Dulce, utile, et decorum est pro patria scribere.
The Conservapedia is an online reference site built as an answer to Wikipedia, which may or may not host leftist interpretations of facts, but which definitely is a questionable source of information since there is no “authoritative” vetting of articles, only editing by, uh, other people. The Conservapedia is the same, but it openly names its political (and religious) slant up front. As such, it’s a good reminder to us to scrutinize language to understand the assumptions on which statements of fact about history, personalities, and theories are based. There is little that’s “neutral”.
The Conservapedia Bible Project plans to retranslate the Bible to replace unclear or misleading words with new words that also conform to a conservative perspective. This is a reaction to other translations that do things like make all the God pronouns gender neutral, or even female (e.g. Mother, Daughter, Holy Womb). The rationale is:
However, if we keep replacing the old words with new or different ones, the original English words will be lost, their meaning transformed. Furthermore, “more precise” may be a matter of interpretation rather than translation.
Though the translator apparently is translating from the original Greek (and I don’t know Greek), I can tell that he oversimplifies or even alters ideas. For example:
“Holy breath” (Holy Spirit) is simple English. “Divine Guide” is an interpretation. Fred found a quite lengthy definition of pneuma hagios in one of his Greek dictionaries.
I don’t know if “son of David” is a more or less accurate translation than “descendant of David” but “descendant” is a more accurate statement of the ancestry of Jesus. On the other hand, “Abraham begat Isaac” is a stronger active statement than “Abraham was the father of Isaac”, and although “begat” is now archaic, it’s understandable to those who read the Bible. The Conservabible says, “The passive ‘was the father’ emphasizes the ancestry.” But it doesn’t particularly, and in fact it is not a passive construction. “Isaac was fathered by Abraham” would be passive.
People use words and names like “grace” for a reason. To knock out the historical underpinnings is to weaken meaning. Likewise, the translator suggests replacing “liberal” with “generous” because of its current ubiquitous political meaning, but again, it’s a mistake to lose the history of the word liberal, which is related also to liberty, liberality, and libertine. (Compare and contrast.)
The comment on Matthew 1:9 is: “The inclusion of King Ahaz is truly remarkable, considering Ahaz' less-than-honorable history.” What does this have to do with translation? The Bible is full of ordinary human beings, from the noble to the reprehensible, but nearly all imperfect.
Other translation suggestions are simply idiotic:
He may have taught them anyplace, and in any case this wasn’t an alternative to the public education system, which presumably didn’t exist at that time. “Teach” is sufficient.
The Conservapedia’s definition of “media” is “businesses that report on scarce occurrences of interest to the public.” Occurrences of crime and political events are hardly scarce, and media don’t often qualify as false idols even though they report on false idols.
Suggests “Protestant work ethic” (or Puritan work ethic). The phrase was coined by Max Weber, but early Protestant settlers in New England had a particular interpretation of “work and pray” which led to the famous PWE. (I sell PWE T-shirts, by the way; see below at CafePress.) In any case, “talent” was a type of money, though, not a gift or ability. If anything should be reworded, that’s the word.
Previous translations of the Bible do have inaccuracies, and every so often it’s useful to have a modern translation. While I sympathize with the conservative or preservative intent, these translators don’t seem to have a purely scholarly approach, and furthermore are not preserving either precise translations or the English language. I’d much rather see the old King James with a lot of footnotes. The commentaries on the Conservapedia entries are interesting and in some cases better written than the ’pedia page.
Andrew Schlafly founded Conservapedia in 2007 but it’s not clear who is the author of these translations and suggested language.
A TV public service ad for safety tips with babies said: “Never co-sleep with your baby.” Why “co-sleep”? Did the writers think, perhaps, that “sleep with” has finally come to always mean “have sex with” in popular usage?
As for the advice, I don’t know what the statistics are on babies being crushed by co-sleeping parents, but my grandmother, who had eleven children, said if she hadn’t taken her babies into bed with her she never would have gotten any sleep.
Potemkin Color Guard
Bill Williams referred me to a news item about a color guard in the US Naval Academy, to point out the tongue-in-cheek mission statement masthead of Commander Salamander’s blog:
Anyway, the news story is that someone fiddled with the Naval Academy color guard to represent the “diversity” of the Naval Academy. This representation is not, of course, statistical, and a careful reader of the above-linked news story asked:
A City Reader
Tom Simon pointed out a new blog about books by Bill Gunlocke, A City Reader. About books, by a teacher/editor/bookstore owner who likes books. Friend of yours, Tom?
I ran across “Click to embiggen” somewhere. It seems to be a new slang term of obvious denotation. Cute.
It is patterned after words like embolden and embrace, though those two are slightly different from each other. Embrace would be literally in arms. Embolden uses the prefix more as an intensifier for bolden, which actually is a verb, though not used now.
Math and Logic
Mike Sykes wrote about PO 347:
I’m in favor of rote. But even the teachers who think their students won’t “need” to use algebra would agree that they will need to use logic at some point in their lives, and algebra and geometry are all about logic.
(Note that the British use “maths” where we would say “math”.)
The Weekly Gizzard: Examiner.com
POWs tried as civilians needn't be released at war's end
Thursday, November 19th, 2009
Trying 9/11 jihadists in New York City is a bad idea for so many reasons. It's a slap in the face to New...
Test late and seldom for breast cancer
Tuesday, November 17th, 2009
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force now recommends fewer breast screenings, starting later in life, for women....
Senator Dick Durbin: American Dreamer
Tuesday, November 17th, 2009
Gitmo prisoners may be moved to a military wing of an Illinois prison. Illinois Democratic Senator Dick Durbin says...
Tuesday, November 17th, 2009
An article about liberation theology in today's Frontpagemag.com is illustrated with a rather startling image...
Kicking him while he's bowed down
Monday, November 16th, 2009
He did it again. Our President bowed at almost a 90 degree angle when meeting the Emperor and Empress of...
Today: Panel discussion on health care reform by health professionals at UC
Monday, November 16th, 2009
The public is invited to attend a panel discussion on health care reform at Kresge Auditorium in the U. of...
I’m publishing for the Kindle digital reader with Amazon and now also on Lulu.com for download to computer and for printing. Most of these titles are available in both locations. Search for Rhonda Keith on Amazon.com Kindle store and Lulu.com.
A Walk Around Stonehaven is a travel article on my trip to Scotland. Short article with photos. (Lulu.com only.)
The Wish Book is fantasy-suspense-romance featuring the old Sears Roebuck catalogues. Novella.
Carl Kriegbaum Sleeps with the Corn is about a young gambler who finds himself upright in a cornfield in Kansas with his feet encased in a tub of concrete; how would you get out of a spot like that? Short story.
Still Ridge is about a young woman who moves from Boston to Appalachia and finds there are two kinds of moonshine, the good kind and the kind that can kill you. Short story.
Whither Spooning? asks whether synchronized spooning can be admitted to the 2010 Winter Olympics. Humorous sports article.
Blood, Sweat, Tears, and Cats: One woman's tale of menopause, in which I learn that the body is predictive; I perceive that I am like my cat; and I find love. Autobiographical essay.
Parvum Opus Volume I. The first year (December 2002 through 2003). You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll get PO’ed. Collection of columns.
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Scot Tartans: T-shirts and more (custom orders available).
Trivium pursuit ~ rhetoric, grammar, and logic, or reading, writing, and reckoning: Parvum Opus discusses language, education, journalism, culture, and more. Parvum Opus by Rhonda Keith is a publication of KeithOps / Opus Publishing Services. Editorial input provided by Fred Stephens. Rhonda Keith is a long-time writer, editor, and English teacher. Back issues from December 2002 may be found at http://www.geocities.com/