Translating even one sentence is hard! A case study.

A story by Chaim Grade (yes, her husband) excerpted in this week's Yiddish Forward doesn't seem all that interesting from a narrative point of view, or innovative stylistically, but it's lovely writing all the same.

Here's the first sentence.

אונטער די קאַלטע שטיינערנע געוועלבן פֿון קלויז ישן זיצן זקנים בײַ דעמבענע שטענדערס.

Unter di kalte shteynerne gevelbn fun kloyz yoshn zitsn skeynim ba dembene shtenders.

Under the cold stone vaults of the * the old men sit at oaken *s.

Kloyz yoshn is a macaronic phrase, yoshn meaning - of course - old in loshn-koydesh, and kloyz being a smallish prayer- or study-house. "Old study house" doesn't get at it, because yoshn is part of the name here, not an adjective. Maybe Old Study House, but that seems like we're talking about a Society of Friends meeting place. Venerable? Ancient? Neither of those work.

Shtender - that's a common Jewish, or at least Yeshivish word. I think that when Grade is talking about the skeynim (old men, for lack of a better translation) sitting at the shtenders, he doesn't mean the podiums that people daven at, but rather the bookstands that rest on a table. "Bookstands" doesn't sound right, though.


Foreign minister, an office that doesn't really mean much

But Beinart never mentions that Lieberman’s party won only 12.5 percent of the vote.
Right-o! Only 12.5 percent. Because that's . . . wait a minute! That's a significant proportion of the population! Voting for a racist demagogue! (Sorry! A "populist.")

More (if you care) here. From the always entertaining Commentary.


Adventures in Error Bars, Cell Phone Edition

So if you're worried about an exposure, and the exposure is difficult to measure (because, oh, you have no idea what the causal link would be between the exposure and the disease, so you don't know what you're measuring), and you keep doing studies about the exposure, you are eventually going to find a positive result (or weakly positive) because of the nature of chance.

That doesn't mean cell phones cause cancer. It means epidemiology is inexact.


Annals of Yiddish Lexicographical Video

From the talented Leizer Burko, a series of videos based on the life and work of Nahum Stutchkoff, thesaurus-maker and radio-playwright.


What's the benefit of diabetes screening?

Asymptomatic guy, obese, no high blood pressure. Do you screen him for diabetes? The USPSTF says the evidence is Incomplete. "Would a hemoglobin A1C [diabetes test] change your management?" I ask. Always my first question - I'm a skeptic to a fault. "Sure," comes back the answer. "If it was 8, you'd start metformin, right?"

Well, maybe. But that's the problem of the screen. If their number is 8, we put them in the Diabetes box. Then we "know" that we need to get their A1C at 7 . . .

But why do we know that? The evidence isn't so great that 8, say, is all that much worse than 7 with regard to clinical outcomes in an asymptomatic patient without evidence of micro- or macrovascular disease. Yes, if the number were 9, 10, 11, 12, then the answer becomes more and more definite, but you're going to start seeing symptoms somewhere in that range anyway.

[links to come, I hope]