Monday, June 20, 2011

Using my glossary and learning the Psalms and Hebrew

No one should ever assume that my glosses are 'right'.  They are a public sorting out of how I happen to learn a language entirely foreign to me at an advanced and slightly forgetful age. It is kind of you to ignore me. It might also be kind to help challenge my challenged state. Whether in an age in the above should be glossed as בשׂיבה or זקנה or with עולם I leave you to figure out.  I mean it could just be me that is losing my ability to recall but still not forgetful, or the whole shooting match of the world, תבל, that needs to remember its calling out of darkness. See David's post here on the need for memory.

As noted on the right side of this blog: Every word in the Psalter kata Bob with its chosen gloss is here. It is fun to browse in. See if you can find the idiosyncrasies and errors before I do. I am checking word by word as I work through each psalm.

I am currently working on Psalms 90-91. Now I am thinking I have thousands of potential footnotes that I did not make on the translations I have done verse by verse. Psalm 89 forced me back to a review from the beginning. That in itself will take some time. My process for review is multifold:
  • read the psalm in Hebrew with no helps - OK for psalms I know from memory - need to memorize more now. Then come back to the database for musing.
  • read the psalm in a stereoscopic mode (suggested by Kurk in his Proverbs series, e.g. here). For Hebrew-English, one can do this on the Mechon-Mamre site, or using my phrase by phrase prosodic divisions at the links to my translations above. (I get very frustrated doing this on paper or away from my workbench where I have no opportunity to capture my criticism of my data in a memorable real-time form.) Mechon-Mamre has the advantage that you can listen too, though I do not find the reading as fully chromatic as I would like. 
  • check out the glosses as you read and see if I have failed the many-to-one test. That's what I want to avoid: glossing different Hebrew words with the same English word without an overriding reason. My reasons? Structure trumps gloss (or see the notes or the structural table for clarification of the image). Acrostic need trumps everything, even English. Theology is a conversation between the poet and the reader. Power politics is a conversation in the present about the sins of the past without reference to our own hidden agendas. I hope such abuse power is not in my vocabulary. There is a risk that in my one-to-many glosses I am avoiding my own hidden agenda. I invoke Psalm 19:12 in my defense.