Klingon Bible

I was looking for Latin dictionaries to add to my link page, and came across a biblical translation tool to compare the Latin Vulgate with 5 other translations.  At the bottom of the page was an additional translation tool for translating the Bible into  several other versions, including Esperanto and Klingon.  The Bible in Klingon? After laughing hysterically, I tried the links, but they were all broken.  But surely someone somewhere has translated the Bible into Klingon, right?

Sure enough, this translation tool will, among other things, give various Bible verses in parallel translations of the Klingon Language Version, World English Bible, Mando’a Language Version, King James Version, Douay Rheims Version (Roman Catholic), and the Vulgate Version. There is also a Klingon English lexicon and an automated word lookup tool for phrases like “Where do you keep the chocolate?” in Klingon, Romulan, and Vulcan, along with an explanation of why translation tools don’t work.

For those in a meditative mood, there are also several podcasts at the bottom with actual Christian religious meditations based on Klingon translation of words in the 23rd Psalm.  “The paths of righteousness” becomes “mid-course correction” ,  “worst case scenario” is “the shadow of death”, and “restores my soul” is “rebuilt-like new”.

Whoever you are, MrKlingon, thanks for the laugh.

The Georgian Shakespeare

The greatest work in the Georgian language is the poem The Knight in the Panther Skin written by Shota Rustaveli, dated around 1189-1207, during the golden age of reign of Queen Tamar. The poem is a rescue-the-captured-maiden story that combines  an unusual meter with a collection of philosophical nuggets from various traditions.

An excerpt:


Entreat God for me; it may be He will deliver me from the travail of the world and from union with fire, water, earth and air. Let Him give me wings and I shall fly up, I shall attain my desire—day and night I shall gaze on the sun’s rays flashing in splendor.

The sun cannot be without thee, for thou art an atom of it; of a surety thou shalt adhere to it as its zodiac, and not as one rejected. There shall I seek thee; I shall liken thee to it, thou shalt enlighten my darkened heart. If my life was bitter, let my death be sweet!

I’m not too crazy about all the thee‘s and thou‘s  and shalt‘s and liken‘s, but that seems to be the preferred translation.  The complete text of the poem is here.

In the absence of a text or audio in the original Georgian, here is a description of the unique shairi meter:

Taking the shairi, the long sixteen-syllable line that the obscure hynmographer Pilipe Betlemeli had used for his invocation of the virgin, Rustaveli found the ideal vehicle for a heavily inflected polysyllabic language. He dispenses with cerebral elements such as acrostics.  Rhyme, which was more casual and incidental to the lyrics of the classical period, is now elevated into a display of virtuosity, sometimes achieving four five-syllable rhymes in a stanza.  The shairi alternates in two types, ‘high’ and ‘low’: the low has a trisyllabic rhyme and combines four dactyls and two trochees, to give six feet, evenly divided by a caesura, with a rhythm of 3/2/3//2/3/3; the high has a bisyllabic rhyme and consists of four feet of four syllables, each being double trochees, creating rhythmic variety and fitting the subtle accentuation of Georgian as the Alexandrine was to fit the natural rhythm of French.  But Rustaveli also uses alliteration and a complex web of sonorities in his poetics: they act as much as a mnemonic system as an orchestration.

(from Donald Rayfield’s The literature of Georgia: a history, p. 82

More about the shairi: wiki describes it as a monorhymed quatrain and says there are two types,  Dabili (low) and Magali (high).  Dabali is four segments of five and three syllables (xxxxx xxx//xxxxx xxx); “Magali” lines are broken into four sections of four syllables, with a caesura after the second section (xxxx xxxx//xxxx xxxx.)  This is similar to the Welsh Tawddgyrch Cadwynog form, except for the pattern of end rhymes.

Here is a way-too-short excerpt of The Knight in the Panther Skin, but there is a little Georgian at the beginning, the first time I hae heard this language spoken. She reads very fast, so it’s hard to count the syllables and figure out where all the rhymes and alliterations are, but it sounds like each stanza has an end rhyme that ends with -a:

Not sure what language this is, or even what poem, but the meter is long enough to fit the description.

And here are 17th century miniatures illustrating the text:

I love they way they illustrate perspective in two dimensions in the manner of early Islamic art.


Some more resources for Georgian:

Georgian Dictionary in German

Georgian language grammatical summary

Facebook group for Georgian literature translated into English: Shota Rustaveli, Ilia Chavchavadze, Mikheil Javakhishvili, Nikoloz Baratashvili, Galaktion Tabidze …view authors

Google Books:

Sayat-Nova: an 18th-century troubadour : a biographical and literary study By Charles Dowsett

Mémoires inédits, relatifs l’histoire et à la langue géorgiennes By Brosset (Marie-Félicité, M.) (handwritten in French and Georgian)

The literature of Georgia: a history By Donald Rayfield

Anthology of Georgian Poetry By M. Kveselava

Selected Georgian poems translated by Kevin Tuite

Sufic Traces in Georgian Literature, monograph by Katharine Vivian

It looks like you can buy the text and the audio of The Knight in the Panther Skin in Georgian (and Russian).

The below image is from the googlebooks overview page of Brosset’s Mémoires inédits, relatifs l’histoire et à la langue géorgiennes

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Front edge

Where is a book’s spine? And its signatures?  And if you browse Amazon’s used book descriptions, and see that a book has some foxing, do you want that book?

On the right is a marbled fore-edge on a Koran that was given to me. [the Abdullah Yusuf Ali translation, published in 1991 by Sh. Muhammad Ashraf, Publishers in Lahore, Pakistan]

While trying to find out what part of a book is the fore-edge, I discovered Joan M. Reitz’s Online Dictionary for Library and Information Science, an online dictionary of library terms, with lots of cross links for easy and addictive browsing.  As of 2004, the dictionary had some 4200 terms. Here is what it says about fore-edge:

The outer edge of a leaf in a bound publication, or of the sections or cover of a book, opposite the spine or binding edge, the other two edges being the head and tail. The fore-edges of medieval manuscripts were sometimes decorated or labeled in ink, often with the title, because prior to the 16th century books were shelved flat with the fore-edge facing out. Click here to see examples of edge decoration, courtesy of the Princeton University Library. Synonymous with front edge.

Thanks to the format of the online entries, it’s also possible to see the neighboring entry for “fore-edge shelving”, and find the esoteric information that it’s possible to add at least two shelves to a standard 90-inch-high library bookshelf section by storing the books on their spines. Since this hides the titles, it makes browsing difficult, so it’s only done with little used collections, like volumes of a law library. Historically, books have also been stored with spines to the rear, with a similar damping effect on browsing; for some intriguing images of titles and volume numbers printed on spines, see the links to the 16th century books in the Princeton University Library collection  in the above entry.

As a bonus, following her links to the German language library yielded the Beta for a new English/German (and German with 9 other languages) online dictionary that I have now added to the language resources in my list of links/downloads. As a twist in crowd-sourcing, the dictionary solicits information from its readers.

Image below: two dilapidated Bibles with gilded fore-edges rescued from second-hand shops.   The top Bible with the leather cover and red bookmark ribbon is a RSV published in 1953 by Thomas Nelson & Sons.  The bottom Bible is a KJV with a concordance and beautiful pastel maps of the Holy Land in the back; it has no publication date listed and was published by Peerless Bible Co. in Chicago. Some googling turns up an “Antique 1903 Illustrated Family Bible Peerless Bible Co” from a bookseller who no longer has the listing on line. The Bible’s maps are certainly reminiscent of Daniel Burnham’s maps for the 1903 Plan of Chicago.

(via Appositions, Whitney Trettien: “Reading Digital Elisions”)

Some maps:

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Outsmarting procrastination

I’m always leafing through those self-help books from the second-hand bookshelves, but I never end up reading them. The last one that looked promising was a 21-Day Countdown to nirvana that promised to show you how to overcome inertia, simplify a cluttered life, and harness your inner life’s mission. I didn’t get past the seventh day. Maybe it doesn’t work unless you pay full price.

Here’s a completely free procrastination download that looks promising, an ebook called The Little Guide To Beating Procrastination, Perfectionism and Blocks: A Manual for Artists, Activists, Entrepreneurs, Academics and Other Ambitious Dreamers, by Hillary Rettig, http://www.hillaryrettig.com. I’m already more than halfway through, a good omen.

At its most insidious, procrastination disguises itself as a slew of productive-seeming, but not actually productive, behaviors that suck up a lot of time and give you the illusion of progress, but bring you no closer to achieving your goal.  So, you spend a lot of time doing relatively unimportant busywork for your business, but don’t actually go out and do the most important activity of all, sales. Or, you spend a lot of time reading art magazines and visiting galleries, but don’t actually paint. Or, you keep researching your novel or thesis topic, but don’t actually get around to writing it – or you keep rewriting the same chapter over and over again.

Retting’s examples of unproductive behaviors are housework, television, and surfing the net (oops). Productive behaviors include flossing and taking vitamins.  Hmm.

It is a pretty good pep-talk.

The Most Important Thing You Need to Know About Your Obstacles

The most important thing you need to know about your obstacles is that all of them can be overcome.

It doesn’t matter who you are, how you were raised, what race, religion, nationality or sex you are, or how much money you have. All of your obstacles can be overcome.

Overcoming an obstacle may not be easy. It may not be fun. It may take months, years or even decades. It may take time and money. But it can be done.

Your habits of perfectionism, negativity, hypersensitivity and panic can be overcome.

Your logistical obstacles – lack of preparation, information, support – can be overcome.

Your situational obstacles – bad job, bad relationships, disability or chronic illness – can be overcome, at least in part.

I’ll say it again: ALL of your obstacles can be overcome.

By “overcome,” I mean eliminated, minimized or compensated for.

Time to think about climbing a mountain.

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Translation as violence?

“Translation rewrites a foreign text in terms that are intelligible and interesting to readers in the receiving culture. Doing so is akin to committing an act of ethnocentric violence by uprooting the text from the language and culture that gave it life. Translating into current, standard English at once conceals that violence and homogenizes foreign cultures.” –Lawrence Venuti, translator of Ernest Farres’ Edward Hopper: Poems (via language hat)


Oh, my. Violence.  With poetry.

“Browsing in a bookstore in Barcelona, I came across an intriguing project — who was this unknown poet tackling an American icon? Why Edward Hopper? Why in Catalan, a minor language?” said Venuti.

“Here the focus would be not just on the text, but the artwork; not only on the literary traditions of the receiving culture, but on the critical reception of the artist. The Catalan poetry held the promise of defamiliarizing a mythic American painter,” said Venuti.

Well, I had never heard of Hopper, but his diner painting is familiar. I’m not sure any translation could defamiliarize me with a painter I’ve never heard of, but Venuti has gone to the trouble of making a “lexicon” of Hopper’s language based on letters written by him and his wife for the purposes of translating the poems into what he says is typical language of Hopper’s time.

So is this all a bunch of hype , a dog and pony show to prod sales, or is Venuti “at the forefront of what might be called a translation renaissance”, as his university’s website says?

As an experiment, I’m going to try my hand at a little translation and then compare my results with Venuti’s to see who gets the more revolutionary result.  The originals in Catalan are pretty hard to find, but one has been selected to be visible in Amazon, the first link in the above quotation , so that’s the one I’m using.

Self Portrait, 1925-30

On escric tot aquest assortiment de versos

hi ha de fet l’Edward Hopper que els engendra

i que, bo i transcendent l’espai-temps, ve a donar-me

les consignes.

El seu autoretrat

és, com li agradaria al fantasista Borges,

un mirall que reprodueix no tant

el rostre del pintor com el reflex estàtic

de la meva imatge.  Podem ben creure-ho:

Hopper i jo formem una sola persona.

El seu posat tranquil i seriós,

les corbes de la cara o els tips d’embadalir-se

que s’han fet els seus ulls sense cap dubte

m’incumbeixen.  Si Goethe es reencarnà en Kafka,

Hopper en una transmigració

plena d’encert ho féu en mi i així, prenent

el cos d’un poeta, aconseguirà

que el seu llegat artístic es prolongui en el temps

(al final només resta la paraula,

la poesia).

L’home del quadre ja no és

aquell pintor prim com un tel de ceba

que va venir de jove a Europa trencar el glaç,

sinó el pintor casat, de vida estable,

que mostrarà el seu món personal reflectint

profusament ciutats, paisatges, dones.

(“No faig,” va dir, “sinó pintar-me a me mateix.”)

Erra qui veu representacions

d’América del Nord on de debo bateguen

els tràfecs de la solitud humana,

on intuïm les pors, obsessions, neguits.

dilemes o estats d’ànim de l’artista

i hi apareix la Jo, l’omnipresent esposa.

Com la pintura emmarcada, també

les abundants finestres i portes són miralls.

“No faig sinó pintar-me a mi mateix.”

No expressen els poetes el seu pensament propi?

Condemnat tot a ser una sola cosa,

en un ésser vivent vam fondre’ns ell i jo:

els seus neguits o estats d’ànim són meus

i a la vegada els meus són de tots a la llum

d’una mateixa lluna arreu del món.


Self Portrait, 1925-30 (Nijma translation)

In writing this assortment of verses

there remains the fact that Edward Hopper gives them life
and that, genially transcending space and time, comes to give me
the watchwords.

His self portrait

is, as you would like to imagine Borges,

a mirror that reproduces not so much
the visage of the painter as the static reflection
of my own visage. I can well believe it:

Hopper and I, we are one person.

His pose is quiet and serious,
The curves of his face or the full, satisfied self- fascination
That have made his eyes, without a doubt

absorbed with concern. If Goethe is reincarnated in Kafka,

Hopper is a  reincarnation
rightly done in me, and making me thus, taking
the body of a poet, making sure

that his artistic legacy is prolonged down through time

(at the end only one word will remain,

The man of the stable is no longer

That painter, thin as onion skin,

that came as a youth from Europe to break the ice

but rather the married painter, of stable lifestyle,
who shows his personal world reflected
profuse with cities, landscapes, women.

“I do nothing,” he says, “other than paint what is in me.”

It’s a mistake to see representations
of North America in order to beat
the hubbub of human solitude

where guessing about fears, obsessions, anxieties.

dilemmas or moods of the artist
and Jo appears, the omnipresent wife.
Like a framed painting,

the many windows and doors are mirrors as well.

(“I do nothing more than paint myself.”)
Do poets not express their own thoughts?
Condemned to be only one thing,

a living being we melt together, he and I:

his anxieties and moods are mine,
and at the same time mine are all illuminated
by a same moon all over the world.

So here is the Venuti translation.  He’s added in “make no bones about it”, “all and sundry”,  and “in the same breath”, that weren’t in the original, but other than that, the differences are in verb tenses and such and he’s kept the format of the lines, but not the roughly iambic meter.  If you ask me, his is a pretty straight translation rather than a revolutionary reinterpretation, and one that is not particularly smoother than my own.

But what about the “act of ethnocentric violence by uprooting the text from the language and culture that gave it life”.  (See the LH “She looked real swell” thread for more about that.) After all, the poems have been torn from their cultural base twice, once by writing about an American painter in Catalan, and the second time by translating the poems back into English.  Does locking a door twice make it unlocked?  Or was it ever locked in the first place? As the poet says, “all are illuminated by a same moon all over the world.”


Some interesting tools: Google translate Catalan, of course, also a Catalan-French dictionary (you can click on the French result and do a second search for English), and another Catalan dictionary, also a verb conjugator.

The original poet, Ernest Farrés in Catalan:

~”Morning Sun 1953″, Venutian translation | original Farrés text in Catalan | image

~Essay by Ernest Farrés on the Barcelona poet Jordi Valls (He might edit this website, if so, and if my Catalan google-fu is on target, he’s defined violence, and written something against it.)

There is also a second poem, Stairway, 1949, available in the Amazon book preview.


Here are more links to Lawrence Venuti translations/adaptations of Ernest Farrés
Sun in an Empty Room, 1963 | image
Summer in the City, 1949 | image
Summer Evening, 1947 | image
Self-Portrait, 1925-1930 | image
Hotel Room, 1931, from a review | image


(That was my first attempt at translation.  It took a lot longer than I expected, but it was sort of fun.)

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Welsh rarebit


Don’t you also beat an eat into it, with a little worcestershire sauce and good sharp mustard? All poured steaming over a thick toast of grainy bread? Garnished with parsley and course-ground pepper? –from the LH Welsh rarebit thread


After last night’s cooking adventure, you’d think I’d give up and make something familiar. But, nooo…..

I have everything here but the parsley, but I think I must have done it wrong. Here was the technique: mix olive oil and flour in a pan, cook together a few minutes. Add Worcestershire sauce and mustard. That’s when everything congealed. Some recipes add beer at this point, but I work tonight, so I added some water to make a paste, then melted the grated cheese into it. Then stirred in an egg that had been slightly whisked. Then scooped it onto pumpernickel bread, and popped everything into the toaster oven, with grated peppercorns on top.

This can’t be right.

Time to go back to Arab bread with hummos. Also a blogging break, where I just take out the spam every day, is probably overdue.

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Shrimp Stir Fry

Shrimp, banana, yellow pepper (sweet, not hot), chili powder, Stone’s ginger wine, rice noodles.
The taste was good but it seemed a little dry, so I added some hoisin sauce. Bad idea. The stuff is really good with chicken and gives it a barbecue flavor, mixes well with curry powder too, but here it’s too sweet and overpowers the other flavors.

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