Sunday, September 11, 2016

lost in the translation

lost in the translation  [1]
by l. ostin & thetra n. s. lations

lost in the translation
maybe we can find
the things that we believe are just a figment of the mind
the things that we believe are just another in-car-nation
maybe we can find (in time), we:
lost in the translation 
·         in the dead sea scrolls (1996) by wise, abegg & cook, a detailed description is given as to the process of biblical scholarship.

  •  even in present day, there is very little funding, and the work is as much an art as a science. 
  •  “…it requires inspiration, intuition, and clamp-jawed determination.”
  • bits of writings are retrieved from damaged scrolls – which are (literally?) inked etchings on animal skins.
  • the damage results in ‘partial’ (pieces) of legible words and phrases, which the scholar attempts to transcribe – by ‘imagining’ what would have been written there.
  • the transcription, of course, must then be translated from languages like greek, hebrew or aramaic, into (in the case of the dead sea scrolls,) english.

·         while transcription admits to a large degree of uncertainty, this is what the authors have to say about ‘translations’ on pages 41-43:[2]

  • early ‘editors’ were overwhelmed by large volumes of material, gathered over the course of lifetimes – resulting in limited reconstruction.
  • “there is no single translation equivalent for many words, not to speak of phrases or entire texts.”  the authors use an example: the english phrase “bend over backward” -- as one that cannot be translated into german, italian or french.
  • traduttore traditore.” means “the translator is a traitor.”
  • “translators betray both what they translate and the readers of the translation.  by their very effort they violate the original.”
  • you knew this, but “exact translation between two languages is impossible.” 
  • the authors stress: “to truly read goethe, you must learn german.”   

deduction: if we read our holy books (in english), we are reading editions of flawed translations of incomplete transcriptions written by multiple (unknown) authors, often centuries after being passed down by word-of-mouth. 

we do not know who told the stories, or who influenced the telling of the stories.  we don’t know the authors or the editors (or who influenced the authors & editors – except in cases like the ‘king james version’).

…so now we’ve got editions of a ‘version of flawed translations of incomplete transcriptions, based upon word-of-mouth stories… passed-on over generations... prior to being written-down, and then, centuries later, ‘composed’ (which means that some information was selected, while some was rejected).  

“taking it literally” may (literally?) not even be possible.

[1] martino, j. (9.11-1.16). lost in the translation. book 77: shift. © 2016 by

[2] wise, m., abegg, m. & cook, e. (1996). the dead sea scrolls: a new translation. first edition. san francisco: harpercollins.

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