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Re: CHAT: Hello

From:Roger Mills <romilly@...>
Date:Wednesday, May 2, 2001, 6:15
Irina Rempt wrote:
<< Translating *anything* lengthy from the Bible (or modern-day
political texts, or Kipling, for that matter) into Valdyan calls for
many words for concepts that don't exist in Valdyan (the *concepts*
don't exist, it's not just that I don't know the words yet) which
will forever after be part of the Valdyan vocabulary, that is, of the
culture. By translating something alien to the culture I've
contaminated the culture by concepts alien to it, and I don't want
that to happen so I take care only to translate things either neutral
or fully compatible (like the Vlami story or the Draseléq play). >>

I fully agree with Irina's position.  Some of us, clearly, put a great deal
of care and thought into the creation of the culture(s) underlying our
languages.  Those that are Not of This Earth, or of This Time, by
definition, will lack, perhaps will not need, certain concepts that we
members of theW.European/Judeo-Christian world take for granted.  And
indeed, some of those things we take for granted seem odd, quaint, _alien_
to many others of our own species.  So how will they be seen by a truly
alien culture?

It is also true that some of us probably ascribe more reality to our created
cultures than would the casual observer.  Perhaps, even,  more than is
healthy-- but that's a judgment call, and I haven't seen any evidence here
lately of severe mental imbalance.

I have translated bits and pieces of the Bible into Kash; it's readable, but
if Kash people truly existed, they would be asking "What this all about?" at
almost every phrase, and a really adequate translation would thus require a
vast explanatory apparatus.  "A God who speaks (!) to "His" people?  What
kind of "God" creates a paradise but enjoins the 2 residents not to touch
one particular bit of it?  In what way are murder, theft, or adultery
"sins"-- crimes yes, but that's a legal matter isn't it?   If I commit an
offense against my society, the society has ways of dealing with it-- what
does "God" have to do with it?  If I offend my neighbor, surely it's up to
me to make amends, if at all possible; and if I do so adequately, then it's
up to my neighbor to accept it, and we get on with our lives.

"We can speak of "redeeming" a coupon, or a bond; we know about "ransoming"
a kidnap victim; but how do you "redeem" a person? From what, with what?
What is this 'original sin'?  Do you truly consider yourselves inherently
sinful?  How odd.
 "Give us this day our daily bread"-- in what way is this "God's" concern,
and who are we to be giving God an order?  Even as a figure of speech, isn't
my daily search for physical and spiritual sustenance my own problem?"

Re the Declaration of Human Rights: they would ask, "what's with you people,
that you have to be _told_ how to live in harmony with one another?"  (Also,
it's just too long and dreary to translate....)

Not that I view the Kash as perfect specimens.  They get up in the morning
and go to work; cheat and lie; they eat, drink and shit. They dislike and
distrust their Gwr neighbors. They occasionally kill.  They do take far
better care of their planet than we do, and, having been civilized longer
than we, tend to think things through more carefully.

I have read and used the _I Ching_; to me it's an amusing game, not totally
understood even with all the footnotes; at a higher level, the _Tibetan Book
of the Dead_  in English translation. Grammatical yes, but almost
incomprehensible to me. Alas, I'm not a member of the cultures that
understand and respect these things, and it would take years, perhaps a
lifetime, to achieve such understanding.  Sometimes, mere translation isn't


Frank George Valoczy <valoczy@...>