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Thursday, August 27, 2009
  Style sensitive translation
Nuyorcian Poets Cafe by Salim Virji
PoetJohn, the Hebrew Poet, has a really stimulating post (but then you'll say his posts usually are) A Style-Sensitive Translation of Luke 1:1-4. In it he agrues that: the style and register of the opening of Luke is "the high falutin’ prose in which the best history is traditionally written. In English, think Edward Gibbon or Thomas Macaulay."and offers a good first draft of what a rendering of these verses in such style would sound like.

This is a drum several of us have banged before, most Bible versions obscure the style and register differences among biblical authors and passages. So a passage from Mark and one from Luke will sound more alike than the same passage from REV and CEV or even REV and NRSV. Thus the style and register preferred by the translation team takes precedence over that of the composers! This is plain barmy, nuts, and a great shame as it hides the human fingerprints that readers of Greek and the Semitic languages find all over Scripture.

Thomas Babington Macaulay, 1st Baron Macaulay from Wikipedia
Macaulay

J. K. Gayle and Doug Chaplin both post fine comments on John's post, suggesting how the following passages should sound. Is this a project that a team of bibliobloggers could collaborate on? Maybe, in view of the start already made Luke would be a good book to begin with? The contributors could all be authors on a site at Digress.it. Digress.it is a successor to CommentPress, a WordPress derivative that allows commenting at "paragraph" level on posts. Thus if the text of the proposed translation were posted with each verse as a separate "paragraph" others could comment at that level, and the translators could easily then produced a revised version in the light of suggestions.

Declaration of interest: I am exploring Digress.it with another project in view. I will describe that in another post soon.

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Saturday, January 26, 2008
  Testing metaphors for signs of life
Languages are in part composed of dead metaphors, words and phrases that are used with meanings that may once have been metaphorical, but which now no longer carry such metaphorical force. Wikipedia lists some good and some not so good examples, I think "windfall", "foot" (of a mountain or hill), "branches" (of government) illustrate the phenomenon well. Biblical Hebrew is doubtless no exception. So, Charles (considering the claim in Dille, Sarah J. Mixing Metaphors God as Mother and Father in Deutero-Isaiah. Journal for the study of the Old Testament, 398. London; New York: T & T Clark International, 2004)
that:
the phrase bene-yisra’el (’children of Israel’), ... is so conventional elsewhere in the Hebrew Bible that it is essentially a dead metaphor
asks an interesting question: how would one prove this assertion?

Much of literary, and therefore biblical scholarship, is unprovable. However, often one can provide a way to disprove it, or to suggest that it might be true. In this case (it seems to me) that looking for usages of the term where the supposed connection with parenting is made explicit offers such disproof or confirmation. If in no, or only very few, case(s) does the author make a connection to parenting in the context, then it is likely to be a dead metaphor, if in many cases there is such a reference it is likely not to be a dead metaphor.

For if authors had a live sense of implied parenting when using the term then surely at least sometimes they would express these parental thoughts in the cotext?

So, I think that the phrase "as numerous as the sands of the sea shore" had essentially died, or at least was seriously indisposed in the biblical period. However, Job resurrects it:
Job 6:2-3 O that my vexation were weighed, and all my calamity laid in the balances! 3 For then it would be heavier than the sand of the sea; therefore my words have been rash.
My gut feeling yet to be tested is that there are very few contexts in which use of the term "children of Israel" does elicit such a parental thought... more later if I have time...

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Wednesday, November 28, 2007
  Audio Blog Posts
I have posted a couple of new items to the 5 Minute Bible site this week:

After a long gap for marking since the previous post:

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Friday, November 23, 2007
  Useless(?) but fun toy
Thanks to Jane's E-Learning Pick of the Day I have just wasted fifteen minutes playing with Visuwords, not so much a graphical dictionary as a cool app in search of a niche! Before generating the display shown below I tried various biblical and theological terms without generating much insight :(



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