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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Reading Room:
A Middle English Vocabulary Challenge
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Nov 2 2012, 3:05am

Post #26 of 34 (468 views)
Thank you Phibbus [In reply to] Can't Post

This is exactly the sort of information I was hoping this little contest would uncover.

I should dig out Tolkien's translation of Sir Gawain and compare it to the Tolkien & Gordon OE version. There's likely to be many other progressions to discover.

That Tolkien went from "celebrated" to "announced" in that particular line is fascinating in light of the OED entry having it as "recited" or "repeated." Perhaps he was sensitive to the seeming redundancy of having "recited anew" followed by "named full often" -- actually I count 3 repetitions there. In his English translation it is reduced to (to borrow a word from Geordie) a tautology. This is not necessarily a bad thing in so far as it magnifies the idea that celebratory shouts or sayings resounded throughout King Arthur's Halls.

Along the lines of your suggestion of "proclaimed" or "heralded" as suitable compromises, in light of the OED entry especially but also Tolkien's progression it seems that "invoked" would have been a good intermediate choice as well -- it captures "used" and "announced" and is a clearer echo of "named" -- assuming he wanted to retain the reverberation produced in the original phrase.

Yes very fascinating. I understand that examining the glossaries isn't the type of "reading" the Reading Room is used to. But they are the product of Tolkien's labours. Furthermore I think wrestling with the words gives us some insight into the sort of consideration Tolkien gave to word choice when constructing his own stories.

An aside: I'm very much looking forward to his version of the Arthur Legends, due early-ish next year (2013).

(This post was edited by SirDennisC on Nov 2 2012, 3:07am)

Forum Admin / Moderator

Nov 3 2012, 2:02am

Post #27 of 34 (344 views)
This makes one appreciate [In reply to] Can't Post

how difficult translation can be!

Nowel nayted o-newe...now I'm hearing "nayted" as in "natal, nativity", and for this to refer to Christmas (Noel), the translation is feeling like "Christmas born anew", "born" as in "freshly celebrated", and a play on the celebration being about a birth.

I'm probably getting in over my head here...


"I desired dragons with a profound desire"

Registered User

Nov 5 2012, 10:53pm

Post #28 of 34 (264 views)
My career in Medieval Linguistics [In reply to] Can't Post

I want to get into a career with Medieval Linguistics. Especially Old and Middle English, But that chance of a career isn't looking all that good; Not when I can't answer these questions (well maybe I can...it's you're takeUnsure)

Okay, so I think (notice I put the word "think" in italics), that the first word is "move". Moue is only one letter shy of being "move". Plus, when you say it outloud, it also sounds like "move".

2nd word: Ilyke. I'm taking a guess that Ilyke is equivilent to Alike, so that's my final guess on that.
3rd word: So far, there's nothing I can come up with that's closer to "bewty" than the word "beauty".
4th word: Definately Romance.
5th: sound's like knighted
6th: Dread, dreadless, or Dread...something?
7th: Loaves, perhaps? I'm not entirely certain they used the term Loafers back in the times of Old English
10th:Just a guess, but I think the word might be "cherish".


Nov 6 2012, 2:54am

Post #29 of 34 (317 views)
Welcome to TORn Macmallorn! [In reply to] Can't Post

And good for you for jumping right into the deep end. I was speaking with a friend the other day about this thread... I hope that people are not intimidated by this little game, but then I'm not the one who is doing the hard work of figuring out what these words might mean.

Anyway, in case you haven't found the answers yet, they are in this post (be sure to check later posts as some good discussion followed that post; also to see where bonuses came into play based on your own answers.)

By my reckoning you got 7 out of 10 including bonuses! That's not a bad start to a career in Medieval linguistics. Be encouraged -- as with any skill, my sense is the more you contend with Middle English the better you'll get at its interpretation/translation.

(This post was edited by SirDennisC on Nov 6 2012, 2:55am)

Registered User

Nov 7 2012, 10:53pm

Post #30 of 34 (213 views)
Thanks! [In reply to] Can't Post

Thank you!Smile


Nov 11 2012, 5:13am

Post #31 of 34 (208 views)
Over your head? Not at all -- [In reply to] Can't Post

Nowel nayted o-newe...now I'm hearing "nayted" as in "natal, nativity", and for this to refer to Christmas (Noel), the translation is feeling like "Christmas born anew", "born" as in "freshly celebrated", and a play on the celebration being about a birth.

You have a beautiful mind dernwyn.


Forum Admin / Moderator

Nov 12 2012, 12:52am

Post #32 of 34 (212 views)
It's easy to understand [In reply to] Can't Post

Tolkien's fascination with languages, peer closely into them and there's so much to discover!

*blushes* Well...there's a lot I have learned from reading the writings of the Beautiful Mind Himself...and we all are, after all, his "students"! Cool


"I desired dragons with a profound desire"


Nov 14 2012, 3:20am

Post #33 of 34 (357 views)
This just in [In reply to] Can't Post

I was doing a little grazing at the local Indigo and had a chance to look up line 65 in Sir Gawain by Simon Armitage. He had it as "Noel," they cheered, "Noel, Noel!" which left me a little flat

Now I should say I'm all for keeping things simple, and he did pick up on the repetition built into the original line (as I observed in a previous post). As well, it appears from his use of "cheered" at least, that he was working from Tolkien & Gordon. But note how much more beautiful the idea is expressed in the original, or in Tolkien's English translation -- yet neither used the word Noel more than once.

This demonstrates for me (probably not earth shattering for the rest of you I know) how translation is not as simple as switching one word for another. Of course there is the way different languages are structured which prevents it from being as straight forward as that. Translation of prose is translation of ideas. Yet while good translation occurs at the level of the idea, not just at the mechanical level, it seems Tolkien strove to retain the flavour of the original mechanics where ever possible.


(This post was edited by SirDennisC on Nov 14 2012, 3:30am)

Ethel Duath

Nov 14 2012, 4:18pm

Post #34 of 34 (327 views)
That reminds me of a dreadful translation of [In reply to] Can't Post

a Puccini opera (La Boheme). Now, I don't know Italian at all, so I have no idea in what ways this could be translated better. But when the beautiful, soaring soprano solo is sung with the words "They call me Mimi," somebody needs to get fired!Shocked

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