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March 2, 2005

AS bonbons
Posted by Teresa at 02:05 PM *

1.

On frymðe wæs Word, and þæt Word wæs mid Gode, and God wæs þæt Word. þæt wæs on fruman mid Gode. Ealle þing wæron geworhte ðurh hyne; and nan þing næs geworht butan him. þæt wæs lif þe on him geworht wæs; and þæt lif wæs manna leoht. And þæt leoht lyht on ðystrum; and þystro þæt ne genamon.
2.
Feower Axunge:

For hwi is þeos niht ungelic eallum oþrum nihtum?
On eallum oþrum nihtum we etað hlaf swa gehafene swa þeorfne.
On þisse nihte, þeorfne anan.

For hwi is þeos niht ungelic eallum oþrum nihtum?
On eallum oþrum nihtum we etað mislice wyrta.
On þisse nihte, bitre wyrta anan.

For hwi is þeos niht ungelic eallum oþrum nihtum?
On eallum oþrum nihtum ne dyppað we swa oft swa anes.
On þisse nihte, we dyppað tuwa.

For hwi is þeos niht ungelic eallum oþrum nihtum?
On eallum oþrum nihtum we etað swa sittende swa hleoniende.
On þisse nihte, ealle we hleoniað.

[Variant:

For hwi is þeos niht ungelic eallum oþrum nihtum?
On eallum oþrum nihtum we eteð on gewunelicre wisan.
On þisse nihte, we etað on ænlicre wisan.]
3.
Hwæt! ær þissum dæge seofon wintra and hundeahtig, ure ealdfaederas acennodon on þissum lande niw rice, geacnod on freodome and gegiefen to þæm geþohte, þæt ealle menn beoð gelice gesceapen. Nu feohtað we micel gewinn innan urum lande, to afandianne hwæther þæt rice oþþe ænig oðer rice swa geacnod, swa gegiefen, lange þolian mæg. Standaþ we on micelre waelstowe þære guþe. Cumene sind we to giefanne sumne dæl þære stowe to endgereste þame þe her crungon þæt þæt rice lifige. Swiðe geriht is þæt we swa don, and gemæt. Ac on widran getacnunge, we giefan ne magon—we bletsian ne magon—we halgian ne magon—þas hruse. þa felamodigan menn, cwice and deade, þa þe her wunnon, þa hie gehalgodon ofergende feor urne unspedigan onwald to giefanne and to nimanne. Lyt maeg seo woruld oncnawan ne lange gemunan þætte man her sprecað, ac næfre sceal heo forgietan þætte hie her dydon. We sculon lifgendan us swiþor to þæm ungefyldan geweorce getreowsian, þe þa menn þe her gefuhton swa indryhtenlice oð þis gefyrþrodon. We sculon us swiþor to þæm micelan gedeorfe getreowsian, þe toforan us giet stent: þæt fram þissum gerisenlicum deadum we nimen geacnode fæst-hydignesse to þæm intingan for þæm hie hiere læst full gemet fæst-hydignesse geafon; þæt we her aeþillice hycgen, þæt þissa deadra deað ne sceal unnyt wesan—þæt þis folc, under Gode, sceal niwe acennednesse freodomes habban—and þæt þes þeodscipe, for þæm folce, of þæm folce, and þurh þearfe þæs folces, ne sceal fram þære eorþan abreoþan.
Hey, it makes me happy.

More fun: the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles are still ongoing.

Also: SFP just chimed in on the comment thread with this:
þys is efne to secgenne

Ic æt
þa pluman
þe wæron
þære iscieste

and þe
þu eallmæst cuþice
hordodest
for morgenmete

Forgief me
hie wæron smæcclice
swa swete
and swa cealde
“I wish I could take credit for it,” SFP added, “but it’s from Hwæt! A Little Old English Anthology of American Modernist Poetry.”

Modernist poetry, Anglo-Saxon, makes sense to me. I keep meaning to write about that edition I have of Mayakovsky translated into Lallans/Braid Scots. It works too.

Comments on AS bonbons:
#1 ::: Jean Dudley ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2005, 02:49 PM:

What language is that? It reminds me of Beowulf!

Jean

#2 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2005, 02:50 PM:

Yeah, I know, total geek-out.

My favorite sentence:

Lyt maeg seo woruld oncnawan ne lange gemunan þætte man her sprecað, ac næfre sceal heo forgietan þætte hie her dydon.

Almost all the stems are the same, and the one stumper can be sorted out if you remember that the names of Odin's ravens, Hugin and Munin, mean Thought and Memory.

#3 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2005, 02:53 PM:

This reminds me that I once had some facility and now don't. Why do I forget everything?

Anyway, those made me really happy too.

#4 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2005, 02:54 PM:

Good ear, Jean; it's Anglo-Saxon. The first bit's contemporary; the second and third are modern translations into Anglo-Saxon.

#5 ::: Jean Dudley ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2005, 02:54 PM:

http://www.heorot.dk/beo-ru.html for comparison

#6 ::: Jean Dudley ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2005, 02:59 PM:

Naw, not so much a good ear as a a good eye.

It was this that triggered it: dyppaš

I recognise the first one--In the begining was the Word, and the Word was with God...John 1:1.

The second one is giving me conniptions. So damn close. Almost got it. I can smell it. Please tell!

Jean

#7 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2005, 03:01 PM:

Jean: ma nishtana ha laila haze mikol halelot? (Spelling phonetically; I learned to sing it, not write it.)

#8 ::: Dan Blum ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2005, 03:02 PM:

The second one is the four questions from the Haggadah (for Passover). The third is the Gettysburg Address. (I can't really read Anglo-Saxon, but I can read enough to identify familiar texts.)

#9 ::: sfp ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2005, 03:03 PM:

þYS IS EFNE TO SECGENNE

Ic æt
þa pluman
þe wæron
þære iscieste

and þe
þu eallmæst cuþice
hordodest
for morgenmete

Forgief me
hie wæron smæcclice
swa swete
and swa cealde

I wish I could take credit for it, but it's from Hwæt! A Little Old English Anthology of American Modernist Poetry

#10 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2005, 03:04 PM:

OMG I just got the third one. THAT's magnificent.

#11 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2005, 03:06 PM:

Oh, were we supposed to blurt what they are as soon as we got them? I think in that case I win on #2. But I thought we were letting our fellow readers get them, because that's more fun.

Oh well. Not competitive enough, I guess.

#12 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2005, 03:07 PM:

Lucy, I just added a link to the ongoing Anglo-Saxon Chronicles from the main post. They're a hoot:

mcmxii Eastermonaš xv d: Her žęt greate scip Titanic sloh isbeorg on sę ženden hit fór of Englalande to Niw-Eoforwice ond hit sanc ond .mm. folca aswulton ond hit węs his fyrmest sę-farung.
mcmxliv Midsumermonaš vi d: Her fore sunnupgonge swiše manige fyrdmenn ongunnon cuman to Normandige of Brytene to feohtanne wiš Hitleres here, ond žis hatte D-day.
mcmxlviii Šrimilcemonaš xiv d: Her in Tel Avive man lagode Israheles weoršunge.
mcmlii Solmonaš vi d: Her ęt Sanddéorsigingahįme in Noržfolce man fand George .vi. cyning Englalandes deadne in bedde in morgne žurh heortcošan ond he węs seoc mid carcinomate his lungena že wearž žurh récunge, ond he lifde .lxi. gearu, ond he rixode .xxiii. wintru, ond Elizabeth .ii. his dohtor feng to rice ond hire fulle nama is Elizabeth Alexandra Mary.
No reason they can't still be kept.

#13 ::: Steve Eley ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2005, 03:08 PM:

Without knowing a lick of Anglo-Saxon, I'll risk embarrassing myself with some guesses:

1. "In (the beginning?) was the Word, and that Word was (with? only?) God, and God was that Word. Thus was (the beginning?) (only?) God. Every thing was (without?) (form?); and no thing was (without?) ([don't know]). Thus was (light? life?) (without?); and thus (light? life?) was commanded (into being?) And that (being?) light is day; and night that in darkness."

In any case, it's obviously the beginning of Genesis. I can intuit that as well as I could intuit "To boldly go where no man has gone before," possibly only because God's mentioned so much and there's a poetic symmetry to it.

On 2., my guessing throws me too "For who is (thus?) not (angelic?) to each other not?" which I can't make enough sense of to go further. I'm guessing it's either a psalm or one of the parables, but I don't know which. One instance where not being religious really hasn't helped me.

I saw 3. before you edited out the reference to Abraham, which offers some clues, but my brain hurts too much to dig deeper into it just yet.

#14 ::: Steve Eley ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2005, 03:10 PM:

Argh! And that took me so long to puzzle out, that by the time I posted it had gone from zero comments to...well, whatever it is now. But I swear I started from a clean slate!

#15 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2005, 03:40 PM:

Steve, the trick is to know a bit about Anglo-Saxon pronunciation (f.i. sc = sh) and special letters, and then read it out loud. That's enough right there to crack the second text; For hwi is þeos niht comes out very like For why is this night, and when you've got four parallel bits of text that all start with that phrase, it's no great jump to guessing it's the Haggadah.

The scripture in question is the Gospel of John, not Genesis. It only sounds like it ought to go at the beginning of the Bible.

The Gettysburg Address is a favorite subject for translation and encryption (as witness one of the mugs for sale on my CafePress site). A useful trick is to learn to spot its distinctive combinations of punctuation and parallel construction. Look for the three parallel phrases strung together with em-dashes about 40% of the way through, and the of the people/by the people/for the people construction following the last em-dash. In a pinch, the first sentence will contain numbers, which tend to be recognizable in most Indo-European languages. In this case, seofon wintra is seven years.

#16 ::: Dan Blum ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2005, 03:46 PM:
Oh, were we supposed to blurt what they are as soon as we got them? I think in that case I win on #2. But I thought we were letting our fellow readers get them, because that's more fun.

It is, but could I ignore Jean's heartfelt plea? (I was composing my post when you posted your response.)

#17 ::: Owlmirror ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2005, 03:57 PM:

As one linguistically thoughtful man wrote once:

and so to doo, toke an olde boke and redde therin / and certaynly the englysshe was so rude and brood that I coude not wele vnderstande it. And also my lorde abbot of westmynster ded do shewe to me late, certayn euydences wryton on olde englysshe, for to reduce it in-to our englysshe now vsid / And certaynly it was wreton in suche wyse that it was more lyke to dutche than englysshe; I coude not reduce ne brynge it to be understonden / And certaynlly our langage now vsed varyeth ferre from that whiche was vsed and spoken whan I was borne / For we englysshe men / ben borne vnder the domynacyon of the mone, whiche is neuer stedfaste / but ever wauerynge / wexynge one season / and waneth & dyscreaseth another season / And that comyn englysshe that is spoken in one shyre varyeth from a nother.

(Leaving out the tale of the eggs there.)

#18 ::: Christina Schulman ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2005, 04:10 PM:

> Forgief me
> hie węron smęcclice

Oh, cool. There's a modern Dutch word, "smakelijk", which means the same thing as smęcclice -- obviously the direct descendent.

#19 ::: Karen T. ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2005, 04:15 PM:

(Long time lurker, first time poster)

I took a beginning liguistics course at university, and the very first thing the teacher did was recite the Lord's Prayer in old English. I loved it, and loved linguistics. Alas, I was an agriculture major, and my linguistics education ended with that course. Why, oh why, was I so eager to get out of college in four years??

#20 ::: Jeremy Osner ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2005, 04:23 PM:

German is similar too, something like gesmecklich, but not spelled like that -- I wonder why I have forgotten how to spell that? It is a delicious word.

#21 ::: Jeremy Osner ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2005, 04:28 PM:

Ah yes -- I believe it is schmecklich.

#22 ::: Jo Walton ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2005, 04:31 PM:

I was just reading and translating the new AS Chronicles to Sasha, and when I got down to Owlmirror's post it took me a moment to notice it wasn't modern English.

I love the idea of keeping up the AS Chronicle.

Niw-Eforwice is that city that some here in Montreal think should be called Nouveau Eboraque.

#23 ::: Steve Eley ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2005, 04:36 PM:

Teresa wrote:
Steve, the trick is to know a bit about Anglo-Saxon pronunciation (f.i. sc = sh) and special letters, and then read it out loud.

That's what I was trying to do. I elected not to go looking up useful pronunciation sites, however; taking a stab at it in the dark, while not as productive, was more fun.

#24 ::: veejane ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2005, 04:46 PM:

englysshe

Best spelling-variant evar!

Now we know where the impulse for creatively-spelled personal names comes from.

#25 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2005, 04:47 PM:

For some reason, the plums in the icebox seem to be everywhere I go recently - and it's sooooo far from plum season.

#26 ::: Douglas ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2005, 05:18 PM:

"There's a modern Dutch word, "smakelijk", which means the same thing as smęcclice"

In Afrikaans (known as kombuistaal, 'kitchen language' by real Dutch speakers) it's smaaklik.. that one word plus the modernist hint allowed me to decode the whole thing.
'morgen' is the same in German too.

#27 ::: Brad DeLong ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2005, 05:21 PM:

>Niw-Eforwice is that city that some here in Montreal think should be called Nouveau Eboraque.

"Nieuw Amsterdam"

or should it be:

"Neu Jorvik"

or:

"Novum Eboracum"

?

#28 ::: Brad DeLong ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2005, 05:27 PM:

Should I admit this?

I was trying to think of the name of the author of the poem "This Is Just to Say...", and all my brain would return was "Walter Jon Williams". My internal brain pack has only one storage space for the piece of data [author: W[rest of first name] [middle name] Williams]. I needed to consult my external brain pack.

Is this a sign that my 44-year-old brain is dangerously close to full?

#29 ::: Suzanne M ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2005, 05:32 PM:

Teresa, you make my geeky little brain happy. I was just thinking a couple of days ago that I should find my old notes from Intro to Old English and brush up again, because I missed that language so.

Though, this post does confirm that I've forgotten almost as much as I feared I had. Oh well.

Owlmirror, I don't know if I can read your comment so easily because it really is easy, or because I've gotten so accustomed to reading horribly spelled modern English on the internet.

#30 ::: theophylact ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2005, 05:57 PM:

William Carlos Williams. And they were delicious...

#31 ::: John Emerson ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2005, 06:15 PM:

My favorite half-line from Beowulf is "Sorge ne cuthon" = "They knew no pain" = "They passed out drunk".

And then Grendel, or maybe his mother, ate them.

It would be a great frat-boy T-shirt.

#32 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2005, 06:18 PM:

Brad - As long as you didn't produce "Wendy Carlos Williams" your storage module probably remains well-tempered.

#33 ::: Sara ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2005, 06:19 PM:

Steve, your guess is not bad, even though it led you in the wrong direction. "Ungelic" looks like "angelic" but it's really "unlike" -- and "niht" isn't like the Yiddish "nisht," it became "night." (That gh sound was once a gutteral).

But your attempt at translation reminds of traveling with my grandmother to Spain. We'd just got off the plane, and at customs we encountered a sign that read "por favor espere aqui."

Gramma squinted at it for a while and then said, slowly, in a very puzzled voice, "Please ... breathe ... water."

#34 ::: John Emerson ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2005, 06:34 PM:

New York in Icelandic is Nżja-Jórvķk.

One group of Icelandic purists insisted on translating all geographical names into Icelandic, rather than transliterating. Most names didn't catch on, but on the list at the URL the asterisked names are not artificial and really in use. The Icelanders were seafarers and travellers so there's quite a lot of scope.

These are real:

Scarborough (England) = Sköršuborg

Istanbul = Tyrkjagaršur (Mikligaršur -- old name)

Dardanelles = Hellusund

Bosporus = Sjįvķšarsund


Icelandic Geographical Names

http://www.geocities.com/nyyrdasmidja/Plaatsnamen.html

#35 ::: John Emerson ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2005, 07:07 PM:

Icelandic Purist site

You can get to the page below by clicking "English index" and then "Foreward" in the menu on the uper left:

"For the neologists among you we have the following message. Search your dictionaries and target every unicelandic word you find. Many times you will be disappointed and unable to find a good native replacement. However, if you don’t succeed at first, try again later. Search the web for information about the term you want to translate. Only if you keep on clenching your teeth into the matter like a mad pit-bull, unexpected solutions can present themselves. If anyone has coined interesting stuff, please don't hesitate to inform us. Every neologism will be listed along with the name of its coiner. The resolution of Icelanders in defence of their vital egg against the sledgehammer of internationalization ought to be indestructable like a shield made of the heart of a hammer and the soul of an anvil."

#36 ::: Leslie ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2005, 07:10 PM:

I had one quarter of Old English, and it was great fun. Though I did manage to identify the passages, I wish I'd had an entire semester, or even a year.

#37 ::: Owlmirror ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2005, 07:31 PM:

Suzanne M wote:
Owlmirror, I don't know if I can read your comment so easily because it really is easy, or because I've gotten so accustomed to reading horribly spelled modern English on the internet.

Actually, I strongly suspect that it is reasonably easy to read what he wrote because his printing standards -- which were followed by his successors -- were partly the reason Modern English is Modern English (obviously, said standards became stricter through the centuries). I found the following in a biographical summary about him:

His adoption of the Middle-English dialects of the Home Counties and London played a large role in establishing what is now known as the "Queen's English". [...] Thus wend became go, twey became two, clepe became call and name, and so on.

#38 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2005, 09:26 PM:

And then, of course, there are the various works of Kevin Wald, e.g.:

Thriddan Ealdres       Eorthbuendra
thonne waes seo Daegung       aefter thrage Guthe
Minbari maegthe       ond Middangeardes
teothan geare.       Se Begang Babylon
waes slaepswefn       sweotol macod,
his wen: forwiernan       wigniwunge,
to stathelianne stede       hwaer in stilnesse cuthen
eorthmenniscas       ond eltheodge
hira faehtha geseman.       Hit is forhaefen,
unhamlic ham       halsiendum rica,
uncystceorlum,       ciepemonnum,
ond eardstapum.       Ge eltheodge
ge foldmenn befongne       on fif ond twentig
hundthusend tonna       hwaerfiendes wecges,
eall anan on neahte.       Hit can beon nithhedgu stowe,
ac us is eac       se ytmaeste wen
sibbe, ond seleste.       This is thaere sithemestan byrig
Babylone talu.       Twa ond twentig hund
eahta ond fiftigotha       thaes Frean is se gear.
Thaes byhtes nama       is Babylon Fif.

Lagu ofer lyfte,       seo latste mearc.
Thes sind tha staepstaeru       steorrascipes
Enterprise.       His aerende fif geara*:
Wendan ofer worlda,       wundorlica ond niwa;
Uncuthu cwicnesse       ond cynnu secan;
Faestlice faran       hwaer beforan man ne eode.

*fif geara] MS B has _standend_

#39 ::: Lisa Spangenberg ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2005, 12:26 AM:
Ye knowe ek, that in forme of speche is chaunge ,
Withinne a thousand yere, and wordes tho
That hadden pris, now wonder nyce and straunge
Us thinketh hem, and yit they spake hem so.
-- Chaucer Troilus and Criseyde Book II ll. 22-25--
#40 ::: Madeleine Robins ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2005, 12:33 AM:

Got number one immediately, with "žys is efne to secgenn" almost immediately after--there's something about Williams's cadence, and once I got that, reading the words became much easier.

#41 ::: Shelly Rae Clift ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2005, 02:04 AM:

My favorite line in AS comes from ęlfric's Colloquy.

žille bespungen on leornunge?

The only possible answer is of couse, "yes please sir." None of my students were ever that willing...

I used to start my Shakespeare survey by reciting the Lord's Prayer in AS. Ususally at least one student would figure it out. Then I'd recite the opening lines of Canterbury Tales. After looking at these texts and identifying familiar words, sounds, and grammar (that they could figure out the verbs, nouns, & adjectives in an unfamiliar language amazed them). Then I'd recite the opening lines to Much Ado About Nothing..."I see here by this letter that Don Pedro is returned to Messina!" And usually they'd get it--Shakespeare is modern English. Who woulda thunk it?

Thanks for the fun Teresa.
Anon.

#42 ::: Anarch ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2005, 02:52 AM:

And how can we omit my favorite epic of all: Beowulf ond Godsylla?

Meanehwęl, baccat meaddehęle, monstęr lurccen;
Fulle few too many drincce, hie luccen for fyht.
Šen Hreorfneorhtšhwr, son of Hrwęrowžheororthwl,
Ęsccen ęwful jeork to steop outsyd.
Žhud! Bashe! Crasch! Beoom! Še bigge gye
Eallum his bon brak, byt his nose offe;
Wicced Godsylla węld on his asse.
Monstęr moppe fleor wyž eallum men in hęlle.
Beowulf in bacceroome fonecall bamaccen węs;
Hearen sond of ruccus sęd, "Hwęt še helle?"
Graben sheold strang ond swich-blęd scharp
Stond feorth to fyht še grimlic foe.
"Me," Godsylla sęd, "mac še minsemete."
Heoro cwyc geten heold wiž fęmed half-nelson
Ond flyng him lic frisbe bac to fen
Beowulf belly up to meaddehęle bar,
Sęd, "Ne foe beaten mie fęrsom cung-fu."
Eorderen cocca-cohla yce-coeld, še reol žyng.

#43 ::: Metal Fatigue ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2005, 03:52 AM:

Someone told me recently that the Canterbury Tales are now considered to be Early Modern English, which leaves me wondering what the hell Middle English is, if not that?

#45 ::: Pete Darby ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2005, 05:16 AM:

Thinks... maybe I shouldn't read this, as it makes me devote mental energy to my Iambic Star Wars Project rather than work...

#46 ::: Eleanor ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2005, 08:05 AM:

I wonder what would happen if I recited "For hwi is žeos niht ungelic eallum ožrum nihtum?" at this year's seder...

#47 ::: litlnemo ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2005, 08:08 AM:

I really should be sleeping, but who can sleep when there is Old English to puzzle through?

I so want to study it officially one of these days. None of the schools I attended ever offered it, darn it.

#48 ::: Sarah S ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2005, 09:16 AM:

So John, you're saying that:

Tyrkjagaršur was Mikligaršur,
Now it's Tyrkjagaršur not Mikligaršur
Been a long time gone Tyrkjagaršur
Now it's Turkish delight on a moonlit night.

Every gal in Mikligaršur
Lives in Tyrkjagaršur , not Mikligaršur
So if you've a date in Mikligaršur
She'll be waiting in Tyrkjagaršur.

#49 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2005, 09:53 AM:

Fun (even if my memory's so bad I can't easily recollect the Address or the Williams thing)... Has anyone tried this with Bob Dylan lyrics? ("Molly come fleetfoot, face full of black soot" etc. -- which I regard as proto-rap without the thumps in the background.) As for spelling, I've been reading the Smithsonian mag's monthly quotes from the Lewis & Clark expedition's letters and reports: pretty funky! [PS: Hi, Shelly! Long time no see.]

#50 ::: Jude ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2005, 09:54 AM:

De-lurking briefly to ask Teresa: is the Scots Mayakovsky the one by Edwin Morgan?

#51 ::: Lisa Spangenberg ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2005, 10:15 AM:

Metal Fatigue wrote:

Someone told me recently that the Canterbury Tales are now considered to be Early Modern English, which leaves me wondering what the hell Middle English is, if not that?

They would be wrong. The most common "cut off" date (a slightly odd concept for something as gradual as language change) for Middle English is 1485, which is not only the date of the Battle of Bosworth Field (and the start of the Tudors), it's the date of Caxton's Malory, which fairly quickly became very popular.

Caxton's choices in terms of orthography move away from the vowel uses common in Middle English, and help to standardize Early Modern habits, in part because Caxton's Malory was so popular.

#52 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2005, 11:48 AM:

Shame on you, Sarah S, for making me not only laugh but cackle (really, a nasal hee hee hee, it was disgusting) at my desk at work!

Shame on you. And thanks!

#53 ::: Owlmirror ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2005, 12:20 PM:

Lisa Spangenberg wrote:


Caxton's choices in terms of orthography move away from the vowel uses common in Middle English, and help to standardize Early Modern habits, in part because Caxton's Malory was so popular.

And word choice, as I noted above, since Caxton was exactly whom I was quoting & referencing.

And I find myself wondering if perhaps the alleged "Great Vowel Shift" was really a "London-region Vowel Shift (made to look Great because London had all of the printers, who propagated the standards they were used to even when they went elsewhere)".

I mean, you can listen to other regional accents in England, and they often have their own distinctive pronunciation and vocabulary.

Speaking of which, I remember reading something by Bill Bryson ("The Mother Tongue", highly recommended for the linguistically curious)... (aha, Amazon.com has that "search inside" feature for this book, so I can quote him)

Sometimes relatively obscure English dialect words have been carried overseas where they have unexpectedly prospered. The usual American word for stealing a look, peek, was originally a dialect word in England. The English say either peep or squint; peek exists only in three pockets if East Anglia -- but that was the area from which many of the first immigrants came. In the same way, the word in England for the cylinder around which thread is wound is either reel or bobbin. Spool, the main American word, is limited to two compact areas of the Midlands. The casual affirmative word yeah was also until fairly recently a quaint localism confined to small areas of Kent, Surrey and south London. The rest of Britain would say yes, aye, or ar.


[...]

Even today it is possible to hear people using expressions that have changed little from the Middle Ages. The Yorkshire query "Weeah ta bahn?" meaning "Where are you going?" is a direct contraction of "Where art thou bound?", and its considerable age is indicated by the absence of a d on bahn. In South Yorkshire, around Barnsley, people still use thee and thou as they did in Shakespeare's day, though the latter has been transformed over the centuries into tha'. Complex unwritten rules govern the use of these words both grammatically and socially. Tha' is used familiarly and is equivalent to the French tu. Thee is used in the objective case. Thus a Barnesley youngster might say to his brother "Tha' shurrup or Ah'll thump thee," which translates as "You shut up or I'll punch you."

There's more, but I think that's enough for now.
Anyway, I thought it was interesting.

#54 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2005, 12:31 PM:

Owlmirror, is that the story about the mariners who go ashore looking for eggis when the local hens lay eyroun? I liked that one.

I'm struck by his remark about Englishmen being born under the changeable moon. There may have been no formal study of linguistics, but he correctly perceived that English is a peculiarly mutable language. Of course, during his lifetime English was being more mutable than usual.

Jo, if I'd been translating the AS Chronicle, Caxton would look like home turf to me, too -- not that he's all that strange to start with.

I'm permanently bothered by a book Tor published year or two ago. Its title is I Am of Irelaunde, but it's pronounced as though it were modern English. I keep having to stop halfway through and re-pronounce it.

New England aster has two different Linnaean names: Aster novae-angliae, and Aster novi-belgii. I expect there's a story there, but I don't know what it is.

Veejane, I'm fond of the version of "icicles" found in Gawain and the Green Knight: iisse-ikkles.

Sara, your grandmother's version of por favor espere aqui made me laugh so hard that I was obliged to explain myself to the other editors at this end of the hall.

John Emerson, has anyone done a survey of the role of strong drink in Beowulf's imagery? There seems to be a lot of it.

Hellusund and Tyrkjagaršur are no problem, but what does Mikligaršur mean? Is it just a place name?

Julie, thanks for Babylon Fif. I can pick out a few of its clever coinages, but I'm sure there are more I'm missing.

I've had a great regard for Kevin Wald ever since I saw his G&S version of Xena, and I blogged his "Compleynte of Mercury" some while back. "Cole Porter does Indo-European" and "Egil at the Bat" are likewise wonderful, but the one that scares me is his translation of Sappho's "Hymn to Aphrodite" in which the number of letters in the words correspond to successive digits of pi.

Come to think of it, why have I never Particle'd that piece? Excuse me a moment--

Shelly, I'm stumped. What is that?

Metal Fatigue, I can't object to narrower categories within Middle English, if that's what they're doing.

Eleanor, please report on the experiment.

Sarah, that's inspired. If this were rasff, I'd give you an award.

Jude, I don't have the book to hand, but --

Oh, stop me. I was about to say, "But what are the chances that there's been more than one Scots translation of Mayakovsky?" For all I know, translating Mayakovsky is a traditional amusement at Scottish universities, the same way translators use "Jabberwocky" as a chew-toy of the mind.

#55 ::: Bjorn ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2005, 12:36 PM:

Those Icelandic hyperpurists are, if I remember those Usenet discussions on Icelandic groups that I usually skipped, led by a Belgian. I think that says it all, really.
We like avoiding foreign loanwords, but geography usually escapes apart from those names older than say one or two hundred years. Most of the ones those guys have come up with are excruciatingly long and convoluted and unlikely to find favour.
Of the four John mentions, only Hellusund is really used, even if the others are technically in the dictionary.
Back on topic, Old-English makes my brane hurt. The mix of Icelandic and English with extra bits somehow seems like those slightly out of focus photos that you stare at as if to make them come back into focus.

#56 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2005, 12:42 PM:

Owlmirror, that's a good speculation.

Survivals: my previous parish held services in English, Spanish, and Haitian Kreyol, so our weekly parish newsletter functioned like the Rosetta Stone. I forget the context, but while puzzling out one week's announcements, I noticed that Kreyol uses "yon" to mean "that thing over there."

#57 ::: Bjorn ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2005, 12:48 PM:

Mikligaršur = great place. Garšur = fence, hence also anything fenced etc etc.
Garšarķki is also the old name for Russia. No doubt related.

#58 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2005, 12:50 PM:

If I am recalling correctly, and if my source was correct, Mikligaršur means great big city, with "mikli" equivalent to the archaic/dialect English words "mickle" and "muckle".
If this is true, it's an entirely appropriate name for Constantinople, which must have been one of the biggest cities out there when the Scandinavians showed up, looking for an angle.
Someone will now feel the urge to share the Icelandic or Old Norse translation of the title Bright Lights, Big City. I can feel it coming.

#59 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2005, 01:05 PM:

See also:

Tom Bredehoft's Research Interests": "... I am aided by my scientific training: I spent two years working towards a graduate degree in Physics before becoming an English student, and the training in logic and empirical methods I received as a Physics student shows up in some of my current work, especially the book-length project I am writing on Old English meter...."

Delightful for the bibliography which includes:

"Anglo-Saxonists and eBay." Old English Newsletter 37.1 (Fall, 2003): 40-45.

"Origin Stories: Feminist Science Fiction and C. L. Moore’s ‘Shambleau.’" Science-Fiction Studies 24 (1997): 369-86.

"Cursing in Exeter: Late Eleventh-Century Formulaic Composition." 36th International Congress on Medieval Studies. Kalamazoo, MI; May 2001.

"The Approach of the Mob: Asimov's 'Nightfall' and the Frankenstein Myth" International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts, Fort Lauderdale; March, 1992


#60 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2005, 01:35 PM:

Owlmirror, the Bryson survival tale I remember best (besides A Walk in the Woods) is the tale of the island children's nursery rhyme:

In the 1940s, a British traveler to Anholt, a small island fifty miles out in the Kattegat strait between Denmark and Sweden, noticed that island children sang a piece of doggerel that was clearly nonsense to them. It went:

Jeck og Jill
Vent op de hill...
Og Jell kom tombling after

The ditty, it turned out, had been brought to the island by occupying British soldiers during the Napoleonic Wars, and had been handed down from generation to generation of children for 130 years, even though the words meant nothing to them.

--from the introduction to Made in America

(Of every book I've ever read, this is my all-time favorite intro, period. The book as a whole was ok, but IMO not as good as Mother Tongue.)

#61 ::: Lisa Spangenberg ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2005, 01:57 PM:

Owlmirror, I thought it was John of Trevisa?

Oh, sorry; I'm an idiot. I get it now, Caxton printed Trevisa.

#62 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2005, 01:57 PM:

Micklegarth, then. And I believe that Constantinople was bigger than all of the cities of Europe put together.

#63 ::: Rachel ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2005, 04:06 PM:

I don't read OE, strictly speaking, but I can puzzle it out. The fact that "This is just to say..." -- and, even better, the Four Questions! -- have been translated into OE makes me absurdly happy. The internet is grand sometimes.

#64 ::: language hat ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2005, 04:09 PM:

This is all so wonderful I can hardly stand it. And by dint of trying to figure out Shelly's strange sentence, I discovered an online version of Bosworth and Toller's 1898 Anglo-Saxon Dictionary, which went straight onto my sidebar. But I'm still puzzled. Shelly, what is that question? None of the words are in the text of the Colloquy; is it your creation? What does it mean? (The only question in the Colloquy that fits your context is asked by the teacher in line 123: Ic ahsige eow, forhwi swa geornlice leorni ge?)

#65 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2005, 05:38 PM:

If I am recalling correctly, and if my source was correct, Mikligaršur means great big city, with "mikli" equivalent to the archaic/dialect English words "mickle" and "muckle".

So a dialect-English translation might be 'Muggleton'?

And (aha!) Muggles are called that because they're the majority! I bet that's it.

#66 ::: Owlmirror ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2005, 05:54 PM:

TNH wrote:

Owlmirror, is that the story about the mariners who go ashore looking for eggis when the local hens lay eyroun? I liked that one.

Something like that. Here's the exact text - it picks up right where I left off citing in my first post:


In so moche that in my dayes
happened that certayn marchauntes were in a shippe in tamyse,
for to haue sayled ouer the see into zelande / and for lack of
wynde, thei taryed atte forlond, and wente to lande for to
refreshe them; And one of theym named sheffelde, a mercer, cam
in-to an hows and exed for mete; and specyally he axyd after
eggys; And the goode wyf answerde, that she coude speke no
frenshe. And the marchaunt was angry, for he also coude speke
no frenshe, but wolde haue hadde egges / and she vnderstode hym
not / And thenne at laste a nother sayd that he wolde haue
eyren / then the good wyf sayd that she vnderstod hym wel /
Loo, what sholde a man in thyse dayes now wryte, egges or eyren
/ certaynly it is harde to playse euery man / by cause of
dyuersite & chaunge of langage

Full text here: http://www.lhss.uce.ac.uk/englishweb/Texts/Various/VariousCaxton.htm

One of the things I've been looking for is a facsimile of the original of that text, but it appears to not be online. Alas.

After multiple re-reads, it struck me that the "nother" who speaks up could very well have been Caxton himself. He grew up in Kent (which is where they were stranded, it says elsewhere), and so almost certainly would have spoken the dialect. He was also involved in trade with the Low Countries (Zeeland is part of the Netherlands), and would have traveled with other merchants.

I can just see him standing there, amused and/or bemused, listening to them talking at cross-purposes, before speaking up with the word that he knew would be understood by the goodwife.

Speaking of Bryson, I think Mother Tongue was where I first read of the egges/eyren confusion.

#67 ::: Justin ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2005, 08:28 PM:

Haec omnia maxime me arrident!

(sorry, but I can't really hack AS ;) )

#68 ::: John Emerson ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2005, 09:16 PM:

Sarah S. and others, I am working on getting an Icelandic translation of "Istanbul not Constantinople". Bjorn is welcome to produce one. The English lyrics can be Googled. (Babelfish does not do Icelandic, alas).

I'd love to hear Bjork do the song. Or one of the other Icelandic pop groups.

In histories I have read, it says that Mikligaršur or a close cognate was used for Constantinople by the Norse starting about 800 AD. There was extensive contact between Scandinavia and the North of England, and Constantinople, right up at least until the Fourth Crusade (ca. 1200 AD). One of the defeated kings in 1066 was Harald Hardrada, a half-brother of Saint Olaf who served in Constantinople and is mentioned in Byzantine records.

The Icelandic purists are a very eccentric group, some of them very serious and some not at all.

#69 ::: John Cowan ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2005, 01:47 AM:

The trouble with _The Mother Tongue_ is how many errors it has. In some stretches I found one error per page. I'm not sure what to do with the copy someone gave me -- give it away and inflict all that error on the next recipient? Book-burning isn't my style.

#70 ::: Metal Fatigue ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2005, 02:13 AM:

John Cowan: Give it a funeral, like the Grand Albert.

#71 ::: Bob Oldendorf ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2005, 02:50 AM:

John Cowan: The trouble with _The Mother Tongue_ is how many errors it has.

I've read and enjoyed all of Bryson's books, but I found the same problem with his science writing in his A Short History of Nearly Everything. It was inaccurate and sloppy enough to give me pause, to the point where it's the first Bryson that I haven't purchased.

#72 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2005, 04:15 AM:

"extensive contact between Scandinavia and the North of England"

Is that another way of saying that they overran the place, mostly, and set up their own kingdom with its capital at York (Yorvig), which lasted for over a century? "Extensive contact"? Spare me days, if it had been any more extensive, we'd be speaking Danish right now.

Oh, yes, that's right. Sometimes we do.

#73 ::: Jude ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2005, 05:24 AM:

Teresa wrote: "For all I know, translating Mayakovsky is a traditional amusement at Scottish universities, the same way translators use "Jabberwocky" as a chew-toy of the mind."

There certainly was a period in the mid-c20th when it seems every Scottish poet and his/her Auntie Maisie was producing Scots translations of the Russian poets. MacDiarmid probably started it - whole chunks of "A Drunk Man Looks at the Thistle" are (fairly loose, I suspect) translations of Russian poems - and others took up the baton from him. Mostly they were working outside the university environment though.

I don't know why the Russian poets should be particularly attractive (though some Scottish poets, Morgan among them, have translated from other languages too) but what intrigues me is the tendency many of translators show to put other poets' work into Scots even if they use more or less standard English in their own. (In fact, down here among the Great Unpublished I found myself doing the same thing when I had a go at translating some Prevert. I can't quite explain it: Scots just felt right.) I'd be curious to know if the same happens in other literatures with a "regional" and a "standard" version of the language (and people here would know, I imagine, if anybody does).

#74 ::: John Emerson ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2005, 05:52 AM:

"extensive contact between Scandinavia and the North of England"

I could have written more clearly: "Extensive contact between Scandinavia and Northern England on the one hand, and Constantinople on the other".

After 1066, some of the Byzantine Varangian guard were Anglo-Saxons, perhaps diehards who didn't accept the Norman conquest. In the Fourth Crusade most of them were killed by the Crusaders.

#75 ::: Jude ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2005, 07:47 AM:

There's a "these" missing from my previous post. Urgh. Who said what about writing in English? Re-lurking, embarrassed.

#76 ::: language hat ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2005, 11:11 AM:

MacDiarmid probably started it - whole chunks of "A Drunk Man Looks at the Thistle" are (fairly loose, I suspect) translations of Russian poems

Fairly loose, but more importantly superb -- his versions of Blok are the best I know of in English.

Still waiting to hear from Shelly...

#77 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2005, 11:52 AM:

Jude pondered why so much translation of Russian poetry to Scots was taking place in the 1920s and 1930s--partly it's the politics, both Communist and Nationalist [and of course, MacDiarmid was both, at the same time, and was kicked out of the National Party of Scotland, which he helped found, for beng a Communist; and out of the Communist Party of Great Britian for being a nationalist].

The Communism is pretty obvious. If you were a Communist then, the Soviet Union was all that was cool and wonderful, and worth knowing, from the re-organization of factories to the new Revolutionary arts. My understanding of the Nationalist angle is that the Scots were tying to esatblish that Lallans as a language that deserved equal status with Standard English, or even preferential status, inside Scotland; and so, instead of translating foreign works into English, they translated them into Lallans, since these were translations by Scots, for Scots. By this way of thinking, even translations from English into Lallans could be justified.

As for the non-political, well, Mayakosky, Blok, and the others were turning out some pretty cool stuff. The first third of the 20th century saw some great and innovative work in Russian literature, at least until Stalin, one of the great taste-breakers of our time, put the lid on things. If you weren't up to reading the Russian, translations were in order--and I've already mentioned why they went for Lallans, rather than English.

I now have Louis MacNeice's Bagpipe Music firmly in my brain.

#78 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2005, 12:57 PM:

Okay, so I went and read "Bagpipe Music" and it sure is well written, but when we talk about elegant despair, that'll be the first thing that comes to my mind.

Also kind of condescending, if I get it right.

#79 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2005, 01:25 PM:

It's the rhythm of the damn thing, Lucy. It just grabs on and won't let go. A non-musical earworm, if you like.

#80 ::: Dave Weingart ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2005, 03:40 PM:

Oh lord..I JUST got the second, and then the third.

#2 is BRIL. That is SO going out to all relatives to be included in the seder...

#81 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2005, 04:20 PM:

Building Gab: Part One
by Carl Zimmer
February 25, 2005

"... The Hauser et al paper is not an easy read, but it has its rewards. The researchers argue that the only way to answer the question of how language emerged is to consider the parts that make it up. They see it as consisting of three systems. Our ability to perceive the sounds of speech and to produce speech ourselves is one (the input-output hardware, as it were). Another is a system for understanding concepts And the final ingredient of language is the computation allows the brain to map sounds to concepts."

"Hauser et al see three possible explanations for how this three-part system evolved. One possibility is that all three parts had already evolved before our ancestors diverged from other apes. They introduce this hypothesis and then immediately abandon it like a junked car. The second possibility they introduce could be called the uniquely-human hypothesis: the language faculty, including all its components, has undergone intense natural selection in the human lineage. Pinker and Bloom's argument fits this description. The final hypothesis Hauser et al consider is that almost everything essential to human language can also be found in other animals. Perhaps only a minor addition to the mental toolkit was all that was necessary to produce full-blown language...."

I am assembling a team from the peripatetic chronolinguistics explorers club of which I am privileged to be a member, in order to undertake an expedition to find a living Hobbit (H. Floresiensis) and ask him or her to elucidate this conundrum. Pass the port and walnuts, please. Ah, Professor Tolkien, you say that you already spoken to various Hobbytla about this matter? Ms.Clarke, you suggest that I read more carefully my edition of Jacques Belasis's "Instructions?" Might I say that I await Professor Chomsky's reaction to your explication, on your page 774, of his exemplar sentence "colorless green ideas sleep furiously" about which you have so cleverly written:

"Woods were tinged with a colour so soft, so subtle that it could scarcely be said to be a colour at all. It was more the idea of a colour -- as if the trees were dreaming green dreams or thinking green thoughts."

#82 ::: Jo Walton ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2005, 04:46 PM:

Miklgard is authentic, it's the name used for Constantinople in the Saga of Harald Hardrada.

As for Nouveau Eboraque, I thought of it when walking past a music shop downtown that claims to have branches in Dublinne, Londres, Milanne and other similarly French cities, and "New York" stood out. If York had still been Eboracum as it was the last time people speaking a Romance language were there, and if people had continued to live there as their Latin became French, I can see it becoming Eboraque, or Ebraque.

In other US naming news, you guys need a nicer name for the very pretty region around Lake Champlain than "upstate".

#83 ::: Emily ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2005, 05:09 PM:

I was delighted to find out recently that the Latin translation of Winnie-the-Pooh (or one of them; I believe there may be more than one) was published in Eboracum.

All of the Old English stuff is just too cool for words.

#84 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2005, 05:41 PM:

Jo - The region around Lake Champlain is sometimes called the North Country. The folks on the other side of the lake call it "Vermont". :-)

The place that really needs remedial naming is Pennsylvania. For instance, Jersey Shore, PA is nowhere near New Jersey (or Jersey for that matter) and the nearest shore is well over a hundred miles away!

FYI, there are various forms of "Novi Eboraci" to be found on assorted college seals and other artifacts of pre-20th century NYC pomposity.

#85 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2005, 05:49 PM:

The rugged countryside around Lake Champlain is called the Adirondack Mountains in New York, and the Green Mountains in Vermont. Either is better than "upstate"

#86 ::: Alex Cohen ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2005, 07:49 PM:

Garšur = fence, hence also anything fenced etc etc.

And, I believe, by way of Church Slavonic, that became the root "grad" for city in Russian, thus the modern Russian word "gorod" (city) and Leningrad.

#87 ::: Owlmirror ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2005, 08:33 PM:

I soonly bethought that no-one in this Anglo-Saxonic thread has yet written about the outstanding "Uncleftish Beholding", by the late & lamented Poul Anderson.

Because I stumbled upon a page that has the full tale, I shall forthwith link to it:


http://www.grijalvo.com/Citas/Peculiar_English.htm

It might be indeed a merry game to see who can make their own posts writing only words of Anglo-Saxon birth.

#88 ::: Ken MacLeod ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2005, 03:38 AM:

The collection of translations of Mayakovsky into Scots, by Edwin Morgan, is I think called Wi the Hail Voice. Mayakovsky into Scots was (again, from memory) thought surprising enough to be made a big deal of on the cover. So I don't think it had been done before, nor as far as I know has it been done since. Another translation into Scots (not by Morgan) that I remember from that time - early seventies - was 'Frae Catullus'. More recently Matthew Fitt, the author of But n Ben A-go-go, the first cyberpunk novel in Scots, has been doing Scots versions of the Greek myths, for children. The great holy book of Scots translation is of course William Laughton Lorimer's The New Testament in Scots.

'In the beginnin o aa things the Wurd wis there ense, an the Wurd bade wi God, and the Wurd wis God. He wis wi God i the the beginnin, an aa things cam tae be throu him, an wiout him no ae thing cam tae be. Aathing at hes come tae be, he wis the life in it, an that life wis the licht o man; an ey the licht shines i the mirk, an the mirk downa slocken it nane.'

Edwin Morgan is now the National Poet of Scotland. Among his many poems are quite a few that are unabashedly science fiction, and some about space exploration. A panel on his SF and space poetry is planned for Interaction, this year's Worldcon (in Glasgow). He's too frail to attend himself, but he very kindly consented to give us a virtual presence. The Scottish poet Ron Butlin and I borrowed a camcorder from Iain Banks, and made a short video of Edwin Morgan reading two poems, reading a (superbly SFnal and fannish) welcome to the con, and giving us a brief interview. A young Glasgow fan, Iain Cameron, has made some DVD copies, with a menu and intro and everything.

#89 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2005, 10:57 AM:

Edwin Morgan (distinguished Scottish poet) is author of Star Gate, Glasgow: Third Eye Centre, 1979, on the moons of Jupiter; "Interference" and the Twilight-zoney "The First Men on Mercury" and
"Computer Christmas Card" poems [all now available in Poems of Thirty Years, Manchester: Carcanet, 1982]. These are the most unabashedly science fiction of his poems for which I have copies, but there are likely many more.

Duncan Lunan introduced me to him once, an honor which still amazes me. It is one more sign of how pro-intellect Scotland is, as opposed to anti-intellectual America, that Edwin Morgan is now the National Poet of Scotland.

MacDiarmid has a density of observation of the natural world that sometimes seems to cross over into science fiction, but I can't lay my hands at the moment on my notes to that effect.

I am troubled to hear of Edwin Morgan's frailty, but delighted by the virtual involvement at Interaction. Well done, Ken, Ron Butlin, Iain Banks, Iain Cameron, et al.!

#90 ::: Ian Myles Slater ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2005, 11:52 PM:

If one wants a medieval source for source for the term "Muggles," a better candidate is in Layamon (or Lawman), "The Brut," lines 14700-800 in the Cotton Caligula MS -- the Otho MS is here nearly unintelligible, but clearly has the same story. It is part of the legend of Saint Augustine (not the Bishop of Hippo!) and his attempt to convert the Anglo-Saxons. Some pagans, and their descendants, thereafter known as "muggles" (various spellings), suffer retaliation for pelting the saint and his companions with fishtails.

Unfortunately, my copy of Rosmund Allen's translation is in storage. There is an on-line version of the nineteenth-century edition at

http://etext.lib.virginia.edu/etcbin/toccer-old?id=LayBruC&tag=public&images=images/modeng&data=/lv1/Archive/mideng-parsed&part=0

Go to section 15, and scroll down to page 772.

There is a fairly extensive survey of the story, its sources and later uses, in J.S.P. Tatlock's "The Legendary History of Britain."

I should add that this this does not appear to have been the actual source for Rowling.

#91 ::: Jeremy Osner ::: (view all by) ::: March 06, 2005, 11:13 AM:

I was listening to (my stereo mimicking) Heaney reading his translation of Beowulf this morning and posted some reflections on it at my blog. How much is known about the author of the poem?

#92 ::: jjjjjGraydon ::: (view all by) ::: March 06, 2005, 01:00 PM:

Jeremy --

Pretty much nothing. So far as I recall, the date of the poem remains controversial, never mind things like location of composition or the probable author.

Even in the case of Gawain, where the language and references nail down date and region of composition pretty solidly, there's very, very little that can be said with confidence about the author.

I'd also like to plug the Rebsamen Beowulf; I think it's got a much better grip on the tone of the work.

#93 ::: John Emerson ::: (view all by) ::: March 06, 2005, 01:21 PM:

The latest date guessed for the poem is about 1020 AD under the reign of Knut / Canute. Most date it earlier, as early as 700 AD. Because of the setting, Many think that it was written under Danish rule or under the auspices of a king partly of Danish descent.

I like the Chickering translation / text, which includes parsings of a number of passages.

#94 ::: Owlmirror ::: (view all by) ::: March 06, 2005, 01:48 PM:

Ian Myles Slater, thine posted URL worketh not.

However, mayhap this shall:


http://etext.lib.virginia.edu/collections/languages/english/mideng.browse.html

With the first step of scrolling down to the Cotton Caligula MS. Thence following the rest of thine steps.

Most of the lines are hard ("rude and brood that I coude not wele vnderstande it"), but this seems plain enough:

And swa he droh suš-ward; žat he com to Dorchestre. žer he funde ža wurste men;


I wonder what modern Dorcastrians would think of that?

#95 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: March 06, 2005, 01:58 PM:

Department of A Nawther:

"That blessing is not vouchsafed to the heroes of these novels, though the possibility is briefly and rather absurdly entertained by Kipps ('he let it be drawn from him that his real choice in life was to be a Nawther')."

Revenge of the wage-slave
HG Wells's funniest book, Kipps, a satire on English class, drew on his own humble background and his experience as a shop assistant, writes David Lodge. The novel, which found an unlikely champion in Henry James, also reflected Wells's flirtation with Fabian socialism
Saturday February 26, 2005
The Guardian

#96 ::: Owlmirror ::: (view all by) ::: March 06, 2005, 02:17 PM:

In the hopes that a genuine scholar of the breadth of English literature might be able to answer, I post the following query:

In John Brunner's collection of The Traveler in Black stories, there is one titled "The Things That Are Gods". At the beginning of it, he has the following paragraph:

Lo how smothe and curvit be these rocks that in the creacion weren jaggit, for that they haf ben straikit by myriades of thickheidit folk hither ycommen in peregrinage, beggarlie criand after Miracula. And I say one at the leste wis granted 'em. Was't not a marvel and a wonder, passand credence, that they helden dull ston for more puissaunt than your quicke man, the which mought brethe and dreme and soffre and fede wormes?
and gives as its source something called "A Lytel Boke Againste Folie".

Does this alleged book actually exist?

#97 ::: Ian Myles Slater ::: (view all by) ::: March 06, 2005, 02:47 PM:

Sorry about the URL -- it worked fine last night, when I pasted it between browsers, and into MS Word to make sure.

Layamon (Lawman) *is* difficult -- translations available on the web seem to cover only Arthurian material, unfortunately.

It has been decades since I read Tatlock. If I recall correctly: Since "tails" on human babies are a known abnormality, it has been speculated that a case, or series of cases, on the coast of Dorset gave rise to an "explanation" in the story of the saint cursing the people of a particular locality for pelting him with fishtails. The specification that the tails were like those of a ray, instead of some other creature, suggests some real experience, somewhere, at some time.

In any case, the idea that "the English" (in general) have tails was current in both France and Scotland in the later Middle Ages, not too surprisingly given the history of conflict. The Scots chroniclers who repeat the story do seem to have retained some of the localization, the association with Augustine of Canterbury, and sometimes "muggle," which they could have found in the Middle English "Brut" and other legendary chronicles. I'm not sure if any of the French accounts bothered with more than the generalization.

By the way, "Muggle" and the related "Mullet" as a name for a type of fish turns out to be less than helpful -- a really extraodinary variety of fish species have been so called.

#98 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: March 06, 2005, 03:01 PM:

Ian Myles Slater wrote, "I'm not sure if any of the French accounts bothered with more than the generalization."

There's a shocking amount of later medieval French literature that I haven't read. However, I can say that I've never seen anything other than the generalization. (I'm pretty sure that's the kind of thing that sticks in one's mind.)

#99 ::: Owlmirror ::: (view all by) ::: March 06, 2005, 04:36 PM:

Ian Myles Slater wrote:


Sorry about the URL -- it worked fine last night, when I pasted it between browsers, and into MS Word to make sure.

It turns out that that's because I am using Mozilla Firefox; I assume you are not.

You did paste it correctly; it's just that my browser did not display it the way that the web server that received the resulting modified string would accept.

Firefox translates the "&part" near the end of your URL as a partial differential character entity (∂). It probably should not be doing so, since the string in the URL does not have a closing semicolon character, but there you go.

Testing quickly, it looks like both IE & Firefox translate most characters as entities even though said entities don't have a closing semicolon. Firefox is apparantly just more consistent about doing so (although, I see now, it is also consistent in not translating when the character following is an alphanumeric one).

There may be a way to change this behavior, perhaps by opening a Mozilla bug, although I am probably too lazy to do so.

#100 ::: Ian Myles Slater ::: (view all by) ::: March 06, 2005, 06:56 PM:

My personal library's catalogue entry for a copy of an American printing of Alexander Lenard's Latin version of "Winnie the Pooh" is:

Milnei, A.A. "Winnie Ille Pu: Liber celeberriumus omnibus fere pueris puellisque notus nunc primum de anglico sermone in Latinum conversus auctore Alexandro Lenardo." Novi Eboraci: Sumptibus Duttonis. MCMLX.

And so forth (I hope I copied it correctly), the rest being in English. In other words, published by Dutton, New York. I assume this is what is meant.

I don't know whether any British editon was published in York (old Eboracum); on-line listings of the 1960 Methuen edition (Sumptibus Methueni et Sociorum) give London, as usual. The book presumably gives the place as Londinium -- but I haven't seen a copy of that edition for, well, quite some time. (Probably not since High School!)

There is also Brian Staples' companion translation, "Winnie Ille Pu Semper Ludet: A Latin Version of House at Pooh Corner." I think this appeared as recently as 1998, again with London and New York.

#101 ::: Lois Fundis ::: (view all by) ::: March 06, 2005, 09:38 PM:

For instance, Jersey Shore, PA is nowhere near New Jersey (or Jersey for that matter) and the nearest shore is well over a hundred miles away!

The town was founded by people who were from the Shore.

http://www.usgennet.org/usa/pa/county/lycoming/history/Chapter-28.html

There's also a theory that it's because they settled on the western bank, or "Jersey shore", side of the river there.
http://www.ncldistrict.org/jerseyshore/aboutus.html#history

That doesn't seem evident from a modern map of the town. But apparently the large island nearby also has a name familiar to people from the New York/New Jersey area: "Long Island".
http://www.jerseyshoreboro.org/history.htm
http://maps.google.com/maps?q=jersey%20shore%20pennsylvania&hl=en

Many places in Pa. have names familiar from other parts of the country, or the world for that matter. Where else can you find Indiana University and California University within seventy-five miles of each other?
http://maps.google.com/maps?q=from%3A%20indiana%20pennsylvania%20to%3A%20california%20pennsylvania&hl=en

#102 ::: Stew Fyfe ::: (view all by) ::: March 06, 2005, 10:15 PM:

Not to mention Mars, PA:
http://www.purvisbros.com/mars/marstop.htm

#103 ::: Lisa Spangenberg ::: (view all by) ::: March 06, 2005, 11:12 PM:

Owlmirror inquired

In John Brunner's collection of The Traveler in Black stories, there is one titled "The Things That Are Gods". At the beginning of it, he has the following paragraph:

Lo how smothe and curvit be these rocks that in the creacion weren jaggit, for that they haf ben straikit by myriades of thickheidit folk hither ycommen in peregrinage, beggarlie criand after Miracula. And I say one at the leste wis granted 'em. Was't not a marvel and a wonder, passand credence, that they helden dull ston for more puissaunt than your quicke man, the which mought brethe and dreme and soffre and fede wormes?
and gives as its source something called "A Lytel Boke Againste Folie".

Does this alleged book actually exist?

I dunno. I can't find it in the usual places; I've asked a couple of scholars.

I will say it's . . . odd looking. It's got northern forms like "straikit" and modern phrases like thickhaidit, with ycomen, an older form with the very atypical perigrinage. The contractions are also odd.

There are enough other mixtures of forms that I'm suspicious regarding Mr. Brunner's source.

#104 ::: Shelly Rae Clift ::: (view all by) ::: March 07, 2005, 02:30 AM:

Teresa and Language Hat...
Alas and alack! The online colloquy is missing the opening discussion of AS pedagogical practices and starts in at line 11 or so. My favorite line is line 7.

žille bespungen on leornunge?
is written as
Uultis flagellari in discendo? in the Latin
or
Do you wish to be beaten in learning?
And the good students answer...
Leofre ys us beon bespungen for lare žęnne hit ne cunnan. Ac že žitun že biležitne žesan und nellan onbeldęden sžincgla us, buton žu bi togenydd fram us.
We'd rather be beaten for the sake of learning than be ignorant but we know you are gentle and will not beat us unless we deserve it. (more or less)

I've always been delighted with this scene and the way the students accept that they may be beaten but then slyly manage to take some of the bite out of the threat by suggesting that the teacher is gentle. You may imagine my smile when I read that first line aloud to my students...
But then, I'm also delighted by the double-entendre in the AS riddles..."Is that a key in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?"
Anon.

#105 ::: Paul Clarke ::: (view all by) ::: March 07, 2005, 10:04 AM:

Graydon: I'd also like to plug the Rebsamen Beowulf; I think it's got a much better grip on the tone of the work.

The Rebsamen is also my favourite of the translations I've seen (I read it after you and/or Jo recommended it in rasfw some years back). The rhythm of the Heaney translation seems wrong to me; in particular, too many short half-lines with no unstressed syllables. The Alexander translation (Penguin Classics), OTOH, has the rhythm, but too much of it sounds flat or awkward; my feeling is he was trying to stick too closely to the original.

#106 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: March 07, 2005, 10:57 AM:

And, I believe, by way of Church Slavonic, that became the root "grad" for city in Russian, thus the modern Russian word "gorod" (city) and Leningrad.

I'm pretty sure that is where the root came from, but the route strikes me as unlikely. (OCS is not a direct ancestor of Russian, to begin with.) More likely it got into Russian because the Russ ("those red guys") were Norse invaders who took over a big chunk of Slavic territory and became the aristocracy.

Other places where this happened were Ireland (where Norse invaders account for virtually all of the red hair among the populace, and place names like Dun na nGaill (Donnegal), 'place of the invaders') and England (where the Norsemen (Normans) came from what is now France, and a generation or so earlier from Scandanavia).

#107 ::: Sarah S ::: (view all by) ::: March 07, 2005, 11:20 AM:

TNH--

There's no one from whom I'd rather almost get an award and all the rights and privileges pertaining thereto!

#108 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: March 07, 2005, 01:25 PM:

Um, that's 'fortress of the invaders'.

#109 ::: Lois Fundis ::: (view all by) ::: March 07, 2005, 02:39 PM:

Not to mention Mars, PA:

Or Moon Township
http://www.abbott-lavalle.info/places/moon.html

Confluence, which used to be held near Mars, is now held near Moon. I think the con hotel is actually just over the line in Findlay Twp.

Findlay used to be part of Moon though, as did, appropriately, Crescent Twp.

#110 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: March 07, 2005, 03:01 PM:

Lois Fundis:

I'd like to suggest that cons be held in:

Mercury, Nevada: 89023

Venus, Texas: 76084

Jupiter, Florida: 33458

Neptune Beach, Florida: 32266

Neptune, New Jersey: 07753

Note also, for future Worldcons, that the original name of Rome itself was Saturnia, "the city of Saturn." This is vouched alike by Ovid, by Pliny, and by Aurelius Victor.

Was the children's sci-fi book from 1962 called "Lost City of Uranus" by Joseph Greene?
Diodorus told us that the Titans and the walled city of Uranus were created many generations before the Troyan war. Hang on: yes. See the connection between Joseph Greene and Robert Heinlein's "Tom Corbett: Space Cadet."

Finally (until there's a Sedna in the USA):

In 1750 Merthyr was a small village, yet less than a hundred years later it was the largest town in Wales. In 1844 Merthyr was producing the equivalent of 1/4 of the iron output of the entire United States. It was described by the King of Saxony, on a visit to the area at the same time, as the ‘Fiery City of Pluto’ on account of the clamour of the rolling mills and hammers and the flames which lit up the sky.


#111 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: March 07, 2005, 03:06 PM:

OCS is not a direct ancestor of Russian, to begin with.

There is no doubt whatever about that. The etymological dictionary was signed by the professor, the grad students, the publisher, and the chief linguist. The department head signed it: and the department head's name was good upon the OUP, for anything he chose to put his hand to.

(I'm sorry, but some temptations are irresistible.)

#112 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: March 07, 2005, 04:44 PM:

I forgive you, TexAnne. Unfortunately, I don't get it. Could you explain what you're parodying?

Oliver Twist, maybe?

#113 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: March 07, 2005, 04:49 PM:

"Marley was dead: to begin with." &c.

#114 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: March 07, 2005, 05:42 PM:

Aaaaarrrrgghhh. I've already forgiven you, and can't take that back (did you know this was a rule? some folks apparently don't). I will not, however, forgive myself for having missed that.

Must have been that old potato I had for lunch...

#115 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: March 08, 2005, 09:30 AM:

Yeah, you probably shouldn't have put mustard on it...

#116 ::: Stu savory ::: (view all by) ::: March 08, 2005, 02:12 PM:

I have a problem doing Anglo-Saxon, since my (German) keyboard does not have the letters Eth or Thorn. So how does one go about typing them in?

Stu

#117 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: March 08, 2005, 02:55 PM:

They'll be in high-ASCII somewhere -- looking at the vintage table by the machine, I can find alt-0222 gives Ž and alt-0254 produces ž. Can't locate the other, but then I am merely the resident dingbat;* someone obviously knows where it is. (Note that the German character map may be slightly different.)

*There must be a t-shirt in this.

#118 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: March 08, 2005, 03:11 PM:

John M. Ford:

"They'll be in high-ASCII..."

... which descended from Middle ASCII, which was in turn from Old ASCII, and before that, in Proto-ASCII (cf. Grey Code), and Indoeuropeanascii. Somewhere that paleolithic lunar calendar carved in bone, the 22000-year-old Ishango bone from the Congo, is involved, as a holy relic.

A100000
Sequence: 3,6,4,8,10,5,5,7
Name: Middle column of marks found on the oldest object with logical carvings, the 22000-year-old Ishango bone from the Congo.
Comments: The other two columns on the rod are: 11, 13, 17, 19 and 11, 21, 19, 9.
See "Deciphering the Bone" at the first Brussels Museum for Natural Sciences link.
This appears to be the oldest known mathematical object.

Also, Neandertals played a combination of bagpipe and nose-flute, but the sheet music (traditionally on bleached mastodon skin) has been lost. I think that's in the Apple suit against bloggers, somewhere.

#119 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 08, 2005, 04:29 PM:

"The place that really needs remedial naming is Pennsylvania. For instance, Jersey Shore, PA is nowhere near New Jersey (or Jersey for that matter) and the nearest shore is well over a hundred miles away!"

See also: the distinctly inland Presque Isle, Maine.

#120 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: March 08, 2005, 07:36 PM:

Stu/Mike: the other character is ASCII 208 (majuscule) or 240 (minuscule), per my Sun and the relevant Unicode page

#121 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: March 08, 2005, 07:36 PM:

bugger -- something in the shipping lost the URL:
http://www.unicode.org/charts/PDF/U0080.pdf

#122 ::: Owlmirror ::: (view all by) ::: March 08, 2005, 08:10 PM:
I have a problem doing Anglo-Saxon, since my (German) keyboard does not have the letters Eth or Thorn. So how does one go about typing them in?

In addition to the alt-charcode, you can also use the Character Map
(Start -> Programs -> Accesories -> System Tools -> Character Map)(not sure what those would be in German though, sorry). Or, if you only need it to show up in HTML, these character entities: ð(ð), Ð(Ð), þ(þ), Þ(Þ)

Dunno if that helps.

#123 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2005, 10:37 AM:

Linguistic Research Moving In New Direction
Some linguistics researchers are applying larger scientific principles that describe natural forces to the study of language. This represents a major shift in linguistics research done over the last several decades.

A new strand of research uses the principle of "self organization," a concept used in studying all kinds of complex systems, from thunderstorms to the human immune system, and not just language. Self-organization, in a nutshell, is when a system evolves a large structure from repeated small-scale interactions between its smaller elements, says Andrew Wedel, an assistant professor of linguistics at the University of Arizona in Tucson.

"Sand dunes in the desert or ripples at the bottom of a streambed come about from the air or water flowing over them and the way individual grains of sand happen to bounce against one another," Wedel said.

"No individual sand grain knows that it is part of a sand dune or streambed. It is these repeated, small-scale interactions that, over time, result in this big, global structure that has a lot of order but isn't preprogrammed into the sand grains in any direct sense...."

"Languages are the ripples in the dunes and the grains of sand are our conversations, generations talking to each other and learning things and slowly creating these larger ripples in time."

#124 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2005, 11:13 AM:

So exactly HOW did English evolve to be the second-most spoken tongue on Earth?

Speaking of tongues
Nicholas Ostler's survey of the world's linguistic histories, Empires of the Word, fascinates Martin Jacques
Saturday March 12, 2005
The Guardian
Empires of the Word: A Language History of the World
by Nicholas Ostler
615pp, HarperCollins, £30

#125 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2005, 11:02 PM:

Short on-topic excerpt:

Rhyme and reason
(Filed: 10/03/2005)

A veteran of the vibrant 1960s poetry scene, Camille Paglia argues that critics can no longer read, poets can no longer write, and the unacknowledged legislators of our age are writing advertising jingles for peanuts


"My attraction to poetry has always been driven by my love of English, which my family acquired relatively recently. (My mother and all four of my grandparents were born in Italy.) While my parents spoke English at home, my early childhood in the small factory town of Endicott in upstate New York was spent among speakers of sometimes mutually unintelligible Italian dialects. Unlike melodious Tuscan or literary Italian, rural Italian from the central and southern provinces is brusque, assertive, and consonant-laden, with guttural accents and dropped final vowels. What fascinated me about English was what I later recognised as its hybrid etymology: blunt ANGLO-SAXON concreteness, sleek Norman French urbanity, and polysyllabic Greco-Roman abstraction. The clash of these elements, as competitive as Italian dialects, is invigorating, richly entertaining and often funny, as it is to Shakespeare, who gets tremendous effects out of their interplay. The dazzling multiplicity of sounds and word choices in English makes it brilliantly suited to be a language of poetry. It's why the pragmatic Anglo-American tradition (unlike effete French rationalism) doesn't need poststructuralism: in English, usage depends upon context; the words jostle and provoke one another and mischievously shift their meanings over time."

This is an edited version of the introduction to 'Break, Blow, Burn: Camille Paglia Reads Forty-Three of the World's Best Poems', published by Pantheon Books
© Copyright of Telegraph Group Limited 2005.

#126 ::: Francis Heaney ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2005, 12:45 AM:

Well, it's a small Internet, isn't it? Kevin Wald is a friend of mine -- I know him through the National Puzzlers' League. He regularly contributes puzzles of all sorts to the NPL newsletter, and he is generally regarded by all who know him as a delightful fellow with a scary, scary brain. When I was writing a Chaucer parody for my book, he's the guy I turned to when I wanted to make sure my Middle English was sufficiently authentic.

#127 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2005, 05:26 AM:

... ahh ... wind-sorted sand grains ... there's a story about noises in the desert that comes from that phenomenon, but will have to tell that another time, have to dash off RSN. Y'all can look it up for yersel if you're all that fashed about it.

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