Translating Psalms (44)

Here’s a lovely one with a heavy Messianic theme early that makes the pronouns unclear throughout.  I will probably run a four senses interpretation of this psalm for my side bar when I have a free day/weekend; mystical sense here is strong.  The shift from the king to the queen brings in both Mary and Church.  A psalm to study and contemplate, for sure.

“Eructavit cor meum” (Psalm 44)

[1] In finem, pro iis qui commutabuntur. Filiis Core, ad intellectum. Canticum pro dilecto.

Unto the end, for those who will be exchanged.  To the sons of Korah, unto understanding.  A canticle for the beloved. Continue reading Translating Psalms (44)


Translating Psalms (42)

An ultimate shibboleth psalm.  If you know this one instantly, I know what kind of Holy Mass you attend on Sundays.

(It’s the beginning of the traditional Latin mass)

“Judica me, Deus” (Psalm 42)

[1] Psalmus David. Judica me, Deus, et discerne causam meam de gente non sancta, ab homine iniquo et doloso erue me.

A Psalm of David.  Judge me, O God, and discern my cause among a people not holy; from the man unjust and deceitful, rescue me. Continue reading Translating Psalms (42)

Translating Psalms (41)

Another famous one that I know by a slightly different number (42).  Verrry strong connection to the next psalm, with all the same language.  I have to imagine that some manuscript somewhere, somewhen, combined them into one psalm.

“Quemadmodum desiderat” (Psalm 41)

[1] In finem. Intellectus filiis Core.

Unto the end.  Understanding for the sons of Korah Continue reading Translating Psalms (41)

How Tall Are You?

I believe I’ve noticed for the first time a way in which modern English preserves a distinction between adjectives used attributively or predicatively.  What’s that you say?  Such terms never featured in your grammar education?  How appalling!

One of the basic things you have to learn about adjectives in ancient Greek is when the adjective is simply modifying a noun (attributive) and when it is serving as a predicate (predicative).  No big deal.  In Greek the adjectives have the same morphology but are placed differently relative to the noun and the definite article.

Generally English doesn’t have nearly the same synthetic features that ancient languages do, and so it’s always fun (well, my kind of fun) to see where English still conjugates verbs (ever so slightly) or declines nouns (pronouns, relative pronouns), and the like.

At the lunch counter my Hispanic friend asked why some Anglos say “four foot, five inches” and others say “four feet, five inches.”  After making a joke about one foot, two foot, three foot, four foot…, I decided to try to work out a rule.  Bonus: when I posed the question about the rule to some of my students, one of them quickly worked it out on his own.  So I must be right!

The rule: Units of measurement are “always” in the singular when used attributively; i.e., as an adjective simply modifying a noun.  Units of measurement are “always” in the plural when used predicatively; i.e., when serving as the predicate of a sentence or clause.

Example 1:

I bought a twenty-five foot length of rope at the store.

The rope is twenty-five feet long.

Example 2:

This twenty-pound baby is breaking my back.

My son weighs twenty pounds or more.

Example 3:

Please hand me the 100 cubic centimeter flask.

The flask holds 100 cubic centimeters of liquid.

And so on.  I’m pretty sure this rule applies to all units of measurement but is applied inconsistently when it comes to measuring the height of a person.  Lots of people tend to one usage or the other when it comes to measuring humans, and lots of people freely shift between the two usages.  But otherwise, I claim my rule is sound.

And sure, I probably could have looked this up in a textbook for teaching English to non-native speakers.  But what’s the fun in that?

Translating Psalms (37)

A truly Lenten psalm, and doubly fitting for a teacher in the doldrums of February.  I narrated this psalm to some colleagues while they bemoaned various tribulations of teaching and they chortled with delight.

More seriously, this one plays out the Passion scene most beautifully.  Try a composition of place with this as the narration.  Soundtrack of His life, indeed.

“Domine, ne in furore” (Psalm 37)

[1] Psalmus David, in rememorationem de sabbato.

A Psalm of David, unto remembrance concerning the Sabbath. Continue reading Translating Psalms (37)

A Budding Austen

My daughter has NAILED the horrible Lifetime movies my wife likes to watch.  At age 8, she’s already writing on their level.  True conversation while watching the latest Dean Cain offering:

Daughter: How is this a love story if they are already married?

Wife: They’re not married.

Me: Usually they don’t make love stories about people who are already married.  Although they could!

Wife: Yeah, that’s right!

Me: But you’re right, a love story is usually a boy meets a girl and they fall in love.

Daughter: No, a love story is when a girl meets a boy at work and they get embarrassed into each other and then there’s a problem.  The woman is an aunt and her niece helps her solve it and then there’s an oopsy-daisy [like he catches her when she falls or she bumps into him or whatever] and the boy and the girl go on a date and they are happy.