Tag Archives: incorrect

Multi Lingual Keyboard Frustration: Don’t Let This Happen To You

So, being both modern-tech and digital communications savvy as well as deeply involved in the study of ancient languages and old-fashioned correspondence… my everyday life tends to express irony.

I was trying to log into one of the many SQL databases (which I manage through this nifty program called phpMyAdmin), and the program was consistently denying me access, telling me that my password was incorrect. Believing that I simply might be mistaken with what password I used, I went through my entire password repertoire…

No luck.

I then figured that I must have improperly capitalized things, so I made sure that my shift key wasn’t stuck, and that my caps-lock key was up. A number of “dots” later in the password field and…

No dice.

Now I was getting frustrated! I figured that the SQL server must be down, which would then mean, by way of logic, that the website that was driven by it would also be down. Fearing that was the case I had to check, so I clicked up on the URL field of my web browser and entered in the address:


It then dawned on me: I was typing with the Hebrew keyboard in the password field.


It was me who was not working…

Don’t let this happen to you. 🙂


PS: Challenge for techno-language-nerds like myself. 100 Points to whoever decodes the following cipher first:

א צאתהוליצ פריעסת אנד א ראבבי פינד תהעמסעלועס סיתתינג נעכת תו עאצה ותהער ונ א לונג חוורנעט אנד סו אפתער סומע העסיתאתיונ סתארת תו תאלכ תו עאצהותהער. אפתער דיסצוססינג תהע שעאתהער אנד ספורתס, תהע פריעסת תורנס תו תהע ראבבי אנד סאטס תהאת הע תהווגהת ית שאס ראתהער סתראנגע תהאת עה שאס נות אללושעד תו עאת פורכ, אנד אסכעד הימ שהעתהער הע עוער האד.

תהע ראבבי רעפליעד, ’שעלל, שהענ י שאס א סמאלל בוט, י דיד ינ פאצת תאסתע א סמאלל פיעצע ופ באצונ.’

’שהאת שאס ית ליכע?’ אסכעד תהע פריעסת.

תהע ראבבי רעפליעד: ’נות נעארלט אס גווד אס סעח.’

Arem, Shem, Beth, Sedal, Sacrivalian, Ahad.

For those of you who haven’t seen the above words, let me tell you where they come from.

“Sylvia Browne (born Sylvia Celeste Shoemaker 1936-10-19) is a bestselling American author on the subject of spirituality and is a celebrity psychic and medium,” if Wikipedia is to be believed. She’s a regular on the Montel Williams show, she founded the Novus Spiritus church, and has a very large following.

At three times during the Novus Spiritus service, the following is recited:

Arem, Shem, Beth, Sedal, Sacrivalian, Ahad.

Although it has been claimed that it is in Aramaic, it really puzzled me, because in her book “Prayers” (published in 2002) and on the Novus Spiritus website, it is translated as:

“Blessed be this Queen on high who is sacred to all who come to Her. Amen.”

I was a bit dumbstruck. To me, this is a bunch of jibberish; nothing nearly so structured as how it is being interpreted. Let me break things down:


It could be ארם [‘arem] which is not really an Aramaic word in and of itself.
This form could also be the Hebrew name for Aram, the son of Shem.

It could also be ארים [‘areym] from the root רום [rom] which could mean “raised” in the causative (as in something caused to be raised, physically or in tone). But this would be better expressed as מרים [mirîm].

It could be ערם [`eram] which:
In Syriac (ܥܪܡ) could mean “rough spot,” or “scandal” (!) (but this is usually found in the form ܥܪܡܐ [`arma’] in Syriac.


It could be שם [shem] which means “name,” (which is the most common) but by idiom can mean “title,” “reputation,” (e.g. “good name” or “bad name”) or “authority” (i.e. “in the name of X”).

It could be שם [sham] from the root שום [shom] which means in some dialects “evaluate!” or “identify!” (as an imperative).


This I believe can be only one thing, which is the word בית [beyth] which means “house” (and associated idioms, like “family,” “structure,” “place.” etc.) or the second letter of the Aramaic alphabet (ב).
In some rarer cases it can mean “between” but that is in Syriac.


The only word that jumps into mind for this one is ܣܕܠܐ [sadla’] whose absolute form is ܣܕܠ [sedal]. This, however, is a minority form of a Syriac word for “sandal,” a dialect far too young for Browne’s claims. Furthermore, the much more common form is ܣܢܕܠܐ [sandla’].


There is no way that this word is Aramaic.

After many hours of searching through my collections and databases, the closest possible thing I could find is סיקיר בליון [seyqeyr balyon] which means “a sausage-maker’s amulet,” but these two words (since they come from different dialects) have never been historically attested together in this fashion… ever.

That just sounds… Ick.


This could either be the word אחד [‘echad] which is Hebrew for “one.”
Or… well I don’t know. That’s really all that comes to mind immediately.
It could be a verbal form

One very important and striking word that I was expecting to see, given the translation, was “Amen” as “amen” in Aramaic is … well אמין [amen]. Other than that, I would have expected מלכה [malkah], מלכת [malkath] or מלכתא [malkthâ’] which means “queen,” the adjective קדיש [qadîsh] which means “sacred” or “holy,” and at least the adjective בריך [brîkh] which means “blessed” as all three of these words are, to my knowledge, found every dialect on record.

In short: This jumble of syllables is certainly not Aramaic.

Now, another thing to note about Sylvia Browne is that she (and her estranged husband) were several times in the past convicted for fraud. Not to be too biting, but I believe that this leopard has merely whited out its spots. Aramaic is an obscure enough language for people to make wild and generally unchallenged claims about it. Hopefully this issue is now a bit less clouded.


“Yeshurah” or “How Not to Spell Yeshua” – Mistaken Hebrew/Aramaic T-Shirt on Zazzle

So today I was checking out this awesome Cafepress alternative, Zazzle, when I came across this:

Image used for criticism under Fair Use Doctrine.

The owner of the design claims that it says “Yeshua.” However, this is another case of buyer beware:

The above is what “Yeshua” should look like in Hebrew script.

However, what was written was this. “Yeshra.”

Ironically, this could be interpreted in Aramaic as the imperfect 3rd person masculine singular of the verb שרע shra` which means…. and here’s the kicker:

“He’s going to slip up.”

And he did. 😉


True Love? To Blave. – Another Unfortunate Tattoo

If you’ve ever seen my news feed setup for anything Aramaic you’d think I was obsessed. Well, in a word: Yes. 🙂 I’m always constantly crawling the internet looking for new stuff posted about the language, and today I came across a very unfortunate tattoo on deviantArt whose owner I am trying very hard to contact.

Update (March 12, 2008): Since I’ve published this article, the author has contacted me and requested that I take the image down, so I have done so to respect his wishes. You can still view the image through his deviantArt Profile here.

The tattoo reads:

ܚܘܒܟܘܢ ܒܫܪܝܪܐ
khûvkûn b-shrîrâ’

The owner was told that it reads “True Love” which it is very close to but sloppy. There is a bit of grammar that doesn’t make too terribly much sense to me so allow me to break it down and go over it:


Comes from the root word khûbâ which means “love”
The suffix -kûn means “your” in the masculine plural. This is awkward.


Comes from the root word shrîrâ’ which should mean “truth” but is generally found in the feminine form ܫܪܝܪܬܐ shrîrtâ’ otherwise it should be in the form ܫܪܪܐ shrârâ’. It’s possible that whoever translated this was trying to work from an adjectival form (ܫܪܝܪ shrîr) which would make it technically correct, but a bit awkward.
The prefix be- means “in,” “within” or “among” depending on context (here it’s certainly “in”).

Despite the misspellings this literally translates to:

“Your (masc. pl.) love in truth.”

Not really “True Love,” but not incomprehensible. Although the tattoo came out beautifully, the actual translation was very sloppy.

Please don’t let this happen to you! Trust a professional.


Prayers of the Cosmos Cover Art

All images found in this article are being used under the doctrine of Fair Use.

Prayers of the Cosmos is one of the cornerstone books of the Aramaic Mysticism movement, which has created a number of interesting loose interpretations of the Lord’s Prayer that I have discussed earlier in my writings. It is written by Dr. Neil Douglas-Klotz, a Sufi mystic who has been into Aramaic for (as far as I am able to tell) decades. The book, itself takes the Lord’s Prayer and expounds upon it through modern New Age interpretation, stretching out a few verses of text from Matthew (as found in the Syriac Peshitta) into 112 pages.

However, the book’s cover displays something rather interesting that I think would have been caught before. The Syriac text is typeset backwards. Take a closer look:

As found on the book cover on top:The image is mirrored. It should look like:
The above reads yeshua` mshîkhâ (Jesus the Messiah).

As found on the book cover on the bottom:
Again, the image is mirrored. It should look like:
The above reads mshîkhâ d’medhbrâ (Messiah of the wilderness).

At first glance I was fooled too, because the ܐ âlaps and ܡ mîms that this particular style of Estrangela script employ look very similar in mirror image to one another, where many of the other letters look identical when flipped (such as the ܫ shîn, ܝ yod, ܚ khet, and ܘ wau).

Now if the cover was not enough of a tipoff I must admit that the contents are a bit over the top. I have said before and stand by my previous statements about Mysticism being a beautiful form of religion that everyone has in their religious practice to varying degrees (many people don’t even realize it); but I find this book going too far from an academic standpoint in the minutia and granularity that Klotz uses. For example, this is his final breakdown of the word ܐܒܘܢ âbwun:

A: the Absolute, the Only Being, the pure Oneness and Unity, source of all power and stability (echoing to the ancient sacred sound AL and the Aramaic word for God, Alaha, literaly, “the Oneness”).

bw: a birthing, a creation, a flow of blessing, as if from the “interior” of this Oneness to us.

oo: the breath or spirit that carries this flow, echoing the sound of breathing and including all forces we now call magnetism, wind, electricity, and more. This sound is linked to the Aramaic phrase rukha d’qoodsha, which was later translated as “Holy Spirit.”

n: the vibration of this creative breath from Oneness as it touches and interpenetrates form. There must be a substance that this force touches, moves and changes. This sound echoes in earth, and the body here vibrates as we intone the whole name slowly: Ah-bw-oo-n.

(pages 13-14, emphasis original)

From a Mystic’s interpreted standpoint, this makes clear and perfect sense as creative metaphor and something to meditate on. Outside a Mystic’s context, more specifically from a scholar’s standpoint, this is 100% Certified Rubbish™, because to translate ܐܒܘܢ âbwun as anything else but “our Father” is categorically dishonest as it is a very simple and historically documented construction of ܐܒܘ (abu; “father” in the construct state) + ܢ (-n; 1st person plural personal suffix, “our”). Klotz doesn’t seem to give too much in the lines of a disclaimer which is where I personally find a problem.

It is also even more interesting to note that due to dialect issues, if Jesus were to say “our father” it probably would have sounded more like “abunân” and looked more like אבונן when written down (as Syriac was not the dialect of Galilee and Judea).

In the end, for a Mystic, it really should not matter, as a Mystic’s “job” (per se) is to seek out direct experience with God through whatever path or method they choose to use. With that in mind, I’d prefer that Mystics who invest their focus, time, energy and faith into these interpretations of the Aramaic language be aware of the academic problems inherent to what this book details.

So, the next time you come across an “original Aramaic translation,” you know where this Aramaicst stands.