22 June 2017

BIDOBBA, as a matter of speaking

an attempt to exhume a lost meaning

detail of "Saul and the Witch of Endor" by Jacob Cz. van Oostsanen (1526)

One of the main arguments against the authenticity of the Oera Linda-book is that the language would be too modern; that it would simply be oldfrisianised 19th century Dutch. However, many fragments are hard to translate and the various translators often present very different translations, many of which have been discussed and improved on this blog. Obviously, adherents of the hoax theory will argue that the alleged creator(s) added these difficulties to create doubt, confusion, or an illusion of authenticity.

In this post I will show another of these difficulties and my interpretation, which is different from the existing ones.

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In an earlier post I discussed the OLB-verb BIDOBBA and its relation to 'tub' and 'dopen' (to baptise). The first meaning is to cover/ bury, from DOBBA: dig, delve (also see below: 'bidobje' in modern Frisian). In two of the fragments, however, the verb has a metaphorical meaning, which is not clear.

Fragment 1. [056/15]
Those who valued their stomachs above justice, ...

Fragment 2. [149/17]
Pay attention to how Friso ...

First I will summarise the differences, then list the translated fragments, and finally discuss them.
Besides the question what the verb BIDOBBA means in the first fragment, also the personal pronoun HINI was interpreted differently: as "themselves" (Jensma and Lien) and as "him" (other translators). The OLB has three other occurrences of HINI, where it means "him" each time (30/5, 85/22, 86/20). Reflexive pronouns almost always contain SELVA or SELF. It would thus most probably have been HJARA SELVA instead of HINI, if 'themselves' was meant. Therefore "him" is more likely the right interpretation of HINI.
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Summary of differences

Fragment 1.

worry, fret, drudge
work his way/  proceed
fob off
win over
Ottema Sandbach
De Heer
Menkens* Jensma** Lien Ott***
* Menkens gave two possible - very different - interpretations and admitted in footnote that he was uncertain.
** Jensma admitted in footnote that he was uncertain and had also considered 'dupe' (bedotten).
*** I am not certain either and decided for this translation mainly because it is the only one that fits in both fragments, considering the context.

Fragment 2.

deceive/ dupe/ fool
(bedotten, hineinlegen,
voor de gek houden, dupere)
fob off
influence/ seduce
(beeinflussen/ becircen)
win over
De Heer
Jensma Menkens Ott

Translated fragments

Ottema 1872 Dutch
1. lieten hem tobben (let him worry/ fret/ drudge)
2. allen wist te bedotten (duped them all)

Sandbach 1876 English
1. let him work his own way
2. understood deceiving everybody

Wirth 1933 German
1. ließen ihn gewähren (let him bestow)
2. alle hineinzulegen wußte (trick them all)

Overwijn 1951 Dutch
1. lieten hem begaan (let him proceed)
2. ze allemaal voor de gek wist te houden (fool them all)

Jensma 2006 Dutch
1. die lieten zich afschepen (let themselves be fobbed off)
2. allen wist af te schepen (fobb them all off)
(footnote to 1.: unclear, as in 149/18 where it is appease or something similar; perhaps 'bedotten' - dupe)

De Heer 2008 Dutch (1. as Overwijn; 2. as Ottema

Raubenheimer 2011 English (1. and 2. as Sandbach)

Menkens 2013 German
1. die ließen ihn gewähren/ toben (let him bestow/ rage)
2. alle zu beeinflussen/ becircen wußte (influence/ seduce them all)
(footnote to 1.: uncertain; to 2.: compare 'bedeppert' - dazed/ stunned; 'doof' - dumb; 'dope')

Lien 2013 Norse
1. de lot seg dupere (let themselves be duped)
2. visste å dupere alle (how Friso knew how to dupe them all)

Ott 2017 English (provisional, not official yet)
1. let him win them over
2. succeeded in winning them them all over

detail of "The Antiquarian"
by Ulpiano Checa (1908)
Discussion and conclusion

Ottema in the first translation of 1872 used words that sound somewhat similar, but are not likely related:
1. tobben (worry, fret, drudge)
2. bedotten (dupe, deceive)
More importantly, they do not really make sense, considering the context.

As for 'tobben', the later translators seem to agree with me, as they all chose a very different interpretation, although Menkens does something similar with 'toben' (to rage), and Lien with 'dupere' (to dupe).

Then 'bedotten' (dupe, decieve); a similar word was chosen by most other translators. Only Jensma and Menkens had a somewhat less negative interpretation, which still makes no sense in my opinion, as I will explain below.

Let's first look at the context of both fragments (translation Sandbach):

1. ... the Magy did just as he pleased, because his daughter had a son by Wodin, and he would have it that this son was of high descent. While all were disputing and quarrelling, he crowned the boy as king, and set up himself as guardian and counsellor. Those who cared more for themselves than for justice let him [?!?!?], but the good men took their departure.

2. Here you must observe how Friso understood [?!?!?] everybody, to the satisfaction of both parties, and to the accomplishment of his own ends. To the Zeelanders he promised that they should have yearly fifty ships of a fixed size for a fixed price, fitted with iron chains and crossbows, and full rigging as is necessary and useful for men-of-war, but that they should leave in peace the Jutlanders and all the people of Frya's race. But he wished to do more; he wanted to engage all our sea rovers to go with him upon his fighting expedition. When the Zeelanders had gone, he loaded forty old ships with weapons for wall defences, wood, bricks, carpenters, masons, and smiths, in order to build citadels. Witto, or Witte, his son, he sent to superintend. [...] on each side of the harbour a strong citadel has been built, and garrisoned by people brought by Friso out of Saksenmarken. Witto courted Siuchthirte and married her. Wilhem, her father, was chief Alderman of the Jutmen [...]. Wilhem died shortly afterwards, and Witte was chosen in his place.

The second fragment provides most clues to what the mysterious word could mean. Firstly, what Friso did satisfy both parties and it helped him accomplish his own goal. He promised to sell the Zeelanders equipped ships, and to go on expeditions together with them. All under the condition that they would leave the Jutlanders in peace. It is obvious that Friso would profit from this too. Secondly, two strong citadels were built for the Jutlanders, and his son Witto married the daughter of the Jutmen's chieftain, whom he would later succeed. Friso, who's aim was to create an empire, in other words, had made valuable allies, and it would have been short-sighted to deceive them, as this would surely come to light in the long run and would make him enemies rather than friends.

My suggestion is that he won over (Dutch: inpalmen) the Zeelanders and the Jutlanders, and this meaning would also fit in the first fragment: The opportunists allowed the Magy to win them over.

from: Friesch Woordenboek A-H (1896)
Dijkstra & Buitenrust Hettema
How BIDOBBA would have gotten this (or a similar) secondary meaning is still a mystery to me. In Dijkstra's Frisian dictionary of 1896 this word has most coverage that I could find, but all listed examples are related to bury/ cover/ hide. Hettema's dictionary of 1874 does not list the word, and the one by Halbertsma of the same year only briefly mentions it means bury in earth.

So why would an alleged creator have chosen this word for something that has no clear relation to bury/ cover/ hide?

"To confuse", a hardcore believer of the hoax-doctrine (if there still is one) will say. But why? Why invest so much time and talent in a project that has no clear purpose, is by no means a crowd pleaser, and has made no one rich or famous. Yes, the Oera Linda-book did indeed create confusion, but to conclude that this must therefore have been its purpose is vainsense.

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