William Laughton Lorimer
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William Laughton Lorimer (1885-1967) wis a scholar o the Greek an Scots leid enthusiast frae Strathmairtine near Dundee, best kent for pittin The New Testament ower intil Scots. He wis the first Scots New Testament translator tae wirk straucht frae the oreeginal Greek texts an no frae an Inglis version.
Table o contents
Lorimer wis born tae Rev. Robert Lorimer, a meenister o the Free Kirk o Scotand, an Isabella Lockhart Robertson, the sievent o aicht bairns born til thaim. He wis eddicate at the High School of Dundee, Fettes College (whaur he wis Heid o the Schuil for twa year) an Trinity College, Oxford whaur he leared at Clessical leids an leeteratur. In 1910 he wis appyntit Asseestant in the Greek tae Professor Burnet at the Varsity o Saunt Andras. He bidit in Saunt Andras, whaur he mairiet on ane o his students, Marion Rose Gordon, in 1915. Tho he wis commeesioned in the Gordon Hielanders in 1914, problems wi his heal meant he coudna perform fechtin service ava, an sae frae 1916 tae 1919 wrocht in the Intelligence Directorate o the Weir Office, whaur his readin o the neutral press kindelt in him an interest in lesser spak leids an the strauchles they faced. Efter the Weir endit, he retoured wi his guidwife an young son tae Saunt Andras finally settlin doun in 1921. The follaein year his guidwife dee'd o a suddent, as wis ordinar in thae days, he teuk in a maid tae help wi the raisin o his son. This maid, Mrs Helen MacGregor (1873/4 - 1930) wis a native speaker o Scots, an ower the years baith William Lorimer an his son learnt mair nor a tait Scots frae her. He retired frae his wark at the Varsity in 1955, an efter an illness stairtin in December 1966, he dee'd on the 25t o May the follaein year, at the auld eild o aichty-ane.
The New Testament
Lorimer haed aye been interestit in the Scots leid (syne he wis a bairn o nine year auld he haed written doun Scots wirds an eedioms) an his kennin o the strauchles o minority leids that he got frae his readins o the neutral press durin the Weir led him tae feel that something needit daein tae rescue the Scots leid. He becam convinced, that gin Socts wis tae be ruised up frae the laich status that it haed fawen tae, it needit twa main things first: I) a guid modren dictionar an II) a guid modren translate o The New Testament that maist weel-read fowk an mony ithers wad be fameeliar wi. Sometime aboot September 1945, he decidit tae yoke tae on pittin The New Testament ower intil Scots. Bein an unco dab-haund wi leids, he read throu mony translates o New Testament beuks (for exemplar he reads throu at least 174 translates o the cutty beuk o Philemon in twinty-three leids includin aicht in the Laitin, twa in the Coptic, twa in Syriac, twa in Nether-Saxon, twinty-three in German, sieven in Dens, five in Norse, three in Swadish, ane in Faeroese, sax in Dutch, twa in Fleems, twinty-twa in French, ane in Occitanian, twa in Catalan, fowerteen in Italian, fower in Rhaeto-Romaunsch, fower in Modren Greek, twa in Scots, fowerty-aicht in Inglis an ane in Esperanto).
His first drauchts wis begoued in 1957, an bi early 1961 he stairtit wark on The Gospels that teuk him twa year an three month tae feenish the first drauchts o. The last o the first drauchts (that seems tae hae been Hebrews) wis feenished on the 10t o October 1965. It haed sae faur taen him aicht year tae pit the hail New Testament ower intil Scots. Bi nou he wis aichty year auld, an aw he haed wis the first draucht. He stairtit his reveesions o the drauchts, but as it cam tae be clearer that he wadna leeve muckle langer, he stairtit makkin jottins anent whit he wantit duin wi the warks - anent spellins an sae furth.
As he seems tae hae kent, Lorimer wadna leeve tae feenish his great darg. He dee'd in 1967 wi maist o his manuscripts unrevised. The wark passed on tae his son, Robert Lorimer, wha uised his faither's jottins for guidal as he revised an edited the texts. In 1983, twinty-sax year efter Lorimer begoud his first drauchts an saxteen year efter he dee'd, The New Testament In Scots wis finally setten furth.
It wes an instant success, sellin out the hail first print-rin in jist thrie week, an haes been established synesen as ane o the great classics o Scots leitature, an ane o the heidmaist Scots warks o the 20t century, an can be aften fun in lists o great Scottish buiks.
Lorimer wis aye keen tae evyte scrievin in ae style, but raither wantit tae pit ower the sindry styles o the oreeginal scrievers wi deeferent styles o Scots. Pairt o this wis won at wi his spellins (see ablo), but wi the prose styles an aw. Abuin aw, Lorimer's hamelt style wis able tae mak sic fowk as Jesus an Peter kythe as jyners an fisherfowk bi evytin makkin thaim spaek in airteeficial, heichly elevatit styles as they dae in mony translates. At the same time, his prose haes the musardie that chairacterises Scots prose - alleeterations (Ye canna sair God an Gowd - Matt. 6:24), plentifu eedioms (Black s' be your faa - Matt. 23:13), seemalies (My speech will be like the cheepin o a spug tae him, an his will be like the chitterin o a swallow tae me - I Cor 14:11) an sae furth. In daein sae, Lorimer shawed himsel tae be a maister o Greek eedioms forby - as in the last exemplar that gaes intil muckle depth anent the oreegins o the Greek wird βάρβαρος (bárbaros).
For tae represent mair better the deeferent styles o Greek uised bi the scrievers o The New Testament Lorimer held back frae uisin a staundart orthography in his translate, jottin himsel that "Jesus spakna staundart Aramaic" . For tae win at this, Lorimer sortit the documents o The New Testament intil twal authorial units that wad hae internal orthographic conseestancy, tho they wad be slichtly deeferent frae ilk ither. Thir authorial units wis:
- Mark [ootwi 2 (a) an 16: 9-20]
- Luke, Acts
- John, I John, II John, III John [ootwi 4 (a) Jn. 7:53- 8:11: 4 (b), Jn. 21]
- Paul - inc. Romans, I an II Corinthians, Galatians, Philippians, Colossians, I an II Thessalonians, Philemon, an Ephesians
- Pastorals inc. I an II Timothy an Titus
- I Peter
- II Peter
Uisin thir authorial units alloued Lorimer tae wirk aboot orthographical issues that haedna been redd at the time (mony o them still haesna) sic as the uiss o aa/aw an oo/ou. He coud uise aw the variants tae gie ilk authorial unit its ain chairacter as it haes in the Greek but no in ither leids sic as the Inglis translate that maist Scots wis fameeliar wi. Forby he rejectit the uiss o the apologetic apostrophe an uises-it-na ava. Lorimer uised accents as a haund for thaim that's no acquent wi Scots for tae shaw whit vouel soonds is tae be uised - e.g. he uises thaim in wirds sic as Spírit ['spi:rɪt] an Generâtion. ['dʒɛnərɑ:ʃən]
At the Edinburgh Beuk Festival, 2006, a recordtit CD version o the Gospel o Luke read by Scots actor Tam Fleming wes set furth tae gey positive reviews an selt out. Ae review cam in Lallans - Nummer 70, as wes by the weil kent Scots screiver David Purves:
- Lorimer's leid, as read by Tam Fleming, haes the ring o truith about it, an the dramatic smeddum needfu in onie artistic performance. Thir ir pryceless qualities in a warld nou under thraet frae globalisation an social collapse.
In 2008, Wild Goose Publications (the publishin brainch o the Iona Community) an the Lorimer Trust brocht out the ithir thrie Gospels (Matthew, Mark an John), also read by Tam Fleming. Thir recordins haes been praised frae monie fowk, amang thaim the weil kent an respectit umwhile MP, Tony Benn:
- ...WL Lorimer's translate o The New Testament intil Scots an the readin o it by Tam Fleming carries [the greinin fer justice] forrit in a gate that'll mak it faur mair real tae thaim that heir it. Fer the Bible is the dyte o the conflicts atween the Kinds that haed pouer an the Prophets that preachit richteousness an thon conflict is alive the day an aye wull be.
Kirkman Canon William Anderson wes also positive about the recordins:
- ...Whit we hae been gied is nae sense a performance, but raither a thochtfou darg o luve...This is a gem o a recordin that we suld be deeply greatfou fer...
Tho Lorimer's maist kenspeckle wark wis his New Testament in Scots, his ingine in baith the Scots an Greek led tae ither contributions in thir fields. Forby wirkin on the revised edeetion Liddell & Scott's Greek Lexicon, he wis ane o heidmaist outside contreebuters tae the Scottish National Dictionary, an in 1947 he wis waled as a member o the Scottish National Dictionary Association's Executive Cooncil, a body that he wis chairman o frae 1953 till his daith in 1967.
A quote frae Lorimer's translate is setten afore the Scots Pairlament. It is taen frae I Corinthians 13 an reads:
- Gin I speak wi the tungs o men an angels, but hae nae luve in my hairt, I am nane better nor a dunnerin bress or a rínging cymbal.
- The New Testament in Scots - translate bi William Laughton Lorimer (1983)
- William Lorimer's New Testament in Scots an appreciation - David Ogston (chaipter taen frae The Bible in Scottish Life and Literature, ed. David F. Wright (1988)
- A History of the Scots Bible: with Selected Texts - Graham Tulloch (1989)
- Review o spoken word recordin o Luke's Gospel frae Lorimer's translate bi Tom Fleming - David Purves, Lallans 70. (2007)
- Sample o the owerset, evenin Inglis an Scots - the Parable o the Guid Samaratin (Luke 10: 25–37
- Lorimer's owerset, frae Canongate
- Spaeken wurd recordin o Luke's Gospel bi Tam Fleming, frae Wild Goose Publications / Iona Community
- Easter Tide readins frae the owerset by Tam Fleming
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