22 June 2017

BIDOBBA ~ exhuming a lost meaning

from 'tobben' and 'bedotten' to 'win over' (inpalmen)

detail of "Saul and the Witch of Endor" by Jacob Cz. van Oostsanen (1526)

One of the main arguments against the authenticity of the Oera Linda-book is that the language would be too modern; that it would simply be oldfrisianised 19th century Dutch. However, many fragments are hard to translate and the various translators often present very different translations, many of which have been discussed and improved on this blog. Obviously, adherents of the hoax theory will argue that the alleged creators added these difficulties to create doubt, confusion, and an illusion of authenticity.

In this post I will show another of these difficulties and my brand new interpretation that is very different from the existing ones.

~ ~ ~

In an earlier post I discussed the OLB-verb BIDOBBA. The first meaning is to cover/ bury, from DOBBA: dig, delve (also see below: 'bidobje'). In two of the fragments, however, the verb has a metaphorical meaning, which is not clear. Compare the various translations:

Fragment 1. [056/15]
Those who valued their stomachs above justice, ...

Fragment 2. [149/17]
Pay attention to how Friso ...

First a summary of the differences, then the translated fragments, and finally discussion.
Besides the question what the verb BIDOBBA means in the first fragment also the personal pronoun HINI was interpreted differently: as "themselves" (Jensma and Lien) and as "him" (other translators). The OLB has three other ocurrances of HINI, where it means "him" (30/5, 85/22, 86/20). Reflexive pronouns almost always contain SELVA or SELF: it would most probably have been HJARA SELVA instead of HINI. "Him" is thus more likely the right interpretation.
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Summary of differences

Fragment 1.

worry, fret, drudge
work his way/  proceed
fob off
win over
Ottema Sandbach
De Heer
Menkens* Jensma** Lien Ott***
* Menkens gave two possible - very different - interpretations and admitted in footnote that he was uncertain.
** Jensma admitted in footnote that he was uncertain and considered 'dupe' (bedotten).
*** I will also add a footnote that I am uncertain and decided for this translation mainly because it is the only one that fits in both fragments.

Fragment 2.

deceive/ dupe/ fool
(bedotten, hineinlegen,
voor de gek houden, dupere)
fob off
influence/ seduce
(beeinflussen/ becircen)
win over
De Heer
Jensma Menkens Ott

Translated fragments

Ottema 1872 Dutch
1. lieten hem tobben (let him worry/ fret/ vex himself)
2. allen wist te bedotten (duped them all)

Sandbach 1876 English
1. let him work his own way
2. understood deceiving everybody

Wirth 1933 German
1. ließen ihn gewähren (let him bestow)
2. alle hineinzulegen wußte (trick them all)

Overwijn 1951 Dutch
1. lieten hem begaan (let him proceed)
2. ze allemaal voor de gek wist te houden (fool them all)

Jensma 2006 Dutch
1. die lieten zich afschepen (let themselves be fobbed off)
2. allen wist af te schepen (fobb them all off)
(footnote to 1.: unclear, as in 149/18 where it is appease or something similar; perhaps 'bedotten' - dupe)

De Heer 2008 Dutch (1. as Overwijn; 2. as Ottema

Raubenheimer 2011 English (1. and 2. as Sandbach)

Menkens 2013 German
1. die ließen ihn gewähren/toben (let him bestow/rage)
2. alle zu beeinflussen/becircen wußte (influence/seduce them all)
(footnote to 1.: uncertain; to 2.: compare 'bedeppert' - dazed/stunned; 'doof' - dumb; 'dope')

Lien 2013 Norse
1. de lot seg dupere (let themselves be duped)
2. visste å dupere alle (how Friso knew how to dupe them all)

Ott 2017 English (provisional, not official yet)
1. let him win them over
2. succeeded in winning them them all over

detail of "The Antiquarian"
by Ulpiano Checa (1908)
Discussion and conclusion

Ottema in the first translation of 1872 - that was reprinted in 1876 - used words that sound somewhat similar, but are not likely related:
1. tobben (worry, fret, drudge)
2. bedotten (dupe, deceive)
More importantly, they do not really make sense, considering the context.

As for 'tobben', the later translators seem to agree with me, as they all chose a very different interpretation, although Menkens does something similar with 'toben' (to rage).

Then 'bedotten' (dupe, decieve); a similar word was chosen by most other translators. Only Jensma and Menkens had a somewhat less negative interpretation, which still makes no sense in my opinion, as I will explain below.

Let's first look at the context of both fragments (translation Sandbach):

1. ... the Magy did just as he pleased, because his daughter had a son by Wodin, and he would have it that this son was of high descent. While all were disputing and quarrelling, he crowned the boy as king, and set up himself as guardian and counsellor. Those who cared more for themselves than for justice let him [?!?!?], but the good men took their departure.

2. Here you must observe how Friso understood [?!?!?] everybody, to the satisfaction of both parties, and to the accomplishment of his own ends. To the Zeelanders he promised that they should have yearly fifty ships of a fixed size for a fixed price, fitted with iron chains and crossbows, and full rigging as is necessary and useful for men-of-war, but that they should leave in peace the Jutlanders and all the people of Frya's race. But he wished to do more; he wanted to engage all our sea rovers to go with him upon his fighting expedition. When the Zeelanders had gone, he loaded forty old ships with weapons for wall defences, wood, bricks, carpenters, masons, and smiths, in order to build citadels. Witto, or Witte, his son, he sent to superintend. [...] on each side of the harbour a strong citadel has been built, and garrisoned by people brought by Friso out of Saksenmarken. Witto courted Siuchthirte and married her. Wilhem, her father, was chief Alderman of the Jutmen [...]. Wilhem died shortly afterwards, and Witte was chosen in his place.

The second fragment gives most clues to what the mysterious word could mean. Firstly, what he does satisfied both parties and it accomplished his own goal. He promised to sell the Zeelanders equiped ships and to go on expeditions with them. All under the condition that they would leave the Jutlanders in peace. It is obvious that Friso would profit from this too. Secondly, two strong citadels were built for the Jutlanders and his son Witto married the daughter of the Jutmen's chieftain, whom he would later succeed. Friso, who's aim was to create an empire, in other words, had made valuable allies, and it would have been short-sighted to deceive them, as this would surely come to light in the long run and would make him enemies rather than friends.

My suggestion is that he won over (Dutch: inpalmen) the Zeelanders and the Jutlanders, and this meaning would also fit in the first fragment: The opportunists allowed the Magy to win them over.

from: Friesch Woordenboek A-H (1896)
Dijkstra & Buitenrust Hettema
How BIDOBBA would have gotten this (or a similar) secondary meaning is still a mystery to me. In Dijkstra's Frisian dictionary of 1896 this word has most coverage that I could find, but all listed examples are related to bury/ cover/ hide. Hettema's dictionary of 1874 does not list the word, and the one by Halbertsma of the same year only briefly mentions it means bury in earth.

So why would an alleged creator have chosen this word for something that has no clear relation to bury/ cover/ hide?

"To confuse", a hardcore believer of the hoax-doctrine (if there still is one) will say. But why? Why invest so much time and talent in a project that has no clear purpose and is by no means a crowd pleaser, has made no one rich or famous. Yes, the Oera Linda-book did indeed create confusion, but to conclude that this must have been its purpose is vainsense.

15 June 2017

"They aimed for the best" ~ new translation

dike-building on the Frisian island Ameland, 1913


In the first part of this fragment, the word DIGER was interpreted in various ways by the different translators. Sandbach left it out. I discussed DIGER earlier (scroll down to 7. April). It was used several times in the manuscript, with different meanings. Richthofen (1840) dictionary translated it as treu, sorgsam: loyal, careful. Modern cognates seem to be:
  • Dutch - degelijk, terdege, gedegen (solid, sound, thorough)
  • German - tüchtig (efficient, prodicient, competent)
  • Swedish/ Norse/ Danish: duktig/ dyktig/ dygtig (good, competent, skilled)
Competent fits well in the context here.
Jensma and Menkens end this part with a full stop, Lien uses a semicolon. All other translators have a comma, suggesting that what follows still is about Frya's folk. Since part one is in present tense (Frya's folk is...), and the rest is in past tense (they did not become... their aim laid...), I think the second part does not refer to Frya's folk in general, but specifically to the hard workers who restored the lands surrounding Liudweard.

1941 winner of the Frisian
Elfstedentocht, Auke Adema
In the second part, WIRG seems to have been interpreted through the context by my predecessors. In the only other occurence in the OLB*, the verb WIRGA means to strangle (Dutch/ German: wurgen/ würgen, old-Dutch: worgen). A cognate in English seems to be: weary, from Old English werig "tired, exhausted; miserable, sad". No etymologist seems to have made a link with worgen/ wurgen/ würgen yet...
Weary fits well here in the new translation.
Then the most rebellious were strangled with their chains.

The third part was paraphrased by Sandbach (copied by Raubenheimer), Overwijn, and Menkens. The other, more literal translations interpreted LÉIDE as the past tense of to lead (Dutch: (ge)leiden; German: führen). Elsewhere in the OLB, LÉIDE is always past of leggen (lay) or liggen (lie). Only once, as LÉITH, does it mean to lead (leads): WIS WÉSA ÀND WIS DVA ALLÉNA LÉITH TO SALICHHÉD.
For the interpretation, it does not change much, but it is a nice detail to be precise about. If they literally said "because their aim laid at the best", this feels like home to me, and can very well be paraphrased as "because they aimed for the best". I think the readers of my new translation will like this.

Here are my new provisional translation (still to be proofread by my editors) and the older ones to compare:

Ott 2017 English (provisional)
but Frya's folk is competent and diligent.
They* did not become tired or weary,

because they aimed for the best**.
(*'They' does not refer to Frya's folk, but to the people who restored the land around Liudweard; **lit.: because their aim laid at the best)

Ottema 1872 Dutch
Maar Fryas volk is wakker en vlijtig,
zij werden moede noch mat,
omdat hun doel ten beste geleidde.

Sandbach 1876 English
but Frya's people [part skipped by Sandbach]
were neither tired nor exhausted
when they had a good object in view
. [paraphrased]

Wirth 1933 German
Aber Fryas Volk ist wacker und fleißig,
sie werden weder müde noch mürbe [Dutch: murw],
weil ihr Ziel zum Besten führt.

Overwijn 1951 Dutch
Maar Frya's volk is wakker en vlijtig,
het werd moe noch mat,
omdat zijn plan het best mogelijke opleverde. [paraphrased: for its plan yielded the best possible result]

Jensma 2006 Dutch
Maar Frya's volk is oplettend en vlijtig.
Zij werden moe noch afgemat,
omdat hun doel tot het beste leidde.

De Heer 2008 Dutch
Maar Fryas volk is waardig en vlijtig,
zij werden moe noch mat,
doordat hun doel tot het beste leidde.

Raubenheimer 2011 English (as Sandbach)
but Frya's people are diligent and hard working
and they do not lose heart [interpretation]
when they had a good object in view. [paraphrased]

Menkens 2013 German
Aber Fryas Volk ist tüchtig und fleißig.
Sie wurden (weder) müde noch matt,
bis daß ihr Ziel erreicht war, [paraphrased: untill they had reached their goal]

Lien 2013 Norse
Frøyas folk er dyktige og flittige;
de var (verken) trette eller slitne [both words mean tired]
fordi deres mål ledet til det beste.

translation DIGER WIRG
Ottema wakker mat
Sandbach - exhausted
Wirth wacker mürbe
Overwijn wakker mat
Jensma oplettend afgemat
De Heer waardig mat
Raubenheimer diligent -
Menkens tüchtig matt
Lien dyktige slitne
Ott competent weary

13 June 2017

"This religion..." ~ a brand new translation

Boniface Converts the Germans by Johannes Gehrts (1855-1921)*


Ott 2017 English (provisional)
This religion, for which the priests need to have no other skills
than eloquence, hypocrisy and foul play

Ottema 1872 Dutch
Deze leer, waarbij de priesters geen andere wetenschap noodig hebben,
als bedriegelijk te redeneren, een vrome schijn en ongerechtigheden

Sandbach 1876 English
This doctrine, which requires the priests to possess no further knowledge
than to speak deceitfully, and to pretend to be pious while acting unjustly

Wirth 1933 German 
Diese Lehre, bei der die Priester keiner anderen Wissenschaft bedurfen,
als betrügerisch zu reden, frommen Scheines und Unrechtes zu pflegen

Overwijn 1951 Dutch 
Deze leer, waarbij de priesters geen andere wetenschap nodig hebben,
dan bedriegelijk redeneren, een vrome schijn ophouden en onrechtvaardige gebruiken 

Jensma 2006 Dutch 
Deze leer waarbij de priesters geen andere wetenschap behoeven,
dan gedrochtelijk raad te geven, vrome schijn en onrecht te plegen

De Heer 2008 Dutch 
De leer waarbij de priesters geen andere wetenschap behoeven,
dan bedrieglijk redeneren, vrome schijn en onrechte plichten

Raubenheimer 2011 English (as Sandbach)

Menkens 2013 German
Diese Lehre, bei der die Priester keine anderen Kenntnisse benötigen,
als betrügerisch zu reden, frommen Schein und Ungerechtigkeiten

Lien 2013 Norse
Denne læra, hvorved prestene ikke behøver noen annen viten
enn avgudelig rådgivning,
hellig ytre og urette skikker

= = = = = =

Redbad's intended baptism
(ca.1839) Johann Wilhelm Kaiser*
1. LÉRE: teaching/doctrine => religion
Leer/ Lehre/ læra (cognate: learn), meaning teaching or doctrine, may be closest to the original word, but I choose 'religion' as I think it fits better in the context.

2. WITSKIP: knowledge => skills
Wetenschap/ Wissenschaft/ viten (cognates: wit, wisdom), translated by Sandbach as 'knowledge', is problematic, since the three qualities or skills that follow can not really be described as knowledge. I think 'skills' fits better here.

3. DROCHTLIK RÉDA: to speak deceitfully => eloquence
Most translations had 'speaking deceitfully'. Jensma: 'monstrous counselling'; Lien: 'idolatrous counselling'. Although a modern cognate of DROCHTEN is 'gedrocht' (monster), elsewhere in the OLB (and still in the Middle Ages) this word means god or godhead. Even Wralda is sometimes referred to as DROCHTEN. Thus DROCHTLIK rather means 'divinely', and the skill of 'speaking divinely' can be translated as 'eloquence', which fits perfectly in the context.

4. FRÁNA SKIN: pretence of piety => hypocrisy
Dutch/ German: 'vrome schijn/ frommen Schein' (pretence of piety) is most literal, but this can more simply be interpreted as 'hypocrisy', which fits well in the context.

5. VNRJUCHTA PLÉGA: acting unjustly => foul play
VNJUCHTA is plural adjective 'unjust' and PLÉGA is plural noun 'practices'. Most translations have 'acting unjustly' or 'iniquities'. Since 'play' is a modern cognate of PLÉGA, I think 'foul play' fits well here.

= = = = = =

*PLEASE NOTE: I have used images of the Christianisation of northern Europe. The text in the OLB is not about Christianity, however (i.m.o.), but rather an earlier version of it.

09 June 2017

Archaeology-based reconstructions of faces and clothes

Dutch archaeology museum Huis van Hilde exhibits several sculptures that are reconstructions, based on skulls, skeletons and other finds in the north-west of Holland. This may give some idea of what the people described in the Oera Linda-book would have looked like.

900 BCE, Bovenkarspel
28 CE, Velsen: Frisian
200 CE, Velsen
600 CE, Castricum
200 BCE, Uitgeest: child
28 CE, Velsen: Roman soldier
400 CE, Castricum

700 CE, Wieringen
Click for larger image:

Short Dutch documentary of the reconstruction process:

Detailed English-language instructions for skull-based facial reconstruction:

06 June 2017



Portret van Gerard Andriesz Bicker,
Bartholomeus van der Helst, ca. 1642
I wonder if RUMA RIKA actually means "ruime rijke": wide and expensive/rich, or that it could be Dutch "roemrijk"/ German "ruhmreich": glorious, or in this context flamboyant, extravagant.

All earlier translations interpreted RUMA as wide. For two other OLB-fragments with "roemrijk" (ROMRIKA, ROMRIKSTA), see below. There are more words that have an U - O variety, but I don't have many examples yet (see below).

Ottema 1872 Dutch
knapen, die zich met wijde prachtige kleederen versierden

Sandbach 1876 English
boys dressed in splendid flowing robes

Wirth 1933 German
Knaben, die sich selber mit weiten reichen Kleidern schmückten

Overwijn 1951 Dutch
knapen, die zich met wijde, prachtige kleren sierden

Jensma 2006 Dutch
knapen die zichzelf met ruime rijke kleren sierden

De Heer 2008 Dutch
knapen die zich-zelf met wijde en kostbare kleren sierden

Raubenheimer 2011 English
lads who decorated themselves with wide expensive robes

Menkens 2013 German
Knaben, die sich selbst mit weiten prächtigen/reichen Kleidern zierten

Lien 2013 Norse
gutter som pyntet seg med vide, fargerike klær

HO KÀLTA VSA ROMRIKA BURCH VRDÉN HÉDEhow Kelta had destroyed our glorious burg
TOGHATERUM THÉRA ROMRIKSTA FORSTUMdaughters of the most glorious kings

Oldest known fragment from other sources:
"Soo trocken si al ghescaert dapperlicke ten stride waert criërende blidelike: Hya, Berge romerike" (Brabant, 1430-1450)

Note on same page as "RUMA RIKA KLÁTAR":
and no one could build a house, larger and more luxurious than that of his neighbors

Other examples of U - O variety:

GVNGON ca. 30x ~ GUNGON 4x ~ GONGON 2x
HVNDRED ca. 20x ~ HONDRED 4x

Between Dutch and German, the O/OE - U variety is very common:
Roem ~ Ruhm
Honderd ~ Hundert
Hond ~ Hund
Moed ~ Mut
Bloed ~ Blut
Som ~ Summe
Voet ~ Fuß