Setting a translation exercise for myself
[Not a lot of Esperanto here -- more a goal I want to set for myself, maybe starting the end of this month]
One of my favorite jewish texts is Pirkei Avot , aka "Ethics of the Fathers," a unique tractate of Mishnah that is concerned less with elucidating the rules of jewish practice and more with general moral principals. It is customary for observant Jews to review a chapter of the book each week between Passover and Shavuot, and many continue cycling through the book a chapter each week all summer until Rosh Hashanah. There are lots of famous phrases in it, including a few from Hillel, ostensibly a motivation of Hilelismo , most notably:
Li [ofte] diris: Se mi ne estas por mi, kiu do estos por mi? Kaj se mi estas nur por mi mem, kio do mi estas? Kaj se ne nun, kiam?
This isn't my own translation, though I added the beginning to match the original text. Already I encountered a problem as it isn't clear to me how to handle "Hu haja omejr" at the beginning. Maybe "He used to say" would be closer to accurate.
Anyhow, I actually have been somewhat surprised how few Jewish texts have been translated into Esperanto, considering how many Jews -- albeit largely unobservant Jews -- have been connected with Esperanto. There's no siddur (prayerbook), though I saw someone's home-made stab at a haggadah. Of course, there are some translations of the Jewish Bible, one originally by Zamenhof itself (though the version of that I've seen online has been somewhat modified by later editors, and, the pieces I've seen of it [mostly psalms and a bit of Kohelet/Ecclesiastes] are acceptable, but often a little odd. Maybe I'll make a post about that sometime. Still, this is just the small part of Jewish literature that is shared with other religions.
Personally, I have two main drawbacks in trying this: lack of time and lack of skill. As far as lack of time, I'm hoping that since Avot is fairly short [6 chapters, a total of about 130 verses, though a single verse can often correspond to several sentences.], I can try to do a few phrases from each chapter each week as we review it, and then, perhaps, have the whole thing done by the end of the summer. For lack of skill, I just have to do the best I can and hope to improve it in revisions. Translations of biblical and mishnaic hebrew are tough, even in English no single translation really captures everything and many [well-intentioned] translations can obscure things and invent details that aren't in the text.
UPDATE: I've put a few lines
here , I think 3-5 lines per weekend is probably about my limit.