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4 Unusual Bible Translations

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Thinkstock

The Bible has sold more copies than any other book, and it’s been translated into 349 different languages (though parts have been translated into far more—upwards of 2000 languages). In addition to the Chinese, French, and Swahili versions, you can find unusual translations in other languages, from real-life tongues to fictional ones.

1. Klingon

Star Trek fans often like to display their linguistic prowess by speaking, writing, and reading Klingon. So it only seems natural that a Klingon translation of the Bible would come into being. If you’ve ever wondered how to say “In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God, and the word was God” to a Klingon (or just a Trekkie in a particularly convincing costume), then be puzzled no longer: it’s quite simple. Make sure to get your glottal stops in order, and hack away: “Daq the tagh ghaHta' the mu', je the mu' ghaHta' tlhej joH'a', je the mu' ghaHta' joH'a'.”

2. Lolcats

Though it’s not a practical language, lolcats have invaded our lives online—which is why Martin Grondin set up the LolCat Bible Translation Project in 2007. By 2010 the best passages were printed in a book (LolCat Bible: In teh beginnin Ceiling Cat maded teh Skiez an da Erfs n stuffs). Genesis 1:1 (“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth”) becomes something altogether different in lolcats: “Oh hai. In teh beginnin Ceiling Cat maded teh skiez An da Urfs, but he did not eated dem.”

3. The Word on the Street

Rob Lacey, an actor and performance poet, published The Word on the Street in 2003 as a modern-day version of the Bible, shrunk down to a more manageable 500 pages. Its cover is about as far from the strait-laced bibles traditionally seen, instead a picture of a lonely street in a built-up city.

Lacey himself was wary of calling his work a version of the Bible, but it did retell the story in more conversational language. Take, for example, his retelling of Genesis, which reads more like a Kerouacian beat poetry performance than a religious text:

First off, nothing. No light, no time, no substance, no matter. Second off, God starts it all up and WHAP! Stuff everywhere! The cosmos in chaos: no shape, no form, no function—just darkness ... total. And floating above it all, God’s Holy Spirit, ready to play. Day one: Then God’s voice booms out, ‘Lights!’ and, from nowhere, light floods the skies and ‘night’ is swept off the scene.

4. Pidgin English

If you're a churchgoer, you probably won't find yourself saying "rispek fi yu an yu niem" this Sunday. But that's the word of the Bible—at least in Jamaican patois. What you'd have said was the patois equivalent of "hallowed be thy name." In October 2012, at the Jamaican High Commission in London a new translation of the Bible was officially unveiled.

The translation came about through more than a decade of work between linguists at the University of the West Indies and Jamaican theologians. The immaculate conception is announced by the words "De angel go to Mary and say to 'er, me have news we going to make you well 'appy. God really, really, bless you and him a walk with you all de time", rather than the high-flying rhetoric of "And having come in, the angel said to her, 'Rejoice, highly favoured one, the Lord is with you: blessed are you among women.'"

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Nate D. Sanders Auctions
Sylvia Plath's Pulitzer Prize in Poetry Is Up for Auction
Nate D. Sanders Auctions
Nate D. Sanders Auctions

A Pulitzer Prize in Poetry that was awarded posthumously to Sylvia Plath in 1982 for her book The Collected Poems will be auctioned on June 28. The Los Angeles-based Nate D. Sanders Auctions says bidding for the literary document will start at $40,000.

The complete book of Plath’s poetry was published in 1981—18 years after her death—and was edited by her husband, fellow poet Ted Hughes. The Pulitzer Prize was presented to Hughes on Plath’s behalf, and one of two telegrams sent by Pulitzer President Michael Sovern to Hughes read, “We’ve just heard that the Collected Plath has won the Pulitzer Prize. Congratulations to you for making it possible.” The telegrams will also be included in the lot, in addition to an official congratulatory letter from Sovern.

The Pultizer’s jury report from 1982 called The Collected Poems an “extraordinary literary event.” It went on to write, “Plath won no major prizes in her lifetime, and most of her work has been posthumously published … The combination of metaphorical brilliance with an effortless formal structure makes this a striking volume.”

Ted Hughes penned an introduction to the poetry collection describing how Plath had “never scrapped any of her poetic efforts,” even if they weren’t all masterpieces. He wrote:

“Her attitude to her verse was artisan-like: if she couldn’t get a table out of the material, she was quite happy to get a chair, or even a toy. The end product for her was not so much a successful poem, as something that had temporarily exhausted her ingenuity. So this book contains not merely what verse she saved, but—after 1956—all she wrote.”

Also up for auction is Plath’s Massachusetts driver’s license from 1958, at which time she went by the name Sylvia P. Hughes. Bidding for the license will begin at $8000.

Plath's driver's license
Nate D. Sanders Auctions
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Sagar.jadhav01, Wikimedia Commons // ;CC BY-SA 4.0
New 'Eye Language' Lets Paralyzed People Communicate More Easily
Sagar.jadhav01, Wikimedia Commons // ;CC BY-SA 4.0
Sagar.jadhav01, Wikimedia Commons // ;CC BY-SA 4.0

The invention of sign language proved you don't need to vocalize to use complex language face to face. Now, a group of designers has shown that you don't even need control of your hands: Their new type of language for paralyzed people relies entirely on the eyes.

As AdAge reports, "Blink to Speak" was created by the design agency TBWA/India for the NeuroGen Brain & Spine Institute and the Asha Ek Hope Foundation. The language takes advantage of one of the few motor functions many paralyzed people have at their disposal: eye movement. Designers had a limited number of moves to work with—looking up, down, left, or right; closing one or both eyes—but they figured out how to use these building blocks to create a sophisticated way to get information across. The final product consists of eight alphabets and messages like "get doctor" and "entertainment" meant to facilitate communication between patients and caregivers.

Inside of a language book.
Sagar.jadhav01, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 4.0

This isn't the only tool that allows paralyzed people to "speak" through facial movements, but unlike most other options currently available, Blink to Speak doesn't require any expensive technology. The project's potential impact on the lives of people with paralysis earned it the Health Grand Prix for Good at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity earlier in June.

The groups behind Blink to Speak have produced thousands of print copies of the language guide and have made it available online as an ebook. To learn the language yourself or share it with someone you know, you can download it for free here.

[h/t AdAge]

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