Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The process of translation

It's been and I'm on an interesting journey. I started translating the psalms word for word and phrase by phrase in total ignorance. I moved to smoothing out the rocky grammar with my minuscule emerging awareness of the multitude of decisions made for us by translators.

On pass three I thought I was reading - but no. Many of the pieces of pass 1 passed through my reading sieve.  Now, focusing on the glosses for individual repeated words is a finer-grained sieve. I am up to psalm 109 in the suturing process of examining concordance and avoiding too many false concordances and giving up where necessary.  So make, do, deed, work, and English helping verbs defeat minimizing of false concordance. In my deeds I make do. And the same word: make, do, defeats among many the possibilities of concordance.  Mercy and loving kindness are similarly difficult but not without their reward.

I am satisfied with a limited scope. I am still uncovering surprising matches and structures that are obscured when this recurrence process is not followed.  I have the opportunity to examine in detail the words that recur in one or more psalms in the Psalter.  1277 of 2822 words from 537 distinct stems at current counts are first time recurrences.  537 distinct stems is a fair sized glossary by itself if I ever manage to put it into my database. (It represents exactly 75% of the words in the psalms.)

It is a curious factor that even though I started with word by word, the technology I have embedded this in is not accessible as a glossary for me.  Its 154 images (5 for psalm 119) are not in agreement with my second pass - understandably - so I can't use them without fixing them. This data does not contain the stem. I was too green at the time to figure it out. Whether I will use them again, I do not know. It is not part of my current process, but rather like the rocks in the bottom of a planter that serve for drainage. (It would make a good read though).

Another factor: in my first three passes there are several places where the history of the last 400 years left me with language memories I could not shake off. I am beginning now to see differing possibilities for glosses but I retain my careful concordance and avoid creative synonymy because it really makes hearing and seeing the structure impossible.  I hope the 75% will support the remaining 941 distinct stems for 4989/19577 words.

Linguists, translators and children all skip over rare words and work them out later from context and experience. O for a lovely Malapropism.