On a separate thread, Danielo asks whether the NLT is perhaps too dramatic in the way it translates the last phrase of this verse:

“I will praise the LORD as long as I live;
I will sing praises to my God even with my dying breath.”

He points out that some other translations translate the last phrase “as long as I live.” The challenge for the translator, of course, is to convey in English (or any receptor language) the correct meaning and the full impact of the original text.

In this verse the psalmist presents a couplet that communicates essentially the same message in each of the two lines. The Hebrew text has two expressions to communicate the concept of “all my life,” so the translator must also find two expressions to communicate the concept of “all my life.” The NLT uses “as long as I live” in the first line–as do RSV, NRSV, NET Bible, and ESV. So a different phrase is needed for the second line. Look at the variety in translations:

KJV: while I have my being
ASV: while I have any being
NRSV: all my life long
NIV: as long as I live
NET: as long as I exist
NLT: even with my dying breath

The Hebrew idiom doesn’t literally translate into English as “even with my dying breath,” but neither is it literally “as long as I live” or “while I have my being.” All of the translations are striving to communicate the sense of the idiom, which might be translated literally “with as long as.” The psalmist is expressing the absolute limit of his praise for God. So various translations use various expressions to communicate that same sense of the ultimate.

Back to Danielo’s question: Is the NLT being too dramatic? I don’t think so, since it strives to communicate in English that same sense that “I will praise my God with everything I’ve got for as long as I’ve got anything in me.”