Tuesday, November 20, 2012

From The Atternen Juez Talen: Ketuba

In this brief scene the Atternen Ju, who is getting married, watches as his ketuba (marriage contract) is produced by a scribe. The first version is in meta-English, followed by a standard English version. For all you calligraphers and sofers...

Meta-English (Stevetok) version:
The skrieb hav a hole jarfule a penz
An a mennee bottellen ov eenks, az wel.
An not a sheet a linnen, starcht,
But rit on a parchmen skind ov a goet!

He puelz owt a goos kwil an kaerfule inspeks;
Sharps it a bit; then a dipt in eenk,
Shaeks it, an taken a long deep breth.
Fliez forth him han, like a swawlo that dievz
An sord thru the aerz, dip an fly,
Dip an fly, an thaer on the parch
A weengen chareb toppen the page.
Then annuther pen in annutherren jar
An annutherren sereez ov shaek an fly.
An wo! the chareb lumen in goel;
An with a flik he a spatterren, starree a sky.
Then, with kaerfule, a mezherren stroek
Larjen letterz in lappis blu,
Youd hay vuv hay*, the holeyes Name
                * Hebrew letters, code for ineffable Name; 

                spoken: Uddoniy
Between the owtstrechen chareb weeng.
Then in a liten a shaden a blu,
El Shuddiy, the nercherres Name
In smawler letter inside Uddoniy.
Now kum the marij kontrak tex,
Awl bizzee an aeree an fule a pomp,
‘Waerfor this’ an ‘waeraz that’
In blak letterren, smawl an skware.
Then zigzag an swerrel tu border the siedz,
An heez dun, we sine, an I’m a mareeyes man.

Standard English (dulltok) version:
The scribe has a whole jarful of pens
And many bottles of ink, as well.
And not a sheet of linen, starched,But written on a parchment skin of a goat!

He pulls out a goose quill and carefully inspects;
Sharpens it a bit; then dips it in ink,
Shakes it, and takes a long deep breath.
Flies forth his hand, like a swallow that dives
And soars thru the air, dip and fly,
Dip and fly, and there on the parchment
A winged cherub atop the page.
Then another pen in another jar
And another series of shake and fly.
And whoa! the cherub illumined in gold;
And with a flick he spatters a starry sky.
Then, with careful and measured strokes
Larger letters in lapis blue,
Yud hay vuv hay*, the holiest Name
                * Hebrew letters, code for ineffable Name; 

                spoken: Adonai
Between the outstretched cherub wings.
Then in a lighter shade of blue,
El Shaddai, the nurturing Name
In smaller letters inside Adonai.
Now comes the marriage contract text,
All busy and airy and full of pomp,
‘Wherefore this’ and ‘whereas that’
In black letters, small and square.
Then zigzag and swirl to border the sides,
And he’s done, we sign, and I’m a married man.

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