Friday, May 19, 2017

"Cellar door, if it only meant something more interesting" ... but it does!


Quoting from memory C. S. Lewis' written endorsement of this phrase as highly aesthetic phonetically.

In Letters to children, one to a goddaughter, who wanted to become a writer, I think.

We know that Tolkien in his essay on English and Welsh mentioned same phrase - without the qualification "if it only meant something more interesting".

Perhaps wisely so.

First, we can check pronunciation : the "cellar" seems to be the non-rhotic pronunciation, the "door" at least potentially the rhotic one.

Now, I just said, it does mean sth more interesting than the door of a cellar - depending on which language you go to.

For [selador] in French, it means sth highly interesting (never mind French r's being unaesthetic, one can use the Burgundian version, and not use the Parisian r).

Let's put it in context:

"Adorer, ça signifie de mettre en avant la bonté, sainteté, grandeur de Dieu. Les êtres créés le font volontairement s'ils sont doués de l'esprit, et par leur nature en tout cas, même s'ils ne le sont pas, comme le sel et comme l'eau. Le sel adore Dieu par le fait de purifier et faire guérir les plaies, et ceci avec de la peine, comme c'est le cas pour la pénitence. Et l'eau adore Dieu par le fait d'être limpide, pour le fait d'enlever les souillures et de préparer les gens à vivre un bon moment avec le visage et les vêtements propres. Donc, le sel et l'eau sont utilisés pour l'eau bénite, avec qui on se signe avant d'adorer Dieu."

But you also have Spanish, where it would in Madrid and further South be "watchman" or "watching". Above, in Burgos, that would not be [selador] but [thelador].

In theory, it could instead have been either of two meanings, Latin "celator" - hider - or "zelator" - zealot. Probably the first is the real relative of Spanish celador.

If one made a conlang with roughly Spanish development of Latin words, but with an accent shift like in Sindarin to make it sound more English [sélador = roughly cellar door, rather than seladór], one could say sth about the "cellar door" which makes the subject highly interesting - and which Chesterton would have endorsed:

"The cellar door? Búino, es célador de tésoros y es célador de la líbertadh."*

It is a hider (or watchman!) of treasures and a zealot for liberty - so much indeed of the first, that I suspect Uther Pendragon was more related to the cellar door of king Cole of Colchester than to the dragon of Beowulf, since wine is a healthier treasure than "iumenna gold", especially if also "galdre bewunden."

At least Thorin found it so.

Reminds me of the fact that in Spain, wine cellars in certain parts of the North look very much like hobbit holes (same round doors), so that a wine bottle is technically a "hobbit" - a "holbytla", a "hole dweller". Hence my joke back in 2004 about "drink a hobbit". Nothing to do with any vampyric lusts after Pippin or Merry, simply an observation on where wine bottles in Spain are dwelling.

Hans Georg Lundahl
Nanterre UL
Pope St Celestine V
19.V.2017

* Real Spanish : "La trappa de la cava? Bueno, es celadora de tesóros y celosa de la libertad".

Monday, May 15, 2017

Medieval women married when?


Φιλολoγικά/Philologica : Medieval women married when? · Assorted retorts from yahoo boards and elsewhere :... on Jailbait Now (Some States), Legal Back Then

I was taking two Nordic examples and to each adding wikiwise knowable relatives, not too far back or on, namely St Bridget of Vadstena (outside Sweden mostly known as St Bridget of Sweden) and Queen Margaret of the Three Kingdoms (or of Kalmar Union).

I started out with Swedish articles, since I believed it would be hard to find some of these in non-Swedish and non-Scandinavian, including English, articles. I am leaving Swedish and Danish text as a bonus for those knowing the languages, while resuming age relevant data in English after each such. If no resumé follows, age is not deducible from Swedish material.

Let's start with St Bridget:

I-1 Birgitta Birgersdotter, även känd som Heliga Birgitta, född omkring 1303 förmodligen i Finsta, Uppland, död 23 juli 1373 i Rom, Kyrkostaten, var en svensk katolsk predikant, författarinna, teolog samt ordens- och klostergrundare av Birgittinorden.

Några år senare, vid omkring tretton års ålder, giftes hon mot sin vilja bort med den artonårige Ulf Gudmarsson. Hon ville säkert hellre leva som jungfru och lyckades också övertala sin make att de första åren leva i avhållsamhet, men därefter födde hon åtta barn. Makarna bodde under dessa år på Ulfåsa vid sjön Boren i Östergötland.

Married 13 (1316), oldest (live?) child at 16 (1319).

II-1 Märta Ulfsdotter, född omkring 1319, död 1371, var en svensk hovdam. Hon var som hovmästarinna ansvarig för drottning Margaretas uppfostran och undervisning.

Her oldest son of first marriage, date of birth not mentioned. But she had two children with her first husband who died 1345 - when she was 26.

Her oldest daughter of second marriage was:

III-1 Ingegerd Knutsdotter, född 1356, död 1412; abbedissa i Vadstena kloster 1388-1403 - and as abbess, she was not married.

Next daughter:

III-2 Katarina Knutsdotter, död cirka 1412, hovmästarinna hos Filippa av England 1412 (Philippa of England being an English princess but Swedish Queen).

No marriage mentioned.

III-3 Ingrid Knutsdotter - neither articles, nor dates.

II-2 Cecilia Ulvsdotter, födelseår okänt, död 12 mars 1399 i Vadstena kloster, var en medlem av det svenska frälset, dotter till heliga Birgitta och en figur i Birgittalegenden. Nun, no date of marriage therefore.

Back before St Bridget?

Her mother was second wife of Birger Perssons, and she is given no birthyear and has no article of her own. However, back to St Bridget's generation, her sister:

I-2 Katarina Birgersdotter. Hennes födelse- och dödsår är okända, men hon omtalas som minderårig 14 mars 1315.

Hon vigdes före 20 september 1316 med Magnus Gudmarsson (Ulvåsaätten).

She had a daughter, Ingeborg:

II-3 Ingeborg Magnusdotter, född ca 1327, och dotter till Magnus Gudmarsson (Ulvåsaätten) och Katarina Birgersdotter (Finstaätten) och systerdotter till heliga Birgitta. Begravdes 1390 28/6 i Vadstena kloster (E). Ägde jord i Norra Vedbo härad (F).

No date of marriage given.

Here, I, II, III mark generations from St Bridget to that of grand daughters. 1, 2 etc mark persons mentioned in each generation. My own way of dealing with this. For next, I will be using a more traditional Sosa-Stradonitz marking. 1 = the peson herself, 2 = her father, 3 = her mother, anyone's father = 2*own number, anyone's mother 2*own number+1. Adding n:n for children, greatgrandchildren etc. and numbering them in each generation either lower case Roman if children of someone marked with Arabic, or in Arabic if children to someone numbered in lower case Roman numerals: and children of the person marked in order of birth.

So, now to Queen Margaret:

1) Queen Margaret (of three Kingdoms).

Margareta Valdemarsdotter föddes våren 1353 på Søborg på norra Själland som dotter till kung Valdemar Atterdag och hans hustru drottning Helvig av Slesvig. Hennes äldre syster Ingeborg Valdermarsdotter var gift med hertig Henrik Bödeln av Mecklenburg och hertiginna av Mecklenburg-Schwerin.

I januari 1359 trolovades Margareta med den norske kungen Håkan Magnusson, som 1362 blev kung i Sverige och samtidigt medregent med sin far Magnus Eriksson. Vigseln ägde rum den 9 april 1363 på Köpenhamns slott. - Betrothed at six, formally married at 10, very obviously not consumed yet, bears her only child in ... I början av december 1370 födde Margareta sitt enda barn, Olof, som i maj 1376 valdes till kung i Danmark efter sin morfar, Valdemar Atterdag som dött i oktober 1375.

So, she was 17 when bearling Olof.

2) King Valdemar Atterdag
3) Helvig av Slesvig - married King Valdemar in 1340, no birthdate given.

Daughter other than Queen Margaret:

3:iii Ingeborg Valdemarsdotter (1347-1370), gift med hertig Henrik Bödeln av Mecklenburg (1337/1338-1383)

Ingeborg Valdemarsdotter, född 1 april 1347, död före 16 juni 1370, hertiginna av Mecklenburg-Schwerin.

Ingeborg fick överta äldre systern Margaretas tilltänkte make hertig Henrik Bödeln av Mecklenburg (1337/1338–1383) efter Margaretas död 1350. Ett bröllopskontrakt mellan Ingeborg och Henrik upprättades i Dornburg 23 oktober 1350. - marital contract in 1350, when she was 3 (!)

Ingeborg och Henrik gifte sig sedan före 3 juni 1362. - Married before this date in 1362, when she was 15 and a few months.

No article about her oldest daughter and her husband, here is about her second daughter:

3:iii:2 Maria av Mecklenburg (1363/1365–1402/1403), gift med hertig Vartislav VII av Pommern (stupad 1394/1395)

Maria av Mecklenburg, född någon gång mellan 1363 och 1367, men troligen senast 1365, död efter 13 maj 1402, var en hertiginna av Pommern. - Birth dates vary between 1363 and 1367, they say probably latest 1365.

Hon gifte sig 1380, före 23 mars, med hertig Vratislav VII av Pommern (stupad 1394 eller 1395) och fick med honom sonen Bogislav (född omkring 1382, död 1459), mer känd som den nordiske unionskungen Erik av Pommern, och dottern Katarina (född omkring 1390, död 1426), gift med pfalzgreve Johan av Pfalz (född omkring 1383, död 1443). Maria var även eventuell arvtagare till sin moster, den nordiska unionsdrottningen Margareta.

- Married early in 1380. Meaning, if she was born even a bit later in 1365, she was (oh, horror to the Nordic feminists!) just 14, and if she was born in 1367, she was 13 or just 12 and some.

She had, besides Erik of Pomerania a daughter too:

3:iii:2:ii dottern Katarina (född omkring 1390, död 1426), gift med pfalzgreve Johan av Pfalz (född omkring 1383, död 1443).

Katarina av Pommern, född omkring 1390, död i Gnadenberg den 12 mars 1426, var en pommersk furstinna, gift grevinna av Pfalz. - Born AROUND 1390.

Katarina gifte sig i Ribe den 15 augusti 1407 med pfalzgreve Johan av Pfalz (omkring 1383-1443). - Married at 17 or AROUND that date.

Paret fick följande barn: Kristofer av Bayern (1416-1448), nordisk unionskung - the one child named after 9 years of marriage.

4) Kristofer II
5) Eufemia av Pommern Eufemia av Pommern, född 1285, död 26 juli 1330, var en dansk drottning, gift 1300, 1306 eller 1307 med kung Kristofer II av Danmark (r. 1320–1326, 1329–1332). - Queen Margaret's paternal grandmother was married any age between 15 and 22.

6) Erik 2. af Sønderjylland (ca. 1288 – 12. marts 1325)
7) Erik 2. giftede sig i 1313 med Adelheid Heinrichsdatter af Holsten-Rendsborg (død januar 1350). - Marital age cannot be determined, since birthdate is not given on article about husband (she has none of her own)

8) Erik Klipping, Erik V Kristoffersson, född 1249, död 22 november 1286, var kung av Danmark 1259-1286. Han var son till sin företrädare kung Kristofer I (död 1259) och Margareta Sambiria av Pommerellen (död 1282).
9) Agnes av Brandenburg, drottning av Danmark och Danmarks regent som sonens förmyndare 1286-93, född 1257/1258, död 29 september 1304, begravd i Ringsted. Dotter till markgreve Johan I av Brandenburg (död 1266/1267) och Jutta av Sachsen (död 1287).

Born 57/58.

Agnes gifte sig första gången den 11 november 1273 i Schleswig med kung Erik V Kristoffersson av Danmark (1249-1286), mer känd som Erik Klipping.

Married 11.XI.1273, at, obviously, 16 or 15. Her husband was 8 years older. Her first son was not Christopher II, but his older brother:

Erik Menved (1274-1319), kung Erik VI Eriksson av Danmark - born 1274, year after marriage, which must therefore have been immediately consummated or within very few months. At 15 or even more 16, unlike 12, there was hardly any need to hesitate.

10) Bogislaw IV (Polish: Bogusław IV; died 19 February 1309 or 24 February 1309), of the Griffins dynasty, was Duke of Pomerania for thirty years.
11) He firstly married Matilda of Brandenburg-Stendal, daughter of John I, Margrave of Brandenburg. He married secondly Margarete of Rügen, daughter of Wizlaw II, Prince of Rügen. His children from his second marriage were:

And no birthdate or marital date for Margarete of Rügen are given. Euphemia was however her oldest daughter and child, born 1285, as said. Her father:

22) Vitslav II (c. 1240 – 1302), variously called Vislav, Vizlav, Wislaw, Wizlaw and Witslaw in English sources (German: Wizlaw II) was a prince of Rügen.

1285-1240 = 45 years for two generations. Actually, his article mentions that Margaret (born around 1270/71 – died 1318), married 1284 Duke Bogislaw IV of Pomerania-Wolgast.

Meaning, Margaret of Rügen was 15 or 14 when her daughter Euphemia was born.

12-15 no results.

16) Kristofer I (danska: Christoffer I), född 1219, död 29 maj 1259, kung av Danmark från 1252. Yngste son till Valdemar Sejr och drottning Berengaria, bror till Erik Plogpenning och Abel. Gift med Margareta Sambiria av Pommerellen. 17) Margareta "Sambiria" av Pommerellen, född 1230/1234, död 1 december 1282, var drottning av Danmark som gift med Kristofer I av Danmark (1219—1259), och Danmarks regent mellan 1259 och 1266 som förmyndare för sin son Erik V Klipping. Som regent fick hon tillnamnet "Spränghäst" och "Svarta Grete" på grund av sin viljestyrka och energi.

Dotter till Mechtild av Mecklenburg och Sambor II av Pommerellen, gift 1248 med Kristofer I av Danmark (1219—1259). - In other words, she was married between 14 and 18. And as her son was born next year (see 8!) marriage was immediately consumed.

18) Johan I av Brandenburg (tyska: Johann I. von Brandenburg), född omkring år 1213, död 4 april 1266, var tillsammans med sin bror Otto III av Brandenburg markgreve av Markgrevskapet Brandenburg i det Tysk-romerska riket från år 1220 till sin död 1266. 19) Jutta av Sachsen, född omkring 1240, död 23 december 1287. Dotter till hertig Albrekt I av Sachsen och Agnes av Thüringen (död före 1247). Jutta blev markgrevinna av Brandenburg i sitt 1255 ingångna äktenskap med markgreve Johan I av Brandenburg (död 1266/1267) och mor till danska drottning Agnes av Brandenburg.

Married AROUND 15. Daughter "9) Agnes av Brandenburg" born two to three years later. No other - or earlier - children mentioned in article. If you don't prefer to call it a stub.

20) Barnim I the Good (c. 1217/1219 – 13 November 1278) from the Griffin dynasty was a Duke of Pomerania (ducis Slauorum et Cassubie) from 1220 until his death. 21) "Between 1253 and 1254, Barnim I married secondly with Margareta (b. aft. 1231 - d. bef. 27 May 1261), probably a daughter of Nicholas I, Lord of Werle and member of the House of Mecklenburg,[4][5] although other sources identified her as a daughter of Otto the Child, Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg. Historian Robert Klempin identified her as the widow of Vitslav I, Prince of Rügen, but this seems very doubtful from a chronological view.[6] They had one son: Bogislaw IV (b. bef. 1258 - d. 19 February 1309), co-ruler from 1276 and sole ruler after his father's death, sharing power with his younger half-brothers."

1253
1232
0011

1254
1232
0012

In other words, the mother of Boleslaw (10) was at most 12, and marriage was fruitful with him within at most 5 years.

22) Vitslav II (c. 1240 – 1302) ... as mentioned
23) Vitslav II married between 1263 and 1269 Agnes of Brunswick-Lüneburg, the daughter of Duke Otto I, the Child of Brunswick and Matilda of Brandenburg. The names of four sons and four daughters are known from the Vitslav's testament dated 27 December 1302: ...

But the age of Agnes of Brunswick-Lüneburg is not given.

So, let's resume:

Not mentioned if married - 2, before I lost count. Inapplicable (since monastic) - 2, before I lost count. Age not mentioned - 5, before I lost count. As is case with following more precise info too:

Married : 10 (formally), 12/16, 13, 15, 15/22, c.17

Oldest child : 14/18, 16, 17
Second daughter between 16 and 20,
Only (?) child around 26, at 35

Here I lost count. One thing is certain, the ancestors we had in the Middle Ages disagreed with today's Swedish feminists about whether it was normal or not to marry in early teens and get pregnant quick. Our ancestors thought so, even if they found it irksome especially bearing children, the feminists of today do not, irksome having become "undesirable" to them.* Our ancestors were Catholics, the feminists of today are Lutheran Modernists or at least as often clearly post-Christian (but not quite related to pre-Christian customs).

Hans Georg Lundahl
Nanterre UL
St. Jean-Baptiste de LaSalle
15.V.2017

* Note that previous to Reformation, unlike in Muslim countries, "our daughters" also could get around the irksome stuff by either becoming nuns (which might involve the other irksome stuff called celibacy and chastity, of course), or fidgeting about marriage, or sheer luck, and also - but this might be same as with some Muslims - by agreeing to post-pone consummation. Once Reformation said all should marry, goodbye with those solutions to a large part of Europe!

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Nibelungen verse project


1) I'll give you wondrous hearsay · which olden tales us tell
of praising of the heroes · of deeds perfected well
of joy and festive season · of crying and of sorrow
of noble men at fighting · so your eager ears I wish to borrow.

2) There grew in Burgund · a truly noble maid
who in all lands no fairer · than her was truly said.
She was ycleped Kriemhilt · and fair to make one grieve
Wherefore of gallant warriors · so many had their flesh to leave.

3) Most lovable the maiden · deserved the love of all
the brave for her took efforts · none enemy, each thrall
and beauteous without measure · that was her flesh so fair
but virtues of this virgin · are fair for women everywhere.

4) Three kings of her were caring · of nobility and might
Gunther, even Gernot · such warriors were right
and Giselher, the young one · a choice and noble man
the lady was their sister · the princes care as best they can.

= 4) Ir pflâgen drî künege edel unde rîch:
Gunther unde Gêrnôt, die recken lobelîch,
und Gîselher der junge, ein ûz erwelter degen.
diu frouwe was ir swester. die fürsten hetens in ir pflegen.

dead link, previously about Nibelungen:
http://www3.nd.edu/~gantho/anth1-163/Nibelungenlied63-81.html


The project had to be abandoned at least for this link, since after the last stanza I copied from it, I have no online Middle High German text to translate. Too bad!/HGL

Another Medical (Or Chirurgial) Treatise of the Middle Ages


Since part of my readers are presumably medical doctors and personel who think they knew nothing of medicine in the Middle Ages, here is an article on a treatise by John of Arderne, namely hiss Mirror of Phlebotomy & Practice of Surgery, which is located at the Glasgow University Library.

And here is the link to the article, not limited to, but often featuring Arderne:

The Strange and Grotesque Doodles in the Margins of Medieval Books
When the edges take center stage.
by Anika Burgess May 09, 2017
http://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/medieval-marginalia-books-doodles

Friday, April 28, 2017

Est-ce que Macron a qualifié la colonisation de l'Algérie de crime?


Laquelle? Celle par les Musulmans venus après Omar, après le deuxième calife, non? Ou celle par les Turks?

Quand a celle par la France, elle a contenu des crimes, elle n'en était pas un.

Il y a eu trois genres de crimes impliqués dedans, sinon quatre erreurs:

  • les enfumades par Bugeaud (quoique la faim comme arme de guerre a été, probablement, reconnu comme parfois licite), et ceci pas encore dès le début en 1829-30, mais 10 ans plus tard, brièvement;
  • la décision d'un gouverneur d'interdire aux prêtres catholiques de faire la mission en Kabylie;
  • la réforme des formes de propriété, refusant de reconnaître autres modalité de propriété que celle par individus;
  • l'acclimatisation à un peuple à administrer qui avait l'habitude de l'être par des pirates esclavagistes.


Quand j'ai quelque chose à écrire contre le psychiatrie, il y a deux genres de Puritain qui ne sont pas d'accord : les Musulmans y compris les Harkis, et les amis de ceux-ci, les Pieds-Noirs. Vous savez, c'est une communauté contre laquelle FN n'est pas en guéguerre, à savoir les:

"c'est nous les Africains qui venons de loin"

Et je soupçonne que ce genre d'attitude parmi eux vient du fait que leur sécurité tenait pendant 130 ans à la loyauté envers une administration qui, celle-ci, devait aussi administrer les gens qui avaient eu l'habitude d'être administrés par pirates.

Mais ce qui se passe en 1830, c'est à l'honneur de la France, et ce qui se passe le 26 mars 1962 à rue d'Isly est à l'honneur éternel de bien de fusillés, de tous qui ne se trouvaient pas en péché mortel pour d'autres raisons.

Hans Georg Lundahl
BU de Nanterre
St. Paul de la Croix
28.IV.2017

PS, si je pose le titre en question et non en affirmation, c'est qu'il semble y avoir une petite discrépance entre ces deux nouvelles:

1 Le Point : Macron et les harkis : la visite-surprise
Publié le 19/04/2017 à 16:02 | Le Point.fr
http://www.lepoint.fr/presidentielle/macron-et-les-harkis-la-visite-surprise-19-04-2017-2120897_3121.php


2 Le Point : "Crime contre l'humanité" : Emmanuel Macron a-t-il parlé trop vite ?
Publié le 16/02/2017 à 15:27 | Le Point.fr
http://www.lepoint.fr/presidentielle/crime-contre-l-humanite-emmanuel-macron-a-t-il-parle-trop-vite-16-02-2017-2105365_3121.php

If the Devil's Minion's Hate Latin - Maybe he Does so Himself?


When I was a small boy and read Dracula, I learned that:

"vampires fear three things : a crucifix, garlic and beans in Latin"

I asked what "beans in Latin" meant, beans being obviously sth you put into your mouth, and Latin seemed to be rather something which came out of it.

It seems the word "bönor" in Swedish resembled the word I was reading, "böner", especially as in my native pronunciation - since then somewhat poshed up - I had learned about "bönor" in a way which sounded more like "böner". Now, "bönor" is the plural of "böna" which means bean. While, "böner" is the plural of "bön" which means prayer. In other words, the sentence really meant:

"vampires fear three things : a crucifix, garlic and prayers in Latin"

And that was when I learned the word "prayer" - this first time as "bön", later as "Gebet", "prayer", "bønn", "Gebeed", "prière", and as you may guess, sooner or later "prex" and "oratio".

I also learned to note tiny differences in spelling, like between "böner" and "bönor".

Now, I don't really think the Devil hates all Latin. After all, one of the Greek names which add up to 666 is ΛΑΤΕΙΝΟΣ, and King Latinus, the father in law of Aeneas was son of Picus, son of Saturn - a man, but one who shares the name of the Satanic rebel in Greek myths about origins. Also, Cicero wrote some nonsense, as did Lucretius in that language, and some have also called Codex Iuris Civilis "the Devil's Bible" - at least its study in last few centuries of Middle Ages made things worse for some categories, women becoming more dependent on men, poor beggars becoming less likely to remain free (though the application was not half as bad as the original decree, "in incertum vagantes", where a man begging while able bodied, even if not a runaway slave, would be treated like one and made a slave, that of whoever denounced him - no, Western Late Middle Ages did not get as bad as all that, it was modified to mean he was obliged to take work as a journeyman in whatever trade he knew, and if he didn't know one was obliged to take up one or two trades until he had a living - he was even free to beg rather than take up a third one, if he didn't manage on either of the two), also, perhaps certain expressions about relations between State and Church got into fuelling secularisation, which by now amounts to a secularism which neither the Late Middle Ages nor Justinian could have foreseen, a world in which "secular values" are an idol, and state recognition of a university is its difference to a "diploma mill".

But the Devil does - like Dracula - hate Latin prayers. So, a certain title "The Devil Hates Latin", it possibly might be short for the Devil hating Latin prayers and some other holy things in Latin (lika Summa Theologica and Vulgate Bible and Canon Law too).

Anyway, here is a novel which according to preview and blurb promises to be a bit saner than the Dracula I was reading back then:

The Devil Hates Latin Paperback – December 29, 2016
by Katharine Galgano (Author)
https://www.amazon.com/Devil-Hates-Latin-Katharine-Galgano/dp/0996647902/


Since the preview is available there, I don't copy the blurb even. Suffice it to say, demons don't always possess dead corpses turning them into vampires, or if that is really suspended animation and there is some real soul left along with the demon, they also have a thing or two about possessing living people, and the exorcists who try to help them are very much into Latin - there is also a love story, I suppose.

Hans Georg Lundahl
Nanterre UL
St Paul of the Cross
28.IV.2017

Thursday, April 27, 2017

On not trusting automatic translations!


On the status of a friend of a friend on FB, I found this:

Efter uppståndelsen var Jesus kropp förvandlad.Han kunde gå genom reglade dörrar, och han kunde aldrig mer dö. Hans kropp kunde inte åldras eller skadas.

Jesus var osårbar, ändå bar han sår.


In a distracted moment I clicked sth visible under it, and found it was a translation to French (it was on the FB account which I have in French).

Après l'excitation, le corps de Jésus s'est transformé. Il pourrait traverser les portes fermées, et il ne pouvait jamais mourir. Son corps ne peut pas devenir vieux ou endommagé.

Jésus était invulnérable, mais il a été blessé.


Uppståndelse is a Swedish word with two fairly distinct meanings both related to standing up.

It means, in the context here, a standing up of someone who was dead, i e a resurrection.

It also means when a lot of seated people hurry to stand up, which is a social excitation (not a mental solitary one), and is in certain political terms related to insurrection, however, the Swedish word does not get that far, it is a synonym for tumult, where English prefer the term commotion.

The actual Swedish word is a calque midway between resurrection and insurrection. Resurrection literally means "to stand up again", i e after lying down as a corpse. Insurrection literally means "to stand up on something", i e on a barricade (or simply on the floor on occasions where being seated is expected). Uppståndelse literally means "to stand up", and therefore only translates the part "surrectio" in the Latin base word. Hence, it translates both words into Swedish.

Now, instead of translating "efter uppståndelsen" with "after the Resurrection", the autotranslate has translated as "after the commotion".

In a way there is a kind of prophecy there, since the Descent into Hell or into Sheol and the ensuing Resurrection did involve quite a lot of commotion, joy for the souls who had been captive due to original sin, terror for the demons who were clearly "losing the grip" when these souls could no longer be confined in darkness. But for someone who didn't know Swedish, the translation is not immediately informative. If we don't believe the mistranslation (i e : if we don't trust this autotranslate) those of us who don't know Swedish but only French would be somewhat led astray if they didn't know Christian theology at least as much as main outline of Gospel story beforehand.

Le bon mot c'est "la Résurrection", pas "l'excitation".

This is not all.

  • "... var Jesus kropp förvandlad," means "Jesus' body was transformed," (i e already from that moment of Resurrection, and so all the time after it)

    • "... le corps de Jésus s'est transformé" means "Jesus' body transformed itself/changed" (i e after that moment, with some delay and development)

    • better : "était transformé".


  • "Han kunde gå genom reglade dörrar," means "he was" [in fact] "able to walk through locked doors".

    • "Il pourrait traverser les portes fermées," means "he would be able to walk through locked doors" [if and additional condition had been fulfilled.]

    • better : "il pouvait" etc.


  • Skipping minor quibbles on tense useage.

  • "Hans kropp kunde inte åldras eller skadas," means "His body could not age or be hurt."

    • "Son corps ne peut pas devenir vieux ou endommagé," means "His body cannot become old or damaged" - tense change is better theology, less good narrative, but chronologically speaking the Body of Christ is in fact 2017 years old this year, my friend's friend is speaking of the aging process, which stopped, He is anatomically 33, and it is not a piece of furniture where we speak of "damage", it is a living body where, prior to the resurrection, we speak of getting "hurt" or "wounded".

    • better : "Son corps ne pouvait pas vieillir ou être blessé".


  • "Jesus var osårbar, ändå bar han sår," means "Jesus was invulnerable, yet he bore wounds". He was invulnerable from Resurrection on, and bore wounds from before it.

    • "Jésus était invulnérable, mais il a été blessé," means "Jesus was invulnerable, but he has been wounded" - as if it was a question of an invulnerability not quite working.

    • better : "Jésus était invulnérable, mais il portait ses blessures".


If a human translator had come up with this, I would have noted him "peut mieux faire". But a computer can't do any better. It has no understanding of meaning.

The words are translated by algorithms, and the more common use of "uppståndelsen" is "the commotion", so the computer translates, mechanically, the word with "l'excitation" even when "the commotion" was not not what the human writer meant. The computer cannot translate after probable meaning, since it has no idea at all about meaning.

One could program it to make an exception when Jesus is in the same sentence, but suppose a Swede were to say:

"När Jesus talade var uppståndelsen ofta stor bland fariseerna"

He would be, for Swedish, making a pun on the resurrection, but the accurate meaning of the words would be:

"When Jesus spoken the commotion was often great among the Pharisees".

And a computer programmed to translate "uppståndelsen" with "la Résurrection" each time Jesus occurred in the same sentence would now be getting this sentence wrong instead. AI is a myth, a misunderstanding of what computers do. It is not around the corner, it is a metaphysical impossibility.

Hans Georg Lundahl
Nanterre UL
St. Peter Canisius, S.J.
27.IV.2017