Getting It Right ....
... or at least, Widely Acceptable
Over the past several years, in discussions with native speakers
of Semitic, Persian and Indic languages as well as practitioners of various
spiritual traditions, it seems that there are
a few words and sacred phrases used in the Dances of
Universal Peace (DUP) and/or the papers of the Sufi Ruhaniat International (SRI)
which may not be authentic.
The intention of this article is not to criticize the
fine work and sincere effort which has been put into the
Dances by the devoted members of the DUP and the Ruhaniat,
nor to suggest that the problems are widespread, but rather
the intention here is simply to "raise the bar" a little bit
higher, striving for ever higher standards and greater
authenticity as the Dances continue to spread to a
I've had the eye-opening good fortune to be able to talk
to and/or correspond with a number of people who have
described to me their own direct experience of how
unpleasant and heartbreakingly painful it can be for them to be in a Dance circle while
some of the deeply cherished sacred words and phrases of their
spiritual tradition are misspoken or used out of their
The Dances are intended to be heart-opening, but when
someone is so hurt or so deeply offended by the words used
in a Dance, then
there can be heart-closing, discomfort, and distress. We should strive to
present the Dances in a manner which will unify and
illuminate, not divide and distress.
And, although I have had the privilege to lead Dances (as a mentored leader),
and am an initiate in the Sufi Ruhaniat International (the
organization which oversees the DUP Dances), I've largely
dropped out of the DUP Dances due to some specific instances
of (what seems to me to be) imprecise or inaccurate use
of a few sacred words and phrases from various religious
So, this article
is based on my own personal observations, combined
with what I've heard from various native-speakers and
Dance leaders with whom I've
communicated over the past few years. I
hope that the ideas and examples presented in this article
will help to bring greater authenticity and greater
sensitivity to the Dances.
Embracing a Global Audience:
For those of us who
don't know the intended "foreign" language, the pronunciation of the
words really doesn't matter very much... God will surely
reward us for our sincere and heartfelt intentions rather
than our pronunciation. And in all likelihood, that's
probably the case for the majority of the Dancers here in
the USA. But, for those who happen to be familiar with a
specific language or spiritual tradition, it's apparently
quite disconcerting (or even heart-rending) for them to be urged
to parade around singing lyrics which are (or seem to be)
nonsense, or which are too dear to them to be uttered in
such a context.
In all fairness, Murshid Sam's original followers were primarily
a small group of American college students who apparently had
little or no experience with the foreign words and phrases
which were used in Sam's dances, so pronunciation really
didn't matter much. But today, as the Dances
spread worldwide, we face a greater challenge as our Dance
circle extends to include native speakers of those "foreign"
languages as well as devout practitioners of those "foreign"
traditions, some of whom may be deeply offended by our
mispronunciation or even by our usage of their cherished
sacred phrases in a Dance context.
Can't we do better?
Can't we find a way to help assure that native speakers
of a language are neither puzzled nor offended by the words
and phrases used in the Dances of Universal Peace?
If we want the Dances and the Ruhaniat to spread worldwide, shouldn't we
strive to assure that our words and phrases do not confuse, insult or
offend a native speaker who actually knows the language
and/or practices that religious tradition?
How can the Dances reach their ultimate potential of
being (as Murshid Saadi Klotz has written) "a path and a
gift for all humans of all cultures" if any of the words and
phrases, or the presentation, are confusing, insulting or
Can we honestly say that we are "passing the torch" of a
spiritual tradition if we have the words wrong, or if we
present the words in a manner which is offensive to anyone
attending the event?
In a previous article entitled The Magic
of the Accidental Nigun, I've written
about the ways that our unfortunate mispronunciation of the
"foreign" words in the Dances of Universal Peace
can still bring great benefits to us as long as we have a deeply
sincere sacred intention as we are using the words. For example,
a group of white Anglo-Saxon Protestants can happily recite
mispronounced (or even nonexistent) Arabic or Sanskrit or Hebrew words, and still
derive great benefit due to the sincere sacred intention with
which they recite those "wrong" words.
same cannot be said about the troublesome effects of such
words upon an appalled native speaker
of the "foreign" language, to whom our mispronunciation, or
even our usage, of those cherished sacred words may seem to
be grossly irreverent and may be utterly intolerable.
I hope that the thoughts and ideals expressed in this
article will eventually serve to further enrich and enhance the Dances
in the following ways:
1) Promote greater awareness about the
difficulties caused when erroneous pronunciation
and/or incorrect words are used in a Dance.
2) Promote greater sensitivity toward those attending a Dance who may be
uncomfortable with the use of specific sacred phrases in a
3) Promote the idea of enlisting the aid
of a broadly
experienced team of native-speakers to skillfully document
sacred words and phrases, acting in an advisory
capacity for the entire Dance community.
But, what is "correct"? How can we define
"correct"? When are we being sensitive enough to
the sacred traditions of those who are present in the dance
circle? When is the pronunciation "good
enough"? These are difficult issues. Yet they are
issues which must be explored if the Dances are to be
embraced by a world-audience.
One might ask, "if there are some suspicious words and
phrases, why not just fix them?" But, alas, it is very
difficult to positively prove that a word or phrase is truly
incorrect. It is of course very easy to confirm the
correctness of words and phrases which are well known and
well documented, but what about rare dialects and seldom
heard colloquial expressions? Certainly "rare" does not mean
There are surely many different aspects to such complex
questions, and we should certainly look at each
individual case with great caution to avoid "throwing out
the baby with the bath water". Here are some of the
to be considered:
Regional Vowels and Accents:
Here in the United States, for example, there is great
variation in the pronunciation of English words, to the
extent that someone from the state of Kansas may at times
have great difficulty understanding someone from the hill
country of the state of Tennessee, largely due to different
pronunciation of vowels.
For example, I once heard a
preacher from the Southern USA say: "Whatever your problems
may be, always take refuge in the Lard!" And while that
statement did make a very amusing mental image of taking
refuge in lard, it was merely caused by her regional
pronunciation of the vowel "o" in Lord using
somewhat of an
Clearly, using the spelling "take refuge in the Lard" in
a Dance would not convey the intended spiritual message, and anyone
familiar with the English language (or capable of using a
dictionary) would surely write the intended form "take
refuge in the Lord"
That is, "take refuge in the Lard" is NOT an authentic
"transmission" of the desired phrase. It may, in fact, be
exactly what the person said, but it is not the intended
phrase. The phrase, "take refuge in the Lord" is
When a Dance circle includes
people from widely different geographical areas, the words
may be pronounced quite differently by different people,
even though all would readily agree upon the same spelling
of the intended word. Therefore, it is extremely important
to document the sacred words and phrase in the native script
of the intended language.
We must strive to always use the
intended words and phrases (which can hopefully also be verified in a
relevant sacred text or even in a dictionary) in the Dances and the Ruhaniat papers,
regardless of how they may have been distorted by the accent
(or lack of skill) of the original source.
In all languages, there are acceptable
differences due to regional dialects, and then there are
words which are just utterly wrong. We must distinguish
between those two cases. For example, anyone who is
familiar with American English will recognize that a
southern-sounding voice saying "take refuge in the Lard"
actually means "take refuge in the Lord" But saying
"take refuge in the Lird", which is only a little
different, is simply nonsense. For accuracy, we must
determine what was intended, not necessarily what was said.
Similarly, one person in India
might refer to Lord Rāma, while another speaks of Rām, and
they both recognize that are speaking of the same one, with
Rāma simply being a classical (Sanskrit) form, and Rām being
a more contemporary form (such as Hindi). Yet
someone who speaks of Lord Rum will simply be speaking nonsense.
That is, there are "normal" variations for many words,
then there are other variations which are simply erroneous.
We must weed out whatever falls into the category of
In many languages, the major indicator of a long vowel is
not merely the sound, but rather it is the duration of the
sound. This can lead to great confusion when the relative
length of the vowels, or the originally accented syllables,
are altered in order to fit the rhythm of a Dance melody.
For example, the Arabic/Farsi/Urdu word "kun" (with a short
"u") means "Be!", while the similar Farsi/Urdu word "kūn" (with a
long "u") means "buttocks" or "anus".
We must strive to remove errors and undue
distortion from the words and phrases used in the
Dances, while embracing (and hopefully documenting) the effects of
valid regional differences and established dialects. A key
element in this process is to always have the words and
phrases carefully written in the native script of the
And as if the regional variations were not enough
confusion, it is also common for words from "foreign"
languages to be assimilated into any given language in a
somewhat modified form. For example, some 2000 years ago
there was a great teacher called Yeshua, but in today's
modern English we call him Jesus. For the step-by-step
details of this rather bewildering name transformation,
please see my web page entitled
So, is the name "Jesus" "wrong"? It
all depends on what language is being used. For example, in English the
name Jesus is quite commonly used, but in Aramaic that was
not his name.
Similar transformations have occurred as Arabic words
have spread around the world and have been assimilated into
other languages. When the Arabs conquered the Persian empire, many Arabic
words were assimilated into the language of that empire,
which is now called Farsi or Persian. And in turn, many
Farsi words were melded with Sanskrit to form Hindi and
Both Farsi and Urdu continue utilize the Arabic alphabet
(with some additional letters added), so that
the Arabic-based words are commonly written exactly the same
in Arabic, Farsi and Urdu, yet they are often pronounced
differently! The Persians did not have some of the Semitic
phonemes, so they simply changed the pronunciation of the
letters of the Arabic alphabet to suit their traditional
manner of speech, including changes in
the pronunciation of short vowels.
Thus, the phrase written in Arabic script as:
which in the USA would commonly be transliterated as
allāhu akbar, is also written (and pronounced) in various
ways such as allaho
akbar or allahu ekber in regions which speak Farsi, Urdu or
Turkish. That is, the short "u" often turns into an "o"
in Farsi/Urdu, and
the short "a" or short "i" may turn into "e"
in Turkish. Clearly this is no
longer purely Arabic, but these countries don't speak
Arabic, and have simply adapted the original Arabic to suit
their own needs.
Certainly allahu ekber is not Arabic, but does that make
In all likelihood an Arab would
hardly recognize some of a Turkish dervish's
pronunciation of words which were derived from Arabic, such
as mevlana which is based on the Arabic maulana, or ashk
which is derived from the Arabic 'ishq, but
that's just what happens to language. We borrow each other's
words, and pronounce them in our own way. So, we don't need
to change the word mevlana, we just need to recognize that
it's a Turkish pronunciation.
As another example, consider the word written in Arabic
For someone who speaks Urdu or Farsi, that word would
generally transliterated as, and pronounced as, "zikr",
while for an Arabic speaker the exact same word could be
transliterated as "dhikr" and typically pronounced as "thikr".
Therefore, in the Dances, it is crucial to acknowledge the
specific spiritual tradition which is being honored, and
then strive to use the pronunciation that a native speaker in that
tradition (and that part of the world) would use.
That is, it would be quite incorrect to change a Turkish
sacred phrase using "ashk" to " 'ishq", even
though it is certainly derived from Arabic. And likewise it
would be incorrect to change a Farsi/Urdu sacred phrase
using the word "zikr" to the Arabic "dhikr" even though it
is clearly derived from Arabic.
In the Dances, we need to strive
to correctly indicate what language we are using for each sacred word
and phrase... and we need to verify that we've got it right
in the intended "transmission" language.
Classical versus Contemporary:
Another issue that can be quite bewildering is the
gradual change of language both over time, and over
distance. For example, the basic root of the Indic languages
is Sanskrit, but today there are literally hundreds of
dialects spoken in India, some of which cannot even be
understood by speakers of another dialect a few hundred
And in the Semitic languages, much the same has occurred.
For example, the classical Arabic used in the Qur'an has
given way to a wide variety of dialects of Arabic which have
such diversity that a native of Syria might be unable to
understand the colloquial speech of someone from Morocco.
Thus a sacred phrase used in the daily life of a Moroccan
might be nearly unrecognizable, and even perhaps seem "wrong" to
someone, for example, from Syria.
While it might be "tidy" to always employ a widely
language, we certainly must remain open to colloquial words
and phrases as are used in the everyday language of various religious traditions.
Just because a tradition or a certain sacred phrase is rare
does not make it wrong.
surely a very difficult issue, and may even represent an
insurmountable barrier to verification of some sacred words
and phrases, since there are probably very few (if any)
people who have the breadth of experience and expertise to
reliably tell the difference between "rare" and "wrong" in
the colloquial speech of uncommon dialects.
Transliteration and Phonetics:
And then there is the issue of how to write words which
originally used another alphabet, an art which is called
transliteration (the art of converting each character of an
alphabet to characters based on some other alphabet). For example, see the Wikipedia article on
Arabic transliteration. Unfortunately, there are no truly universal
standards for transliteration, and the "foreign" words that
we see in various texts are often written in a confusing
combination of transliteration, phonetics and personal
The art of transliteration is
made quite confusing by the fact that different countries,
as well as different organizations, have proposed a wide
variety of different
schemes for transliteration. In the
USA, the Library of Congress has set our
standards for transliteration. Note that
transliteration is merely a way to represent one alphabet
using the symbols of a different alphabet... that is,
transliteration is not intended to be phonetic.
To help overcome the
bewildering array of transliteration schemes which are
available for any language, many people try to turn to a
variety of pseudo-phonetic spellings, but these too fall
short when the original sounds are not in the target
There are formalized
international standards for phonetics, but the notation is
quite bewildering to most people and would probably not be
of much use to the Dance community. See for example the
Wikipedia article about
the International Phonetic Alphabet.
As an example of the confusion
which can so easily be caused by transliteration, consider
this handwritten note from Hazrat Inayat Khan documenting
the zikr which he
to his students:
In the illustration above, we see the
lyrics associated with each note written as: "la e la ha el al la hu", and one might
be tempted to pronounce the "el" much like the Spanish "el"
or in the Hebrew "elohim". Fortunately, to resolve
any uncertainty regarding the intended pronunciation, we have the good fortune to have an
recording of Hazrat Inayat Khan singing those very
By listening to that recording
of Inayat Khan's own words, the intended pronunciation
becomes quite clear, and it is not an "el" sound
such as we might
know from the Spanish "el" or the Hebrew "elohim".
Clearly this is a quite conventional recitation of the
Arabic phrase which is written as:
This phrase from the Qur'an is often called tahlīl
(meaning rejoicing or jubilation), and would be transliterated by contemporary USA standards as
lā ilāha illā allāh.
Surely we should promote the
use of the intended phrase rather than promote the use of an
unclear and misleading transliteration. That is, we should
strive to honor our teacher's intention. If, for example,
one's teacher mispronounces a word, that does not mean that
we should perpetuate the error... to do so would be an
insult to our teacher's intention. We should quietly and
gracefully correct the error and move on.
As we've seen in this simple
example, transliteration has a great potential for
misinterpretation. The two keys for successfully documenting
sacred phrases such as the zikr of Hazrat Inayat Khan with
greater clarity and less ambiguity are: 1) showing the
phrase written in the native language, and 2) providing an
audio recording of typical pronunciation(s).
and/or inconsistent transliteration can also be also a problem. Consider
for example, Murshid Sam's Three
Wazifa Dance which uses the phrases "subhanallah
al-hamdulillah allaho akbar". Note that the
original Arabic character
"damma" (used as a nominative case indicator) is transliterated
as "u" in al-hamdulillah, but is then transliterated as "o"
in allaho akbar. So we end up with a hodgepodge of different
transliteration systems which does not accurately represent how
either a native speaker of Arabic or a native speaker of
Urdu would typically pronounce the three wazaif. The first
two written forms approximate an Arabic speaker, while the last one is
more of a Farsi/Urdu form. That seems to be just sloppy work. (And
in the case of that Dance is made
even worse by the distortion of the natural
cadence and accent of the word subhanallah.)
Despite all the different schemes for transliteration, as
well as different methods for phonetic spelling, and
compounded by the fact that diacritical marks are often totally
ignored due to the difficulties in typesetting them,
non-English words are often written in a bewildering variety of
different ways, leaving the casual reader with no way to be certain of the
intended pronunciation, or even of the intended word.
Sadly, transliteration is all too often quite a mess and is
even the source of many errors.
Whenever possible, we should record the sacred phrase in
the script of the intended language so that the original
text can be readily recognized by a native speaker of that
language. And we should have high quality sound recordings
of a native-speaker reciting the phrase.
For enduring results, it seems
that the DUP
should adopt consistent standards for transliteration of
foreign words and phrases used in the Dances (and in Murshid
Sam's published papers). There is really no perfect solution
for transliteration, so the best we can hope for is simply a
consistent and user-friendly transliteration standard which,
for accuracy and clarity, should always be accompanied by the
words or phrases written in the native script of the
intended language along with good quality audio recordings
of recitation by a representative range of native-speakers.
Without the native script and
representative accurate audio recordings, the words and phrases are very
likely to deviate from what was intended.
In addition to the aforementioned typical morphing of
words and the transliteration issues, there may also be a
few words used in the Dances which are simply mistakes,
perhaps due to misunderstanding of the term or perhaps due
to failure to properly recall the original term. I'm not any
language expert, but native speakers have told me that some
of the words seem to be mistakes.
The examples which are perhaps most perplexing are
Murshid Sam's unusual phrases "la ilaha el il allahu" and
"la ilaha il allah". In Sam's
defense, some of his students say that he learned a
Pakistani version of the original phrase, and others say
that he learned it Egypt, but there is also the possibility
that Murshid Sam (or his source) simply recalled it wrong and never took the time to
verify the phrase in the original language. Murshid Sam was
a mystic, he had a bigger picture in mind, and details such
as pronunciation were probably not
very important to him. For further details regarding the
derivation and common pronunciation of this beautiful
phrase, please see my web page devoted to
lā ilāha illā allāh.
The phrase "ishq allah mahbud
lillah" is another example of what appears to be simply a
mistake. For more details regarding this mantric
phrase, please see my web page on ishq allāh ma'būd
Some of Murshid Sam's devotees seem to take the defensive
attitude that their guru couldn't have ever made a
But Murshid Sam was certainly human, and humans do make
mistakes... that's how we all learn. It's no big deal to
make a mistake... it's only a big deal when we refuse to
I've heard a number of Murshid Sam's original students talk about his
frequent mispronunciation of words as simple as the name of the Hindu deity
Rām. And other of his students have commented on Sam's lack of concern
about details by offering a variety of examples such as his
occasional wearing of mis-matched
socks of different colors, or having only half of his face
shaven. These comments are not intended as any sort of
criticism of Murshid Sam, but rather simply a recognition of
who he was. Murshid Sam was a mystic, and some types of details
were apparently not very important to him. Murshid Sam's heartfelt
Arabic from the hilltop as recorded in the 1970's film
Sunseed offers an opportunity for anyone interested
directly hear some of Sam's own words. No doubt his sincere and heartfelt prayer
received by the Ever-Merciful One, but according to some of
my Arabic/Farsi-speaking friends, those words are
not quite right.
In Murshid Sam's defense, when he was merely leading
a small troupe of hippies in San Francisco, he could use any
"foreign" word, give the word an inspiring definition of what it should mean
to them, and let that meaning dance its way into their
hearts. However, if we truly want the dances to spread
worldwide, we must now make certain that the words and
phrases do not offend the sensibilities of those who
actually know that language and/or practice that religious
And, as if some of Murshid Sam's unusual words were not
enough, there are also more recent songs and dances which
been created without knowledge of the intended language and
are thereby unwittingly "transmitted" nonsense. For example,
I really enjoyed a song called "Allah Ya Batin"... but
then, I was told that when "batin" is pronounced as batīn (bateen, with long "i"
after the "t"), as it is in the song, it generally means
fat, corpulent, gluttonous, thereby calling upon Allāh O' Gluttonous One! In contrast, the intended word was bātin
long "a" before the "t") which means hidden.
There is quite a difference!
As another simple example, in the Dances and the Ruhaniat
papers, the word "Rassoul" appears several hundred times...
but that is a rather nonsensical misspelling of the Arabic
word which would be better transliterated "rasūl",
since there is only one "s" and no "o" in the original
Arabic/Farsi/Urdu word. For accuracy, we should carefully
trace all "foreign" words back to their original spelling in
their original language.
It seems likely that there are other examples in
the wide variety of spiritual traditions represented in the Dances
wherein the words or phrases are in some way corrupted. If the
Dance phrase is in error, shouldn't we should simply correct it,
replace it, or
completely abandon it, and move on to other more verifiable and
widely accepted phrases?
Admittedly, individual dance leaders are free to
change the pronunciation and even change the words of the
Dances. But in this interconnected world, where dancers commonly
attend other dance circles, leaders participate is other dance
circles, and recorded Dance music is distributed around the
world via the internet, there may be a variety of troublesome
problems if we fail to keep the dance lyrics and
pronunciation largely standardized.
That is, when a person encounters different wording,
whether they are dancing in another dance circle, or there
is a different leader in their own dance circle, the
differing lyrics may cause some people (such as me) to
become confused and say: "Hey if I can't trust these lyrics
as being reliably authentic and meaningful, then I really can't let my
heart dissolve into them. I don't know who's right, but
these conflicting versions are just making it all nonsense."
Standardized lyrics, and standardized pronunciation will
help to assure the long term success of the Dances.
Admittedly, most of us are unlikely to get it perfect, since there are sounds in some languages (especially in the
Semitic languages) which a native English speaker has never
previously encountered, and which many of us are unlikely to
say correctly any time soon. So, we need to be prepared to
accept pronunciation of "foreign" words which is simply
However, being careless or sloppy
is not good enough. Without thoughtfully mastering a "good
enough" pronunciation, we're doing little more than
insulting the tradition which we had set out to honor.
Clearly it is best if one learns the sacred word or
sacred phrase from a knowledgeable living teacher who fully
comprehends the deeper meaning as well as the correct
pronunciation, intonation and spelling. Sadly, however,
there are some Dances which have been created using
words and phrases merely found in best-seller books, with no
authentic guidance from a living teacher regarding
the authentic pronunciation or usage.
When one encounters an
appealing "foreign" word or phrase upon which to base a new
Dance, then it will be highly beneficial to seek out an authentic teacher
of that tradition from whom to learn the full breadth of
meaning, as well as to learn to proper pronunciation,
intonation, usage and spelling. Anything less does not seem
to me to be an authentic transmission. Such lack of
authentic, direct transmission from a living teacher is an
unfortunate situation of "cultural strip-mining" which can compromise both
the intent and the integrity of the Dances.
Regional Cultural Values:
Another issue which we need to be constantly aware of is
that some people attending a Dance may be greatly offended by having certain
sacred words sung with music and/or in the context of a
dance event. For them, their holy ground is too sacred to be
stepped on in such a manner.
For example, in many Islamic areas of the world, the idea
of singing a sacred phrase such as
al-rahīm or lā ilāha
illā allāh along with guitars and dancing
might be quite offensive and considered as utterly
So, we have two separate, yet related issues. Dance
leaders must be sensitive to the cultural values of those
attending the Dance, and simultaneously we must also strive
to assure that our words and phrases are authentic.
Can't We Do Better?
In the past, I've talked briefly with Pir Shabda Kahn
about this issue, and at that time he was quite resistant to
creating what he called "dance police". And, according to a
variety of sources (including my own experiences), Murshid Saadi Klotz has also firmly resisted changes
to any of the unusual phrases attributed to Murshid Sam.
But, nonetheless, I believe that we really need a
committee, a team, of well educated and broadly experienced
native speakers who would make themselves available to review specific
Dances which are
voluntarily submitted to them, and offer suggestions for
pronunciation and transliteration which will help to insure that the words and
phrases used in the Dances of Universal Peace (and the
papers of the Sufi Ruhaniat International) will neither
offend nor confuse a typical native speaker of that
language or a devout practitioner of that religious
As a start, I hope that the puzzling phrases "la ilaha el il allahu" and "ishq allah mahbud
lillah" will be carefully examined, and, unless there
is compelling evidence of their authenticity, simply converted to the more
lā ilāha illā allāh
and ishq allāh ma'būd
Recommendation: Team of Native Speakers
as Dance Advisors:
If the Dances of Universal Peace (and the practices of
the Sufi Ruhaniat International) are to enjoy long-term
success on a world-wide basis, the "foreign" words and
phrases used in the Dances of Universal Peace (and the
papers of the Sufi Ruhaniat International) need to be
carefully examined and set aright by a competent team (not
any one individual) of native speakers of various languages
armed with consistent transliteration standards and the
ability to document the words and phrases using both the
intended native script and good quality audio recordings. Anything
less will eventually limit the growth and success of both
the Dances and the Ruhaniat.
As the Dances continue to spread worldwide, hopefully it
will be relatively easy to find, and coordinate the efforts
of, broad-minded native speakers of all the languages used
in the dances who can identify which language (and perhaps
even which dialect) is being used, verify the correct phrase
and the correct spelling in the native language, preserve
the phrase in its native script, offer
pronunciation guidelines which are "good enough" for the Dances,
offer guidance regarding cultural sensitivity to use of the
sacred phrase, and if necessary
offer suitable corrections to the phrase.
A Sacred Phrase Project:
Eventually, with some planning and intention, a world-wide team of skilled
multi-lingual volunteers could be enlisted, a team whose combined diversity, breadth
of experience and deep understanding of sacred words and
phrases could help to assure authenticity and bring greater integrity to the sacred
phrases used in the Dances.
Such a team's efforts could be coordinated and supported by
web-based archival documentation and multimedia recordings,
creating an on-line encyclopedic resource including hundreds
(or perhaps even thousands) of sacred words and phrases.
For accuracy and clarity, each entry should always be
accompanied by the words or phrases written in the native script of the
intended language along with a good quality audio recordings
of recitation by a variety native-speakers (to illustrate
the typical variations). Without native script
and accurate audio recordings, the words and phrases can all
too easily deviate from what was intended.
Such an on-line resource might be somewhat similar to the
on-line encyclopedia Wikipedia, but solely devoted to sacred
words and phrases. Free software to create an on-line Wiki
is readily available, and with some effort could be modified
to include a voice recording scheme, perhaps based on
something like Skype, which would allow anyone anywhere in
the world to easily contribute audio recordings to the
project without the need for any specialized audio recording
or editing equipment.
The resulting sacred phrase database would then be freely available as a guide and
resource for Dancers and Dance leaders world-wide, providing
authentic guidance for Dance leaders in appropriate usage of the sacred
words and phrases in ways such as:
-- offering suitable "good
enough" pronunciation guidelines,
-- documenting the
words in their native script,
-- providing a variety of
native-speaker audio recordings, and
-- providing suggestions
for correcting words and phrases when necessary.
It seems to me that the longer we wait, the deeper we dig the hole...