The Jewish Telegraphic Agency comments on Alter's Translation:
Translation is not an easy task. Finding a word that accurately conveys a word's original meaning is certainly one problem (witness Freddy's word choices), There are apparently some interesting word choices in Alter's translation.
Think about this one. Quote:"When God began to create heaven and earth, and the earth then was welter and waste and darkness over the deep and God’s breath hovering over the waters, God said, ‘Let there be light.’ And there was light."
Why use the word welter? Allter explains. Quote" "Which brings us back to “welter and waste.” The Hebrew term he renders in English is “tohu vavohu.” In his commentary, Alter wrote: “Tohu by itself means ‘emptiness’ or ‘futility,’” while vavohu appears nowhere else in the Bible — “coined to rhyme with the [tohu] and reinforce it, an effect I have tried to approximate in English by alliteration.” Hence, welter and waste."