Saturday, November 15, 2014

Ways to review and check translations from the Hebrew of Tanakh

I now have several ways (in no particular order) to check translations - it takes time for each and the thought process is not something I can decode on the spot.

1. Concordance. I have considerably improved my concordance algorithm. It removes helping verbs and prepositions and checks the remaining English gloss against all  other uses. But I am sure it misses things because I have not boiled down the English roots. And you know how long that takes! Still I aim to use different English synonyms for different Hebrew synonyms. I reduce overlap as much as possible and I check recurrence particularly in the same poem or chapter or section. Of course Hebrew has homonyms as well as English. But the authorized version goes out of its way to obscure verbal recurrence. This is I think, a serious mistake in policy.
2. I can check the results of my translations through analysis of semantic domains - though I admit my technique is pretty primitive. But patterns emerge. Example is in the previous post.
3. I check the music. If I have an English sentence spanning the mid-point major disjunctive in the text, I know I have a problem. Psalm 21 is a good example. It is not 'God save the king'. It is 'Yahweh save,^ let the king answer us in the day of our call.'

In all text, I can also check for parallels, conceptual repetition / contrast rather than repetition of word or stem.

I am looking at Lamentations again - here's verse 1 as an example:

אֵיכָ֣ה ׀ יָשְׁבָ֣ה בָדָ֗ד הָעִיר֙
רַבָּ֣תִי עָ֔ם הָיְתָ֖ה כְּאַלְמָנָ֑ה
רַּבָּ֣תִי‪ ‬בַגּוֹיִ֗ם
שָׂרָ֙תִי֙ בַּמְּדִינ֔וֹת הָיְתָ֖ה לָמַֽס ס
1Ah in such solitude sits the city.
Abundant with people she became as a widow
Abundant from the nations,
a princess among the provinces, she came into forced service. S

Here's the snippet of music
Of course this poem must be translated as an acrostic. So I have begun the poem with four A's.