On Loving Translators.

Lily Meyer writes for Public Books about the delights and frustrations of translating; a few excerpts:

Douglas Robinson’s The Translator’s Turn takes Polizzotti’s third way of approaching translation much further. If Polizzotti reminds us that translators are artists, then Robinson reminds us that translators are human. The Translator’s Turn is a plea to remember that a translator is “a person, with personal experiences, personal desires, personal preferences.” The plea is addressed to readers, but I suspect his true audience is translators. I hope so. Robinson’s right: translators, like writers, should allow their experiences, desires, and preferences to inform and enrich their art. […] It’s hard to argue that all readers should care about translators’ physical responses to a text, since they vary so widely and are so often inaccessible. But any reader can try to imagine translators’ emotions, particularly their emotional attachments to source languages and source texts. It only takes empathy for readers to learn (or remember) not only that translation is an art, but also that translation frequently springs from love. […]

The gaps between languages contain the threat, or promise, of the untranslatable. Some translators and scholars celebrate the idea of untranslatability. Others, like Bellos, reject it out of hand. To Robinson, the likes of Bellos are trapped in “the masterful web of perfectionist appeal and inevitable frustration in which Christian ideology has wrapped translation.” Notice that he says “Christian,” not “Judeo-Christian.” Untranslatability is at the core of the Jewish religious worldview. In Jewish tradition, no one is allowed to know the name of God. It appears in the Torah as four vowelless, unreadable characters—יהוה—and is pronounced Adonai, which means “lord” or “lords.” Saying Adonai is a workaround, like “the artist formerly known as Prince.” […]

The translator has an ego, as I mentioned. She has an id, too, and like any other person’s, her id is piled with junk. Biases, superstitions, cultural and personal baggage. On a conscious level, she has politics, aesthetics, a religion or lack thereof. On a physical level, as Robinson argues, she has somatic responses to particular sounds and words. To tell a translator to dismiss all these factors—to ignore her body, her history, and her non-logical mind—will lead to worse translations. A translator who won’t acknowledge her biases is more likely to translate right into them. A translator who can’t question her stale, inherited knowledge will use stale, inherited language. And a translator who is too ashamed to admit that some words are untranslatable will replace the sacred with the mundane.

Meyer loves this pair of sentences by Alejandro Zambra, translated by Megan McDowell: “I remember the cramp in my right hand, after history class, because Godoy dictated for the entire two hours. He taught us Athenic democracy by dictating the way you dictate in a dictatorship.” A nice line, but “Athenic” is very odd; I wonder if there was some reason for not using “Athenian.” I’m too lazy to try to find the original, though. (Thanks, Trevor!)

Comments

  1. J.W. Brewer says:

    If untranslatability had always been the core of the Jewish religious worldview we would not have the Septuagint (or for that matter the targumim), and yet we do. The digression seems odd in any event. Is it really so unexpected or surprising that Bellos said “Christian” that a reader will be affirmatively curious why he *didn’t* say Judeo-Christian in the particular context? From the article’s general description of the prototypical translator as a hot mess always hovering on the verge of emotional collapse you can see why getting a team of approximately LXX translators to work collaboratively if you’re translating a really really important text might be a prudent approach. (I think the original number of collaborators enlisted to work on what became the King James Version was LIV but it may have grown a bit over the course of the project, and that’s probably close enough to LXX.)

  2. In Jewish tradition, no one is allowed to know the name of God. It appears in the Torah as four vowelless, unreadable characters—יהוה—and is pronounced Adonai, which means “lord” or “lords.” Saying Adonai is a workaround, like “the artist formerly known as Prince.”

    That is just Orientalist bullshit.

  3. J.W. Brewer says:

    The LXX translators apparently thought it was more straightforward to just write κύριος than have a mysterious glyph suitable for a Led Zeppelin album coupled with an oral tradition “when reading aloud, say κύριος.”

  4. Um, Judaeo-Christian ignoramus (apparently) here …

    It appears in the Torah as four vowelless, unreadable characters—יהוה—

    Isn’t most scriptural Hebrew vowelless? And aren’t the nikudim a later addition to help pronunciation? And in fact aren’t the ‘ה’s acting as (or indicating) vowels there? That is, the word has two syllables/two consonants not four (one syllable for each character).

    “unreadable”? I know how to read it. I’d be pretty sure most Jews know how to read it, and many Gentiles know the pronunciation and Latin spelling even if they don’t recognise the Hebrew.

    As I understand it, it is taboo to speak the name, except in very restricted circumstances. Is that what “unreadable” is trying to convey?

    Untranslatability is at the core of the Jewish religious worldview.

    Just strikes me as more ‘no word for X’ bollox. English has no single word for forbidden-to-be-read-out-or-pronounced. (“unreadable” doesn’t mean that.) So what?

    It’s true that ‘Christian ideology has wrapped translation’ in far more mystery than is in the original texts. But that applies to the New Testament material (originally in Greek) just as much as to Hebrew scripture.

    The whole virgin birth nonsense could be seen as poor translation of a word that doesn’t necessarily mean virgin in the original. (according to my Classics master.) But of course to submit to theology it is first necessary to believe impossible things.

  5. יהוה appears with the vowels of its euphemism, usually ǝ-[o]-ā for ʔădonāi, occasionaly ǝ-[o]-ī for ʔĕlohīm. The name was not meant to be pronounced as either /jǝhowaː/ or /jǝhowiː/. The actual vowels are not recorded in the Tiberian pronunciation tradition.

    I have no idea what she means by “Untranslatability is at the core of the Jewish religious worldview”.

  6. Anatoly says:

    Me acuerdo del calambre en la mano derecha, después de las clases de historia, porque Godoy dictaba las dos horas enteras. Nos enseñaba la democracia ateniense dictando como se dicta en dictadura.

  7. John Cowan says:

    I think, though, that untranslatability really may be at the heart of the Islamic world-view. The orthodox view of the Quran is that it cannot be translated (and attempts to do so verge on, or are, sacrilege), and so translations are labeled “The Meaning(s) of the Quran” or words to that effect, as if they were mere commentaries on the Arabic.

  8. That is just Orientalist bullshit.

    Yes, I agree with everyone that that’s a dumb argument, but I liked the bit about “the artist formerly known as Prince” so much I couldn’t resist including it.

    Anatoly: Thanks very much! Since ateniense is the usual Spanish adjective, there’s no excuse for using the bizarre “Athenic” in the translation.

  9. Owlmirror says:

    יהוה appears with the vowels of its euphemism, usually ǝ-[o]-ā for ʔădonāi, occasionaly ǝ-[o]-ī for ʔĕlohīm. The name was not meant to be pronounced as either /jǝhowaː/ or /jǝhowiː/. The actual vowels are not recorded in the Tiberian pronunciation tradition.

    What’s your opinion on theophoric names like Eliyahu or Yehoyakim?

  10. The vowels may not have been recorded, but they were not secret. Ruth indicates that the pronunciation was known (and not taboo) in pre-Davidic times. And the document was written a few generations after David (to lionize his Moabite ancestress). In fact, even a thousand years later (up until the Great Revolt), men could go to the temple on Yom Kippur and hear the HaShem pronounced aloud.

  11. David Marjanović says:

    What’s your opinion on theophoric names like Eliyahu or Yehoyakim?

    Two sets of questions:

    Knowing next to nothing about Hebrew grammar, do these sets of vowels agree with each other?

    These names are written with just יהו, right? Would the extra ה ever be used as a mater lectionis for a short /u/, especially when a ו is already right there? Could יהוה be a pun on the element in these names and on a verb form, perhaps some kind of “becoming“? …But puns are more Elohist than Yahwist, right?

  12. But Jews also very much insist on reading Torah in Hebrew. It might be a good question whether reading in imperfectly learned second language involves translation anyway.

  13. very much insist on reading Torah in Hebrew

    That’s not unlike ‘traditionalists’ (including many atheists and agnostics) preferring the KJV and the Lord’s prayer with all its -eth’s and thee’s and thou’s.

    reading in imperfectly learned second language involves translation anyway.

    Again not dissimilar. As a kid I was always baffled by “A green field without a city wall.”

  14. Bathrobe says:

    “Athenian” means “of Athens”. “Athenic” presumably means “in Athenian style”, a higher level of generalisation or abstraction.

    Maybe like the difference linguists make between “Japanese” and “Japonic”, or “Mongolian” and “Mongolic”. Not an argument in favour, of course.

  15. “Athenic” presumably means “in Athenian style”, a higher level of generalisation or abstraction.

    It might if there were such a word, but there isn’t. It’s just bad translation.

  16. Bathrobe says:

    I have always felt there is a lot of bullshit in both “translation theory” and the romanticisation of translation.

    One relatively recent theory I’ve seen is that translation is an “interlanguage”, neither fully source language nor fully target language, with influence from both. Sounds impressive, but the moment you start looking at real translations in detail this impressive generalisation turns to mud.

    Translation (by which I mean written translation) is an activity which aims to create a finished product. It aims to transform a text in a source language into a corresponding text in a target language for a particular audience and a particular purpose. The audience might be imaginary but the translator is always conscious of writing for someone, like the speaker’s trick of fixing on one person in the audience and speaking to that single person.

    Translations are always ‘literal’ because a translator is working from a particular text made up of particular words. The style, form, and texture of the translated text are a result of the translator’s choices. These will be determined by the intended audience, intended style, established conventions, the translator’s abilities, translation ‘tics’, possibly learnt during the language acquisition process, and many other factors.

    Sometimes, however, a translation will aim to be a ‘retelling’ in terms that are understandable to the target audience, in which case the translator will feel free to depart completely from the original text.

    It is possible to look at any translation (including a ‘retelling’) and see at a granular level how the translator has understood and chosen to convey the meaning of the original text. Yes, there is interference and mistakes. There are telltale mannerisms, some of which can only be picked up by computer analysis, that betray the habits of the translator. A masterful translator is one who can transform a text into another language using conscious techniques to turn the language of the original into something acceptable in the target language. Whether this is ‘natural’ or not will depend on the aim of the translation and the translator. Sometimes unnaturalness will be the aim. Sometimes ‘spin’ will be the aim. Sometimes complete literalness will be the aim in order to minimise grounds for misinterpretation (legal documents) or to allow the audience to see exactly and literally what the original said.

    Subcategories of translation (‘literary translation’, ‘commercial translation’, ‘legal translation’, ‘journalistic translation’, ‘official translation’, ‘religious translation’) are simply a product of the nature and aims of the original text, and the nature of the target audience and the aim of translating the text.

    The ability to translate well is related both to the tricks that a translator has mastered to mask the fact that the text is translated from another language (translation as ‘craft’) and his or her literate sensibilities (translation as ‘art’).

    I regard this as the commonsense approach to “translation theory”. It is neither romantic nor postmodern. By treating translation as a purposeful activity, it provides a framework for understanding and accounting for the many facets and approaches to translation that many theories struggle to cover.

  17. SFReader says:

    SS Athenic was a British passenger liner, first of the Athenic-class (commissioned 14 February 1902). There were two more sisterships – SS Corinthic and SS Ionic.

    I agree that the word definitely exists (existed) and means “in Athenian style” like similar words Ionic, Corinthic and Laconic.

  18. Stu Clayton says:

    I subscribe almost without reserve to Professor Bademantels views on translation. The word “commonsense” of course is a bit hard to digest, but I’m sure it’s good for me in the end.

  19. Tim May says:

    “Athenic” is obviously a typo for “asthenic”, a commentary on the weakness of democratic ideals instilled by such a method. Or perhaps not.

  20. John Cowan says:

    SS Athenic was a British passenger liner

    That’s just because the White Star Line had a mania for having all their ships’ names end in -ic, as in the much more famous Titanic, Olympic, Britannic, whether the resulting words made sense or not. In the WP article, I additionally find Oceanic, Atlantic, Baltic, Republic, Celtic, Adriatic, Germanic, Teutonic, Majestic, Georgic, Cymric, Cedric (!), Arabic, Cretic, Romanic, Canopic, Laurentic, Afric, Medic (!!), Persic, Runic, Suevic, Cevic, Ceramic (!!!), Vedic. Some names were used for more than one ship.

    Two ship’s tenders, used in various ports to convey passengers to ships too large to dock there, were named with a bit more wit as Traffic and Nomadic. The latter is the only surviving White Star vessel; it is a floating museum in Belfast, where most or all of them were built by Harland & Wolff, which assisted with the restoration of Nomadic.

    Granted, the Cunard Line used -ania in the same way, and the Holland America Line used -dam, but not so relentlessly. Besides, there really are a lot of dams, and towns and cities named after them, in the Netherlands.

    Ionic, Corinthic and Laconic

    In the English language as she is actually spoke, the word is Corinthian. Not even the OED lists Corinthic or Athenic.

  21. What JC said.

  22. AJP Crown says:

    I’ve never heard Corinthic. You made that up. The people of Laconia (eg the Spartans) are Laconians, as with Athenians. But their ways are Laconic whereas the Athenians’ are Attic not Athenic.

  23. Bathrobe says:

    “Attic” — you’ve been in architecture too long.

    Incidentally, I always wondered why it was “Hattic” and not “Hattian”.

  24. SFReader says:

    Hattite…

  25. AJP Crown says:

    Haha.

    Is it bathic or robian? Not bathos.

  26. John Cowan says:

    That’s true, Laconian for the region, laconic for the “If!”

    We have some similar pairs of adjectives derived from Latin gods and goddesses, an older one for mental and physical states, a newer one (capitalized) for the associated planets: mercurial/Mercurian, martial/Martian, jovial/Jovian, saturnine/Saturnian, plutonic/Plutonian. We should have a pair venereal/Venerian, but because of the (now extinct) taboo on the first and the too-close similarity, sf writers went with Venusian (ouch) and astronomers with Cytherean.

  27. David Eddyshaw says:

    But of course to submit to theology it is first necessary to believe impossible things.

    You may well feel (like many) that it entails believing things which are untrue; it seems a stretch to describe them as “impossible.” How can you tell?

    One “submits” to theology in the sense that one “submits” to physiology. You’re confusing the practice of religion (which is not “theology”) with the study of intellectual questions surrounding it. Far from being a mist of irrationality, the besetting problem of academic theology in the narrow sense of thinking about the intellectual basis of a particular religion is the temptation to overrationalise things which are probably ultimately not amenable to such an approach. (As a good Calvinist, I know whereof I speak in this. We are the recognised champions in this area.)

  28. I have always felt there is a lot of bullshit in both “translation theory” and the romanticisation of translation.

    Bathrobe, I wholly agree with you. I indulge in them both (within reason, like meringues), because I’m as enamored of my job as the next translator, but I’m glad I came to them as an occasional pastime and only after years of work. I get a little worried when I see people taking these things as a point of departure, because there really is so much practical experience involved that has nothing romantic about it.

  29. John Cowan says:

    David E: I have learned recently that the Five Pillars of Ŵŋ Calvinism are: total depravity, unconditional reincarnation, particular redemption, irresistible grace, and perseverance of destiny. Thought you’d like to know.

  30. For Ŵŋ Calvinism, see the later stages of this thread.

  31. David Eddyshaw says:

    @JC:

    Some points of doctrine were possibly transmitted with less than complete fidelity through the Arabic version of the Institutes.

    Personally, I’ve always felt that Total Depravity is the important one, so I am happy to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with my Hičajqri brethren despite some minor differences in inessentials.

  32. Rich Corinthian leather is the sign of quality, as people of my generation will remember.

  33. John Cowan says:

    Personally, I’ve always felt that Total Depravity is the important one

    For myself I am willing to settle for a reasonable amount of depravity without insisting that it be total. If this be Arminianism, make the most of it.

  34. What’s your opinion on theophoric names like Eliyahu or Yehoyakim?

    I think that they must reflect a time when some form of yhwh was more commonly pronounced, or at least in abbreviated form as /ja/ or such. Such names became especially common in the kingdoms of Judah and Israel, up to the destruction of the First Temple. There are several instances where a non-theophoric name is converted to a theophoric one: hōšēaʕ to yǝhošūaʕ, hădōrām to yōrām, and elyākīm to yǝhōyākīm.

    do these sets of vowels [in Eliyahu and Yehoyakim] agree with each other?
    The first vowel of Yehoyakim is a schwa, and it’s the result of vowel reduction of the /a/. As to the /o/ and /u/, there’s probably an explanation, but I don’t know what it is.

    Pairs like ēlīyyā / ēliyyāhū are often explained as ēlī-yā my.god-ya vs. ēlī-yā-hūʔ my.god-ya-is, i.e. with or without the optional copula, but that may be a folk etymology, and it doesn’t explain why there’s no final א there, as in the stand-alone copula הוּא.

    These names are written with just יהו, right? Would the extra ה ever be used as a mater lectionis for a short /u/, especially when a ו is already right there?

    No word ends with a short /u/. A final long /u/ does not use a mater lectionis. A final long /o/ sometimes does.

    Could יהוה be a pun on the element in these names and on a verb form, perhaps some kind of “becoming“?
    I’m sure the name of the deity yah or such came first. See the examples above.

    But puns are more Elohist than Yahwist, right?
    I don’t understand. Could you explain what you mean?

  35. “Non-theophoric to theophoric” should be “non-ya-theophoric” etc.
    ēlīyyā should be ēliyyā.

  36. Owlmirror says:

    But puns are more Elohist than Yahwist, right?
    I don’t understand. Could you explain what you mean?

    I think David may be misremembering — it’s in the Yahwist part (Gen 2-3) that the pun pair “עָרוּם” (clever, cunning, sly) and “עֵירֹם” (naked) occurs, for example.

  37. David Marjanović says:

    I think David may be misremembering —

    Not even. The two sets of puns that came to mind – “man”/”woman” in the creation story and Abram > Abraham, Sarai > Sarah – happen to be in Elohist parts, and I couldn’t remember any in the Yahwist ones, so I decided to offer potential evidence against the pun hypothesis.

    I’m sure the name of the deity yah or such came first. See the examples above.

    The verb form could be a pun on that, is my point.

  38. The changes of names of Abraham and Sarah was only later reinterpreted as a pun. It was originally a sincere attempt to explain away the differences in the characters’ names between what must have been understood as archaic pronunciations (perhaps as old as the remigration of Semitic people from Egypt to Palestine ca. 1600 B.C.E.) versus the current versions used in the vernacular. Even the vernacular versions were sufficiently confusing at the time that they knew “Abraham” was supposed to mean “father of” something, but they could not figure out what.

  39. Owlmirror says:

    @David Marjanović:

    “man”/”woman” in the creation story

    The Gen 2 man/woman creation is Yahwist/J.

    Abram > Abraham, Sarai > Sarah

    This happens in Gen 17 (which uses “Yahweh”, and also “Elohim”), which is Priestly/P .

    This DH reference for Genesis shows everything through Gen 19 as being mostly J, with a few verses and chapters by P, and bits here and there by R. Gen 20 is the first Elohist chapter.

    It may be that the source determinations are arguable, but that’s what I’ve been going by.

  40. AJP Crown says:
  41. Great scene from a movie I enjoyed tremendously. Warning for those allergic to car chases full of wreckage and Xtreme violence (spiced with juvenile jokes), this is a clip of a car chase full of wreckage and Xtreme violence (spiced with juvenile jokes).

  42. Owlmirror says:

    According to Google, one of the few hits not relating to the ship:

    Athenic, Progressive Experimental Technical Death Metal. Since 2005 (in NZ)

    There’s also an Athenic consulting group in the UK.

    Prank: Hire each to do the other’s job (call it a team-building exercise, or something), in the same building, on the same day.

    There’s also some sort of lab/tech organization in Tennessee with the same name. OK, how about a 3-way round robin?

  43. Stu Clayton says:

    Authentic, dear, not Athenic. Authentic Manhood (dot com) in Memphis TN. Athens is a different city.

  44. Owlmirror says:

    I just ran across a hit that made me wonder:

    Athenic Owllance – Magic Items – Homebrew – D&D Beyond
    Appearing to be made of wood, this reveals it’s true power in the hands of a knight of Athena.

    What sort of term should be used as an adjective meaning “relating to Athena”, as distinct from “relating to Athens”?

    There’s also an Athenic Building in Wellington.

    Built in 1922, this building is a rare and distinctive design, being an example of the transition between Classical and Art Deco architectural styles. The decorative motifs on the pilasters and the spandrels are precursors to the elaborate geometric details that became popular with the Art Deco style.

  45. What sort of term should be used as an adjective meaning “relating to Athena”, as distinct from “relating to Athens”?

    That’s a very good question. I suspect people use periphrases.

    There’s also an Athenic Building in Wellington.

    Odd! One would like to know how it got named.

  46. The verb form could be a pun on that, is my point.

    You mean that the verb hwh/hyh ‘to be’ is back-formed from the name of the deity?

  47. Owlmirror says:

    Authentic, dear, not Athenic. Authentic Manhood (dot com) in Memphis TN. Athens is a different city.

    Go and tell it to Athenic, Inc of Maryville, TN, at athenic dot org. Tell them they’re doing it wrong.

    They might be Laconic in their response.

  48. David Marjanović says:

    The Gen 2 man/woman creation is Yahwist/J.

    *facepalm* I actually knew that…

    the remigration of Semitic people from Egypt to Palestine ca. 1600 B.C.E.

    Is there any evidence that that actually happened? Last time I read anything on the topic, the archeology of the Sinai said no.

    You mean that the verb hwh/hyh ‘to be’ is back-formed from the name of the deity?

    No, of course not. I was asking if it’s possible that the name was originally yhw, as found in various theophoric names, and was then changed to yhwh as part of a greater narrative.

  49. John Cowan says:

    What sort of term should be used as an adjective meaning “relating to Athena”, as distinct from “relating to Athens”?

    Athena(e)ic seems to be used only in the name of the Pan-Athena(e)ic Games, held in Athens every four years, but as they were definitely dedicated to the goddess rather than the city, it seems a plausible adjective. It would also make a good adjective for Athen(a)eum (sometimes lower case) ‘literary club, library, literary magazine’. There is also Palladian, from one of her other names.

    The first modern Olympic Games were held in the Panathena(e)ic Stadium in 1896 (mostly: the marathon was of course hosted at Marathon). After Paris 1900 and St. Louis 1904 were overshadowed by the World’s Fair and the Louisiana Purchase exhibition respectively, there was a plan to hold Intercalated Games in Athens every four years starting in 1906. However,1906 was the first and last such game, as in 1910 and 1914 and 1918 war made them impossible, and after that the momentum was lost. Even for the modern world, Olympic-level games every two years turned out to be too difficult to arrange.

  50. Owlmirror says:

    There’s also an Athenic Building in Wellington.

    Odd! One would like to know how it got named.

    Possibly relevant (more Googling): The SS Athenic was used as a troop transport conveying New Zealand Expeditionary Forces to WW1

  51. Owlmirror says:

    the remigration of Semitic people from Egypt to Palestine ca. 1600 B.C.E.

    Is there any evidence that that actually happened? Last time I read anything on the topic, the archeology of the Sinai said no.

    If you read “Levant” instead of the narrower “Palestine”, it might refer to the expulsion of the Semitic Hyksos from Egypt. Since there’s no reason to think that the fleeing Hyksos spent any more time in the Sinai than it took to travel north along the coast, there wouldn’t be reason to think there was much of anything in the Sinai to find.

    I doubt the Hyksos had anything more to do with either of the names Avram or Abraham than any other group of Semitic language speakers.

  52. J.W. Brewer says:

    I feel like the adjective associated with “Athen[a]eum,” should be something awesome like “atheneumistical” or “atheneumatic.”

  53. January First-of-May says:

    What sort of term should be used as an adjective meaning “relating to Athena”, as distinct from “relating to Athens”?

    It’s probably not distinct enough, but I personally would have used Athenean, or possibly Athenaean, as opposed to Athenian “relating to Athens”.
    (Google tells me that Athenean is an alternate spelling of Athenian, and that Athenaean is occasionally an alternate spelling of Athenian* but usually refers to the Athenaean Literary Society.)

    I agree that Athenaic should work. (Google tells me that it is, in fact, attested in this meaning: “[It is observed] secondly in the Athenaic powers…”)

     
    *) as in “the Athenaean treasury in Delphi”, which is actually the Athenian treasury, named for the city of Athens, despite being in Delphi

  54. Owlmirror says:

    “Relating to Hermes” of course yields “Hermetic”.

    I wondered if Ares->Aretic exists. Most Ghits seem to be misspellings of “Arctic”, but while it is not widespread, one Benjamin B. Wolman seems to be using it.

    Psychosomatic Disorders (2012):

    Eros and Ares are the two channels for the general drive for life; they “release” mental energy. Ares, like Eros, has an impetus, a source, an object and an aim. The impetus is the amount of destructive energy (destrudo) that Ares actives; its source is a threat to one’s own life; the aim of Ares is a complete or partial destruction of enemies, and the object of Ares’ hostility can be anything, including oneself.
      Hostile, aretic behavior originates in threat to life.

    Personality Dynamics (2013, but originally published in 1992):

    Ares is the name for the destructive arm of the universal lust for life drive […] and Aretic motivation is the chief releaser of energy.
    […]
    The balance in dynamics implies a balance of cathexes between the Ares—destrudo and Eros—libido. The aretic—destructive cathexes must be balanced […]

    It’s also in Academic Press Dictionary of Science and Technology, edited by Christopher Morris (1992), pg 151:

    aretic behavior Behavior. behavior that is destructive, hostile, and aggressive.

    I don’t know whether Wolman got it from the dictionary, or the dictionary got it from Wolman.

  55. Owlmirror says:

    Man, this commenting system is weird. I edited my comment a few times while I had time; the timer counted down, and reached the end with no error message. The “Comments” count said “54” above, and the comment (May 4, 2019 at 4:29 pm, #comment-3632685) appears on that instance of the page . . . but not on a new refresh of the page.

    Hm. Maybe the edits pushed it over some character-count point in the moderation system’s weighting?

    Cryptic.

  56. Beats me, but I’ve rescued it from moderation, and I’m impressed by the research.

  57. Athenic Building in Wellington.

    “Originally known as the ‘New Martin’s Building’ [named for its owner]. … In 1962 Louisa Papageorgiou purchased the building and renamed it the ‘Athenic Building’, presumably in honour of her Greek heritage. Today the building is still in use as retail and office space.”

    “A range of tenants have occupied the building, most for relatively short periods of time. For several decades, untl the late 1950s, the building was something of a home to players in the early film and cinematography business, … [modelling agency] …”

    Courtenay Place is these days the buzzing after-hours cultural hub of nightlife in the city. But up to the ’80’s had a rather seedy reputation.

  58. There is no evidence of a large-scale migration from Egypt to Palestine, but somebody probably made the trip. That much is evident from the fact that the core Exodus story and it’s miracles is clearly an account of the Thera eruption. It has fouling of the waters, migrations of vermin, clouds of darkness, burning hail, a tidal wave, and a pillar the people follow that is smoke by day and fire by night. All this must have made a great impression on some people, some of whom were probably Semites who decided to follow the pillar back northeast to their ancestral homeland.

    The pillar, which must have been far away in the original story, was reinterpreted as a more immediate manifestation of the divine presence. Some stories later place it before the Tent of Meeting or actually above the Ark of the Covenant.

  59. I was asking if it’s possible that the name was originally yhw, as found in various theophoric names, and was then changed to yhwh as part of a greater narrative.

    I see now. You threw me off with the word “pun”. Earlier extra-biblical sources have only yh~yhw, so the form yhwh could well have developed during the time of the kingdoms. A reinterpretation of the name as a verb seems reasonable. Compare Exodus 3:13–14, where ehǝye is explicitly both the name of God and the imperfective form of ‘to be’ (1sg, whereas yhwh is 3sg.m.)

  60. Owlmirror says:

    somebody probably made the trip. That much is evident from the fact that the core Exodus story and it’s miracles is clearly an account of the Thera eruption.

    Except for the absence of anything like actual vulcanism being described. There are some phenomena which might match up, but it’s like trying to map The Wizard of Oz to a screed advocating a gold standard for currency, or those folks who cherry-pick words from different languages to show that English or Hebrew or Greek or whatever was the “origin” of those words/that language. It looks a lot more like apophenia than otherwise.

    I’ve read The Parting of the Sea, by Barbara Sivertsen. It was sufficiently long ago that I don’t recall most of the details, but I don’t recall being convinced. I think I thought that she had some interesting ideas, some of which might be shown to be more problematic by a more knowledgeable person than myself. I’ll try and track down some reviews to see if actual archaeologists think it persuasive or not.

    All this must have made a great impression on some people, some of whom were probably Semites who decided to follow the pillar back northeast to their ancestral homeland.

    Given the curvature of the Earth, I doubt that the actual plume of the eruption would have been visible from Egypt, especially since the particulates themselves would have greatly reduced general visibility shortly after the initial eruption. Also, any such plume would have been in the northwest. Also, why would anyone think “Hey, God’s pitching a terrifyingly earth-shattering tantrum. Let’s go closer!”?

  61. I should add that yahwe or such is not an actual attested form of the 3.sg.m imperfective of ‘be’. The attested form is yihǝye. But it is a plausible speculation.

  62. Stu Clayton says:

    Also, why would anyone think “Hey, God’s pitching a terrifyingly earth-shattering tantrum. Let’s go closer!”?

    This consideration would tend to support a claim that there were no embedded reporters in those days.

  63. It looks a lot more like apophenia than otherwise.

    That was my reaction as well.

  64. Owlmirror says:

    Getting back to YHWH for a bit, I found that Ha’aretz has some articles on archaeology and religion.

    This fairly recent one on YHWH doesn’t have much new about mainstream scholarship on the topic (I think Y covered everything they have here), but it does have a few minority opinions that I post for their potential interest:

    [After discussing the etymology linking YHWH to the verb for “being”, at least for the author of Exodus 3]

    Still, not all scholars accept this etymology. And there have been many other proposals.

    According to one very unlikely theory, the name is not Semitic in origin at all – it stems from the same proto-Indo-European word for god that gave Latin “Jupiter” and Greek “Zeus.”

    Somewhat more probable is the theory that connects YHWH with the Arabic verb haw, meaning “blow,” which would be fitting for a storm god; or the theory that the name arises from a hypothetical Ugaritic root HWY, which might have carried the meaning “speak.”

    Yet another theory has it that the name was formed from two Arabic words: ya, a short word used to indicate you are talking to a person (e.g., you tack it on before a name of a person you are addressing – as in “Ya George, light the fire”) and huwa, meaning, “he.”

  65. Owlmirror says:

    I started to wonder if YHWH was pronounced the same by all worshippers. There’s enough of a gulf in time from the Early(?) Bronze to the Hasmonean/Roman period, and in space from northern Israel down to Judaea in the south for different variations to have arisen in their respective variants of Hebrew language and in their pronunciation of words, including YHWH.

    Interestingly, another article on the Tel Dan excavations cites evidence that Yahwists in Dan (northern Israel, Iron Age) pronounced the name differently from Judaeans.

    Yahwistic names were spelled differently by geography, due to differences in the dialects of north and south. In the south, the Yahwistic element was spelled “yahu” (yod-heh-vav), whereas in the north, it was spelled “yaw” (yod-vav) due to the contraction of the diphthong—both are shortened forms of YHWH.

    Seal impression with names that include the element yaw [yod-vav – a shortened form of YHWH] invoking the name of their protective deity abound at Dan. For example, stamped seals dating to the 9th and 8th century BCE, carrying the names Immidayaw and Zechariyaw have been found.

    So the question might be better phrased as “Which vowels was YHWH pronounced with in which locations and which time periods?” Although I suppose most people are more curious about the pronunciations used in Jerusalem, in the time periods before it was destroyed.

  66. Very interesting, thanks for doing that research!

  67. Owlmirror says:

    Speaking of vowels, I just noticed that the author of the piece switched the “a” and the “i” before and after the “d” while writing the same name!

    Immadiyaw (first occurrence)
    Immidayaw (2nd)
    Immida-yaw (3rd)
    Immadiyaw (4th&5th)

    The last one occurs with another North/South difference, so I’ll copy it whole:

    The spelling Immadiyaw is typical of the north; this same name spelled the southern way (Immadiyahu) was found on an ostracon from Horvat Uza in the Negev, Greer says, adding that it was almost certainly a completely different man.

    Someone could use a copyeditor, I think.

    I’m pretty sure that “Immadiyaw” is what the original transliterator intended. The rather famous Psalm 23 contains “כִּי-אַתָּה עִמָּדִי”; the kamatz under the mem is usually transliterated “a” and the hirik under the dalet is usually transliterated “i”.

  68. There has been more general work on differences between northern and southern pronunciations in the Tanakh, although I do not really remember many details. Over the course of over a millennium of Jewish history, there were periods of religious and political consolidation, alternating with periods of division (usually between North and South). There is also the issue that we do not know how uniform (or numerous) the early Hebrews were, or how distinct they were from their other Semitic neighbors. All these things will affect the evolution of Hebrew phonology.

    Some of the best data ought to come from the very old texts that survive in verse form (the Song of the Sea, the Song of Deborah, and the prophecies of Balaam, most notably). I am sure that some inferences can be drawn about the phonological differences between the early language of these verses (which is not uniform itself, of course; the prophecies of Balaam are of at least two different origins, and the age of the frame story involving Balaam himself is unknown) and the language of Josiah’s time, as recorded in Deuteronomy and some later books.

    There are probably also conclusions to be drawn from the way proper names are handled by later redactors. I mentioned the attempt to reconcile two versions of Abraham’s name, even though neither one was entirely transparent to them. There is also the transfer of the origin story for Saul’s name to Samuel, and what that may say about phonological changes between Eli’s time and Josiah’s.

  69. David L says:

    Also, why would anyone think “Hey, God’s pitching a terrifyingly earth-shattering tantrum. Let’s go closer!”?

    That reminds me, alas, of footage from the Indonesian tsunami of a decade or so ago, which killed something like a quarter of a million people. There was a video from one of the resorts of the sea very rapidly departing to a great distance, far faster and greater than an ordinary low tide. Many many people decided to run out onto the exposed sand, to see what was going on.

  70. @David L: That is a well-known issue with tidal waves, that they are immediately preceded by an extreme low tide, which often tempts people out to investigate. It is one of their deadliest features. It is also, of course, where tidal waves get their English name.

  71. David Marjanović says:

    According to one very unlikely theory, the name is not Semitic in origin at all – it stems from the same proto-Indo-European word for god that gave Latin “Jupiter” and Greek “Zeus.”

    DYW, YHW, same difference…

    Somewhat more probable is the theory that connects YHWH with the Arabic verb haw, meaning “blow,” which would be fitting for a storm god;

    That, on the other hand, makes perfect sense (but for my nigh on complete ignorance of Semitic morphology).

    the Indonesian tsunami of a decade or so ago

    And a half – 26 December 2004.

  72. John Cowan says:

    It looks a lot more like apophenia than otherwise.

    I read that as apophonia, i.e. ablaut, and was thoroughly bewildered. Only when I remembered that the latter is apophony in English did it occur to me to google.

  73. The northern/southern difference is best known from two versions of king names in the Bible, the Judean kings yǝhōāš and yǝhōrām, vs. the Israelian kings yōāš and yōrām. However there are no biblical examples of this contrast with theophoric name finals.

    However, the article you cited does illustrate such a contrast: the seal of Tel Dan (in the northern Galilee) reads לעמדיו l‘mdyw, which would read לְעִמָּדִיָּו “of ‘immādiyyāw” or maybe ֹלְעִמָּדִיּו “of ‘immādiyyō” (using the possessive dative l-). The ostracon at Horvat Zakur (in the NE Negev) reads עמדיהו ‘mdyhw which I would point as עִמָּדִיָּהוּ ‘immādiyyāhū.

  74. Some of the best data ought to come from the very old texts that survive in verse form (the Song of the Sea, the Song of Deborah, and the prophecies of Balaam, most notably).

    These texts have long time been thought to represent an older stratum of biblical literature. Apparently this is no longer the case (see Serge Frolov, 2011, How Old Is the Song of Deborah? Journal for the Study of the Old Testament 36:163, and references therein).

  75. @Y: I did not find that paper at all convincing, although I am certainly not an expert on the subject matter.

  76. Me neither. Here’s a more recent and more detailed survey, which would take me a long time to digest if I wanted to go through it. It also concludes that the SoD is not early.

  77. Owlmirror says:

    and the prophecies of Balaam

    Speaking of Balaam, another recent article in Ha’aretz was about Balak.

    The paper itself is one of the few that is open access for the archaeological journal Tel Aviv, and is co-authored by Israel Finkelstein, Nadav Na’aman, & Thomas Römer:

    Restoring Line 31 in the Mesha Stele: The ‘House of David’ or Biblical Balak?
    DOI: 10.1080/03344355.2019.1586378

    The reasoning is that a close examination of the squeeze ¹ made of the stone before it was broken shows that in the phrase suggested to be “bt[d]wd” by earlier authors, the tav, as well as the dalet, are actually completely absent due to the stone being eroded, and there is a dividing stroke before the waw, meaning a word break. So the authors interpret the section as being about a king with a 3-letter name that begins with “b”. They tentatively suggest “Balak”, supported by the following line about Horonaim, which was in Moabite territory, because Balak was a Moabite king.

    Note that this is not about the Tel Dan stele, where the appearance of “bytdwd” is not contested.
    _______________________________________________________________________
    1: I don’t recall seeing “squeeze” in this sense before: “(epigraphy) An impression of an inscription formed by pressing wet paper onto the surface and peeling off when dry.”

  78. I’m not familiar with that sense of “squeeze” either; “ektypon” sounds a lot fancier, if you ask me.

  79. January First-of-May says:

    I don’t recall seeing “squeeze” in this sense before

    I personally only recall encountering “squeeze” in this sense in one place before – in the previous article on the Mesha Stele, which introduced the “bt[d]wd” reading.

    I’m guessing that this just isn’t an object commonly worthy of being discussed in its own right – except in the specific case of the Mesha Stele, that is, where the original paper impression* is extant, but the actual stele was deliberately broken into pieces shortly after the impression was made (some, but not all, of the pieces had since been recovered).

    That said, I agree that “ektypon” sounds a lot fancier.

     
    *) incidentally, IIRC, in this particular case, the paper had to be peeled off while still slightly wet, because the person doing that didn’t have enough time to wait for full drying

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