I am a word guy: always have been, always will be.
When I was studying for my licentiate in canon law, I noticed a widespread problem among my classmates, even (especially?) among those students who were most enthusiastic for the shift in translation of official liturgical texts toward a more stringent literalism: these students demonstrated a strong preference, or rather an almost insuperable urge, to produce “dynamically equivalent” translations of texts for class assignments.
I cannot really fault them; once you begin to get the vocabulary, it is very tempting when scrabbling about laboriously for the word-for-word meaning of a passage to instead leap to the apparent safety of a sentence that sounds intuitively probable.
The problem with this approach is fundamental: even when it is more successful than not (such as in a classroom setting with a patient instructor setting the course), it ensures that the nitty-gritty of the Latin mechanics — case and number for the nouns and adjectives; mood, tense, voice, person, et cetera for the verbs — are never grappled with. The grammar never gets a chance to make sense, to mean anything for the student.
There is no shortcut to Latin literacy. The only way to grasp Latin is to get down in the mud with it, grab it by the tongue, and make it show you exactly what it is doing with each and every word, and why. This is why I try to stay literal as long as I possibly can, and sometimes even longer.
For the sake of example: I am perfectly comfortable with the fact that, when confronted with the Latin text of can. 921, §3
Perdurante mortis periculo, commendatur ut sacra communio pluries, distinctis diebus, administretur.
my choice to render it into English as
Danger of death perduring, it is recommended that holy communion be administered often, [but] separated by days.
results a demonstrably non-idiomatic translation. But is it accurate? I certainly think so; perhaps no more so than the official CLSA translation of
While the danger of death lasts, it is recommended that holy communion be administered often, but on separate days.
but I think it no less so either. The complement of time in the ablative (distinctis diebus) comes off a bit obscure, because the Latin there is itself idiomatic; some compromise probably needs to be made for greater English clarity. But I do believe it extremely difficult to offer any supposed synonym that captures all of what perdurare means in English better than, well, the (English derivative of the) word itself.
Words are words, and every translation, no mater how expert (or not) is not necessarily a betrayal as some have put it, but unquestionably an interpretation, a creative composition which is either more or less faithful to the sense of the original, but never absolutely completely so. As a canonist, especially as I am grappling with legislative texts — the very sort of texts Latin is so innately suited for — I will always prefer to take it word by painful word.