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Good vocabularies run amuck: What are your favorite words?
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Dec 14th 2011

That would be... pungent.

Dec 14th 2011

It's Adam & Eve, not Adam & Sheave.

Dec 15th 2011

I went to a funeral yesterday, and the preacher read the Bible verse where Jesus said that he was going to Heaven to prepare a dwelling for each of us, and would return.

He then said that until Saturday, the door on the woman's dwelling had a "V" on it, for Vacant. But now that V stands for Victory. Victory over death, pain, suffering.

Right before that he had been talking about the woman who had died and it was very touching, and I was tearing up a little. But when he said that, I could only think how confusing Heaven would be if all the doors have the same letter on them. I stopped almost-crying and started almost-laughing.

Dec 15th 2011

You know what else V stands for?

Dec 15th 2011

Wait a minute...there is a real bible story about that? Or did the preacher add the part about the V on the door? Because I doubt that Aramaic has the letter V, or that the Aramaic word for Vacant and Victory have the same letter. Or do they?

Dec 15th 2011

No, the preacher added that, after he read the Bible verses.

Dec 15th 2011

It was this part:

John 14
Jesus Comforts His Disciples
1 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God[a]; believe also in me. 2 My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. 4 You know the way to the place where I am going.”

I don't know what translation he had. I know he said dwellings, rather than rooms. But imagine a hall in a huge hotel, with all the doors labeled "V". That'd be super confusing. Or in DC's mind, probably super interesting.

Dec 15th 2011

I think about that a lot when reading old stories or texts. Whether in the Bible, or some ancient Greek story, or Babylonian myth...there may be parts of the story where understanding the point of the story, or the humor, depends on some funny letter combination or matching of words. Like someone asks you a question about losing bladder control when they get older, and you say "Well, that DEPENDS..." (Ha ha). That won't be funny at all when future linguistic archaeologists translate that into a language where "depends" isn't defined as "adult underwear", and they will be left scratching their heads.

I'm sure that the original Psalms and poems, and even regular passages in the bible are much better and more meaningful when spoken in their original language.

Dec 15th 2011

I'm working on a history book project now and that's part of the job. What we're doing is taking a public-domain book and reprinting it, basically. But we're elaborating and adding content to it, images, photographs if there are any suitable/available, sort of bringing it to life again for today's audience.

The one I'm on now is from the 1730s and there are a ton of Bible references, and references to ancient stories that made sense to the readers then, but would make a reader today go, "WTF?", and I'm sort of the translator for it, you know?

Dec 15th 2011

I'm sure that the original Psalms and poems, and even regular passages in the bible are much better and more meaningful when spoken in their original language.

The etymology of the language used in the Bible is often a fascinating study. There is * so much* lost in the translation of the original Hebrew or Greek to the English language. It even gets slaughtered worse with brutal modernized versions of the Bible like the NIV or the contemporary English versions. When you take a verse, and break it down word by word, and study the original Greek or Hebrew from whence the word came you learn so much more about the verse or the theme of it. I mean, if that was your thing.

Dec 15th 2011

When future humans translate NA to robot-speak, or whatever language they are using...those haikus are gonna get slaughtered.

Dec 15th 2011

Hey, want an example? Sure I'll give you one!

Here's an excerpt from the gospel of John, right toward the end of the book, after Jesus is resurrected and he's showing himself to the disciples. He meets them on a beach, after Peter and the other disciples came in from fishing. Peter had gotten in to trouble at Christ's crucifixion because while there he denied that he knew Christ (and Jesus told him before he did it that it would happen) so after Jesus' death, Peter thought that Jesus was really dead for good and wasn't coming back, and he was feeling pretty miserable about the way he had handled himself. So when he sees that Jesus is alive again, he meets with him, and they have this conversation.

15 So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of Jonah,[a] do you love Me more than these?”
He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.”
He said to him, “Feed My lambs.”

16 He said to him again a second time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?”
He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.”
He said to him, “Tend My sheep.”

17 He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?”
And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.”
Jesus said to him, “Feed My sheep.

So to the modern reader, we see that word "love" used a whole bunch of times, but if you read the original Greek, we learn more about this passage. When Jesus asks Peter if he loves him, he is using the greek word agape, which translates to a rich, deep, self-sacrificial love. And the term that Peter keeps saying is "Yes Lord, you know that I phileo you, which is a much less intense love, more like the way someone would say "I love this show" or "I love hotdogs".

Peter was dodging the question in a sense, but Jesus was really getting to Peter because he wanted Peter to be committed. He was going to use Peter mightily over the next few years to build up the new testament churches in Asia and Europe. Peter needed to recognize that Christ had forgiven him for his screw up with the denial, and that it was time for Peter to move on, stop feeling sorry for himself, and time to get to work.

So you see, there is much to be learned in the language used in the old and new testament texts that is just there under the surface, but needs to be searched out.

Dec 15th 2011

I think that is really interesting, D.

Is there passages in there about how women should seek out bald men, which has been horribly mistranslated over the years so that women don't realize they should be doing this?

Dec 15th 2011

There's one really interesting story about a person in the bible insulting another person by calling him a 'baldhead'. Hold on. I'll try to find it...

This is from 2 Kings 2.

23 From there Elisha went up to Bethel. As he was walking along the road, some boys came out of the town and jeered at him. “Get out of here, baldy!” they said. “Get out of here, baldy!”
24 He turned around, looked at them and called down a curse on them in the name of the LORD. Then two bears came out of the woods and mauled forty-two of the boys.
25 And he went on to Mount Carmel and from there returned to Samaria.

I bet you'll like that story.

Dec 15th 2011

Then two bears came out of the woods and mauled forty-two of the boys.

All bald men have this power.

Dec 15th 2011

All bald men have the power to maul boys?

Dec 15th 2011

I bet you'll like that story.

I had to see if this was real. It is.

Dec 15th 2011

Of course it's real. And that's the site where I took the text from. Bible Gateway is an excellent resource. You can read the bible in dozens of different translations.

Dec 15th 2011

Now maybe you guys will have more respect for me, and not jeer me as I pass by your town.

Dec 15th 2011

Wow, so Peter really liked hot dogs, huh?

Dec 15th 2011

What I think about a lot is how ignorance -- bordering on innocence -- can result in a lot of behaviors that would have to be "closeted" in a slightly more aware society being performed in the open. A great deal of both biker and street racing culture of the 40s and 50s, for example, was deeply homoerotic, and there were a lot of men who got away with having essentially "open" sexual relationships because it never occurred to most people that such a thing was possible. My mom talks about how she didn't even know there was such a thing as a gay person until she got to college -- when that kind of level of understanding is prevalent throughout a culture, it's kind of not necessary to hide yourself nearly as much.

The same is true of old slave songs and such, I think. You read the lyrics of those today, and you think, How could slave masters not have known what these songs were about? But a great number of people in that society believed either (A) that black people were not quite human, and therefore not intelligent enough to construct symbols and metaphors with which to communicate, or (B) that black folks were happy being slaves. Both ideas strike us as patently ridiculous, of course, but they enabled a certain amount of openness among those who would aid each other in escape and revolt that otherwise wouldn't have been possible.

Dec 15th 2011

Wow, so Peter really liked hot dogs, huh?

His love of hot dogs left me agape.

Dec 15th 2011

phileo...pudding...

Dec 16th 2011

Shut up, baldy.

Dec 16th 2011

summons two bears

Dec 16th 2011

Okay, that made me LOL.

Dec 16th 2011

You can laugh, because they are only mauling the boys.

Dec 16th 2011

All 42 of them. Those are some busy bears.

Dec 16th 2011

Or at least hungry ones.

Dec 16th 2011

I love that story, and not just because of the baldness. It speaks to me across more than 2500 years...I can just see the boys doing that. Boys haven't changed over the years. I'm sure that really happened to Elisha.

Now, the bears...I wonder if there is a grain of truth to that part? Like did a bear really appear at that moment? Or maybe later, one of the boys was attacked and people thought it was as a result of his taunting?

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