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4 Unusual Bible Translations

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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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Kyle Ely
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Dedicated Middle School Teacher Transforms His Classroom Into Hogwarts
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Kyle Ely

It would be hard to dread back-to-school season with Kyle Ely as your teacher. As ABC News reports, the instructor brought a piece of Hogwarts to Evergreen Middle School in Hillsboro, Oregon by plastering his classroom with Harry Potter-themed decor.

The journey into the school's makeshift wizarding world started at his door, which was decorated with red brick wall paper and a "Platform 9 3/4" sign above the entrance. Inside, students found a convincing Hogwarts classroom complete with floating candles, a sorting hat, owl statues, and house crests. He even managed to recreate the starry night sky effect of the school’s Great Hall by covering the ceiling with black garbage bags and splattering them with white paint.

The whole project cost the teacher around $300 to $400 and took him 70 hours to build. As a long-time Harry Potter fan, he said that being able to share his love of the book series with his students made it all pay off it. He wrote in a Facebook post, "Seeing their faces light up made all the time and effort put into this totally worth it."

Inside of Harry Potter-themed classroom.

Inside of Harry Potter-themed classroom.

Inside of Harry Potter-themed classroom.

Though wildly creative, the Hogwarts-themed classroom at Evergreen Middle School isn't the first of its kind. Back in 2015, a middle school teacher in Oklahoma City outfitted her classroom with a potions station and a stuffed version of Fluffy to make the new school year a little more magical. Here are some more unique classroom themes teachers have used to transport their kids without leaving school.

[h/t ABC News]

Images courtesy of Kyle Ely.

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How the Rise of Paperback Books Turned To Kill a Mockingbird Into a Literary Classic
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If you went to middle or high school in the U.S. in the last few decades, chances are you’ve read To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee's now-classic novel (which was adapted into a now-classic film) about racial injustice in the South. Even if you grew up far-removed from Jim Crow laws, you probably still understand its significance; in 2006, British librarians voted it the one book every adult should read before they die. And yet the novel, while considered an instant success, wasn’t always destined for its immense fame, as we learned from the Vox video series Overrated. In fact, its status in the American literary canon has a lot to do with the format in which it was printed.

To Kill a Mockingbird came out in paperback at a time when literary houses were just starting to invest in the format. After its publication in 1960, To Kill a Mockingbird was reviewed favorably in The New York Times, but it wasn’t the bestselling novel that year. It was the evolution of paperbacks that helped put it into more hands.

Prior to the 1960s, paperbacks were often kind of trashy, and when literary novels were published in the format, they still featured what Vox calls “sexy covers,” like a softcover edition of The Great Gatsby that featured a shirtless Jay Gatsby on the cover. According to a 1961 article in The New York Times, back in the 1950s, paperbacks were described as “a showcase for the ‘three S’s—sex, sadism, and the smoking gun.’” But then, paperbacks came to schools.

The mass-market paperback for To Kill a Mockingbird came out in 1962. It was cheap, but had stellar credentials, which appealed to teachers. It was a popular, well-reviewed book that earned Lee the Pulitzer Prize. Suddenly, it was in virtually every school and, even half a century later, it still is.

Learn the whole story in the video below from Vox.

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