The Linguist - Psalm 23

At a Bega Uniting church camp in 1993, me and a mate of mine (Rob Irvin) created a skit which we called "The Linguist". The idea was to translate the Bible's Psalm 23 into terminology used in English which was really complex and confusing, as well as being very literal. So here it is.

The idea (if you want to use this as a skit) is for the "Assistant" to read out the lines of the true translation one at a time, with the "new" version of the line read out by the "Linguist" directly afterwards. I have also included the foreword we created, to be read by the "Linguist" before beginning.

It works best if neither the "Assistant" nor the "Linguist" crack a smile throughout the whole thing (especially the "Linguist"), and if performed by the "Linguist" in a deadpan. (Note: the "Linguist's" lines are in italics.)

    It occurred to my person some duration past that the existing rendition of discrete segments of the Biblical transcript may be more appropriately represented in modern English by the employment of a fresh translation. To this end, with the succour of my assistant, I will endeavour to proffer an amended rendition of that most famous extract and instituted Psalm, Psalm 23.

Psalm 23

    The 23rd Composition Of The Psalmist

The Lord is my shepherd,

    The Lord and I are in a shepherd-sheep type relationship,

I shall not be in want.

    I shall not require any goods nor services to be bestowed upon my person.

He makes me lie down in green pastures,

    He requires me to be in an open grazing area in a horizontal resting posture,

He leads me beside quiet waters,

    He directs me alongside non-disruptive bodies of naturally-occurring liquid substances,

He restores my soul.

    He rejuvenates my non-physical self.

He guides me in the paths of righteousness

    He leads me in my expedition towards correct behavioural practices

For His name's sake.

    For the beneficial gain of His entitlement.

Even though I walk

    Although I progress in an upwardly mobile orderly fashion

Through the valley of the shadow of death,

    Within the topographical declination of imminent non-life,

I will fear no evil,

    I will not be overcome with trembling in the view of incorrect behavioural practices,

For you are with me;

    Since I sense the aura of your existence surrounding my person;

Your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

    Your wooden fibrous shaft and the accompanying stick-like structure give rise to an emotive force of general well-being.

You prepare a table before me

    You organise a horizontal wooden plane for use in consumption in the directly forward area of my personal space

In the presence of my enemies.

    Within the perceptible vicinity of other persons who find me disagreeable.

You anoint my head with oil;

    You pour a vegetable-based substance upon my cranium;

My cup overflows.

    My vessel for the containment of beverages exceeds maximum capacity.

Surely goodness and love will follow me

    There is a high probability that uprightness and goodwill will move towards me from a reverse aspect

All the days of my life,

    Throughout the duration of my non-death period,

And I will dwell in the house of the Lord

    And I will exist as a tenant in the encampment of shelter-providing places of residence under the ownership of the aforesaid Lord



1993 Robert Irvin & David Grasby

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