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Lost in Translation

There are times when everything works against you. No matter what you do, everything seems to go wrong. Which is perhaps what happened 100 years ago. The crew of the S.S. Karluk had high hopes when they departed on their journey to the Arctic. Although they were soon met with an unusually early and abnormally cold Arctic winter. And were lost at sea. Actually, it was worse than that. When they were lost at sea, they were stuck in an ice floe with a shortage of food, supplies and warm clothing and no passage to land. The sun was about to disappear for a few months. And just to top it off, the leader of the expedition had run off on them. It looked like they were facing certain death. But they tried to keep their hopes high.

Depositphotos 33208409 xl 2015


By turning to language.

Faith in the Written Word

There was a library of books on the Karluk. Many of these told the stories of other polar explorers. The most read was the diary of an expedition leader who had also been trapped in ice in the same area, drifted in the same direction and… And died a slow death from starvation.

But there was always The Bible.

For the anthropologists, the Inuit people on board provided them with another opportunity. They attempted to learn the Inuit language. And this all sounds good. But unfortunately, they discovered a lot of words become somewhat odd when translated into Inuit. For instance, ‘salvation’ became ‘pulling from a hole in the ice’ and ‘dried apples’ was ‘resembling an ear’. And so, rather than translating simple words, the decision was made to translate passages from The Bible. And why not? As we all know, it's one text that never results in any unusual interpretations.

Lost in Translation

With its comforting words of calming wisdom, the Twenty-third Psalm became an obvious passage for translation, especially considering their predicament.

"The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters."

However, there was certainly something lost in translation:

"The Lord is my great keeper; he does not want me. He shoots me down on the beach and pushes me into the water."