Modern-day Ecclesiastes

Modern-day Ecclesiastes is a poem to illustrate how the spelling distinctions between homophones in modern Hebrew are irretrievably lost in the conventional quasi-phonetic transliteration of Hebrew in Roman characters. It is a useful tool for testing the fidelity and reversibility of any Hebrew-to-Roman transcription system. (Translation below.)

For a PDF version, showing the Hebrew, conventional and SimHebrew transliterations, and translation, click here.

Conventional transliterationSquare Hebrew כתב מרובע
Et le’et – ve’et le’et!
kara ha’ikar. veha’ikar: kara
mikreh shebo hi amrah “bo
vehu, ba’aliyah, ba vehebit — aliyah vekotz ba
ve’amar:
ani, ani, velach miyeza — ve’at, at-at, lach
koret, be’odi koret.
Hakol avir, vehakolavir.”
׳עת לעט, ועת לאת!,׳
קרא האיכר. והעיקר: קרה
מקרה שבוֹ היא אמרה ׳בוֹא׳,
והוּא בא, בעליה, והביט – אליה וקוֹץ בה
ואמר:
׳אני, עני, ולח מיֶזע – ואת, אט–אט, לך
קוֹראת, בעוֹדי כוֹרת.׳
׳הכל עביר, והקוֹל – אוויר.׳׳
Kar lo, lakotev bakotev, lelo kar
gam im matza matza bamatza, im ya’eh, kaya’eh lo
aviv, ba’aviv, bashivah, yashav shivah
machah dim’ah, ve’atar ba’atar
ach lelo ho’ilho’il veha’ach
sam moto banikba, ach nikba moto misam
hakol avir, vehakolavir.
קר לוֹ, לכוֹתב בקוֹטב, ללא כר
גם אם מצא מצה במצע, עם יעה, כיאה לוֹ
אביו, באביב, בשיבה, ישב שבעה
מחה דמעה, ועתר באתר
אך ללא הוֹעיל – הוֹאיל והאח
שם מוֹטוֹ בנקבה, אך נקבע מוֹתוֹ מסם.
הכל עביר, והקוֹל – אוויר.
Vegam atah, atah
davar sachirdavar sachir
mitatkha bachanut, vechanut bemitatkha
marut, lelo marut
kmo tzav, lelo tzav
hakol avir, vehakolavir.
וגם אתה, עתה
דוור שכיר – דבר סחיר…
מיטתך בחנוּת, וחנוּט במיתתך
מרוּט, ללא מרוּת –
כמוֹ צב, ללא צו.
הכל עביר, והקוֹל – אוויר.
Beintayim, hu, mima’arav, kmo mima’arav
af lo – ve’af lo
nitpas bekalkalah, lema’an kalkalah
ubekol rachash, rachash hakol
hakol avir, vehakol avir.*
בינתיים – הוּא, ממערב – כמוֹ ממארב
עף לוֹ – ואף לא
נתפס בקלקלה למען כלכלה
ובקוֹל רחש, רכש הכל.
הכל עביר, והקוֹל – אוויר.

In Simulated Hebrew, the spelling distinctions are preserved—which means that the result can be converted back (on an automated basis, if necessary) to Square Hebrew with full fidelity:

SimHebrewSquare Hebrew כתב מרובע
׳yt ly’t, vyt lat!,׳
qra haicr. vhyiqr: qrh
mqrh wbo hia amrh ׳boa׳,
vhua ba, bylih, vhbi’t – alih vqox bh
vamr:
׳ani, yni, vlk miֶzy – vat, a’t–a’t, lç
qorat, byodi cort.׳
׳hcl ybir, vhqol – avvir.
׳עת לעט, ועת לאת!,׳
קרא האיכר. והעיקר: קרה
מקרה שבוֹ היא אמרה ׳בוֹא׳,
והוּא בא, בעליה, והביט – אליה וקוֹץ בה
ואמר:
׳אני, עני, ולח מיֶזע – ואת, אט–אט, לך
קוֹראת, בעוֹדי כוֹרת.׳
׳הכל עביר, והקוֹל – אוויר.׳׳
qr lo, lcotb bqo’tb, lla cr
gm am mxa mxh bmxy, ym iyh, ciah lo
abiv, babib, bwibh, iwb wbyh
mkh dmyh, vytr batr
aç lla hoyil – hoail vhak
wm mo’to bnqbh, aç nqby moto msm.
hcl ybir, vhqol – avvir.
קר לוֹ, לכוֹתב בקוֹטב, ללא כר
גם אם מצא מצה במצע, עם יעה, כיאה לוֹ
אביו, באביב, בשיבה, ישב שבעה
מחה דמעה, ועתר באתר
אך ללא הוֹעיל – הוֹאיל והאח
שם מוֹטוֹ בנקבה, אך נקבע מוֹתוֹ מסם.
הכל עביר, והקוֹל – אוויר.
vgm ath, yth
dvvr wcir – dbr skir…
mi’ttç bknut, vknu’t bmittç
mru’t, lla mrut –
cmo xb, lla xv.
hcl ybir, vhqol – avvir.
וגם אתה, עתה
דוור שכיר – דבר סחיר…
מיטתך בחנוּת, וחנוּט במיתתך
מרוּט, ללא מרוּת –
כמוֹ צב, ללא צו.
הכל עביר, והקוֹל – אוויר.
bintiim – hua, mmyrb – cmo mmarb
yf lo – vaf la
ntps bqlqlh lmyn clclh
vbqol rkw, rcw hcl.
hcl ybir, vhqol – avvir.
בינתיים – הוּא, ממערב – כמוֹ ממארב
עף לוֹ – ואף לא
נתפס בקלקלה למען כלכלה
ובקוֹל רחש, רכש הכל.
הכל עביר, והקוֹל – אוויר

This poem can serve as a test of the fidelity and reversibility of any Hebrew-to-Roman transcription system. To test the automated conversion of Square Hebrew to and from SimHebrew, see the online converter.


*Translation:

SimHebrewTranslation
Et le’et – ve’et le’et!
kara ha’ikar. veha’ikar: kara
mikreh shebo hi amrah “bo
vehu, ba’aliyah, ba vehebit — aliyah vekotz ba
ve’amar:
ani, ani, velach miyeza — ve’at, at-at, lach
koret, be’odi koret.
Hakol avir, vehakolavir.”
“A time for a pen, and a time for a spade!”
cried the farmer. And in particular:
There was a time when she said: “Come”
and he came, on the rise, and looked—a siren beauty, and said:
“I am poor, and damp with sweat—and you, very slowly,
read for yourself, while I hew wood.
“All is fleeting, and the voice—is just air.”
Kar lo, lakotev bakotev, lelo kar
gam im matza matza bamatza, im ya’eh, kaya’eh lo
aviv, ba’aviv, bashivah, yashav shivah
machah dim’ah, ve’atar ba’atar
ach lelo ho’ilho’il veha’ach
sam moto banikba, ach nikba moto misam
hakol avir, vehakolavir.
It’s cold, for the writer at the Pole, without a pillow
Even if he found a matzah in the mattress—with a dustpan, as befits him
His father, in the spring, on his return, sat in mourning
Wiped away a tear, and appealed at the site
But in vain—since the brother
had placed his staff in the shaft, but his death
was pronounced—from a drug.
All is fleeting, and the voice—is just air.
Vegam atah, atah
davar sachirdavar sachir
mitatkha bachanut, vechanut bemitatkha
marut, lelo marut
kmo tzav, lelo tzav
hakol avir, vehakolavir.
And you, too, now
A salaried postman—a tradeable commodity
Your bed is in the shop—and embalmed in your death
Plucked—and powerless
Like a tortoise, without a cause.
All is fleeting, and the voice—is just air.
Beintayim, hu, mima’arav, kmo mima’arav
af lo – ve’af lo
nitpas bekalkalah, lema’an kalkalah
ubekol rachash, rachash hakol
hakol avir, vehakol avir.*
Meanwhile he, from the west
—like from an ambush
Flies away—and was not even
caught for misconduct for financial gain
and, ever so stealthily, bought up everything.
All is fleeting, and the voice—is just air.
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5 thoughts on “Modern-day Ecclesiastes

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