Tag Archives: translation

The Three Little Pigs (And Other Stories) in Galilean Aramaic

Yep, I’m translating more children’s books! This, the Tale of Peter Rabbit, and a few others are going to be re-done and made available for Supporters on AramaicNT.org, and in PDF, ePub, and physical copies.

More info to follow in the coming weeks.


Big News: AramaicNT.org Has Been Reborn

If you read this blog a loooong time back, you probably remember AramaicNT.org. It was a pet project of mine where I posted some of my Aramaic Source Criticism work.

A few years ago, it was hacked and instead of updating it, I simply pulled it down.

However, today I am proud to reveal that it has been repurposed into a fun and interesting project:


About the Project

About the Project

For a very long time, AramaicNT.org has laid vacant as I moved on to other projects.
Now I believe it is time to bring it back in the form that I originally envisioned it to be: A website that shares the words of Jesus and his early followers in his very own language that is easy enough for anyone to read and enjoy.
My current plan is twofold:
1) I wish to publish public domain versions of the Canonical Gospels (and possibly the Gospel of Thomas as well) and wherever Jesus or his followers are speaking, provide a simple transliteration of their words in a reconstruction of their original language so that the reader may intone those very words for themselves.
2) I want to put together a series of resources for people who are interested in learning Galilean Aramaic as a conversational language (much like one would learn another old language like Latin) and foster a community of individuals to have regular discussions or classes — be they written or oral — to keep the language from falling into total obscurity.
If you would like to help out with any aspect of this project, please feel free to contact me, or visit the Help Us page for more information.
שלם לכולהון
(Peace be with you)
Steve Caruso, MLIS
Translator, Aramaic Designs (RogueLeaf)

I’ll eventually also get up all of my old Aramaic Source Criticism stuff too, but please be sure to check out how things are progressing from time to time here:



Aramaic Peter Rabbit: Warne & Co’s Copyright Bluff

So today I heard back from Warne, one of the publishers I sent The Tale of Peter Rabbit in Galilean Aramaic to. Also also of note, they were the book’s original publisher…

(Well in truth it’s second publisher. They originally rejected Peter Rabbit when Beatrix Potter threw the idea in their way the first time, but reconsidered when they saw a self-published run, of ~250 copies, that she was distributing to her family and friends.)

Anyways, I had sent them a prospectus with all of the details of the project and the workbook I’m putting together for it asking if they were interested in publishing it themselves. They forwarded me to their editing department, and then a number of days later I received this:

From: Stefan.Davey@[…….]
Subject: FW: The Tale of Peter Rabbit in Galilean Aramaic w/Study Guide
Date: February 12, 2011 5:20:03 AM EST
To: [Steve Caruso]

Dear Steve Caruso,

Thank you for your enquiry regarding translation rights to “The Tale of Peter Rabbit”.

Unfortunately Frederick Warne does not publish or distribute local language editions, instead we license the rights to local language publishers who translate and manage the distribution process of their own editions within their territory.

If you know of a publisher or an academic press that is interested in publishing a Gallilean Aramaic edition using yourself as the translator, please pass on my details. The licensing of the translation rights for a retail edition can then be discussed but royalties are payable on the retail price of the edition. Alternatively, if the translation is to be used for academic purposes a permission licence may be granted for a one off fee.

If you wish to apply for a permission licence, please send an email to the following address: [the address]@uk.penguingroup.com. You will receive an automated response containing an permission application form. Please complete the form and return it to the same email address.

Frederick Warne & Co. is the owner of all rights, copyrights and trademarks in the Beatrix Potter character names and illustrations. Translations of the works must not be published or used in any context without the prior written consent of Frederick Warne.

Kind regards,

Stefan Davey – International Rights Director
Warne, Ladybird & BBC Children’s Books
Tel: [number]
Fax: [number]
Mobile: [number]

You can probably see right off the bat how I, as a trained Librarian, the course of whose study is to understand copyright and public domain issues was a bit more than irked.

If you don’t, please allow me to explain how the above email: Where it is seemingly professional, it is a bluff.

The Tale of Peter Rabbit was originally publicly published in 1902 and Warne failed to properly register its copyright with the United States. Over 100 years later, any copyrights that could have been secured have more than expired under US Copyright law and as such, the entirety of The Tale of Peter Rabbit is in the Public Domain.

However, this has not stopped Warne from obtaining Trademarks associated with the Peter Rabbit series, including the phrases “Peter Rabbit,” “The Original Peter Rabbit Books,” “Peter Rabbit’s” (for materials of the formula “Peter Rabbit’s X”, etc.) for items from cookies to toilet soaps.

They also own Trademarks on two several images including:

The image of Peter Rabbit running on the cover of the book (at the top of this entry).

(In court documents, Warne claims that their customers associate this above image with their firm as much as Mickey Mouse is associated with Disney. However, hardly anyone in America knows who Frederick Warne & Co. is. Americans certainly associate it with its author Beatrix Potter, though.)

And the line drawing of a coney from the title page. (Which I personally think is ridiculous, as no one associates those images with Fredrick Warne [or “Fredrick who?” I’m asked when I’ve discussed this with dozens of others unfamiliar with this issue]; they associate them with the author Beatrix Potter.)

Interestingly enough, they do not own the Trademark to “Peter Rabbit Farms” as that Trademark is owned by Peter Rabbit Farms, Inc. in reference to fresh vegetables.

Warne, however, does not hold a Trademark that would prevent the publication of the original The Tale of Peter Rabbit or a derivative book such as my translation (provided that I do not use either any of their Trademarked images).

Especially since this has been proven beyond a shadow of a doubt through the courts. In Frederick Warne & Co. v. Book Sales, Inc., 481 F. Supp. 1191 (Southern District of New York, 1979) we find them admitting that, “Warne concedes that the seven works [in question, one of which includes Peter Rabbit] are in the public domain.”

So in essence, where I made an inquiry about their company publishing my work, their representative answered a very different question in a carefully-worded manner so that I would be of the impression that I need a license from them for rights they do not own.

Don’t get me wrong, they are 100% correct when they state, “Frederick Warne & Co. is the owner of all rights, copyrights and trademarks in the Beatrix Potter character names and illustrations. Translations of the works must not be published or used in any context without the prior written consent of Frederick Warne,” as they *do* hold copyright to Beatrix Potter’s works that *are not* in the Public Domain (such as The Tale of Little Pig Robinson), but note how they don’t mention Peter Rabbit by name in this declaration.

Very deliberate.

I’m now waiting to hear back from two more publishers on this matter, so we’ll see if something can still be arranged for in time for Easter.


Sid Meier’s Civilization 5 – In Aramaic! … Well part of it.

So, a while back I took a rather elaborate translation job by a voice acting company who wanted to translate a large amount of dialog from English into Imperial Aramaic so that Darius The Great of Persia could speak in his native tongue for a video game. After it was done, I tried emailing them back a few times to find out how the work was used and if I could get some samples from the voice actor they used to no avail…

(Darius being a bit cocky during his introduction. 🙂 )

You should have seen my shock when I came across Darius speaking those very lines I translated in a YouTube video for Civilization 5 released back in September. Talk about ultimate geek street-cred.

It was a project fraught with perils that only William Fulco could understand. 🙂

Darius’ native tongue was Old Persian, but Aramaic was sort of his “hobby language” of which he had enough enthusiasm for to make it the official language of the western half of his empire and the vehicle of international commerce. It was a language that he, himself, did a good deal of correspondence in.

I started working from actual documents that he sent, using the greetings and partings, and for some of the more modern lines I had to get a bit creative, even re-writing them to things that were more period-appropriate. When it was all said and done, I packaged everything together in sound files to give the voice actor something to go by as well as a little pep-talk about its historical significance.

He seems to have done it justice. 🙂

And now the ironic bit?

I’m *horrible* and I mean *absolutely horrible* at Civ… 🙂


Peter Rabbit Almost Done

So, recapping what anyone might have missed: I’m in the middle of translating The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter into early Galilean Aramaic, typeset in a printed form of Herodian script in an effort to provide reading material for my young daughter as she learns the language, herself. My students at DARIUS have also taken a liking to it and it seems to have some novelty appeal.

At this point, I nearly have all of the text of the original book completed with just a few of the most lengthy pages remaining. I have also made very minimal use of coining phrases to express modern ideas. Huzzah!

However, the most interesting question that I am facing now is, “Who would be interested in publishing this?” which I must admit is quickly followed by “Forget that, who could I possibly ask to edit or review this?” 🙂

It does pose quite a problem. How many people would have the necessary experience, let alone be willing to take the time to edit or review such an odd endeavor in preparation to submit a manuscript to a publisher?

I’d also love to have someone to chew over some quandaries I’ve had together, such as, “Would rav or mar be more appropriate as Mr. MacGregor’s title?” and “What do other people think about how I’ve rendered the occasional onomatopoeia?” or “In the greater context, do any of these issues actually matter?” 🙂

In any case, once it’s in a presentable form I’ll post here again with an update. Then, onto some self-editing and making some further decisions about orthography before figuring out where to go from there.