george.thompson at NYU.EDU
Tue Jun 5 19:46:24 UTC 2001
G. S. Cole informs us of the work of the "Long Now Foundation, of San
Francisco, which is leading an effort to create a modern Rosetta
Stone, a collection of 1,000 translations of the first three chapters
of the book of Genesis into languages from Abkhaz to Zulu."
Another comparable project -- after a fashion -- is the series of books
published by J. H. Heineman, of New York, giving translations of P. G.
Wodehouse's story "The Great Sermon Handicap" in all of the languages
of the world. The first volume covered mainly the usual western
European languages, but later volumes have covered less widely known
languages. There are 6 volumes to date, the first having been
published in 1989. I am deeply embarrassed to admit that due to my
inattention to my responsibilities, the library here has only vols. 1-4
and vol. 6. Fortunately, it seems that vol. 5 is still in print, as,
indeed, are all of the other volumes. Mr. Heineman seems to be
motivated by a laudable sense of pity that there should be literate
people on earth who have never read a P. G. Wodehouse story, because
none have ever been translated into their language.
I once pointed this project out to a former colleague, who became
furiously indignant that one of the languages included was Flemish. He
insisted that Flemish was not a language, but a dialect; he had spoken
Flemish with his playmates as a little boy, and still spoke it with his
parents, but had gone to school for the purpose of learning Dutch, a
true language, and would not know how to produce a translation of
anything into Flemish. This reaction may be of some interest to you
George A. Thompson
Author of A Documentary History of "The African
Theatre", Northwestern Univ. Pr., 1998.
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