19 April 2021

Comparing translation with original in various editions

Until recently I have been uncertain as to how best present the new translation in print.

Initially, I wanted facsimile, transliteration* and translation all together, page by page. The first and only time this was done before, was in Jensma's edition (2006). However, I do not like his layout with 'landscape' (horizontal) pages and much empty space on most pages, which is only sometimes used for notes. A book in this shape will have a smaller back, will not fit well on many bookshelves nor in the hand, and will damage more easily. The facsimile was printed in grey-scales, with the frayed paper edges cut off. Transliteration follows the manuscript line-by-line, which makes it easy to compare the two. However, comparing translation with original language is more difficult. Not all pages contain as much text, as sometimes the letters were bigger or had more space between them. Therefore, some of the printed pages are significantly less filled than others (see sample).

* transliteration - representing letters or words in the characters of another alphabet or script; the term transcription is usually used for a typed representation of handwritten text (same alphabet or script).

sample of Jensma (2006) Het Oera Linda-boek

Most well known to English language readers will be Sandbach's edition (1876). Using Ottema's transliteration and lay-out, he presented the translation on the uneven pages (right side), with the original text on the left. As Ottema, he did not include page numbers of the manuscript, and because there were few paragraphs or blank lines, comparing translation with original is awkward.

sample of Sandbach (1876) The Oera Linda Book

A unique edition — the first one I bought and read — is De Heer (2008) Het Oera Linda boek. De Heer designed a Jol-based font which he used for a transcription of the original text. Lines in Jol-script alternate with their Dutch translations, making it very easy to compare the two. A downside is that there are no paragraphs or blank lines, making it less attractive to read translation only. Also, one has to get used to the unfamiliar script and discussing original fragments or words (for example on a forum) is hard, as they cannot easily be reproduced without transliterating them first.

sample of De Heer (2008) Het Oera Linda boek

With respect for the late mr. Menkens, I must mention his German edition (2013) as being least attractive, in my opinion. Instead of presenting a full transliteration of the original text, he added selected original words in brackets throughout the translation and often gave several possible translations for certain words, one of which most resembling the original, the other a more customary interpretation. This is very distracting and makes it almost impossible to read, concentrating on the content. I do hope that the planned new edition will be improved in this regard.

sample of Menkens (2013) Die Oera-Linda-Handschriften

Alternating pages of transliteration with pages of translation (as in Sandbach's edition) is a designers nightmare. After considering printing the whole translation first and then the whole transliteration (and reading ribbons to switch between the two), I now have decided to rather do it as in the sample below, because making it easier to study the original language has always been my main goal. Manuscript-page numbers (in translation and transliteration) and line numbers 5, 10, 15, 20, 25 and 30 (in transliteration only) will make it easy to also compare with the full color manuscript pages (provided with line numbers) in the back of the book. Browsing through these original pages may be a mesmerizing experience.

draft sample of Ott (to be released 2021) Codex Oera Linda ~ English edition


  1. There is a somewhat incongruent line I found in most English editions of the OLB I read, and I am wondering how you will deal with it in your new translation.

    We know the Fryas believed in the occult, as Minnos was a seer, and Kalta a witch, so it is confirmed they had a belief in sorcerery/witchcraft. We also know from a line later in the book (I forgot where exactly) they believed that wicked souls would 'haunt the earth' after death, so they also believed in 'evil spirits'. Despite all of this, in Frethorik's writings we hear him denounce the (Scandinavians?), he states "They believe in bad spirits, sorcerers, witches, dwarves, and elves as if they descended from the fins"

    I think a better word for 'believe' would be worship, because we know the Fryas would have also believed in sorcery and bad spirits, however they didn't worship sorcerers and spirits, like the fins would've. Changing 'belief' to worship makes a lot more sense to the reader, and makes more sense of the general religious worldview of the fryas, however I am wondering if changing it would maintain the translation's integrity.

    1. Good point. Thanks. I will look into this. It would not be the only contradiction though. For example, Adela advised to copy all (relevant) texts from the burgs, her counsel was taken and yet her daughter Apollania later added the 'Primal Teachings' (FORM.LÉRE; texts about Wralda), wondering why they had been left out.

    2. Yes, I picked up on that too, perhaps Adela just never foreseen their religion would ever die out, and that there'd be no use writing down something everyone knew. but that is a bit of a stretch considering the danger they were facing at the time. I cannot wait for there to be OLB study groups and scholars to discuss these disparities, when eventually the book hits the mainstream.