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Thursday, December 22, 2005

4 god so luvd da world

I was reading up on shorthand last month and came on Tim Bulkeley's conversation with Kim White on If:Book about the Australian shorthand text messaging Bible SMS Bible.

Each verse is translated into 'SMS Language' - the full Contemporary English Version (CEV) with a modern twist! True meaning and order of words retained - 100% faithful to original text.

Is nothing sacred?

Kim White:

"A few weeks ago, Ben posted about The Bible Society of Australia's new "transl8tion" of the Bible into SMS--a shorthand system used primarily for sending text messages through mobile phones. Interesting to note that an organization like the Australian Bible Society, which believes the text of the Bible to be the very word of God, does not seem have a problem with the fact that the SMS version changes the voice of god from that of a wizened poet to that of a text-messaging teenager. Here's an example:

4 god so luvd da world

I'm all for reading on cellphones and other portable devices, and I understand using a shorthand language for keying in messages, but why does the published book need to look like an electronic stenographer's notepad? I realize that the form of the electronic "page" is changing the way we write, I'll be more than a little disappointed if this is the direction we are going —toward a cutesy-looking shorthand that compromises the integrity of the text for the sake of expediency."

Tim Bulkely:

"Actually no, I disagree, the original text (at least of the New Testament - from which your examples come) was written in language forms more like TXT than literary English! Koine Greek they call it, the language of the streets and everyday, not the language of literature! See my post TXT: Bible as koine..."

Kim White:

"but SMS isn't really a language of the streets. It's not a language at all. It is a shorthand system for writing English rapidly. Similar to the shorthand used before recording devices were inventedThese notes were always transcribed back into plain English, never published as shorthand. I guess my beef has something to do with privileging speed over quality (or at least what I perceive as quality). That said, it's also really interesting that SMS, like ancient Hebrew, leaves out vowels. So maybe, in some respects, we are coming full circle."

We can see that Kim herself was also coming full circle in her evaluation of TXT. However, certain concepts occur here that have come up often enough in the comment section of the BBB. They are 'hold sacred' " reverence' and 'respect.' I thought I would enter the discussion about whether the form of the written text is sacred and what then do we say about shorthand or TXT. The following are examples of Bible texts in shorthand throughout the centuries. There was also shorthand during the time of the New Testament but we don't know many specifics.

The first image here is the Greek text from a sixth century wax tablet for 2 Cor. 1:3. It is a practice exercise in shorthand. (Halle)

The second image is of Psalm 12:6-7 in Latin from a ninth century manuscript.

In the 17th century John Willis published a shorthand system and there is a Bible in this script at University College London. It has 'contemporary gold-tooled calf binding'. Here is an example of this script.

Pitman is a shorthand system that we are more likely to recognize if not read. The third image is a page of the Pitman Bible, 1850.

Somebody really needs to talk to these ancients about their "cutesy-looking shorthand that compromises the integrity of the text for the sake of expediency".

Notes: Image 1 and 2 are from "Du Charactère Sténographique de Toute Écriture." Yves Duhoux. Studia Minora Facultatis Philosophicae Universitatis Brunensis N 6-7, 2001-2002. Unfortunately Duhoux does not give the location for the Latin manuscript but it was also mentioned in M. Proux. 1910. Manuel de paléographie latine et française. Album. Paris.

Update: Tim posted about this coversation here.


At Fri Dec 23, 06:56:00 AM, Blogger lingamish said...

The fact that such versions ancient and modern exist and that such people like you are studying them in depth fills me with a strange sort of joy. Long live the obscure specialist!

At Fri Dec 23, 09:02:00 AM, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

I wonder if Kim White has looked at the original manuscripts of the Greek New Testament? Many of them are full of abbreviations rather like SMS ones, especially for the very holiest words of all, the words for God, Jesus, Christ etc. Such abbreviations were used as a matter of course in mediaeval Greek and Latin manuscripts. It is only in modern printed editions that the abbreviations have been expanded.

Suzanne McCarthy has also recently blogged about a Bible version which uses an abbreviation for "Christ".

At Fri Dec 23, 09:24:00 AM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

Hi Peter,

I thought of the 'nomina sacra' as those abbreviations are called, but my images for those are not as clear. It seemed better to stick to one kind of shorthand for today so I chose the non-alphabetic shorthand. This is very much a study in progress.

At Mon Dec 26, 08:13:00 AM, Blogger codepoke said...

What, you mean I'm not the only person still studying shorthand!

I'm enjoying your site for its content on translations, but I had to comment on the shorthand discussion. I use Gregg, and have devised a keyboard shorthand system that I use on all my computers. (Am using it now, actually.) Saves ~50% of keystrokes.

At Mon Dec 26, 10:40:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

Hi Codepoke,

Please come and make a long comment on my other blog here.

I would like to learn more detail about your keyboard shorthand system - nothing could be more 'on topic' for Abecedaria!


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