Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The Psalter Kata Bob

How does one choose the glosses for a translation? I have fixed the most obvious errors over the past week but what needs to be done seems more daunting. For each of the 1400+ stems in the Psalter, I really should know a lot more about the word field they are part of and the way they are used elsewhere and then how they might express what I think might be meaningful to a contemporary English reader.

Here's an example where I am partially politically correct. Is that a problem? The first stem in the glossary is of course: Father - which I have rendered (at present) as:

אבyour fathers, your father's, your ancestors, their ancestors, our fathers, our ancestors (4), my father (2), my ancestors, like their ancestors (2), his fathers, his ancestors, and our ancestors, a father of, a father
You can translate back extremely accurately. You can see the construct, the plurals, the pronouns, etc. Why did I choose 2 different words for the same word?  Because I figured like a good maternal son, that ancestors was a better gloss when there is no distinction between father and mother required in the text. e.g. psalm 22 - observe where ab and em are both used and why the distinction is not required in this psalm. But psalm 27 requires the distinction:

for my father and my mother forsake me
but יְהוָה will gather me

Here's another politically correct example (or not)

אחto my kin, from my relations, companions, brothers, as family, and against your kin, a brother's
I didn't really intend this, but I am not unhappy with it. I forbore to use sibling. Somehow it has not caught on. But brother applies equally to sister in both cases where I have left brother - so kin might be better. But I was forced into singular pronouns...

Now for an example where I have succeeded I think in having a single gloss throughout. (Well almost)

איבyour enemies (9), their enemies (3), the enemies of, than my enemies, my enemy (3),  my enemies (19), hostile (!), his enemies (5), here the enemy is, her enemies, from the enemies of, from my enemies (3), from enemy, enemy (4), enemies, but my enemies, as enemies, and the enemies of, and our enemies, and of my enemies, and my enemies (2), and his enemies, an enemy (12)

Lots of enemies - I must investigate that hostile. I wish I could make the links easier but that would take more time than I have for site design at the moment. I find my way around using ctrl-f - and then go back to the database to correct issues.

Hostile is in psalm 17 - should I keep it?

keep me
as an eye's child, an eye's pupil
under the shadow of your wing
secret me

from the faces of the wicked
that deal violently with me
hostile in life enclosing me

I'm not rabid about concordance. (Only when failing to be concordant obscures inter-textual reference or structural integrity.) In this case I might have missed a parallel....

And finally - here's a case where I have decided not to be concordant. 
נפשׁyour life, to their being, to the throat of, to my life (2), their self-, their lives (3), their beings, their being (2), the neck, the lives of, the life of (2), the being of (2), our life (6), our beings, our being, of my life (2), now my being is, now his life, myself, my throat, my life (25), my being (52), me (3), is our life, is my life, into the throat of, in my life, in life, his throat, his own life, his life (2), his being, himself, for themselves, for my life (2), for my being, by his life, but his being, breath - my breath, as my life, and throttle me, and the lives of, and my life, and my being (2), and a life, a life of, a life, O my being (4)
Again in many cases you can see the whole Hebrew word in the translation. Transparency is achieved to some extent. But I also translate other words as life.  Where I have used being, it may be that the other word for life occurs in that psalm.

חיהyour life (2), you make me live, you living being, you have made me live, you have kept me alive, will live, to the beasts, to live let, to animals, those you gave life, the living of, the living (6), the lives of, the animal of, that lives, so I will live, one living, my life's, my life (8), may live, low(!), living, living, lives are, lives, life (5), let us live, let me live (2), in their lives (2), in my life (3), in his life, his life of, he could keep alive, gives me life, give me life (8), even over life, beast of, are alive, and will live, and to keep them alive, and their lives, and such live, and revive us, and my life, and keep him alive, and he will live, and give me life, and I will live (2), alive (2), Life, I will live (2)
Don't know where low came from! (Psalm 88:7 - weird - probably a stray root - there are others I have noticed while writing this post.)  That's the trick.  I have to find the strays one or two at a time, and make decisions around word groups. Obviously life and being, my soul, require a more complex mapping.

I wonder if any of you have any advice (other than stop!)  I wonder if the methods I am using are useful for learning or teaching. I still can't speak the language as you can tell from my poetry. I have found it very difficult to do a concordance with pen and ink. My scribbling is so bad. I tried memorizing words that way and they just did not stick. So I have learned by typing and reading where it is easy to reorder and correct things. And for the 500 or so frames in the Psalter, I have laid them out with root, actual word, and English so that they are easy to see and associate. I hope it is useful.