The Samaritan Pentateuch has about six thousand differences from the Masoretic Pentateuch, some of them minor, but others quite significant. Interestingly, some of these variations correspond to variations also found in Septuagint or Vulgate Pentateuch.
There is a convenient parallel edition of the Masoretic and Samaritan Pentateuch in Hebrew, with the differences in boldface (the Samaritan Pentateuch is written in standard Aramaic block script). (That edition also has an appendix with the Babel story in Samaritan script and with transliterated versions of the Masoretic and Samaritan Hebrew.)
But perhaps even more exciting for the English reader, Eisenbrauns has just released an English parallel edition: English translations of the Masoretic and Samaritan versions. In this version also, differences are in bold, but some annotations are added (as well as customs related to public reading of the Samaritan text). Appendices indicate where the Samaritan version disagrees with the Masoretic text but agrees with Septuagint versions or Dead Sea Scroll versions. There are also essays by Emanuel Tov, Steven Fine, and James Charlesworth. This version looks to useful for understanding better the Samaritan Pentateuch.
The editing reminds me in some ways of the Drazin-Wagner version of Onkelos Pentateuch which highlights differences between Masoretic Text and the Aramaic Targum Onkelos.
These parallel editions are incredibly useful. I would like to renew my suggestion that publishers consider the possibility of a parallel NRSV-NETS (New English Translation of the Septuagint) translation. Even better would be a four-way parallel edition that also added the Masoretic text and the Greek text, as Oxford did with its Parallel Psalter. We have also been discussing such versions in the comments to this post.
Samaritanism today is a tiny religion, with about 750 members. The group is so small that intermarriage is now problematic, and genetic defects common. These efforts, and others in Hebrew, can help to preserve at least part of Samaritan traditions.
Clive James, the seemingly ubiquitous television talk show host, Formula One commentator, Australian book critic, leukemia patient, and occasional poet and lyricist, has tried his hand at translating Dante’s Divine Comedy. And being a public sort of guy, he’s been hitting the media circuit, at least virtually.
An NPR story (with the pretentious title “Dante’s Beauty Rendered in English in a Divine ‘Comedy’”):
The Divine Comedy is also a work of literary beauty that is beyond being antiquated by time or diminished by repeated translation. The latest has been undertaken by a writer who is perhaps best known for his pointed and funny criticisms of culture. But Clive James is also a novelist, humorist, essayist, memoirist, and radio and television host […].
“I think I always wanted to translate Dante, but I always knew there was a problem,” James tells NPR’s Scott Simon. “Which is that of the three books of the Comedy — that’s Hell, Purgatory and Heaven, Hell is the most fascinating, in the first instance, ‘cause it’s full of action, it’s got a huge three-headed dog, it’s got a flying dragon, it’s got men turning into snakes and vice versa, it’s got centaurs beside a river of blood; you name it, Hell has got it. But Purgatory and Heaven have mainly just got theology. And the challenge for the translator is to reproduce Dante’s fascination with theology, which for him was just as exciting as all that action that he left behind in Hell.”
[…] Interest is what most translators lack, James adds. “They’re faithful, they’re accurate, they’re scholarly, but the actual raw poetic thrill of the verse doesn’t get through, and that’s what I think the translator must try to do if he or she can.”
James says that in order to achieve that raw poetic thrill, he first had to abandon terza rima, Dante’s preferred rhyme scheme, “which is almost impossible to do in English without strain.” English, he says, is a “rhyme-poor” language compared with Dante’s Italian. “If you’re going to do it in English, you need, I think, another approach, and I used quatrains. When I reconciled myself to that, I was off and running.”
He calls the quatrains a “nice, easily flowing rhythmic grid on which to mount the individual moments. If you can give your verse muscle, then you’re doing one of the things Dante does, because Dante has a tremendous capacity, right in the middle of the Italian language, the musicality of the Italian language, to be strong, to be vivid, to be precise. […]”
“I can say this much for sure, for certain, right here on the air,” James continues. “There is no young man’s version of this translation. I couldn’t have done it when I was younger. I had the energy, but not the knowledge, and not the knowledge of myself, because Dante is worried about himself. Dante is in a spiritual crisis, and I think you have to have been in one of your own to understand what he’s talking about. He’s seeking absolution, redemption and certainty. He’s seeking a knowledge that his life has been worthwhile. Which I still am.”
After Shakespeare, my favorite poet is Dante. My favorite novelists are Proust and Tolstoy, closely followed by Scott Fitzgerald, and perhaps Hemingway when he isn’t beating his chest. But in all my life I never enjoyed anything more than the first pieces I read by S. J. Perelman. […]
Dan Brown’s forthcoming Inferno, of which Dante will be the central subject, has already got me trembling. Brown might have discovered that The Divine Comedy is an encrypted prediction of how the world will be taken over by the National Rifle Association. When the movie comes out, with Harrison Ford as Dante and Megan Fox as Beatrice, it will be all over for mere translators. […]
My forthcoming translation of Dante’s Divine Comedy is my best book, I think […].\
From Slate (and reportedly adapted from James’s introduction to his translation):
[…] The Divine Comedy isn’t just a story, it’s a poem: one of the biggest, most varied, and most accomplished poems in all the world. Appreciated on the level of its verse, the thing never stops getting steadily more beautiful as it goes on. T. S. Eliot said that the last cantos of Heaven were as great as poetry can ever get. The translator’s task is to compose something to suggest that such a judgment might be right. […]
My wife said that the terza rima was only the outward sign of how the thing carried itself along, and that if you dug down into Dante’s expressiveness at the level of phonetic construction you would find an infinitely variable rhythmic pulse adaptable to anything he wanted to convey. One of the first moments she picked out of the text to show me what the master versifier could do was when Francesca tells Dante what drove her and Paolo over the brink and into the pit of sin. In English it would go something like:
“We read that day for delight
About Lancelot, how love bound him.”
She read it in Italian:
“Noi leggevam quel giorno per diletto
Di Lancelotto, come l’amor lo strinse.”
After the sound “-letto” ends the first line, the placing of “-lotto” at the start of the second line gives it the power of a rhyme, only more so. How does that happen? You have to look within. The Italian 11-syllable line feels a bit like our standard English iambic pentameter and therefore tends to mislead you into thinking that the terzina, the recurring unit of three lines, has a rocking regularity. But Dante isn’t thinking of regularity in the first instance any more than he is thinking of rhyme, which is too easy in Italian to be thought a technical challenge: In fact for an Italian poet it’s not rhyming that’s hard.
Dante’s overt rhyme scheme is only the initial framework by which the verse structure moves forward. Within the terzina, there is all this other intense interaction going on. (Dante is the greatest exemplar in literary history of the principle advanced by Vernon Watkins, and much approved of by Philip Larkin, that good poetry doesn’t just rhyme at the end of the lines, it rhymes all along the line.) Especially in modern times, translators into English have tended to think that if this interior intensity can be duplicated, the grand structure of the terzina, or some equivalent rhymed frame work, can be left out. And so it can, often with impressive results, each passage transmuted into very compressed English prose. But that approach can never transmit the full intensity of the Divine Comedy, which is notable for its overall onward drive as much as for its local density of language.
Dante is not only tunneling in the depths of meaning, he is working much closer to the surface texture: working within it. Even in the most solemn passage there might occur a touch of delight in sound that comes close to being wordplay. Still with Paolo and Francesca: in the way the word “diletto,” after the line turning, modulates into “Di Lancelotto,” the shift from “-letto” to “–lotto” is a modulation across the vowel spectrum, and Dante has a thousand tricks like that to keep things moving. The rhymes that clinch the terzina are a very supplementary music compared to the music going on within the terzina’s span.
The lines, I found, were alive within themselves. Francesca described how, while they were carried away with what they read, Paolo kissed her mouth. “Questi” (this one right here), she says, “la bocca mi basciò, tutto tremante” (kissed my mouth, all trembling). At that stage I had about a hundred words of Italian and needed to be told that the accent on the final O of “basciò” was a stress accent and needed to be hit hard, slowing the line so that it could start again and complete itself in the alliterative explosion of “tutto tremante.” An hour of this tutorial and I could already see that Dante was paying attention to his rhythms right down to the structure of the phrase and even of the word.
I have ordered a copy of this new translation, although from the preview offered on Amazon, I am not convinced that it lives up to other recent translations.
For the 11th annual Willis Barnstone Translation Prize, I submitted my English translation of the Greek Septuagint translation of Isaiah 7:1 to 8:19.
Already, we all can see the difficulties and the challenge. How does one translate a translation? What if the historical reception of this particular bit of text is fraught with sectarianism and anti-Semitism and sexism and lore and mythologies that span from the first century to the twenty-first? What if the New Testament writers flaunted this prophecy of Isaiah (in Greek now), birthing it again as evidence for the miracle of the immaculate conception of Jesus Christ? What if Willis Barnstone himself, the judge of the translated-poetry contest, already “restored” the Jewishnesses and Hebraic original ideals of the ostensibly first gospel makers? I hope you can see how I was taking some risks.
Against the grain of the common love of the LXX by most Christians through the centuries and the usual disdain of this same Greeky “Old Testament” by many Jewish readers, I began this challenge. I did have some substantial help with the direction(s). What if the LXX were read as pre-Christian and entirely Hebraic Hellene? Sylvie Honigman with her Septuagint and Homeric Scholarship in Alexandria: Study in the Narrative of the “Letter of Aristeas” has theorized that the Septuagint was birthed out of a Greek Homeric paradigm. Of course, this was long before the New Testament or Christianity. The translation method and the understanding of text(s) and the reception of it(them) by the community of Jews in Alexandria, in Egypt, participated in rhetorical wrestlings over political and language ideals in the Alexandrian Empire of Greece. Naomi Seidman with her Faithful Renderings: Jewish-Christian Difference and the Politics of Translation has theorized the LXX as a “trickster text” according to “an extraordinary Jewish counternarrative to the [Christian] patristic Septuagint legends” in the Talmud. If there’s a miracle here, then it’s one of a few humans protecting their sacred scriptures against outsiders with harmful intentions.
Well, I didn’t say any of that to Willis Barnstone in my very limited notes on my translation. What I offered was another and different perspective of a Septuagint translator. Here is an excerpt of my notes:
Notes about my English translation of the Septuagint as Greek Rhetorical Poetry –
My formatting of the Greek lines of text below is to show some of the poetics the Septuagint translator appears to have intended. I am not the first to notice such. For example, Moisés Silva, who translated the Greek “Esaias” into English, offers these notes to the reader of his translation:
Attempts to evaluate the Greek translation of Esaias in the past have typically failed to note the complexity of such a task. One can find numerous passages where the translator has failed to understand the Hebrew text and where his Greek appears to be solecistic and even unintelligible. It is therefore natural to infer that he lacked competence. The problem with this conclusion, however, is that it does not take into account the skill, knowledge and creativity that he displays in many … passages. Moreover, any generalizations about the translator’s technique run afoul of the startling variations in his approach.
(See page 823 of New English Translation of the Septuagint at http://ccat.sas.upenn.edu/nets/edition/33-esaias-nets.pdf)
Silva is not really suggesting rhetoric or poetry or rhetorical poetry. Nonetheless, he notices a display of “skill, knowledge and creativity” and “startling variations” in the Greek translator’s rendering.
My English translation of the Hellene rendering of the Hebrew intends to highlight the rhetoric, the poetry, and the rhetorics of the poetry. I’ve shown, for example, how there seem to be wordplays around what Aristotle termed “Generation,” as in procreation and birth. The phrase καὶ ἐγένετο is a phrase to establish a new episode in an epic narrative, but the same phrase plays on beginnings, on Genesis, on birth and rebirth.
In my English translation of the Greek, I try to highlight the alliterations and the rhymes and sometimes even the rhythms of the Hellene phrasing. Furthermore, I mark through the JPS English translation of the Hebrew to show places in “Esaias” where the Greek translator has elided the Hebrew. Sometimes the Greek adds text not in the original Hebrew; and my English translation attempts to show these amendments to the “original” original as well.
Of course, one can always say more. The point of poetry sometimes, however, is not to say so much. Poetry inherently is creative and full of play and generative. The only other thing I noted for Barnstone is how I was trying to show the difference the Greek made to the Hebrew. Sometimes the Hellene would reinforce the intentions of the prophet in exile; other times it would remove and replace them with the intentions of the poet-translator(s) in a place still far away from Jerusalem.
I was hoping that my translation of the Greek of the Jewish translators would do a little of what Mary Rakow shows John Felstiner’s translation of the German of Paul Celan‘s “Todesfuge” did. Rakow notes:
In this minute experience [especially when reading the Felsteiner version], one comes perhaps a little closer to understanding Celan’s deepest predicament, feeling in some sense his profound ambivalence toward the language that was his true and only home, the German language, his mother tongue, which was, due to the recent events, both a murderous and a murdered language, a defiling and defiled language.
The Greek language was the linguafranca, and the literary language, of the translators of the Hebrew Bible in Alexandria. (Yes, I know that Isaiah was not the initial work translated; and yet there may have been even more of a struggle for the translators of this Prophet after the Pentateuch was translated into Greek.) My co-blogger Theophrastus kindly asked me if I would share my entry to the poetry contest. Let me show some of it.
Let me show the most difficult bits, those that are word plays developed around the Greek ἐν γαστρὶ. I’ll not even give you the Greek or the Hebrew or the JPS English translation that I provided Barnstone. But I do hope you’ll see the changes that the Greek makes to the Hebrew, and the hints of the rhetorical and political subtexts of the Hebraic Hellene developed.
[I introduce Greek transliterated words in brackets, as definitions of my English words that are the revisions of the Hebrew; once readers have "heard" the Greek then it supplants my English from that point on. It's an attempt at effecting a Greeking of the text with full semantic import. It's an attempt at showing how ἐγγαστριμύθους in 8:19 is not simply "those who have in them a divining spirit" as Brenton would have it, or "the ventriloquists" as Silva would make it, even as if for הידענים.
This phrase ἐγ γαστρι μύθους. It contains novel Greek wordplay, in this context of pregnancies, of ἐν γαστρὶ (in 7:14 and in 8:3). Both (A) the prophecy of the mayhap virginal maiden pregnant with a son and also (B) the proclamation of the Isaiah impregnated prophetess pregnant with a son together precede this pronouncement of a ghastly somebody or something pregnant with a "myth," a "sophism". There are hints here by the Greek translator not only of a medium channeling spirits but also of a weird, mixed-ethnic, goyim, Hellenic, Korinthian style, γλωσσολαλία (a guttural babble in tongues from within oneself from beyond the grave). As we look back, we've begun to use the English Greeky technical term Gastromancy. Those who want to study it more might be interested in this quick blogpost overview by Michael Gilleland.
Didn't I already issue a warning? "Already, we all can see the difficulties and the challenge. How does one translate a translation?" Perhaps prophetic poetry is easier, but how could it be?]
Here’s an English rendering of the Greek rendering of Isaiah, 7:10-14 and 8:1-5 and 8:17-20 -
And the winner of the 2013 Willis Barnstone Translation Prize is…. There are actually two winners, and I am not one of them.
Again, as I did for last year’s contest, I entered three translated poems. My favorite entry reached the maximum 200 line limit and is entitled, “An English translation – The Hebrew of Isaiah Rendered by the Septuagint Translator as Greek Rhetorical Poetry.”
As soon as we learn of how we might find and post the winning entries, we’ll update this post to share them here.
And as we promised last year this time, if you entered translated poems in this most recent contest and want to share your poem, then we’d be honored if you’d link to it or even post it here.
For me the moral of the Gilles Bernheim affair is that one should never delay making a blog post.
I had a lengthy post comparing the similarities, and more importantly, the differences between Bernheim and Martin King’s plagiarism.
The conclusion I was going to reach in that now-obsolete post was that King’s plagiarism was not really material to his work, but Bernheim’s plagiarism, resume-inflation, and subsequent actions was of a much more pernicious nature.
But now I need to rewrite the whole post – Bernheim, after saying he would not resign, resigned!
Moral: never delay posting.
From the fabulous Medievalists.net comes this fascinating-sounding 2001 paper by Daniel Lord Small on Hatred as a Social Institution in Late-Medieval Society. Of particular note are the words used:
At some point early in 1355, the laborer Pons Gasin of Marseilles killed a woman named Alazais Borgona. The peace act that arose from this killing does not tell us why. What it does tell us is that the killing marked the birth of a great hatred between Alazais’s kinfolk and Pons. The notary who wrote the act, Peire Aycart, had no word comparable to the German word faida and its cognates or the Italian vendetta to describe a structural relationship of animosity of this kind. Instead, he used the classical Latin word inimicitia, meaning “enmity” or “hatred,” quite literally, “unfriendship” or “unkinship.” . . . On 4 April 1355 the hostile parties met in the convent of the Augustinians of Marseilles in the presence of several leading citizens of Marseilles, and unfriendship turned to friendship as the two parties exchanged the kiss of peace and sealed the contract with a marriage.
The word inimicitia and its cognate enmitas occur frequently in the judicial records and notarial peace acts of late-medieval Marseilles, somewhat more often but in essentially the same context as two other words used to describe hatred, the classical Latin odium and the late Latin rancor. Although the semantic field covered by this quartet overlaps with another moral sentiment, namely, anger or wrath, conveyed by the words ira and furor, the two sentiments were often used in distinct ways, both in Marseilles and in other sources from the Latin Middle Ages. “Hatred,” as Robert Bartlett has pointed out, was a conventional term of medieval secular jurisprudence used to describe an enduring public relationship between two adversaries. “Anger,” in contrast, was generally used to describe a short-term and hence repairable rage, something that could break out between members of a kin group, real or fictive, who normally love one another-brothers and sisters, parents and children, lords and vassals, or God and his people. In moral literature, hatred was typically paired with love, whereas anger was paired with patience.
I’m fascinated by the notion of persistent structures of unfriendship, and by the love/hate, patience/anger pairings. I like the notion of anger as a “repairable” problem internal to a persistent relationship. It never occurred to me that these were terms relevant to jurisprudence.
Shambhala has announced that it now has for sale the first volume (out of a projected three volumes) of Robin Konrad’s long awaited translation of King Gesar (Gesar of Ling), the great epic classic of Mongolia and Tibet.
Shambhala is offering the first volume at 30% off with free shipping (with coupon code EGL413) in the US through April 30. Amazon and other commercial booksellers will not have the volume in stock until July 9.
I just ordered my copy, so I can not speak to Konrad’s translation, except to say that I’ve heard buzz about it for years. I am pretty excited.
Gesar is a vast work. Wikipedia claims that a Chinese compilation of the Tibetan versions of the epic fills over 120 volumes and a million verses; another source claims that it is twenty-five times the length of the Iliad. I am not sure that either of these claims are correct, but in any case, the Shambhala publication (which presumably will be between 2,000 and 2,500 pages in length when complete) is of a version that is longer than the Iliad, but not twenty-five times the length of the Iliad.
The Shambhala publication is not the first English adaptation, although previous adaptations in English have been much more abbreviated, and I understand that they are not really translations as much as retellings (the ones I have seen are Alexander David-Neel’s 1934 version and Douglas Pennick’s three volume [1996-2011] version [volume 1, volume 2, volume 3]; I know that there are other adaptations in English.)
Like other length epics (such as the Iliad, Odyssey, Mahabharata, Ramayana) the Mogolian-Tibetan epic King Gesar has its roots in oral recitations. One difference is that King Gesar continues to be orally recited by singers today. If you have ever seen the (highly recommended) movie Saltmen of Tibet, you will certainly recall the singer Yumen who sings from the portion of King Gesar known as “The Song of Ma Nene Karmo” (you can read a transcript of the English subtitles here).
Whereas “false stories” can be told anywhere and at any time, myths must not be recited except during a period of sacred time (usually in autumn or winter, and only at night).[...] This custom has survived even among peoples who have passed beyond the archaic stage of culture. Among the Turco-Mongols and the Tibetans the epic songs of the Gesar cycle can be recited only at night and in winter.
(I am not certain that Eliade’s claim is strictly true, but it is certainly evocative!)
King Gesar has had a tremendous influence on both the arts and folk art of Central Asia (see for example this collection of Tibetan thangkas retelling the King Gesar story) and the Gesar character represents a certain ideal of the magician-warrior-king. There are a number of Western art works that adapt King Gesar (notably, Peter Lieberson’s composition; which is available as a Sony recording featuring Yo-Yo Ma, Emanuel Ax, and Peter Serkin.
As I mention above, I have not yet seen the Robin Konrad translation; moreover, I am not in a position to judge it because I only know the King Gesar story from secondary sources. Still, this version comes with so much anticipation that it could very well be one of the most important translations of 2013. Here is hoping that it is good!
The best readings of the texts of the New Testament come out of readings of the texts of the Septuagint. Likewise, seeing how the Septuagint texts have been received and appropriated through the centuries necessarily includes how the New Testament writers seemed to read them. Probably because not many are convinced of the value of reading the two sets of texts together, no single volume LXX-NT has been published. And wouldn’t it really take several volumes to handle all of the pages?
One of the rare works to explore the relationships between the NT and the LXX is Rodney J. Decker’s wonderful Koine Greek Reader: Selections from the New Testament, Septuagint, and Early Christian Writers (Kregel 2007). Last summer, Abram K-J posted a quick review with some of the pages from Decker’s work.
Then just yesterday, Abram K-J posted the following exciting announcement of:
a Greek Old Testament (LXX) and Greek New Testament (NA28) under one cover. Here’s the product page. The thing is more than 3,000 pages and expensive. And those dimensions of 18.4 x 13.3 … are likely in centimeters.
We look forward to hearing more and to seeing such a volume. As you have updates and opinions, please feel free to post them in comments here. We’ll do the same.
Will the real John Ciardi translation please stand up?
Midway through our life’s journey I went astray
from the straight road and awoke to find myself
alone in a dark wood.
Midway in our life’s journey, I went astray
from the straight road and woke to find myself
along in a dark wood.
Midway in our life’s journey, I went astray
from the straight road and woke to find myself
alone in a dark wood.
Today, there are a number of internet reports (here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here, for example, that quote the version 1 option above). It seems to be Ciardi’s, but is it? Well, we all knew it was supposed to be. For Slate’s blog “Brow Beat,” Aisha Harris had already scooped the Mad Men episode 6 story way back in October of 2012, to ask, “Why Is Don Draper Reading The Inferno?” And she observed exactly which translation:
A few photos from the filming of the sixth season of Mad Men hit the web today, and one of them showed Don Draper indulging in a not-so-light beach read alongside his wife, Megan. The book? Dante’s The Inferno. The version in Don’s possession is John Ciardi’s English translation—specifically, the paperback version, which was first published in 1964. (The hardcover came out a decade before.) Ciardi’s version remains highly respected and is still in print. So why is Don reading it? And when?
Today, after watching the first episode, we can hear “Executive Producer Matthew Weiner and the cast discuss how the characters of Mad Men have changed from last season.” The video clip is here: http://www.amctv.com/mad-men/videos/inside-episode-601-602-mad-men-the-doorway. So that may help us get some of the intended allusion to Dante in the tv series premiere episode of the season. We may get answers, or infer the answers, to Harris’s questions. But is version 1 quoted many different places in cyberspace today really the Ciardi?
Maybe it’s version 2 above. Version 2, as you can see, has a different preposition in the first line, and it adds a comma. Moreover, it has a different verb in the second line and an odd word in the third that sounds a little like a typo (i.e., “along” mistakenly typed for “alone”). Version 2 above is given by two different university professors, respectively. Each gives version 2 here as part of a compiled and a comparative list of various English translations of the opener of Dante’s Inferno, here and here.
And then there’s version 3. If you watched the episode of Mad Men (or if you do watch it), then this version is the one you hear Don Draper reading aloud as you watch him reading it on the beach silently. The cover of the paperback he’s holding proves it’s John Ciardi’s translation. And yet is what you hear the real Ciardi?
Easily, you should be able to use the Internet, a google search, or the download of an ebook, to find the correct answer. Or you could go to the library or the bookstore or your own collection of books. But, after researching a little, I think, you’ll not only be able to find the right Ciardi; you should also be able to see just how a few famous lines went astray.
Remembering a woman who shattered many glass barriers ….
TheAtlantic.com is reporting that Margaret Thatcher may have helped invent soft-serve ice cream:
Margaret Thatcher died this morning at the age of 87. While some of her achievements over her long career have been and remain controversial, there is one accomplishment that has proven purely and Platonically beneficial — to Britons, to Americans, to lovers of dairy the world over. Margaret Thatcher, the legend goes, helped invent soft-serve ice cream.
Yes. The Milk Snatcher, who was also an ice cream inventor. The Iron Lady of Soft Serve. Thatcher, you see, before she was a politician, was a research chemist. The future prime minister, then Margaret Roberts, received a degree in chemistry from Oxford in 1947. And she put it to use first in work at a glue factory, and then with a research job at food manufacturer J. Lyons and Company, a "foodstuff conglomerate" in Hammersmith. Thatcher’s task in that role? To help figure out a way to whip extra air into ice cream using emulsifiers — so that the ice cream could be manufactured with fewer ingredients, thereby reducing production costs. (And so that, additionally, the dairy-y result could flow from a machine rather than being scooped by hand.) While Thatcher’s exact contribution to the effort remains, in a way that would foreshadow her future political career, a matter of controversy, her team ultimately succeeded. And the work resulted, ultimately, in the swirly stuff we know today as soft serve. (Or, if you’re in Britain, "soft scoop.") J. Lyons’s airy dairy was served from ice cream trucks — under the brand Mr. Whippy — in Great Britain. And then, as soft serve is wont to do, it quickly spread.
For an introduction to this short series, see part 1.
WeTakeYourClass.com is a site dedicated to helping students with online classes. I’m sure you are here because you are wondering “how will I have time to take my online class?” It may be that one class such as statistics or accounting. We know some people have trouble with numbers. We get that. We are here to help. We offer an affordable solution, which includes having a tutor take your class for you. Whether it’s one test, homework, project, or whole class we are there
for you when you need us.
The Dictionary of American Regional English (DARE) is a valuable resource for those interested in Americanisms – a much more complete and scholarly approach to the territory most famously imagined by H. L. Mencken in his The American Language. You can read Ben Zimmer’s take on it here. The DARE page at Harvard University Press has a large number of linked press notices.
On the heels of our recent triumphs, DARE is experiencing a serious financial crisis. The situation is the result of a number of factors: we were not awarded federal and private grants we had anticipated receiving; private gifts have declined precipitously; a major foundation that has provided a large gift annually for twenty years has decided it must move on to other worthy projects; the UW has endured grave reductions in state support, and the College of Letters and Science is unable to provide assistance.
This leaves us in a very distressing situation, in which I have been obligated by University personnel rules to send layoff notices to the whole staff as of July 1, 2013. (My own position is in layoff status as of January 1, 2014, because I have a slightly different classification.)
I have spent most of my time in recent weeks writing appeals to former DARE supporters—foundation and individual—as well as potential new contributors. No luck yet.
What I hope that you will do is to help publicize our plight and let language mavens and fans of DARE know that if they’d like to help us, it’s easy to do. The home page of the DARE website (www.dare.wisc.edu) has a “Donate” button. It will take readers to a secure University of Wisconsin Foundation site through which tax-deductible gifts can be given to DARE.
We’re on the verge of publishing the digital edition, and we can’t fail now!
“I include this primer on the translation of poetry with pleasure and diffidence since I dislike dogma or prescription,” writes Willis Barnstone in his essay, “An ABC of Translating Poetry.” He has a particular, stated purpose for playing with ABCs, with the format of a primer, as if another translation of a divine original, “written with black fire on white fire.”
I include the people he includes in his primer. I’ve dropped Barnstone’s name here because I find it interesting how many names he drops. In my blogpost, I want to suggest that there’s more to it than we might first understand. I’d like to draw particular attention to what these names are doing here, as if Barnstone, the poet, the translator, the theorist, the practitioner understands the personal — with pleasure and diffidence — to be key human qualities, perhaps traits of persons who find value in the practice of the art of poetry translation, or who commit acts, as sins, like treason. The “essay” as a primer, as creative prose, as poetry?, appears first in The Poetics of Translation: History, Theory, Practice. My own preference, in the excerpted bits below has not been to show the CAPITAL letters of the alphabet that Barnstone showed. (If you read how he writes this, then you see how he uses capitalization: “A Translation is the ART of revelation…. B Translation is an art BETWEEN tongues….”). Rather, I have put the bold font on the names dropped, on the people presented by Barnstone as agents and/or subjects of translated poetry, as if it were as easy or elementary as for students in grammar school, as if for children learning and for teachers showing them how to learn.
Why not show preferences, to use Jorge Luis Borges‘ favorite word for choice, judgment, discrimination, and taste?….
Translation is the art of revelation. It makes the unknown known. The translator artist has the fever and craft to recognize, re-create, and reveal the work of the other artist. But even when famous at home, the work comes into an alien city as an orphan with no past to its readers. In rags, hand-me-downs, or dramatic black capes of glory, it is surprise, morning, a distinctive stranger. The orphan is Don Quijote de la Mancha in Chicago….
Moving between tongues, translation acquires difference. Because the words and grammar of each language differ from every other language, the transference of a poem from one language to another involves differing sounds and prosody. And because there are no perfect word equivalents between languages, or even within the same language (as Borges proves in his story of the mad Menard), perfection in translation is inconceivable.
Translation is sin, Eve‘s courageous breakfast leading to forbidden knowledge of the unknown. Outrage in art is desirable, and a bit of felonious deception and license are also healthy….
A translation dwells in exile. It cannot return. Those who invoke its former home wish to disenfranchise it. The translated poem should be read as a poem written in the language of the adopted literature, even if it differs because of its origin from any poem ever written in its new tongue. Fray Luis de León wrote that translated poems should not appear foreign but as “nacidas en él y naturales” (as if born and natural in the language). Yet why not some flagrant unnaturalness? Why not shake up English poetry with the sudden arrogant figure of Vladimir Mayakovsky, standing tall in his coalminer’s cap, shouting his syllables out to the sky from the Brooklyn Bridge? Why not the ghost of the “disappeared” Osip Mandelstam, reading his alchemic lyrics about Stalin‘s mustache or his EXILE poems from the snows and ice graves of Voronezh?….
Although it is best when one poet can chat with the other poet, the ability to chat in the foreign tongue does not create a poet. Nor does knowledge of the language of the original text qualify a translator any more than good knowledge of English makes every English speaker Milton. Poems prepared by a taxidermist, to use Robert Lowell‘s words, “are likely to be stuffed birds.” So from the King James Version of the Bible to contemporary versions of modern Russian poets, putting together a responsible, literalist informant and a meticulously honest but imaginative writer is preferable to commissioning work from a scholarly nonwriter.
In a translation, without art there can be no friendship between poets….
In the art of literature and scholarship, the Platonic good lies in tradition, a code word for theft. Translators are hardcore stealers, but unlike ordinary literary confidence men, the translator gets caught. For a translator, to be “honest” means that if he steals the original for his poem, as Chaucer did, or invents or omits passages from it, as the two Roberts, Lowell and Bly, have frequently done, he will declare the theft or omission openly, as the Roberts do. Give the art a name like paraphrase, imitation, or verse transfer, and the translation police will not arrest you. A poet translator survives as a good confessed thief. The best poet translators—the “original” authors of the Bible, Homer, Chaucer, Shakespeare, and Saint John of the Cross—wear masks and have not been caught….
So all literature is translation and all translation is unique and therefore original. Octavio Paz goes so far as to declare, “Every text is unique and, at the same time, is a translation of another text.”….
Instability—eternal transformation—may be uncomfortable, but it is best to live with it. Because the dream of capturing and stilling words must really be seen as an allegory for death, a bad joke, it is better to accept movement—translation—and live with peppy Proteus and Heraclitus, the two Greek jokers….
A translation aspires to the kabbalah, wherein the universe is a system of permanent though fiery words; yet it wakes down on earth in the knowledge of its instability and impermanence.
Given the inconstancy of words and texts, can we demand miracles from human translators who work today to grace us with a poem? Yes. The poet translator should at the very least compete with the Creator. In our ignorance, we need her work of restoration and we need to be saved. When we look at a poem in a language unknown to us, we are looking helplessly into the formless void that puzzled God until he found the right words to translate chaos into form and light. In that sequence of translation and retranslation from the earliest original creation, from God‘s self-translation into being, up to the text before us, we depend on the secular powers of the translator to turn the formless void into light.
In the Zohar (the Book of Radiance), the infinite (the eyn sof) lies not in a stationary mass but in two forms of undulatory movement: darkness and light. Within the most hidden recess, a dark flame issues from the mystery of eyn sof like a fog forming in the unformed, which springs forth into light through which Adam saw from one end to the other of the world.
Translation is a movement from darkness into light and back to darkness. Even for the Kabbalists the infinite of God‘s creation of Adam‘s vision is only a flash of light….
Religion is God‘s bureaucracy. As in translation, in the hierarchy of power a fidelity to the word is essential. Fidelity to the letter, preceding the word, makes an even better, higher form of faith. Kabbalists like meaningful letters.
In their old drawings we see a tree of life whose leaves are letters and a man whose body is covered at vital spots by the ten letters of the sefirot.
Before God created the earth and heaven, he created the book. The Torah was “written with black fire on white fire, and is lying on the lap of God.” Thereafter to create the world through his word, he devised the twenty-two letters of the Hebrew alphabet. They “descended from the terrible and august crown of God whereon they were engraved with a pen of flaming fire.”
Horace and Jerome removed themselves from the literalism of the letter and condemned even the word in order to champion phrase and sense. Yet any way—the way of Kabbalah’s letter, God‘s word, or Jerome‘s phrase and sense—works if the created poem is beautiful. Foremost among fidelities is fidelity to beauty in the original poem. Should the new poem not have beauty, the translator has traduced our faith in sense, word, and letter….
The translator plays with nothingness, with la nada, and from nothing comes everything. “De nada a todo,” Saint John of the Cross inserts into a concrete poem drawing. The unlikely and impossible to translate are rich. In la nada the Spanish poet-saint found God…..
Think of a hilly field on a Greek island, with that rational light of the Mediterranean in which seven centuries before the common era Archilochos wrote about figs and wanton women and his own wild shameless sexuality. His poems with their sun in the time of the Dogstar—now modernized as fragments—are all preserved in the multiple trees in a Greek orchard on the afternoon hill….
A translator’s reward for a mistake must be capital punishment. Freedom to invent, to stray from the text, even to scratch out words and passages succeeds in a defined method, such as imitation, which Chaucer and Shakespeare boldly practiced. But not freedom to make errors. Such practice puts a poet on the hot seat. Only a punk sees freedom and error as synonyms….
The writer’s skills, as Quintilian already knew, are increased by exercising the act of translation. Of course Quintilian, being an eloquent grammarian, suggested the translation of quality oration rather than of the poem. Even Latin grammarians and orators have troubles with poems and tend to Q them behind the eight ball….
A close rendition requires the greatest imagination and holds the greatest danger, for in staying close the poet may easily be seduced by the facile surface of literality. So a paradox. In close translation, given the imperative of a soaring imagination in order to compensate aesthetically for nearness to the source text, the translator poet needs a good space suit, deft fingers while working in space, or else must keep a pillow on the floor. Robert Fitzgerald soared yet remained intimately close. The Chinese call the method of the great Tang poets of working imaginatively while being bound by strictures “dancing in chains”….
A translator poet must be a translator. In the act of rendering poetry from nothing into something, the translator is first a poet, even if outside the recreation he never writes poetry. If a poet—and among the grand translators are Mary Herbert, Hölderlin, Pasternak, Rilke, Valéry, Lowell, Moore, Pound, Quasimodo, and Bishop—we are lucky. But as Octavio Paz has written, good poets are not necessarily good poet translators….
Readers of the original text read the language of their own time, unless the author, like Spenser, deliberately imitated an archaic mode….
Although Antigone and Lear sometimes speak in exotic tongues, subverting God‘s rage against the monolingual builders of Babel writers still scrawl their words in a thousand scripts, pile them up on mounds of hope and futurity, awaiting translation. Translation is a zoo and a heavenly zion,
Massively Open Online Courses (MOOC) are all the rage in 2013 academia. These are free courses offered on the Web designed to be taken by tens of thousands of students at a single time – offered at no cost to the student. There is much that is desirable about the MOOC model – in the same way that public libraries are desirable. But the quality of the total educational experience is dubious.
Several of the MOOC providers are for-profit. (How will they make money? Perhaps by selling certificates attesting to students’ participation in MOOCs.) But arguably the most aggressive and prestigious MOOC consortium is EdX – it currently offers courses from Harvard, MIT, and UC Berkeley; and beginning in Fall 2013, it will expand to include more schools from the US (U. Texas, Rice, Georgetown, Wellesley), Canada (McGill, U. Toronto), Europe (TU Delft, EPFL) and even Australian National U. I’ve been focusing my attention on EdX – both because of the prestige of member schools and because it is non-profit.
As I will report in subsequent posts, I’ve discovered some questionable pedagogy in several courses I’ve examined. But before discussing my own investigations, I’d like to point to a news story from yesterday – John Markoff’s New York Times report that EdX is releasing software to allow MOOC instructors (or a conventional college instructor) to have computers auto-grade essays.
There are many problems with auto-grading essays – contemporary automated graders cannot actually “understand” the essay, so instead it must depend on superficial features – features that can be gamed. In particular, automated graders cannot address the underlying logic, factual assertions, or actual meaning of a student essay. MIT’s Les Perelman has demonstrated this repeatedly. The BLT blog previously reported how a nonsense essay by Les Perelman (quoted in red here) received the maximum possible grade from automated grading software. (Perelman gives a good critique of studies of automated grading software here.)
Using automated grading software in an online environment will allow students, as they repeatedly use the software, to learn what superficial features (e.g., “use big words”) cause the automated grader to give high grades. We will not be teaching students skills in critical thinking or cogent writing, but rather conditioning them to successfully “game” automated grading software.
I’m simply stunned that EdX member institutions are taking this seriously. But, according to Markoff’s report, they are:
[T]he growing influence of the EdX consortium to set standards is likely to give the technology a boost. On Tuesday, Stanford announced that it would work with EdX to develop a joint educational system that will incorporate the automated assessment technology.
Indeed, one of the founders of one of the commercial MOOC provider argues that this training students to “game” the grader is actually a benefit, since it will make learning fun:
“It allows students to get immediate feedback on their work, so that learning turns into a game, with students naturally gravitating toward resubmitting the work until they get it right,” said Daphne Koller, a [Stanford] computer scientist [professor] and a founder of [for-profit MOOC provider] Coursera.
Teaching good writing is admirable. Teaching critical thinking is admirable. But the MOOCs are proposing something different: teaching students to submit and resubmit an essay until a student learns the idiosyncrasies of the automated grading software and is able to regularly “trick” it into giving good grades.
Weird Bibles 6: A “Sophisticated” Presidential Prayers Bible (plus another with “personal” reflections)
As part of our irregular series on Weird Bibles …
As part of election fever in 2012, Zondervan released the Presidential Prayers Bible with the following blurb:
Experience the purpose, power, and impact of the prayers from our nation’s presidents in the NIV Presidential Prayers Bible. This sophisticated Bible features 12 pages of prayers from former U.S. Presidents: prayers at inaugurations, prayers of thanksgiving, as well as other events that have shaped us as a nation. In these pages, you will be inspired and pleased to read about the dedication and devotion to the Christian faith that our founding fathers demonstrated in their prayers.
I can only imagine this must have been a dig at Mitt Romney (as a Mormon, he who would use the special LDS Bible) and the Vice-Presidential candidates Joe Biden and Paul Ryan (who as Catholics would presumably not use a Bible lacking Deuterocanonical books.) And certainly, this Bible would not apply to Kennedy (another Catholic) or Jefferson (who made his own version of the Bible). Indeed, one struggles to understand how the NIV could have been the basis of Presidential prayers before Richard Nixon, since the NIV did not being to appear until 1973. And of course, there is the little detail that America’s fathers (and mothers), under the influence of the Enlightenment, were often as not Deists.
Most of all, it is a bit hard to believe that this Bible is “sophisticated” when the blurb contains faulty grammatical parallelism and (“12 pages of prayers from former U.S. Presidents: prayers at inaugurations, prayers of thanksgiving, as well as other events that have shaped us as a nation”) and dangling modifiers (“in these pages”).
Continuing with Zondervan’s presidential Bibles, we come next to the the NIV Lessons from Life Bible: Personal Reflections with Jimmy Carter. Now first, of course, I can only wonder how “personal” Carter’s reflections can be when he has published them in a book. I do understand that Carter regularly teaches Bible class at his local church, but I’ve read some transcriptions of those sermons, and guess what: Carter preaches from the KJV (or paraphrases the text himself!) So you can guess how “personal” this Bible can be. (But one presumes that Carter is definitely open to sponsored endorsements – as in Carter’s notorious remark that the United Arab Emirates was “almost completely free and open” after the UAE government donated $500,000 to the Carter Center.)
Christian men should NOT listen to a woman, of course, when she presses on men in an authoritative and a direct way. They must not listen to her even if she were telling them that they must listen to the podcast by John Piper linked below. That is too direct. That is too personal. That is contrary to the way God made us in biblical manhood and in biblical womanhood. That would be permitting a woman to teach or have authority over men. That would not be listening to the biblical man, Paul, writing to the biblical man, Timothy, and teaching all men. That would not be following I Timothy 2:12.
On the other hand, all Christian men reading this post should not be concerned when reading the following John Piper podcast transcription. Even if it were transcribed rather directly by the female hands of a woman, not to worry: the format “takes away the dimension of her female personhood.” All “writing” puts “her out of my sight,” oh man. Books written by biblical women are safe for biblical men to read from, to learn from, to quote from in a sermon. The same is true of this blogged transcription of the podcast, whether a woman typed it or not. Read on.
The John Piper Podcast Transcription:
A pastor writes in to ask – quote -
Would a pastor who uses a biblical commentary written by a woman be placing himself under the biblical instruction of a woman. If so, would this not go against Paul’s instruction in I Timothy 2:12?
It might be. Uh. He may feel it that way. And if he does, he probably’s not gonna read it. He shouldn’t read it. It doesn’t have. It doesn’t have to be experienced that way I don’t think. And here, here’s my reasoning.
The point of Paul in I Timothy 2:12 where he says, don’t permit, I don’t permit a woman to teach or have authority over men. That’s a key text. I Timothy 2:12. I don’t permit her to teach or have authority. And those two things together, I think, constitute the eldership office. Teaching and authority. And so there should be men – elders in the church, who are spiritual and humble and kind and loving and Christlike in their servant heart toward the men and women in the church.
So, I think the point of that text is not to say that you can never learn anything from a woman. That’s just not true. It’s not true biblically, and it’s not true experientially, because the reason for saying that I don’t permit a woman to teach or have authority over men here is not because she’s incompetent. It’s not because she can’t have thoughts. In fact, the women in your church, and the woman in, the woman you are married to, have many thoughts that you would do well to know. [laughs] And to know, and learn, and to learn from. And so the issue there is not that she doesn’t have thoughts that you wouldn’t benefit from. Or that she can’t, uh, teach you anything.
The, the issue is one of how does manhood and womanhood work. What is the dynamic between how men flourish and women flourish as God designed them to flourish when an act of authority is being exerted on a man from a woman.
And so I distinguish between personal, direct exercises of authority that involve manhood and womanhood.
Because it’s personal. She’s right there. She’s woman. I’m man. And I’m being directly, uh, pressed on by this woman in an authoritative way. Should she be doing that? Should I be experiencing that? And my answer’s, No; I think that’s contrary to the way God made us.
So those two words: Personal and direct.
Here, here would be an example of what I mean. A drill sergeant that gets in the face and says, Hut One, Hut Two, Keep Your Mouth Shut Private, Get Your Rifle Up Here, Turn Around Like I Said. I don’t think a woman ought to be doin’ that to a man – because it’s direct, it’s forceful, it’s authoritative, it’s compromising something about the way a man and a woman were designed by God to relate.
Uh. The opposite would be where she is a city planner. She’s sitting in an office at a desk drawing which street should be one way and which street should be two way. And thus she’s gonna control which way men drive all day long. That’s a lot of authority, and it’s totally impersonal, and indirect, and therefore has no dimension of maleness or femaleness about it, and therefore I don’t think contradicts anything that Paul is concerned about here.
So I would put a woman writing a book way more in that category of city planner than of a drill sergeant. So that the, the personal directness of it is removed. And the man doesn’t feel himself, and she wouldn’t feel herself, in any way compromised by his reading that book and learning from that book.
So that, that’s the way I’ve tried to think it through, so that, in society, and in in academic efforts, and in the church.
So that, that’s reading and benefitting from a woman’s exegesis in private.
Would you have any reservations about quoting from that commentary by a women in a public sermon?
I just think that’s an extension of the same principle.
You know there, here’s truth. A woman saw it. She shared it in a book. And I now, I now quote it.
Uh. Because I’m not having a direct, authoritative confrontation. She’s not lookin’ at me, and, and confronting me, and authoritatively directing me, as woman. There’s this, there’s this interposition of this phenomenon called “book” and “writing” that puts her out of my sight, and, in a sense, takes away the dimension of her female personhood.
Whereas if she were standing right in front of me, and teaching me, as my shepherd, week in and week out, I couldn’t make that separation. She’s woman. And I am man. And she’s becoming to me my shepherd week in and week out, which is why I think the Bible says that women shouldn’t be that role in the church.
Thank you Pastor John. And thank you for listening to this podcast. Please email your questions to us…. I’m your host Tony Reinke. Thank you for listening.
The John Piper Podcast:
A Few Other Bloggers on the John Piper Podcast:
Rachel Held Evans, woman yes, but writing here [which takes away the dimension of her female personhood], so feel free to read on: “The Absurd Legalism of Gender Roles: Exhibit C – ‘As long as I can’t see her…’“
Henry Neufeld, a man, but how biblical can he be accusing John Piper, “Convoluted Reasoning on Women Writing Commentaries“?
Scot McKnight, also a man, if clearly lacking as an “exegetical gymnast” when posting “Using Commentaries by Women: John Piper’s Response“
I am not a fan of the NIV and TNIV translations. But this shocks me:
In February, Biblica (the International Bible Society) officially killed all online versions of the TNIV and NIV-1984. (For some of you this may be old news, but I somehow missed this news when it originally came out, and was surprised to find this out today.)
Apparently, the older versions are no longer needed – even though the Biblica website readily admits that while 450 million copies of the (T)NIV have been sold, only 11 million are of the new edition.
Now, here is the rich part. You’ll remember how Biblica and Zondervan decided to stock both the NIV-1984 and the TNIV simultaneously – seeing a need for both volumes. But now, in an Orwellian announcement it seems that the TNIV never even existed because there is “There is only one NIV.” (The irony is only increased since the year of the “disappeared” translation is 1984.)
The announcement makes a mention of the possibility that at some distant point in the future, Wheaton College may put some of the older versions online (“for research purposes”), although with restrictions (“access will be in accordance with the Wheaton College Archives & Special Collections guidelines.”)
The entire situation is absurd. The NIV has the best-selling English translation for decades. There are people who grew up reading the 1984 edition of the NIV. For better or worse, the translation has been influential. The TNIV never caught on the same way (it was never really supported by its publishers) but it certainly provoked serious discussion about English Bible translation. If it was not a commercial success, it was certainly an important milestone.
In fact, the TNIV is still in print at Biblica’s most important publishing partner, Zondervan. The brightest commercial success of the TNIV was Zondervan’s audio version with an African-American cast, The Bible Experience. There is no danger of that going out of print: there is still money to be made! The recording is actively being sold in digital and physical formats (and it even has a co-branded physical book in print.)
Zondervan will gladly sell you a TNIV concordance or an interlinear Greek New Testament with parallel TNIV text. And other publishers have TNIV-based titles in print: the TNIV-based Norton Critical Edition of Paul’s writings is readily available. You can even buy the NTIV in a parallel edition. (Analogous remarks apply to the NIV-1984, which remains in print in multiple editions.)
But online, the TNIV and NIV-1984 no longer exist.