Tag Archives: translation

The Tale of Peter Rabbit… In Galilean Aramaic

I never in my entire life expected I would undertake such an endeavor, but now I find myself in the midst of translating the Public Domain works of Beatrix Potter (one of my personal heroes) into Galilean Aramaic, printed in Herodian script so that my children will have material to read.

When I’m finished with the first one, The Tale of Peter Rabbit (or in this case dêlmâ d-kêfâ ârnvâ) it’s probably going to be the first available title in the DARIUS Library (perhaps even as a learning aid).

I must admit that so far it is quite the challenge, but I’m doing fairly well to keep the translation true to the whimsical nature of the original text.

Not quite ready to tackle Harry Potter yet though…. but luckily I have some time to wait. 🙂


Mandaic Book of John Project Software

Today I am beginning work on the software to aid translating the Mandaic Book of John, and am using this blog post as a means to get my thoughts and design goals in order.

The original thought was using a collaborative wiki-like environment to manipulate and edit the content which can store Mandaic text in a standard transliteration for editing, but otherwise output it as images (or whatever other format we need) for viewing.

From that basic idea, for this to be a successful and useful tool, I feel it will need:

  1. A means to store each manuscript we’re working from, separately.
  2. A means to divvy up each manuscript into workable “chunks.”
  3. A way to display each parallel chunk of the manuscript side-by-side for comparison purposes.
  4. A means to annotate the Mandaic texts with footnotes, cross-references, and lexical tags.
  5. A means to display the Mandaic text as images, unicode (Hebrew, Syriac, and Mandaic if it goes through) or other encodings.
  6. A place where all members of the project can access and contribute to the English translation and tag the Mandaic texts.
  7. A means to annotate the *English* text with footnotes, cross-references, and lexical tags.
  8. A way that all changes are tracked and can be rolled back or reviewed.

Some other features to implement once there is enough data in the system to experiment with would be:

  1. Automatic export features to a variety of formats (.doc, .pdf, LATEX, etc.)
  2. Automatic concordance and lexicon/dictionary generation.
  3. Adding in hooks for standard Natural Language Processing (NLP) libraries.

Right now I’m going to see about sketching out some potential workflows and database models and get a “toy” version working to play with.


Another Translation From My-Aramaic-Tattoo.com

As long-time readers know, I am not happy with My-Aramaic-Tattoo.com.

This sentiment I feel is re-enforced every once and a while when I get emails from individuals who have ordered from their website and wish to have their translations verified. Most of what I see are, in my opinion, what I’d call “dictionary translations” — that is to say, individual words that are looked up in a dictionary without a greater understanding of the language, itself to discern between forms.

As such, very much like with the “Tattoo eBook” they offer, I’ve seen rare forms of words that bear specific connotations, ambiguous forms of words that could mean one or another, words that are typeset in the scripts inappropriate to their dialect, etc.

This time, however, I have seen a translation that seems like a “dictionary translation” even moreso than before, because the manner in which it was executed was distinctly not what their customer had requested:

(Images utilized under the doctrine of Fair Use for critique and educational purposes.)

I was told by the customer that they had requested, “Love to dance” but were instead, given the above.

It is simply the two words “love” (khuba) and “dancing” (reqda; both nouns) in Syriac, not the simple verbal phrase “love to dance”. Furthermore, instead of using the unambiguous word for “dance” (raqadutha [1]) they chose a word that could mean either “dancing” (reqda) or “dancer” (reqada) due to lack of disambiguating vowels.[1][2]

If either of these words were to have been used in separate context, I would not find this odd at all. However, “love, dancing” is not the phrase that was requested (i.e. “love to dance”) to the point that their customer even noticed the disparity upon receipt of their order and decided to contact me.

Caveat venditor.


NOTE: The Aramaic Blog is not affiliated with My-Aramaic-Tattoo. Statements about My-Aramaic-Tattoo and their services are opinions. Permission was granted by the customer to share their experience on The Aramaic Blog.

1) LS2 743
2) J. Payne-Smith 549.

The Eisenbrauns Valentine’s Day Contest

Stumbling upon this from James McGrath’s “Exploring Our Matrix”, I nearly keeled over!

Apparently every year since 2008 Eisenbrauns, a publisher of great notoriety in Middle Eastern Studies, has held a contest where contestants compose valentines an ancient near-eastern languages, the winners receiving gift certificates for their books.

If I had only known about this earlier, I would have submitted one of my Syriac Heart pendants. 🙂

To read more, and see this year’s winners check out:

http://www.eisenbrauns.com/pages/VDAY2010 .

Next year we shall see!


International Translation Day

Every September 30th since 1953 (although “officially” since 1991) is International Translation Day, in honor of the Feast Day of Saint Jerome, the patron saint of librarians, scripture scholars, students, and of course, translators and interpreters. 🙂

With that in mind, if you go over to Aramaic Designs and mention Translation Day, you’ll get a fun freebie with any order. 🙂