Sunday, 23 June 2013

The Trials and Tribulations of Translating.

The Besslerwheel forum has again debated the accuracy of the English translations I provided in the Bessler's books I publish.  I don't need to rehearse the many arguments I put forth in support of the work of my friend Mike Senior, but there is another aspect to this subject which is worth bearing in mind.

I refer to the change of meanings in words over a period of time, or as wikipedia puts it, "semantic change is the evolution of word usage — usually to the point that the modern meaning is radically different from the original usage. Every word has a variety of senses and connotations, which can be added, removed, or altered over time, often to the extent that cognates across space and time have very different meanings. The study of semantic change can be seen as part of etymology, onomasiology, semasiology, and semantics."  - some words there, I've never encountered before!

There are numerous examples which I needn't repeat here but you can read the article at - my point is this; consider the words of William Shakespear written over 400 years ago, many people find it hard to uderstand some of his writings, but if you think they're confusing, you shoud try reading Geoffrey Chaucer writing over 600 years ago!  So what are we to make of Bessler's words written only 300 years ago?

Samuel Johnson, a contemporary of Bessler's and famous for publishing the first English dictionary wrote numerous articles and books, wrote for example, ""He that has much to do will do something wrong, and of that wrong must suffer the consequences; and, if it were possible that he should always act rightly, yet when such numbers are to judge of his conduct, the bad will censure and obstruct him by malevolence, and the good sometimes by mistake."  It's easy enough to understand but the sentences are long and convoluted and you can doubtless imagine trying to translate that into German, for instance.

But there is another aspect to take into account and that is Bessler's use of slang.  He was taught to use robust language in his poetry, by Christian Weise his teacher, and he did so with enthusiasm.  We therefore have to take into account the use of slang and try to understand its relationship to modern meaning.  One way to appreciate the difficulty with this is to consider just the differences between British English and American English - and we reputably, speak the same language, imagine the difference between English and German slang, separated by 300 years!

Finally there is Bessler's use of metaphors in his writing.   Metaphor is a figure of speech that describes a subject by asserting that it is, on some point of comparison, the same as another otherwise unrelated object, and it compares two objects or things without using the words "like" or "as".  How are we to always understand that he is using metaphors in his descriptions of things?  Sometimes it's obvious, but not always.

Bessler described a land where"roast pigeons fly into your mouth," not likely but an agreeable metaphor.




  1. John,
    I tried to read "A Lecture on the Perpetual Motion", by William Kenrick, that was difficult enough trying to get around the ff's for ss's.
    That was written in English, 50 years after Bessler! :-)

  2. With Bessler's writings I have found that he omitted quite a few Es and also he writeth witheth someeth extraeth eths .

  3. John, there's about as much chance that Bessler describes a land of milk and honey, as there is a roast pigeon flying into your mouth. ;-)

  4. Just a question regarding translations and Bessler.
    What are your view on the words:
    "Rend und Banct" in the first and 7th line on the "Apologia wheel-drawing page."

    1. rende und bangt

    2. I think that is wrong. It shurely does not spell a g there. But I found another thing that is in line with JCs eralier research. An incomplete letter. And I found that the word does transform as soon as the correct shapes are used. I found that other places too, and again it spells a word with the same meaning as I found earlier. The clue to look for (A pointer that says something needs to be added) is that the letter B is incomplete written as a 3 or a revered E.

      I also have found strong evidence that Bessler did indeed think he had solved the squaring of the circle. Using the same method as he used for hiding his mechanism, he was able to put in a square of the same erea as the circle using a straightedge and compass. The apologia page hold both proofs. If his method is accurate enough, I don`t know, and I think Bessler did not want to take the chance to be proven wrong (before the wheel was sold), because then no one would believe his PM principle, and also believe it to be fraudulent or flawed.

  5. John, I feel that the accuracy of translations will be verified when the wheel materialises.
    On the other hand it will confirm the extent of the mis-interpretations that various minds have had about the same description of Bessler's principle of the wheel.
    Is this not because no two people are on the same plain of thinking?
    Some think mechanically,others reason theoretically.
    It is hard to accommidate all.

  6. Just to keep the reply numbers up, and nothing to do with the subject, a little report on my rocking beam experiment.
    Although the levers worked as expected, and moved the lower weight in, and the upper weight out, the beam still refused to budge any great distance, it did move very slightly, but that may have been due to my crude construction methods.
    I still learned a lot though, like, for my idea to work the weight moving towards the pivot point has to travel almost to the pivot itself.
    Any way, more food for thought.

    P.S. John, would difficulty in translation also apply to the name Shakespeare as well ?

  7. Boy ! still only 9 comments,
    just a little report on my glorified see-saw,
    I've worked out how to make the weights move the full distance, next step is a test build,
    if that doesn't work, time to move on.

  8. Frankiermaschine für Radfahrer:

    Rennräder gehen oft schneller als die maximale Geschwindigkeit und werden daher regelmäßig geblitzt. Auch Hobbyfahrer sind dafür verantwortlich, auf ihr Fahrrad zu bekommen, bekommen Amateur-und professionellen Fahrern noch höhere Geschwindigkeiten als die zugelassenen Geschwindigkeiten. Oft zum Leidwesen der anderen Verkehrsteilnehmer (Renn-) Radfahrer, daß sie nichts zu tun und muß mithalten können andere dachte. Verkehr ohne Mit vielen Fahrräder nebeneinander fahren, fahren über rote Ampeln, mitten auf der Straße fahren, vor allem nicht mit eigens dafür gebauten Straßen für Radfahrer, aber auch weiterhin durch andere Verkehrsteilnehmer auf der Straße behindert sind einige Beispiele der sich fast normales Fahrrad Verkehr. Die durchschnittliche Radfahrer denkt er oder sie ist mehr wie andere Verkehrsteilnehmer. Dadurch wird sichergestellt, daß die Fahrer oft durch das Verhalten der Radfahrer verlassen aggressives Verhalten entsteht verärgert. Situationen, in denen Autofahrer Radfahrer versucht, mit ihrem Auto von der Straße zum Ausdruck bringen werden immer häufiger. Es ist sicher zu sprechen, aber nicht völlig unverständlich ist nicht das Verhalten vieler Radfahrer gegeben. Es nicht für nichts mehr und mehr Radfahrer mit einem Helm im Straßenverkehr angezeigt. Dieser Helm schützt nicht nur Radfahrer gegen Stürze, sondern auch gegen aggressive Fahrer. Um das Leben der Radfahrer noch sicherer und billiger zu machen, können sie auch Gebrauch machen von einem Radarwarner. Die Bußgelder für
    Geschwindigkeitsüberschreitungen werden immer höher, diese Rechnungen werden mit einer
    frankiermaschine bedruckt. Höhere Geschwindigkeiten für Radfahrer machen das Sturzrisiko erhöht. Das Ergebnis fällt oft, daß neben Schäden an den Radfahrer selbst, auch Schäden an den Fahrrädern und sogar der Helm entstehen. Dieser Schaden macht das Radfahren noch teurer. Je mehr vorbeugende Produkte auf dem Markt, um die Sicherheit der Radfahrer zu kommen, um das Leben des durchschnittlichen Radfahrers auch weniger teuer zu erleichtern. Mit all den schönen Dingen auch zur Verbesserung der Sicherheit und das Glück der Rennrad Fahrer. Es gibt weniger Umfallen und nicht unwichtig am Ende ist das Leben nicht mehr so teuer weil es kein Geschwindigkeitsbußgeld mehr gibt.



Johann Bessler’s Legacies.

Bessler’s wheel is one obvious legacy and although there are some who believe that it’s potential power output is too limited to be of pract...