Using Google to evaluate Bible translations

“Scripture Zealot. You might want to do a Google search on the word “haughty” and then click on news at the top. You will be surprised how often the word “haughty” is used in the news. Randy”

From a comment on this post: Don’t forget the ISV

Randy is recommending a really interesting way to check the usage of words in modern English.

  1. Search for a word on Google.
  2. Click on the News tab at the top.
  3. Browse the results for examples of how this word is being used by modern writers.

The results are indeed enlightening. From scanning the results I got these impressions:

  • Haughty is stylized rather than standard vocabulary.
  • There seemed to be more British usages than American.

Click on this link to see the News results for “haughty.”

You might ask whether this is a good word to have in a Bible translation. My answer would be: It depends! If it were being used in a poetic passage or one featuring highly stylized language it might be appropriate. If it were used in a straight descriptive sentence like 1 Timothy 6:17 it probably wouldn’t be appropriate.

One final concern about the word “haughty.” I believe that in British English “haughty” is pronounced the same as “hotty” which is a word to describe someone who is sexually appealing. So reading this out loud might be confusing.

19 thoughts on “Using Google to evaluate Bible translations

  1. R. Mansfield says:

    David wrote, One final concern about the word “haughty.” I believe that in British English “haughty” is pronounced the same as “hotty” which is a word to describe someone who is sexually appealing.

    I think you just wanted to tie this back into Matt 5:28 🙂

  2. Peter Kirk says:

    David, very funny, but you need to learn better British English. “Haughty” is pronounced with a significantly longer and closer “o” sound, probably [ɔː], than “hotty” with I think [ɒ]. Anyway the latter is American slang.

  3. J. K. Gayle says:

    My high school English teacher, whose native language was English (British English of course), scolded us American kids for saying, “schedule” as skedyul. Politely raising my hand, I asked (in Americanish): “Mrs. Dalloway, Why then do we go to school [which I pronounced “shhhhhool”]? She called me “haughty,” pronouncing it just as Peter does. If google had been around then, I could have got her meaning. I figured she wasn’t calling me “hotty.” So, though repenting of my haughtiness as best I knew how, I got lower marks on the next paper. (Shoulda been reading what James in the Bible says about Humble Yourself. Still working on that.)

  4. Scripture Zealot says:

    Thanks for mentioning it.

    Here is a direct link to Randy’s comment (but read the whole post too) and mine follows directly after his. Your description of what you found is better than mine.

    I was wondering if haughty has a wider meaning than proud or arrogant but if so there must be some word or combination out there that a translation finished in 2001 could use. Theological terms are a different story.
    Jeff

  5. J. K. Gayle says:

    OED SECOND EDITION 1989

    hottie, hotty, n.
    colloq.
    A hot-water bottle.
    1947 H. WALSH Fourth Point of Star xx. 102, I am going to..rub my feet with meth., then get into bed with a hotty.
    1956 D. M. DAVIN Sullen Bell vi. 40 Get a hotty for yourself.
    1960 V. ANDERSON Daughters of Divinity vi. 51 And show her where to fill her hotty?
    1967 R. HARRIS All my Enemies xiii. 117 You look rotten, Jenny. At least have a hottie to clutch.

    DRAFT ADDITIONS NOVEMBER 2004
    slang (orig. Austral.). A sexually attractive person (esp. a woman)…

  6. David Ker says:

    Note the link above is for subscribers only.

    Fascinating etymology of this word and clearly a Britishism.

  7. Dru says:

    I’d like to confirm what Peter Kirk has said. As a speaker of English English the vowel in haughty is long, and in hotty would be short. To English ears they sound completely different. Haughty is pronounced as horty would be if the word existed, in a non-rhotic dialect.

    Most of eastern, central and much of northern England + RP and most of Wales are non-rhotic. Most of western England, part of Lancashire + Scotland and Ireland are rhotic. It’s one of the tags we use to spot where people come from. Another is which of at least three ways the ‘a’ in words like ‘brass’ is pronounced.

    Hotty is not in general use, but if it did I think it would mean much the same as we would mean by hot totty – which is in use. Hotty would rhyme with totty and is the same vowel sound as in hot.

    Haughty has a slightly different meaning from proud or arrogant, which in our usage aren’t synonyms anyway. It’s an adjective describing a particular sort of interiorised conceit, a sort of passive-agressive mutation of arrogance.

    I am fairly sure hotty as a hot water bottle is Australian.

  8. Peter Kirk says:

    If Americans think the word is a Britishism and we think its an Americanism, then that’s a sure indication that it’s Australian! Or a Kiwiism, as in fact this seems to be as an abbreviation for “hot water bottle”, for OED’s first two pieces of evidence H. WALSH Fourth Point of Star and D. M. DAVIN Sullen Bell are both from New Zealand literature. But Verily Anderson who wrote “Daughters of Divinity” (1960) and Rosemary Harris who wrote “All My Enemies” (1967) are both British. As for the second, sexually suggestive sense, the OED tentatively calls it Australian.

  9. David Ker says:

    Told ya so. And BTW comment threads always amaze me. They never quite head where you think you’re going…

  10. Scripture Zealot says:

    Dru said:
    Haughty has a slightly different meaning from proud or arrogant, which in our usage aren’t synonyms anyway. It’s an adjective describing a particular sort of interiorised conceit, a sort of passive-agressive mutation of arrogance.

    If the word haughty hypothetically couldn’t be used and you wanted to convey this meaning, what word or term would you (all) use?

    Is proud or arrogant the easy way out or is it sufficient?
    Jeff

  11. David Ker says:

    Here are some options for 1 Tim 6:17: stuck up, high and mighty, too big for their britches, think they’re hot stuff, look down their noses at others, be too heavenly minded to be earthly good, think they’re God’s gift to the world

    See also Romans 11:20 where the words are a phrase rather than a compound. The Greek is “thinking of high things.”

    What other ways might we say ὑψηλοφρονεῖν in English?

  12. Jimbo S. says:

    Interesting thought, Jeff. IMHO, I think another word that might work in the context is conceited. At the same time, haughty, arrogant, proud, etc. doesn’t sound archaic to me-all work for me. I’m 44 years old and still use the word haughty a lot. Then again, people laugh at me when I use it too! : ) I’m like, “hey, don’t get all Haughty with me!” I get mocked and told “not to get all snippy or snooty!”

  13. Peter M. Head says:

    “I am fairly sure hotty as a hot water bottle is Australian.”

    No, not in Melbourne anyway (where they are known as ‘hot water bottles’ even though they are never actually ‘bottles’). Maybe in Tasmania (where they would be even more useful!).

  14. solarblogger says:

    In third grade, our reading primers got into mythology. (The stories used the Roman names.) I remember that Mars was “haughty.” This was generic curriculum used in California schools.

    The word strikes me as being more natural in writing than speech. I think the word would even be natural in a potboiler novel. But not in any kind of everyday speech. While the Bible is written, 1 Timothy 6:17 has the character of speech. It is something that you can picture St. Paul saying if he were there in person. So I think the appropriate choices may be more narrow in that passage than in some others.

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