September 18th Meeting

The Berkeley DH Working Group (BDHWG) will be meeting on Friday, September 18th at the Magnes Collection for Jewish Art and Life at 11 AM.
Zach Bleemer would like to workshop his project on aesthetic terms in biblical translations. While Zach has done statistical work with the King James translation, he would like to expand his project to other translations. He seeks your feedback on ways he might use his data set and present his analysis. See the abstract below for more information.
Amy Clark will share a database of collocational color-referent patterns across the online Old English Corpus. She originally built her database in Excel, but is working on migrating her data to Drupal and is interested in future possibilities for analysis.
Camille Villa will discuss “non-coding” uses for GitHub. Though this platform is commonly used for software development and sharing code, Camille will discuss other ways that researchers and organizations use GitHub for collaboration.
Camille Villa & Scott McGinnis
BDHWG Co-conveners
Aesthetic Categories over Space and Time: A Natural Experiment Approach
Zach Bleemer
Biblical translations have occurred regularly across the Western world since the mid-16th century. Each of these events requires teams of translators to specify a large series of contextualized matches between a static origin-text and their own dynamic vernacular. This paper presently focuses on a single biblical translation, the 17th century King James Bible, treating the event as a “natural experiment” in order to examine the implicit aesthetic categories projected by the translators onto the Old Testament. I compile a complete dataset of the 175 Old Testament phrases referring to beauty, nearly all of which contain one of three regularly-appearing aesthetic Hebrew roots, and match them to the five terms used by the KJB translators in English: ‘beautiful’, ‘fair’, ‘goodly’, ‘comely’, and ‘pleasant to the eyes’. I then append this dataset with the translations conducted by two contemporary biblical translation teams (working from the Jewish tradition, in order to avoid mechanical autocorrelation). Finally, I use OLS and multinomial logistic regression analysis, controlling for Hebrew roots and for modern translation, to show that these terms each signify distinct and telling aesthetic categories, and provide evidence that—despite substantial drift in diction—these categories exhibit surprising temporal continuity. This project motivates substantial future research, extending the dataset spatially and temporally and connecting it to related literature in philosophical aesthetics, linguistics, cultural anthropology, and religious studies.

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