Hate

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There are multilingual signs all over Swarthmore (where I live) that say “Hate Has No Home Here”.  The signs are printed in six languages:  English, Urdu, Hebrew, Korean, Arabic, and Spanish.  I wondered about the choice of languages, but — with a little googling — I found that these are apparently the languages most commonly spoken at Petersen Elementary School in the North Park neighborhood of Chicago, where the campaign to post these signs originated.  It’s interesting that the linguistic mix of an elementary school in Chicago determined the multilingualism of signs that are being posted all over the country.

Incidentally, there is also a #LoveThyNeighbor (No Exceptions) campaign going on, and here I wondered about the archaism of the “Thy”.  It seems to me that the King Jamesian language of these signs conveys clear Christian overtones, which may account for the fact that there are far fewer of these signs around than the HHNHH signs.

“Hate” is also a hot topic in China these days.

The equivalent word for “hate” in Mandarin is “hèn 恨” — short like the English word, and also beginning with an “h”.

The following poem is making the rounds on Chinese social media “as execrable protests against South Korea over THAAD [VHM:  missile defense] deployment continue across the country” (in the words of the editors of China Change, where I found it in their newsletter for 3/8/17):

[Máng!]

Zǎoshang hèn Měiguó,
Zhōngwǔ hèn Hánguó,
Wǎnshàng hèn Rìběn.
Shíjiān yǒuxiàn, chōukòng hèn Táiwān, Xīnjiāpō.
Yèlǐ zuòmèng, zài hèn Yuènán, Fēilǜbīn.

Zhōuyī fǎn Hán,
Zhōu’èr fǎn Rì,
Zhōusān fǎn Měi,
Zhōusì fǎn Táidú,
Zhōuwǔ fǎn Gǎngdú,
Zhōuliù fǎn Zàngdú,
Zhōurì fǎn Jiāngdú.

Huó de tài chōngshí,
Méi shíjiān sīkǎo qítā wèntí.

【忙!】

早上恨美国,
中午恨韩国,
晚上恨日本。
时间有限,抽空恨台湾、新加坡。
夜里做梦,再恨越南、菲律宾。

周一反韩,
周二反日,
周三反美,
周四反台独,
周五反港独,
周六反藏独,
周日反疆独。

活得太充实,
没时间思考其他问题。

Busy

In the morning I hate America,
At noon I hate South Korea,
In the evening I hate Japan.
My time is limited, I have to steal a moment to hate Taiwan and Singapore.
At night when I dream, I turn to hating Vietnam and Philippines.

On Monday I oppose South Korea,
On Tuesday I oppose Japan,
On Wednesday I oppose America,
On Thursday I oppose Taiwan independence,
On Friday I oppose Hong Kong independence,
On Saturday I oppose Tibetan independence,
On Sunday I oppose Xinjiang independence.

My life is too full,
I have no time to think of anything else.

[h.t. Arif Dirlik; thanks to Jinyi Cai]



30 Comments

  1. Rodger C said,

    March 8, 2017 @ 12:08 pm

    I’d guess that #LoveThyNeighbor (No Exceptions) is directed primarily at Christians in the first place, they being at least perceived as being the commonest finders of exceptions.

    An interesting parallel in terms of language choice: My 1960 Encyclopaedia Britannica Dictionary (age 12) contained basic vocabularies and grammars of Spanish, French, Italian, German, Swedish, and Yiddish. It was only a short time, I think, before I realized that the choice of languages had more to do with American immigration history than with world importance; only much later did it dawn on me that it had to do specifically with the fact that the Britannica was published in Chicago.

  2. J.W. Brewer said,

    March 8, 2017 @ 2:17 pm

    I’m not sure that it’s the “thy.” “ἀγαπήσεις τὸν πλησίον” is a New Testament text (appearing multiple times across multiple gospels and epistles) and it strongly evokes that New Testament origin whether it is Englished as the “love thy neighbour” of the KJV or as the “love your neighbor” of more recent translations (w/ post-Webster American orthography). The same approximate moral/spiritual idea may be found in various non-Christian texts and traditions but generally not in that specific verbal formulation.

    Until maybe the middle of the last century it was common, indeed conventional, for non-Christian sacred texts to be translated into English in a KJV-ish register, including archaic second-person pronouns. This was true of translations of the Hebrew portions of the Bible prepared under Jewish auspices, translations of the Koran, translations of the Bhagavad-Gita, etc., not to mention translations of quasi- or pseudo-religious texts by the likes of Kahlil Gibran or Friedrich Nietzsche.

    I expect most of those non-Christian traditions have more recently moved away from that register in their English usage, just as the majority of Anglophone Christian denominations have. Whether the remaining aesthetic/cultural preference for the older register is more proportionately common among Christians than non-Christians, and/or whether it strikes people today as specifically “Christian-sounding” versus more generally “archaic-and-religious-sounding” (perhaps a hard distinction to draw in a society which is both majority-Christian and where the Christian tradition is longer-established than others?) are empirical questions as to which I have no evidence-backed insight.

  3. SCF said,

    March 8, 2017 @ 2:19 pm

    the linguistic diversity of Peterson Elem is astonishing, esp for a neighborhood school in Chicago that (I’m fairly sure) does not draw students from outside its neighborhood — they claim 43 L1s represented.

  4. J.W. Brewer said,

    March 8, 2017 @ 2:28 pm

    (I belatedly realized that the Gibran work I had in mind was from the subset of his writing which he composed in English rather than in Arabic — so the fact that he wrote it in a somewhat archaic register that one would have expected at the time to be used for translating an Arabic original of a quasi-religious nature is a different but related phenomenon.)

  5. J.W. Brewer said,

    March 8, 2017 @ 2:39 pm

    One thing I remember from Chicago from when I lived there 25+ years ago was that the “third language” in signage (i.e. the one that seemed to appear most frequently after English and Spanish) was Polish. And according to this link, at least as of Census data collected in 2006-10, Polish remained second only to Spanish (by number of speakers) for other-than-English languages for the city as a whole. http://www.chicagomag.com/Chicago-Magazine/The-312/January-2013/The-Geography-of-Chicagos-Second-Languages/. Obviously the mix in a specific school in a specific neighborhood should not be expected to mirror that of the city as a whole, but the omission of Polish is maybe a further indication of how contingent it is that this particular school’s language mix should have ended up affecting signs posted as far outside the Chicago city limits as Swarthmore.

  6. Andrew (not the same one) said,

    March 8, 2017 @ 2:54 pm

    ‘Love thy neighbour’ does indeed appear several times in the New Testament, but it’s a direct quotation from the Old Testament (Leviticus 19.18), being pointed out by the New Testament writers as one of the commandments which sum up the law.

    I’d agree, though, that ‘thy’ would, historically, make sense in a Jewish context as well.

  7. KeithB said,

    March 8, 2017 @ 3:06 pm

    “Until maybe the middle of the last century it was common, indeed conventional, for non-Christian sacred texts to be translated into English in a KJV-ish register, ”

    Including the Book of Mormon.

  8. Y said,

    March 8, 2017 @ 3:08 pm

    The Hebrew says שנאה לא יכולה לחיות פה “Hate cannot live here”, an acceptable but a bit odd translation.

  9. Victor Mair said,

    March 8, 2017 @ 3:29 pm

    Francis Woodman Cleaves, one of my teachers, translated The Secret History of the Mongols into KJ English in 1956. See the Customer Reviews here.

  10. Polyspaston said,

    March 8, 2017 @ 6:02 pm

    JW Brewer raises an interesting point, but I think it may have more to do with the perceived antiquity and authority of texts than with their religious value per se.

    Translations of ancient literary works were often put into “hieratic English” in the early 20th Century, even if relatively secular. For instance, T.H. Delabere May’s version of the Aeneid (c. 1928?): “But if such desire/Be thine to acquaint thee with our miseries” (II.10, p.48)

    This style was also common enough among Egyptologists. Gardiner’s translation of the “Instruction of Kagemni”, from 1946: “If thou sit with a company, eschew the food thou lovest.” (p.73) This wasn’t just a European and British thing, either. Breasted translated into pseudo-early modern English in the early 1900s, though I don’t know how long this practice was kept up in the US, either in Egyptology or Classics.

    At a guess, the practice may have already been falling out of favour on both sides of the Atlantic by the mid-1950s. Caminos’ translation of the “Late Egyptian Miscellanies” (1954) makes use of “you” throughout, though I think maintains a more formal (or archaic) idiom: “Young fellow, how conceited you are! You do not hearken when I speak.” (p.377)

    My guess would be that the practice was almost entirely abandoned in Classics and Egyptology by the 1970s.

    I wonder if the controversies over the translation of Latin caused by the Second Vatican Council, and the publication of the document “comme le prevoit”, may have had an influence on this change, as well as the decline of formal registers in some European languages after the war.

    I suspect the “thy” in #LoveThyNeighbour is indeed connected with the KJV, which remains the translation in common use for quotations in general circulation, in the UK at least: I believe I’ve heard people quote, say, “as a dog returneth to his vomit…” fairly often, but never “as a dog returns…”

    I suspect the KJV also acts for many Christians as a sort of default translation, given how limitless the variety of other, modern options can seem. Plus, using “thy” presumably also avoids offending the “KJV only” movement.

    It seems to me that “love thy neighbour” has a quality of invitation, where “love your neighbour” seems more like a command. But perhaps that’s just me.

  11. Adrian said,

    March 8, 2017 @ 6:50 pm

    Even though I’m a Humanist I opted for the largely Judaeo-Christian “Love Your Neighbour” for the name of the secular anti-xenophobia campaign here in Birmingham, England. The expression is pious but it seemed to be the most succinct way of summing up the focus of the campaign.

    We’d be happy if the campaign was taken up in China!

  12. Victor Mair said,

    March 8, 2017 @ 9:58 pm

    From Jing Wen, Egyptologist:

    This is very interesting! It is true that early translations use pronouns from early modern English. It never bothers me but makes things easier. Ancient Egyptian differentiates second person singular and plural, as well as nominative and accusative pronouns, but modern English does not. Thou, thee, thy, thine and ye work very well in this context. Now, we all use you and yours. It is sometimes very confusing. There are other archaic uses, such as “lo”. Today we use “behold” or “look”.

    However, I know there are some differences between late 19th century’s English and the English we are using now. I assume they would use “her person” rather than “her body”, and considered the former as formal. Sometimes they even used Latin for something that could not be published in English at that time! (One example I met was the translation of a Middle Kingdom text about homosexuality between the god Horus and his uncle Seth…)

    This only occurred in English I guess. I don’t think early German translations of Egyptian texts are much different from modern ones.

    I am very curious if the English translation of ancient Chinese texts uses early modern English?

  13. Mara K said,

    March 8, 2017 @ 10:43 pm

    @J.W. Brewer Being from southern Illinois, the only inkling I had that Polish was so prevalent was that my elementary school gave us Casimir Pulaski Day off.

  14. 60640 said,

    March 8, 2017 @ 11:54 pm

    I live in Chicago, have been seeing these signs everywhere, was aware that they originated within the city, but didn’t know the specific link to the elementary school until reading this post. When I first saw them, I was very confused by the choice of languages, with thoughts roughly in this order:

    1. Oh, awesome, it’s the languages of Chicago!… wait, there’s no Polish.

    2. Ok, it’s the languages of the countries subject to the new travel/immigration ban (which the signs seemed clearly issued in reaction to), plus Spanish because of all the Mexico hate!… wait, there’s no Somali or Persian.

    3. Ok, it’s just languages that the current American right has demonstrated prejudice against somehow!… wait, when did Trump & co. say anything about Koreans?

    Now that the elementary-school origin of the sign is explained, it makes sense and I want to cut the designer some slack: they presumably didn’t know it would catch on around the city and country.

  15. Chris C. said,

    March 9, 2017 @ 2:14 am

    There’s actually at least one reasonable theological argument to make for some approximation of EME rather than a contemporary register in liturgical texts, at least for Christians: There is no distinction between singular and plural second person pronouns in contemporary English. Those Christian groups favoring precision of expression might prefer to make it very clear they’re addressing one God, even if they name three persons when they do so.

    I wonder if this was part of the motivation for archaized language in some of the other older translations mentioned? “A Jug of Wine, a Loaf of Bread—and Thou,” leaves no doubt this is an intimate scene.

  16. January First-of-May said,

    March 9, 2017 @ 3:39 am

    As far as I can tell, the Russian version of the saying sometimes uses the singular second-person pronoun (as apparently in the actual Bible text) and sometimes the reflexive (which has no English equivalent that I know of), but it is always obviously marked as a quote by using an otherwise obsolete word for “neighbour”.

  17. J.W. Brewer said,

    March 9, 2017 @ 7:38 am

    I accept Polyspaston’s friendly amendment that the “hieratic” register was used for a broader range of texts than strictly religious ones and indeed certain features of it remained more common in poetry than prose (as in one of the examples above) for quite some time. It does seem bound up not just with texts having “authority” but being authoritative in a particular, numinous, perhaps not-entirely-rational way. There is a reason that Also Sprach Zarathustra was rendered from German into that sort of English but the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus was not, having to do with the rather different modes of philosophical writing they represent.

    I separately don’t know what to make of the reaction that “love thy neighbor” feels like more of an invitation than command. The subjective “feel” people get from usage of the older pronouns seems to vary quite a bit – some people seem to find them more formal (in an interesting reversal of the T-V dynamic), others more intimate, yet others perhaps somehow both at once. I do expect that expanding the Biblical allusion to the fuller “thou shalt love thy neighbor” would make it harder to duck the statement’s status as, to use a religious category, a “commandment.” (See, e.g., Mt 22:36-40, explicitly framing the love-thy-neighbor mention in v. 39 as a commandment — and the OT context as noted above is in Leviticus which is mostly all commandments all the time.)

    Is it too much to hope for a viral hashtag campaign based on Auden’s 20th century restatement of the commandment as “You shall love your crooked neighbor / With all your crooked heart”?

  18. Rodger C said,

    March 9, 2017 @ 8:11 am

    it is always obviously marked as a quote by using an otherwise obsolete word for “neighbour”

    So also the Spanish, “Ama a tu prójimo.”

  19. Rodger C said,

    March 9, 2017 @ 8:15 am

    When looking for free online texts for my lit courses, I frequently can find only old public-domain translations in this kind of archaizing English. I can handle Boccaccio or Ferdowsi in that language, but I know that not only does it create a barrier for my students, it gives them a completely wrong impression of the register of the original (certainly it does for Boccaccio).

  20. BZ said,

    March 9, 2017 @ 10:45 am

    As has been pointed out, love you neighbor (or fellow) is originally from the Old Testament and is therefore not necessarily Christian, whereas the “thy” today is a strong KJV marker. “Do unto others” is the distinctively Christian formulation that would remain Christian even without the “unto”

  21. ajay said,

    March 9, 2017 @ 11:18 am

    Translations of ancient literary works were often put into “hieratic English” in the early 20th Century, even if relatively secular.

    I’m thinking of Kipling here, who tended to have his English-speakers speaking modern English (or anyway late 19th century English) and his non-English speakers speaking hieratic English (great phrase btw).

    ‘Send him hither,’ said Kim [in Punjabi], dropping from Zam-Zammeh, flourishing his bare heels. ‘He is a foreigner, and thou art a buffalo.’

    but

    ‘Will! Will, dear!’ called a woman’s voice [in English]. ‘You ought to be in the drawing-room. They’ll be here in a minute.’
    The man still read intently.
    ‘Will!’ said the voice, five minutes later. ‘He’s come. I can hear the troopers in the drive.’

  22. David Fried said,

    March 9, 2017 @ 12:14 pm

    @Y: I think the Hebrew is more than odd, because it means that “hate cannot be alive here” rather than “hate cannot reside here,” two senses of “live” that are distinguished in Hebrew. Even the later would be unidiomatic. I would say “lasina ein po makom,” “hate has no place here.”

  23. J.W. Brewer said,

    March 9, 2017 @ 12:39 pm

    ajay’s point re code-switching in Kipling is quite interesting (and one of those things that I must have noticed at some prior point in my life but had clean forgotten).

    To BZ’s point, as I understand it, it was not until circa the 1980’s that the 1917 JPS translation of the Torah (actually the whole Tanakh) stopped being the usual/default English version used by American Jews not content with a translation of Christian origin, and that has the relevant verse of Leviticus in “hieratic” diction: “Thou shalt not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the LORD.” I guess I don’t have enough sense of the internal dynamics of American Jewry to know if that version has in barely three or four decades fallen so deeply into unremembered oblivion that the “thy” now sounds markedly “Christian” rather than simply “religious in an old-timey way.” I assume there was also a point somewhere in the second half of the 20th century where English translations of the Siddur abandoned the older hieratic register, but I don’t have a good sense of when that was or how quick or slow given synagogues may have been to replace old inventory with new and thus I don’t have a sense of whether the shift in register for other liturgical texts preceded or followed (as experienced by the ordinary layperson) the shift for scriptural texts proper.

    I don’t know what percentage of American Christians attending services on a given Sunday morning these days are doing so at places where either the scripture readings or the prayers are in the old hieratic style. W/o hard data, I would be surprised if it were below 5% but even more surprised if it were as high as 15%. So there’s a question of how many more generations it will take before the folk-memory association of that register with Churchy Stuff (as opposed to Weird Old-Fashioned Stuff Like Shakespeare) fades out of a mainstream US-Anglophone sensibility.

  24. Jonfrum said,

    March 9, 2017 @ 12:51 pm

    In Matthew, Jesus says ‘you’ve heard “love your neighbor” – I say “love your enemy.” A very different precept, and one not often practiced by those claiming to be Christians. So Love they neighbor is less Christian/Biblical than Jewish.

  25. Bloix said,

    March 10, 2017 @ 9:13 am

    The “neighbor” of Leviticus 19.18 is somewhat equivocal. The full verse is (KJV): “Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the Lord.”
    So you could argue that a “neighbor” is a fellow Jew.

    More clear is Leviticus 19.33-34:
    And if a stranger sojourn with thee in your land, ye shall not vex him. But the stranger that dwelleth with you shall be unto you as one born among you, and thou shalt love him as thyself; for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.

  26. ajay said,

    March 10, 2017 @ 9:39 am

    JW Brewer: actually, on thinking about it, there’s more to it than that. The Indians (whatever language they’re speaking, Punjabi, Hindi etc) speak hieratic English with lots of thee’s and thou’s. So do Indian animals like Baloo and Bagheera. English speakers speak colloquial English.
    But Polar Eskimos (in “Quiquern”) speak modern English, but without contractions –

    What is it?” said Kotuko; for he was beginning to be afraid.
    “The sickness,” Kadlu answered. “It is the dog sickness.” Kotuko the dog lifted his nose and howled and howled again.
    “I have not seen this before. What will he do?” said Kotuko.

    And Aleut sealers speak colloquial English too, in “The White Seal”, as do the seals they hunt, and so do Russians and Germans in “Kim”:
    “Ho!” said Patalamon. “Look! There’s a white seal!”
    Kerick Booterin turned nearly white under his oil and smoke, for he was an Aleut, and Aleuts are not clean people. Then he began to mutter a prayer. “Don’t touch him, Patalamon. There has never been a white seal since—since I was born. Perhaps it is old Zaharrof’s ghost. He was lost last year in the big gale.”

    So I have no idea what he’s playing at.

  27. Mark F. said,

    March 10, 2017 @ 12:22 pm

    I have the sense that quoting scripture in English is a bigger thing among Christians than Jews, and also that “Love your neighbor” ranks higher in importance as a quote among Christians than it does among Jews, because of the way Jesus singled it out as part of the “greatest commandment”. I really think that line was directed mainly at Christian intolerance.

  28. J.W. Brewer said,

    March 10, 2017 @ 2:39 pm

    I think Bloix is right that there have historically been divergent views as to how broad or narrow a scope to give “neighbor” as it appears in Leviticus. It seems to be a contentious subject. In the New Testament, the issue of scope comes up explicitly because after a “certain lawyer” correctly recites that loving ones neighbor as oneself is one of the things to be done to “inherit eternal life,” the lawyer presses the question of scope (this is Lk 10:29) with dubious motives: “But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbour?” Jesus responds by saying “A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves” and so on with the rest of the story of the Good Samaritan. Thus, the “love thy neighbor” passages in thee NT are conventionally taken to imply a very broad scope of “neighbor” and indeed the “no exceptions” in the hashtag campaign Prof. Mair saw is perhaps best understood as a reminder (to those with a cultural connection to that NT exegesis) that trying to limit ones neighbor-loving obligations by reading “neighbor” in this context with a narrow scope that might be perfectly plausible in other contexts is contrary to the Gospel.

    All of this said, I *still* don’t have much confidence that I know to what extent the median American Jew would find “#LoveThyNeighbor (No Exceptions)” to give off an expressly Christian vibe versus finding it resonant in Jewish terms because of the text in Leviticus and/or other reasons. That seems an empirical question as to which I lack data and don’t think my intuitions are particularly trustworthy. That I do think I have a pretty good sense both that and why many Christians would find it resonant doesn’t directly resolve that separate question.

  29. J.W. Brewer said,

    March 10, 2017 @ 2:50 pm

    Separately to ajay’s more recent comment, the Aleuts had to some extent been culturally Russified and the given name “Patalamon” is almost certainly Пантелеимон, more conventionally Englished as Panteleimon. Perhaps Kipling’s spelling reflects what happens when a Greek-via-Russian-origin name is pronounced with Aleut phonotactics, or perhaps it just reflects cluelessness. Many Western European languages (presumably following the way the Greek name got taken into Latin?) have the underlying saint (martyred under Diocletian) as Pantaleon, so they lose the /m/ toward the end but retain the /n/ toward the front, the opposite of Kipling’s variation.

  30. Ran Ari-Gur said,

    March 18, 2017 @ 12:12 am

    @David Fried: I think /lix’jot/ “be alive” is actually correct here: they’re probably trying to say “Hate cannot survive here”, rather than “Hate cannot dwell here.” Your proposal, /la.sin’ʔa en po ma’kom/, was also what I’d expected, but I’m thinking they may have decided against it because it can also be interpreted as the much weaker “There’s not enough room for hate here.”

    (‎‏”מישהו יכול לזוז קצת? לשנאה אין מקום להכנס.”‏‎)

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