le conseil des méchants opting for gens sans foi ni loi or “the council of lawless people” (it seems like a more literal translation would be “the council of people without faith/credence or law”). This interprets “the wicked” as “lawless people.”

In my next post I will continue examining 1.1.