Five mInutes in the life of a translator

You may well not agree, but Your Intrepid Reporter finds it significant that a man who could co-author so significant a scientific work as the three-volume 1979 Sovremennaya Geometriya [The volumes, the first of which appeared in 1979 were more or less immediately translated by R.G. Burns of York University, to become Volumes 93, 104, and 124 of the series Graduate Texts in Mathematics, edited by J.H. Ewing (Indiana Univ) F.W. Gehring (Univ of Michigan) and the prominent P.R. Halmos; in hand is the second, corrected edition: B. A. Dubrovin (Faculty of Mechanics and Mathematics, Moscow State Univ) A.T. Fomenko (ditto) S.P. Novikov (Landau Inst Theo Phys, Acad of Sci), Modern Geometry — Methods and Applications. Part I. The Geometry of Surfaces, Transformation Groups, and Fields, New York, Springer-Verlag, 1992 (1st ed 1984), as well as the second volume, Modern Geometry — Methods and Applications. Part II. The Geometry and Topology of Manifolds, Springer-Verlag 1985], that is to say Anatoly Fomenko

Anatoly Timefeevich Fomenko was born in Stalino (now known as Donetsk) in Ukraine 13/03/1945, and is a mathematician and a doctor of physics and mathematics (1972). He became professor at the Moscow State University in 1980 and head of the Differential Geometry and Applications Department of the Faculty of Mathematics and Mechanics in Moscow State University in 1992.

could also be the coauthor of Tsar Slavyan [St Petersburg, Izdatel’skii Dom NEVA, 2006]

Fomenko is well-known as a topologist, a computer geometrist, and a supporter of drastically revising historical chronology. He has created his own revision called New Chronology, based on statistical correlations, dating of zodiacs, and by examining the mathematics and astronomy involved in chronology. Fomenko claims that he has discovered that many historical events do not correspond mathematically with the dates they are supposed to have occurred on. He asserts from this that all of ancient history (including the history of Greece, Rome, and Egypt) is just a reflection of events that occurred in the Middle Ages and that all of Chinese and Arab history are fabrications of 17th and 18th century Jesuits. He also claims that Jesus Christ lived in the 12th century A.D. and was crucified in 1083 on a place called Joshua’s Hill, located in the Beykoz district of Constantinople (Istanbul), Turkey.

Your Intrepid Reporter this evening is at work on the first page of the work which revises that last to the birth of Christ taking place in 1152, in what is now the ukraine. You can see that no one who lived in the 12th century AD could have been crucified in 1083, anyways, which is a reflection on the slipshod attitude of the writer of this short biography, and does not accurately reflect Fomenko.

So, anyway, halfway down the first page of the “Predislovie” that is, Preface, our boy says

Obrashayas’ k nashim vozmozhnym kritikam, khotim skazat’

that is to say, Responding to a possible critic of ours, we would like to say

chto nashi rekonstruktsii yavlyayutsya ne prosto “rassuzhdeniyami na temu”, a popytkami ob’yasneniya nadezhnykh khronologicheskikh rezul’tatov.

that our reconstruction is not only a “reasoned argument on the topic”, but also an attempt to explain the verified chronological results.

Podrobnosti nashego analiza khronologii v tselom i dokazatel’stva togo

which is to say, For the details of our analysis of the chronology as a whole and its demonstration that

chto skaligerovskaya versiya oshibochna, sm. [this is the abbreviation of ‘smotrite’] v knigakh [a list follows, one volume of which has been translated into English under the title, “History: Fiction or Science?” and another “Empirico-statistical Analysis of Narrative Material and Its Applications to Historical Dating”]

that the um, “skaligerov (adjectival ending)” version is erroneous, see [several books I recently authored].

— and one is left wondering what the skaligerov version, which Fomenko alleges to be mistaken, is.

None of my three Russian dictionaries — Oxford Pocket, Smirnitsky‘s, or Callahan, lists a definition of the word “skaligerovskii”. “skala” means either ‘rock cliff’ or ‘scale,’ and ‘gerov’ is close to, but not quite, “gerovyi”, which means bearing a coat of arms. We’re looking at something like rock-face coat of arms, which of course makes no sense and is therefore wrong.

Looking back at the word, “skaligerov,” and realizing that the authors want to use a pretty scientific term, to display their knowledge, one sees (if one has had a broad preparatory education) that it is the Cyrillic version of Joseph Scaliger, he of whom, as wikipedia tells us

It was reserved for his edition of Manilius (1579), and his De emendatione temporum (1583), to revolutionize perceived ideas of ancient chronology—to show that ancient history is not confined to that of the Greeks and Romans, but also comprises that of the Persians, the Babylonians and the Egyptians, hitherto neglected, and that of the Jews, hitherto treated as a thing apart; and that the historical narratives and fragments of each of these, and their several systems of chronology, must be critically compared. It was this innovation that distinguished Scaliger from contemporary scholars. Neither they nor those who immediately followed seem to have appreciated his innovation. Instead, they valued his emendatory criticism and his skill in Greek. His commentary on Manilius is really a treatise on ancient astronomy, and it forms an introduction to De emendatione temporum; in this work Scaliger investigates ancient systems of determining epochs, calendars and computations of time. Applying the work of Nicolaus Copernicus and other modern scientists, he reveals the principles behind these systems.

We thus have, For the details of our analysis of the chronology as a whole and its demonstration that the version of Joseph Scaliger [fluoriscat circa 1580] is incorrect, see “History: Fiction or Science?” and “Empirico-statistical Analysis of Narrative Material and Its Applications to Historical Dating.”

You people who so blithely click on google-translate are persuaded that such challenges are rare.

If only.

About M. Meo

Worked as translator, museum technician, truck lumper, lecture demonstrator, teacher (of English as a Second Language, science, math). Married for 25 years, 2 boys aged 18 & 16 (both on the Grant cross-country team). A couple of scholarly publications in the history of science. Two years in federal penitentiary, 1970/71, for refusing the draft.
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