Monthly Archives: August 2017

Bad Euphemisms: “Deaf Friendly”

“Deaf friendly” is apparently the new way of saying “I know American Sign Language.”

But instead of people having a little sign that says “ASL Understood Here” or “I Know ASL,” they are being denoted as “Deaf Friendly.”

Which sounds like, “Most people hate and fear deaf people, but I am friendly to them.” Yeaaaah.

I suppose that the inventors of this euphemism are trying to make an analogy to “user friendly.” Unfortunately, this implies that ASL translators are machines, not people, and that their skill is best demonstrated by robotic obedience.

Euphemisms. Nothing “eu-” about them.

Advertisements

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

The Last Bit of Sisibut’s “On Eclipses”

Didn’t post it yesterday because my Internet connection was not working.

But because you figure out wonderful things —

Why, when the greatest power of the Sun
is reputed to be twice-nine times greater
than that of the terrestrial orb,
does he not overwhelm the terrestrial cones
with light?

Take up the reckoning work of reason.

On the other hand, gaze upon Phoebus
who travels through the sublime vaults of the world
and may illuminate every lowly land
from his high passages.

This is remarkable however one may touch on it:
in that whether he should have strewn his fires
or have beamed them on a slanting axis,
they are crushed at the Earth’s radius.

The rest of the lights of the Sun,
by which radiant darts he becomes more visible,
spread through the vast voids
unhindered by the [Earth’s] globe
as long as the pyramid’s peak may complete
its residing shadow.

By which neighbors’ shadows,
when damp Phoebe drives her icy yoked team
deepest through them, sometimes
she is discolored.
She misses her absent brother,
and lacks her bloodless face.

But why is only the Moon plundered of light?

Indeed, it is not wonderful.

Of course another light warms
those needing her light;
for when the nearest part of the cone begrudges it,
she badly hopes for the sky rays of her brother.

But the remaining choir of stars
is not touched by shadows,
and their brightness is their own,
nor are they reddened by the Sun.

Yet rush up to the lofty astral rays
far beyond the Sun; clear and bright,
it is dragged off,
attached to the vertex of the sky.

Besides, why would it not always be paled
by the orb every six months?
The curved passages come around
by a slanting track.

On the other hand, when by wandering,
the curved thing amasses twisted deviations
from what is fixed, the sun leaves the cone
beyond reach, and twists the robe of night,
and shines upon his sister.

These things are the reason for it:
where the red-gold brightness of the august Sun
is crushed by sudden shadows, lacking light,
Luna passes between Earth and Sun
with the nourishing wheel of her body,
protecting her brother from straight obstructions.

I’m not as sure about the translation of this part of the poem. I also haven’t read “De Natura Rerum,” so I’m not sure if St. Isidore touched on any of these topics. There are also various terms used for “curved” which have different connotations. So I’m not sure I get this entirely, although obviously Sisibut is inquiring about orbital mechanics, and why we can see anything at all during lunar eclipses at night.

The king and the bishop had sort of a frenemy relationship. Part was because Sisibut believed in just ordering his still-Arian Visigoths, and the local population of Spanish Jews, to convert or be forced. (Standard for your barbarian king, but not appreciated in a guy who presumably should know better. Sisibut didn’t get any sainthood attributions.) Part was because Sisibut was learned enough to fund Isidore’s book projects, and then to write reviews of them with his own sharp questions.

(When you are Isidore of Seville and probably the most learned man in Europe (except for your dead brother and the dead pope, Gregory the Great), you may have just a tad bit of alpha male pride to lose.)

Anyway, it’s a bit fun to see Sisibut alternating between scientific principles of astronomy and poetic conventions drawn from mythology. The Sun is Phoebus (Apollo), the Moon is his sister Phoebe (another name for Artemis as Selene). The chariot of Phoebe’s Moon is drawn by a team of pure white animals (Sisibut doesn’t make a choice between deer, crescent-horned oxen, or horses, just calling them “gelidos”). The Earth is Tellus.

Leave a comment

Filed under Translations

More Excerpts from King Sisibut’s Eclipse Poem

(Of course, at its nearest border, the aether separates the turbid
from the pure; the inviolate may pass through.)

But Tellus, with the shading cone of her vast body
(Which holds a middle axis deep within)
holds back the light of [the Moon’s] brother {the Sun];
moreover, she pales [the Moon] to uselessness,
as a star, until her swift wheel’s smooth shadow
should cross past [the Moon’s] threshold’s
heaped moundworks and, as a rotating mirror,
the freedwoman [Moon] renews his fraternal blazings
through the sky.

Which of course is exactly how a lunar eclipse works. The earth’s shadow does block the sun’s rays, and moonlight is just reflected sunlight.

Leave a comment

Filed under Translations

King Sisibut of the Visigoths: Excerpt from “On an Eclipse of the Moon.”

After receiving St. Isidore of Seville’s book De Natura Rerum (On the Nature of Things), which included an explanation of several lunar and solar eclipses in 611 and 612 (for the benefit of the people, and at King Sisibut’s urgent request), King Sisibut sent back a very interesting and learned Latin poem. (Possibly to show that he had read the book.) It’s called various things: “De Eclipsis,” “De Eclipsis Lunae,” and “Sisebuti Epistola: Ad Isidorum.”

Here’s the beginning, which gives some interesting insight into Visigoth mythology or legends still being alive among the people.

You, perhaps, in a sacred grove
slowly give birth to a wandering song
Among melodious springwaters
And musical breezes;
You pour forth a clear-flowing mind
with Pierian nectar.

But a confused mess of things
clouds up our heads,
And cares pursue with
thousands of sword-bearing soldiers.

Heralds crack the ear, law courts bark,
trumpets awaken,
And we are brought across the Ocean,
even as far as the snowy Basque-country
when it may hold,
nor does cringing Cantabria spare us.

Lo! what things you point out —
how they wreathe Phoebus’ hair with leafy ivy;
They would shade his rays
more reverently!

Lo! you may order one to fly about
through the enflaming aether!

But, o magus, as the calamity-eagles outran
the slow elephant-strength
And the tortoise, weakened by the Molossian flyer;
so we have followed the dew-spraying moon with our song.

Yet I, struggling under an earthborn burden,
will tell these things: why the curved circle
May bruise the tired orb dark red,
And why its snowy face’s glow may be wasted away.

It is not (as the people believe)
That totally hateful woman
Howling in the murky shadows
Of underworld caves,
Who draws it down with her high-roving mirror.

Nor has she conquered it with a charm,
Nor with Stygian dew, nor with earth-herbs
Does she attack with an air-cracking
and binding clang.

Leave a comment

Filed under Translations