Saturday, October 16, 2021

Blog haitus

 Oct 5th  - 11 days ago - I have been very busy - but silent as to posting. Still here though, not a dead parrot.

The past 9 days have been experimenting with e-books. 9 of my 10 volumes on The Bible and its Music are completely updated and ready for release when the SimHebrew Bible is released. We are getting close and may well meet the target of November 11.

As part of this I have completely redesigned the concordance here. Notice the headings - effectively splitting the display in two:

Design for my concordance of the Tanach

The left hand columns in a table + grid format (Root / Domain / Hebrew Word / Gloss / Word) allow you to concentrate on the root (ab in this case) and its form (ab) itself.

The middle two cells Word and Vowels let you construct the sound in SimHebrew. If you read the square text, it will agree of course. In this case we have two consonants a and b and one vowel 'a'. Put the two consonants a and b in the _ slots in the vowel string and bingo: aab is what you get. Remember that the consonant a (like y - ayin) is a guttural - not a vowel. The first a in this case carries the vowel a. It may carry other vowels - as in abn (stone) abn _e_e_. English does this too - anyone (eny-one) - so don't be surprised by it.

The right hand columns Previous word / Word / References and Count give the context. Hover over the reference to get tooltips in both my translation and the NRSV. (Courtesy of the Bible Gateway links). The previous word is the Hebrew word. In the first case above, read v/ain (and there is none or something like that) - if you are not sure of the root just look at the URL or click it, so don't read it as English.

This concordance will also be available as an e-book (when the new versions are released). That will give it longevity. The concordance blog has likely been updated for the last time unless I find an easier way to do it. [I need a technique for automatic update of posts and one that confines the translation to a single instance for the tooltips. JSON? + popups? Help me if you can.]

Books are software and require the same care with controlling the master copy - it takes away from leisure time, as Qohelet 12:12 notes.

ib viotr mhmh bni hizhr // ywot sprim hrbh ain qx vlhg hrbh igiyt bwr

[For anyone who has the skill of suggestion, this is a sample of my code for the section (the ninth column spanning the two right sections of the grid) that is inconvenient. The code is all generated from the database. Any solution needs to be similarly simple in blogdom and Oracle. In other words, I need something more complex than tooltips and some way of referring to the text other than repeating it.

<div class="tdcl9"><span title="And stand in holiness for the entanglements of the house of the ancestors, for your kin, the children of the people,
and the divisions of the house of the ancestor of the Levites.">2Chr 35:5(11)</span> 

Tuesday, October 5, 2021

Anger and grief again

I wrote on this root /cys/ here. Now I would like to see what Google translate does with a verse where the tradition uses grief for its gloss. We know from Kubler-Ross that anger is a first stage of grief - so the emotions are close in our hearts. But the one is not the other, and the difference in potential intent is known.

עָֽשְׁשָׁ֣ה מִכַּ֣עַס עֵינִ֑י
עָֽ֝תְקָ֗ה בְּכָל־צוֹרְרָֽי

ywwh mcys yini
ytqh bcl-xorrii

Swollen from grief my eye,
viscous in all my troubles.

Well no one has interfered with Google for this one 

A toothache from the anger of my eyes
Copy in all-turret

O dear.

Monday, October 4, 2021

Experiment with translation and transcription

בוקר מוקדם הוא הזמן למחשבה יצירתית. 

Early morning is the time for creative thought.

bvqr mvqdm hva hzmn lmkwbh ixirtit.

רק הבנתי שיש לי פתרון תוכנה לחירשות ולמטומטמות שלי. 

I just realized I have a software solution for my deafness and dumbness. 

rq hbnti wiw li ptrvn tvcnh lkirwvt vlm'tvm'tmvt wli.

הקלד באנגלית - תן לגוגל לתרגם איות מלא לעברית. 

Type in English - Let Google translate full spelling into Hebrew.

hqld banglit - tn lgvgl ltrgm aivt mla lybrit.

לאחר מכן השתמש בממיר כדי לשנות אותו להפוך לעברית מדומה. 

Then use the converter to change it to become SimHebrew. 

lakr mcn hwtmw bmmir cdi lwnvt avtv lhpvç lybrit mdvmh.

אז כדי לבדוק את התרגום שלי, אני אקח עברית מדומה, אמיר אותה לטקסט מרובע, ונראה מה גוגל עושה עם זה. 

So to test Scriptural translation, I'll take Simulated Hebrew, Convert it to square text, and see what Google does with it as if it were modern Hebrew.

az cdi lbdvq at htrgvm hmqrai, aqk ybrit mdvmh, amir avth l'tqs't mrvby, varah mh gvgl yvwh aith cailv mdvbr bybrit mvdrnit.

I see that there are some issues with what we term 'Google translate' of course. - I can't use words it can't understand or it leaves them unprocessed. SimHebrew became Simulated Hebrew, Google translate got slightly morphed as a phrase so I dropped the word 'translate'.

Is this a debate between the right and the left hand? 

Just what would it be like if we could get BH into a form that Google translate would handle? Well, I have this as I noted above, so now for the first experiment.

Convert BH to SimHebrew, SimHebrew to Square text, plug into Google translate and see what happens.

Starting with a few of the 10 Words of Exodus 20 which first addressed as a child, then 7 letters later, an adult. (Yes, jump a mere 7 consonants - ignoring the parashat markers and the verse numbers!)

wmot cExodus 20
ib cbd at-abiç vat-aimç
lmyn iaricun imiç yl hadmh awr-ihvh alohiç notn lç s
12 Glorify your father and your mother,
so that prolonged are your days on the ground that Yahweh your God gives to you. S
ig la trxk s13 You will not murder. S
id la tnaf s14 You will not commit adultery. S
'tv la tgnob s15 You will not steal. S

Yea Google - here it is! (I think they cheated).

Shemot v
Twelve Honor your father and your mother
That thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee
Thirteen Thou shalt not kill
Hand will not commit adultery
Tu will not steal s

Surely it should get shemot - it is a plain plural of wm, names. The c confused it: c is twenty - what else could it be? How did it become v? Every samech except the last was dropped! 

Twelve and thirteen it got, but choked on 'id' - fourteen = hand. It has no memory of context from one line to another of course. Verse 15 ended up in a combination of French and English.

I suspect that Google is bordering on being a learning tool, but someone has intervened with archaic English in the translation process and taught Google to act like a 15th century English speaker.

I will put out some more examples, particularly where I know there are conflicts between BH and MH as in the common word for anger (cys) in MH. This is a root I always render as grief. It will be curious to see how much interference King James has had with the Babel-fish.

Friday, October 1, 2021

Links - remembering the past

I was looking around the web and found an old article of mine on Patterns of Recurrence in the Poetry of the Psalms from December 2014, almost lost in history.

And a fine essay by Anthony Ledonne on Adele Reinhartz book Cast out of the Covenant and then another one on the perils of friendship.

On the Truth and Reconciliation Day (A new Canadian Holiday) we watched The Flight of the Hummingbird, Pacific Opera Victoria - still available on YouTube streaming for a few weeks.

The Biblical Studies Carnival is available for September. I will be doing the November Carnival next month, November, for delivery Dec 1. Three articles came my way this past 24 hours on Hebrew script and linguistics. The link in the carnival to a free e-book on the history of Hebrew Script, an article on aywh-lo yzr cngdo and one from the Hebrew Café - a warning on magical thinking about letters.

Old carnivals have some history too: Somewhat far back from 'on not being a sausage' is this on Bach's Magnificat, linked from a James McGrath rare mid-month Carnival 10 years ago. The next carnival at the same patheos site, Bibliobloggers Strike Back, has a very racy section. Some of its links (BW16) have gone private - but there is still much to read including a response with plain sense for those who can manage from BW3. (I am not at all convinced that this is the only possible righteous response. It seems to me that boiling the text down to meaning is more of a power than a love trip.) There had to be a third episode of course including a trip in a TARDIS.

Still in 2011, from the month earlier August carnival lampooning the carnie atmosphere, comes this definition of a Biblical Studies Blogger by John Hobbins, himself too busy these days to be in the blogging business any more. (And he might be horrified at what I have done to Hebrew!)

Backing up to 2009, this carnival from anti-bishop NT Wrong. No One knows the real name of that Biblical Studies blogger. But he/she/they impressively knew/knows/know all the classic bloggers - many of whom are still blogging - though some referenced sites have disappeared. In 2016 - surprise - another long carnival from the bishop of Durham (NC).

The earliest carnival #1 from March 2005 is still available. Some of its links require the way-back machine. Including one large jpeg on the chiastic structure of Mark and a note on how to address a business letter (Jacob to Esau). 

If you've never read a BS Carnival, these will give you some sort of intro. The links were gathered from Phil Long's master BS Carnival list, almost up to date... 

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

A Rosetta Stone

While on holiday, in the early hours of the morning, I heard it said to me, Do a Rosetta Stone. 

Show the future and the past a new way of learning that is 1 to 1 (isomorphic) with the modern texts. No vowels, no music, just a full spelling.

viamr alohim nywh adm bxlmnu cdmutnu,

 ויאמר אלוֹהים נעשה אדם בצלמנוּ כדמוּתנוּ,

virdu bdgt him ubyof hwmiim ubbhmh ubcl-harx ubcl-hrmw hromw yl-harx.

וירדוּ בדגת הים וּבעוֹף השמיים וּבבהמה וּבכל-הארץ וּבכל-הרמש הרוֹמש על-הארץו.

That is somewhere in Genesis. I'm sure you can find it. 

But this seemed too little - so I asked - How will I include the pointed as well as the full text - and the music?

Start with the music and show its relationship to the text and its pronunciation. Then move to the 'full spelling' and SimHebrew - somehow get the four ways in which real people deal with language and beauty onto a single decodable image.

Here is Psalms 117 as the study object.

Psalms 117 - Top line: Original Hebrew with vowels and cantillation signs.
Musical score is completely derivable from the cantillation signs.
Lyrics below the music are a rough guide to pronunciation.
The third line of text is the SimHebrew.

The above image has all you need to begin to learn what is in the Leningrad codex. The top words are left to right but each word is right to left. I have only once read a right to left hymn book (At St George's in Jerusalem at the Arabic service.) and I couldn't go there with the English based software that I have available. Here are the words in their traditional form:

הַֽלְל֣וּ אֶת־יְ֭הוָה כָּל־גּוֹיִ֑ם (1)

שַׁ֝בְּח֗וּהוּ כָּל־הָאֻמִּֽים

כִּ֥י גָ֘בַ֤ר עָלֵ֨ינוּ ׀ חַסְדּ֗וֹ וֶֽאֱמֶת־יְהוָ֥ה לְעוֹלָ֗ם הַֽלְלוּ־יָֽהּ (2)

These signs and symbols completely determine the content of the music and the syllable by syllable transcription into rough pronunciation. The music is generated by a computer program  and expressed in Music XML (according to the musical transformation inferred by Suzanne Haïk-Vantoura). The rough pronunciation is from a transcription algorithm made up by me (also in Music XML). The whole is then rendered by Musescore. There is no information lost in the transformations. (There is the odd bug in my syllabic transcription.) 

The SimHebrew is the identical Hebrew text transformed by an algorithm into consonants only (and a dot or two to allow the variation on vav that is o and u). It is possible to learn how to pronounce this transformation the same way that a modern Hebrew child learns to read -- except that it is in Latin characters and not square text. 

It can be transformed into square text without loss of any consonants. (See here for an online transformation.)

א הללוּ את-יהוה כל-גוֹיים 
שבחוּהוּ כל-האוּמימ
ב כי גבר עלינוּ חסדוֹ ואמת-יהוה לעוֹלם הללוּ-יה

It is therefore a left-to-right version of the standard malé (full spelling) Hebrew text that a Hebrew child would learn. I am not a Hebrew child but now I can learn and see the Hebrew word structures without compromise and learn Hebrew using left to right reading and in the alphabet that I am familiar with. (Of course I have to learn a slight variation on pronouncing that alphabet - but every language does that to you!)

Notice there are only three lines in the poem: two verses, three musical lines. True there is a mordent (revia) half way through the third line, but it is a slight pause, compared to the cadence on the subdominant in verse 1. 

Praise Yahweh, all nations.
Commend him, all the clans.
For his mercy has prevailed over us, and the truth of Yahweh is forever. Praise Yah.

The whole second verse is the rationale - that mercy and truth will prevail - for ever. You could expand on this allusion to the theophany of Exodus 34 and cover the theology of Tanach. (This was Jonah's problem - wasn't it - that there are always going to be those who will take advantage of mercy - perhaps he anticipated game theory.)

Theology is a worthwhile endeavour within the bounds of our eras and within reach - not so far away that we must ascend to heaven or cross over beyond the seas ...
la bwmiim hia ... 
vla-mybr lim hia ... 
ci-qrob aliç hdbr maod 
bpiç ublbbç lywoto s

See Deuteronomy 30:14 - and the SimHebrew Bible will not impose the unnecessary burden of right to left strange letters on you - you can have the matter near to you utterly, in your mouth and in your heart to do it.

Tell your friends - the book will be out soon and available at your favorite distributor.

Thursday, September 16, 2021

Explaining a bit of project history

I am remembering the days of my infancy and the Bible I tried to learn from to read Hebrew. Look at verse 9: the verse containing the verb yod-qof-dalet, וַֽיַּעֲקֹד֙ אֶת־יִצְחָ֣ק בְּנ֔וֹ, in SimHebrew, viyqod at-ixkq bno. Note in this Bible how far away from the English verse 9 is in the Hebrew. I actually tried to use this Bible when listening to a reading - years ago now. It was nearly impossible to see the assumptions hidden in the translation in real time. How often, I wondered did that verb 'bind' occur?

Here is the same page from the SimHebrew Bible. There is no difficulty matching the Hebrew and the English here. They are always side by side. And you have time both to hear a different version being read, and to process the decisions in the translation you are listening to. 

I use this on my phone (a lot less heavy than the paper edition of course) and am easily able to navigate from the psalm to the lesson and even to search English or Hebrew. And I see that the word for bound (bind) - rendered trussed in the English guide on the right (my translation) is a hapax - at least as far as the word form is concerned. If I went to the built-in glossary, a click would bring me to a full concordance showing the uniqueness of the word form but a few other uses in Genesis as well. See yqd.

Searching in the SimHebrew Bible

Two of us have collaborated on this project, Jonathan Orr-Stav, a third-generation Hebrew-English translator, and Bob MacDonald, a retired programmer and musician whose translation is included as the English Guide to the Hebrew.

The two projects, SimHebrew reaching back over the last 20 years, and my translation for the music of the te'amim, over the last 15 years, converged with some rapidity during the pandemic. Jonathan completed his semi-manual transcription of the malé text, and I wrote a program to convert the text of the Aleppo Codex to equivalent SimHebrew. This convergence allowed us to automate the proof-reading process, his manual process refining my program, and my programming allowing him to find typos.

The project has been designed to allow non-Hebrew readers to see and learn Biblical Hebrew more easily. It removes the barrier of right to left reading as well as learning a strange tongue in a strange alphabet. It also yields significant technical advantages:
  1. One big advantage is a single keyboard for entering accurate search criteria. I have seen and used multiple Hebrew keyboards and they are both incompatible and inconvenient. 
  2. The compactness of SimHebrew highlights the structure of the Hebrew word forms for those who do not read square text. 
  3. I have programmed with Unicode and it would have been impossible to do what I have done to semi-automate the translation process without a Latin abbreviation for Hebrew characters. I made my own up 10 or so years ago and switched to SimHebrew in 2019 because it is a better mapping. 
SimHebrew allows and will allow many to see and hear Hebrew who otherwise would not get over the barriers of rtl processing, multiple keyboards, and square text.

To quip (again) on Qohelet: In contrast to Qohelet's view, "vain cl-kdw tkt hwmw", there is something new under the sun. It's called Simhebrew. It is a new way of reading Hebrew - complementary to but easier than the square text.

Look for The SimHebrew Bible // The Hebrew Bible in Simulated Hebrew – with English Guide, ISBN 978-0-9811338-1-2. General availability is November 11. I can't tell you the cost yet, but it will be a lot less expensive and more useful than that paper Bible from 15 years ago. 

Sunday, September 12, 2021

The SimHebrew Bible - Planning the production date

The Hebrew Bible in Simulated
Hebrew – with English Guide

The SimHebrew Bible is pending production. [Update - we have selected a date - Nov 11. I am actively looking for reviewers. Please contact me via a comment or via twitter DM @drmacdonald.] Just a few little things to fully set up this book subtitled, "The Hebrew Bible in Simulated Hebrew – with English Guide".

I love having this book on my phone. It's worth all the past 15 years of effort and it uses that effort effectively and thoroughly. I can find anything in the words and their forms and uses with a few swipes and clicks and all the uses of a word or a phrase in English or Hebrew using the built-in search.

I have been testing the full navigation within the book as divided into 24 books and now 929 files. Starting a chapter after the 'gap', (if scrolling, or at the top of a page, if not) - is important for ease of eyeballing where you are. The book is repeated for each chapter because some readers do not tell you exactly where you are when you reopen the book.

The background-color(s) I have simplified, but I have left in a discrete left-border for the first page of each of the 24 books as noted in the previous post on CSS classes.

I thought about programming a back button – but there is no need since the reader software provides an adequate one. (But I may do it anyway for people who browse and don't want to hunt and peck in the table of contents.)

I have added the glossary page from the concordance. That allows the reader to have a search and click, by English lemma or Hebrew root, to a list of every usage of a word or its root and a pronunciation guide for it – too valuable to leave out. Given that the Hebrew is also in Latin letters, it is very easy to search for a given Hebrew word form throughout the book itself.

It's a single volume with the whole of the 'Old Testament' in SimHebrew with an English Guide. A real value for study. 

Here is an example of a page of Jonah with hgdolh highlighted. With the phrase hyir hgdolh {the great city} showing clearly used 3 times in that story, you might note that only in one other place is this phrase used. Imagine how easy it would be to learn Hebrew with this book at your fingertips.

Notice the different usage of prepositions in the instructions to Jonah between chapters 1 and 3. Look closely at the search block. The first time the preposition is 'yl'. The second time it is 'al'. Now ask, Are they really equivalent, the second with a lighter glottal stop, the other deeper in the throat - perhaps more urgent the first time, and then a realization that Jonah needs to be cajoled more gently into doing what he is told? Fishy tale... but a great read - (and I have a full score of a 20 minute cantata if anyone wants to perform it - choir and soloists and harp - could be arranged for small orchestra).

Using a built in search capacity - as easy to search the Hebrew as it is an English phrase