Monday, August 25, 2008

Top Foreign Language Bible Blogs?

For the record, my "Top Bible Blogs" are my top Bible blogs, my favorites. I never claimed to be rating or ranking all Bible blogs. However, a link to my post raised an interesting issue that I hadn't thought of when I was writing it. Airton José da Silva comments:

Os mais importantes biblioblogs?
Só se forem eliminadas as outras quase 7 mil línguas existentes no mundo e estabelecido o inglês como língua única...

That is (according to Google and my basic ability to decipher most Romance languages to at least get the gist),

The most important biblioblogs?
Only by removing the other almost 7 thousand languages in the world and established the English language as only ...

The point, of course, is that I only took account of English-language blogs, and that English speakers (especially Americans) tend to be pretty lazy when it comes to speaking foreign languages.

But, like it or not, English is the dominant language of the Internet and especially biblioblogs. I had to review three books this summer that dealt with the issues of the growth of English as the world's lingua franca, the problem of the decline of many of the world's minority languages, and the effects that the Internet will have on language use and language change. The books were all by David Crystal - English as a Global Language, Language Death, and Language and the Internet.

I know of only a few biblioblogs in other languages besides English, so there's no need to get rid of the other 6 or 7 thousand languages in the world. In fact, many languages are already endangered. Crystal points out in Language Death that “just 4% of the world’s languages are spoken by 96% of the population” (14). This, in turn, means that only 4% of the population of the world speaks 96% of the world’s languages (ibid.). He suggests that roughly two-thirds of the world’s languages are endangered.

Charles Halton recently discussed the issue of endangered languages in a post about a new documentary highlighting the problem. I tend to agree with Charles's sentiments both in the post and in the comments.

That said, the Portuguese post lightly poking fun at my English-dominated top blog list made me realize that for all the languages that I read reasonably well, I only speak English fluently. That is, I can only generate language in English (aside from a very little Spanish and German). I can read at least 8 languages - more depending on how we divide a closely related dialect from a language I already know like Phoenician or Moabite in relation to Hebrew. Half of those (and all the related dialects) are ancient Semitic languages. The others are Hellenistic Greek, classical Latin, Spanish, and German. I would like to learn to speak at least one other modern language fluently. My short list of ones I'd like to try includes Modern Hebrew, Arabic, Italian, and German, Dutch, and Portuguese. The problem up to now has been finding time to devote to it.

I tried to find as many foreign language biblioblogs as I could in order to list them here to show that I am aware of them. I can read them with difficulty with the help of online language tools. I'd like to someday be able to read them straight off without needing helps.

Portuguese: Observatório Bíblico

Portuguese: Estudos Bíblicos

Dutch: Aantekeningen bij de Bijbel

Italian: Antonio Lombatti

German: Credo ut intelligam

I also found a recent post at Hypotyposeis that lists a few more. The ones that I've listed look like they post fairly regularly and the mechanically translated stuff I read seemed pretty good.

If you're interested in the issues of endangered languages and the use of English as a global language, my discussion of Crystal's books is here.


  1. Oh, boohoo. Help, help, I'm being repressed! ;-)

    All joking aside, I, an obnoxiously puristic native Spanish speaker, write in English not only because it is the lingua franca of Biblical and theological scholarship these days (much like German was a few generations ago), but also because it is the Common Language of the Internet, as you point out. On that basis alone, the number of people who read and interact with my blog increases exponentially; hence my choice of language. But I digress.

    Of the blogs you mention, I only keep up with Antonio Lombatti's. I have, on occasion, looked for Spanish-language Biblioblogs, but I haven't found any. It has occurred to me before that maybe I should write a weekly post in Spanish, but alas, I can barely keep up with my blog as it is! ;-)

  2. I came across a Spanish biblioblog today, Esteban.


  3. Doug, why did you "have" to review David Crystal's work--and at such length!? By the way, the summaries are very useful.

  4. Alan,

    I took a class this summer called Language, History, and Society as part of my PhD minor (12 credits outside our dept). The class turned out to be pretty relevant. It dealt primarily with the issue of language variation and change. Half the class was on sociolinguistics and half on historical linguistics. Since it was an entry level class, the grad students got the extra work of reading 3 more books and writing an in depth review.

    I think it's good for those of us who work on ancient languages to be aware of how social factors cause language variation. Some things that we might see as diachronic change between EBH and LBH, for example, might simply be dialect or register.

    Sorry that's a pretty long answer to your short question.

  5. Thanks for trying to read my blog :)
    Question: It would be interesting what kind of online language tools you use.

  6. J.P.,

    I use Google's language tools. You can enter a URL and the source and target languages and they'll give you a translated version of the page. It seems to work to at least give me an idea of the gist of what's said, though the translation is wooden and words sometimes are left untranslated.

    There's so much to keep up on that's written in English that it's hard to add anything else to the mix.

  7. You wrote: "There's so much to keep up on that's written in English that it's hard to add anything else to the mix."
    That's one of the reasons I write in Dutch, there are very few Dutch Biblical blogs and there is much to write. Most of my visitors who respond by mail are glad there is a blog in their mothertongue :)

  8. Oh, that is an excellent blog! Many thanks for sharing the link.