Friday, October 1, 2010

Acts 24 -- a little word play

I use several translations of the İncil. For my first four trips through, I used a loose-leaf version painstakingly downloaded from the web and reformatted, one chapter at a time. I had a special place to sit while I read it, with a footstool, so I could lean back in my chair with the three-ring binder on my lap. A bookshelf with several dictionaries was at my elbow. My library now includes several professionally-printed "real book" versions, which are convenient for taking out on to the front porch and reading while my wife works on a crossword puzzle.

The version I rely upon most heavily, however, is provided free by the marvelous web site One mouse click, and I can read a selected chapter on screen in Turkish, Italian, French, English, or Greek. And, I can copy passages from this electronic version, and paste them in this blog. Such as the following extract:
Act 24:1 Bundan beş gün sonra Başkâhin Hananya, bazı ileri gelenler ve Tertullus adlı bir hatip Sezariye'ye gelip Pavlus'la ilgili şikâyetlerini valiye ilettiler.
Act 24:2, 3 Pavlus çağrılınca Tertullus suçlamalarına başladı. "Ey erdemli Feliks!" dedi. "Senin sayende uzun süredir esenlik içinde yaşamaktayız. Aldığın önlemlerle de bu ulusun yararına olumlu gelişmeler kaydedilmiştir. Yaptıklarını, her zaman ve her yerde büyük bir şükranla anıyoruz.
Act 24:4 Seni fazla yormak istemiyorum; söyleyeceğimiz birkaç sözü hoşgörüyle dinlemeni rica ediyorum.
As Matthew Henry pointed out (yes, e-sword also lets you download and use the complete Bible commentaries from this great scholar), the chief priest Hananya sat as Paul's judge in the previous chapter, and ordered him to be beaten in a court of law. Now, this same "judge" shows up as prosecutor. The trial was rigged, and the verdict given, before Paul even opened his mouth. Paul escaped with his life only by provoking a riot among those who had convened to hear his case.

Today's reading, at least in the on-the-porch translation, provided several opportunities to look at two charming Turkish suffixes:
  • -ca, -ce, -ça, -çe (this is one suffix, in its four possible flavors.)
  • -cı, -ci, -çı, -çi, -cu, -cü, -çu, -çü (this is the other suffix)
As I just learned last week, Turkish has a suffix you tack on to the end of a nationality in order to denote the language spoken by members of that nationality. If you are a Türk, you speak Türkçe. If you are İngiliz, you speak İngilizce. Alman, Almanca. Rus, Rusça.

Or, in today's reading, to speak briefly, you speak kısaca. I was disappointed to see that my e-sword version did not employ that exquisite little word, but had the orator speaking of his desire not to fazla yormak (make excessive) his presentation.

The second suffix given above is the "agent ending." Tack it into the end of a noun, and you have the practitioner associated with the noun. A guy who catches fish (balık) is, obviously, a balıkçı. Or, in the passage above, the hatip ( orator. public speaker. a good speaker. preacher. elocutionist. public orator.) could also be, in the other translation, a man of words: sözcü.

Learning a foreign language is like going on a treasure hunt. You never know when you'll encounter a fresh and fascinating way of packaging a thought.

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