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As the original text refers to the original version of a text or a larger work , particularly from the antiquity or the early civilizations . In the context of translations , Urtext refers to the wording in the source language. When editing musical works, the question of the original text is of central importance.

The terms Urtext and Original are avoided by most text sciences today and replaced by more precise terms such as autograph or archetype . The archetype denotes the original of a written work in contrast to copies, especially the oldest surviving or accessible version of a manuscript or a print.

Original version of literary works and religious writings

Autographs made or checked by the author himself are extremely rare from earlier centuries. The reconstruction of more original versions from later copies is the task of textual criticism . The realization that the reconstruction can usually not go back to the actual original versions ( author versions) had a sobering effect . We had to say goodbye to the idea of authorized , authentic original texts for early cultural epochs. Before the development of the modern concept of author, no texts were produced that were considered immutable, finished works.

Historically, research into original texts first developed with culturally canonical texts ( Homer , Alexandrian School ) and the cultic sanctioned writings of the major book religions (e.g. the Masoretic text of the Tanach ). It is still important to this day in religious writings because it is here in particular that the idea of ​​divine revelation and the unassailable establishment of doctrines and religious commandments is concretized in the idea of ​​"real" texts. From the "correctness" and "authenticity" of texts and text versions, some consequences for faith or for historical cross connections can be derived for religious communities (see, for example, Lucanian date ).

In Islam , the prevailing idea is that the Koran is the immutable word of God , which was literally dictated to the Prophet Mohammed by the Archangel Gabriel . Most Koran scholars therefore reject the application of historical-critical methods to the Koran text. The question of an original text of the Koran is incomprehensible for devout Muslims.

In the course of the 20th century, new models emerged (e.g. New Philology ) for profane texts from the early days ( historiography , poetry ) , which no longer assume a binding original but rather ask about the respective function of the various text versions.

Urtext for translations

With " reading the Bible in the original text" is mostly meant: reading the Old Testament in Hebrew, reading the New Testament in Greek. This is to be distinguished from the search for an “original text” of the biblical books in the sense of an original, first text version to be reconstructed (see previous section ).

When translating works from early cultures into today's languages, cooperation between cultural-historical subjects (e.g. archeology) and linguists is essential for a true-to-meaning and linguistic translation .

Urtext in musical works

With regard to musical works , the term Urtext is used for editions that are created after a scientific comparison of the sources and try to come as close as possible to the composer's intention. Whether a text-critical or even practical editing of the musical text has taken place is not clear from the designation Urtext . The term Urtext incorrectly suggests that there is a certain first version of the musical work that has been made accessible in every detail. Occasionally, it is therefore requested that musical works no longer speak of Urtext and that the term critical edition be given preference. For commercial reasons, the term Urtext is sometimes used today even if the criteria for this are not met.

In many cases it is difficult or impossible to make general editorial decisions. The starting point for the creation of an original text is the evaluation of the sources. Is the first print more credible than the autograph ? Has the publisher corrupted the musical text? Is the print a revised version authorized by the composer? Even with such general questions there can be different assessments, even if background information on the creation process of the work has been carefully considered. Further doubts arise with the details of the musical text. In this context, the term critical edition speaks for the fact that it refers to the scientific process and the need for editorial decisions. Nevertheless, the term Urtext has established itself. In practice, a distinction between the two terms is likely to be of little relevance.

It is obvious that the critical editorial process requires documentation. Only the complete presentation of the decisions, the procedures and the solution enables the reader to gain a precise insight into the text-related work. Some leading publishers who use the term Urtext for their editions, such as G. Henle Verlag , Universal Edition , Bärenreiter-Verlag or Edition Peters , give a detailed account of the editorial decisions and the sources used. The critical apparatus is often left out in individual editions and reference is made to the corresponding complete edition or the publisher's website.

See also

Wiktionary: Urtext  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. a b Duden online: Urtext
  2. Duden online: Archetype