“Sir Gawain and the Green Knight: Tolkien’s ‘game with rules’,

I’ve posted my Kalamazoo paper “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight: Tolkien’s ‘game with rules’,” here, such as it is. There’s a handout, too!

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Luke 2:1 in Gothic

Warth than in dagans jainans. urrann gagrefts fram kaisara
Agustau gameljan allana midjungard. soh than gilstrameleins
frumista warth at wisandin kindina Swriais raginondin Saurim
Kwreinaiau. jah iddjedun allai ei melidai weseina. hwarjizuh in
seinai baurg. urrann than jah Iosef us Galeilaia. us baurg
Nazaraith in Iudaian. in baurg Daweidis sei haitada Bethlaihaim
duthe ei was us garda fadreinais Daweidis. anameljan mith Mariin.
sei in fragiftim was imma qeins. wisandein inkilthon. warth than
miththanei. tho wesun jainar. usfullnodedun dagos du bairan izai
jah gabar sunu seinana thana frumabaur. jah biwand ina jah galagida
ina in uzetin. unte ni was im rumis in stada thamma.

Via Jim Marchand, medievalist extraordinaire.

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Welsh, Cyclists, and Bladder Disease

A temporary sign on the side of the road at Barons Court roundabout between Penarth and Cardiff correctly reads “cyclists dismount” in English, but the Welsh translation, “llid y bledren dymchwelyd,” isn’t, actually, a translation. In fact, strictly speaking, it isn’t even Welsh, since the syntax is all wrong. Llid y bledren means “bladder disease,” while dymchwelyd means “return.” So, ignoring the syntax problem, the sign reads something like “Bladder disease [has] returned.” You can read the story and see a picture of the sign here.

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JKW on Culwch ac Olwen

Jeffry Jerome Cohen, medievalist and blogger at In the Middle, is on vacation, so guest blogger JKW who usually blogs at Pistols in the Pulpit is filling in. JKW says of himself:

My dissertation, which I’m beginning this summer, is about political language, specifically the language of kingship, in England and Wales in the age of Chaucer.

Thus far he’s blogged about Culwch ac Olwen and the implications of the “oldest animals” here.

Gawain and Gough

In a 1990 seminar Derek Pearsall made a passing reference to the Gough Map, in a discussion of the journey Gawain makes across the realm of Logres, in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.

The Gough Map is the oldest surviving road map of Great Britain, dating from around 1360. It’s roughly oblong in shape, made of two pieces of vellem, and is half map and half sketch. Not much is known about its provenance; the map was given to the Bodleian library in 1809 by its owner, Richard Gough. The dating is based on the inks and materials used to make the map, and on the place names.

691. Now rideȝ þis renk þurȝ þe ryalme of Logres,
692. Sir Gauan, on Godeȝ halue, þaȝ hym no gomen þoȝt.
693. Oft leudleȝ alone he lengez on nyȝtez
694. Þer he fonde noȝt hym byfore þe fare þat he lyked.
695. Hade he no fere bot his fole bi fryþez and dounez,
696. Ne no gome bot God bi gate wyþ to karp,
697. Til þat he neȝed ful neghe into þe Norþe Walez.
698. Alle þe iles of Anglesay on lyft half he haldez,
699. And farez; ouer þe fordez by þe forlondez,
700. Ouer at þe Holy Hede, til he hade eft bonk
701. In þe wyldrenesse of Wyrale; wonde þer bot lyte
702. Þat auþer God oþer gome wyþ goud hert louied.
703. And ay he frayned, as he ferde, at frekez þat he met,
704. If þay hade herde any karp of a knyȝt grene,
705. In any grounde þeraboute, of þe grene chapel;
706. And al nykked hym wyþ nay, þat neuer in her lyue
707. Þay seȝe neuer no segge þat watz of suche hwez

Thanks to the exceedingly excellent S. Worthen, I know about the exceedingly excellent interactive version of the Gough map.

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New Texts Added to the Corpus of Middle English

The University of Michigan’s Corpus of Middle English Texts is one of the most useful text depositories on the Internet. It’s right up there with CELT, in my book. And it’s now even better; they’ve added another 85 texts to the 65 that were already up there. Now, these texts are all searchable, and many of them are linked to pull page images of the books from which the texts are derived.

The complete list of 145 texts is here. There are gems that you won’t find in a surprising number of academic libraries, like The babees book, Aristotle’s A B C, Urbanitatis, Stans puer ad mensam, The lvtille childrenes lvtil boke, The bokes of nurture of Hugh Rhodes and John Russell, Wynkyn de Worde’s Boke of keruynge, The booke of demeanor, The boke of curtasye, Seager’s Schoole of vertue, &c.; &c;, edited by Frederick J. Furnivall for the EETS. In it you may find “A fest for a franklen” from John Russell’s Boke of Nurture:

“A Franklen may make a feste Improberabille,
brawne with mustard is concordable,
bakon serued with peson,
beef or moton stewed seruysable,
Boyled Chykon or capon agreable,
convenyent for þe seson;
Rosted goose & pygge fulle profitable,
Capon / Bakemete, or Custade Costable,
when eggis & crayme be geson.
Þerfore stuffe of household is behoveable,
Mortrowes or Iusselle ar delectable
for þe second course by reson.
Than veel, lambe, kyd, or cony,
Chykon or pigeon rosted tendurly,
bakemetes or dowcettes with alle.
Þen followynge, frytowrs & a leche lovely;
Suche seruyse in sesoun is fulle semely
To serue with bothe chambur & halle.

I’m pleased to see that the Tolkien, Gordon and Davis 1967 edition of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is available (even if it is just the text, not the notes or glossary). I’m also very glad to see all eight of the Chaucer Society single mss. (all the main mss.) of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales are now available.

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Philological Public Service Announcement

Beowulf is in Old English. Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales is in Middle English.

Every fall, and then again every spring, as various colleges and universities begin their semesters, I see a dramatic increase in the number of people visiting my site after using search phrases like:

  • canterbury tales in old english
  • general prologue old english
  • chaucer old english
  • chaucer angled saxon
  • chaucer anglo-saxon

Old English requires some special effort to read and understand; it really is a different language. Middle English is much closer to our own Modern English, albeit with funny spelling. You can get a good idea of how different Old and Middle English are by looking at the Lord’s Prayer in Middle and Old English. You can hear some Chaucer read in Middle English here, and some Beowulf in Old English (or Anglo-Saxon) here. If you’re curious about learning Old English, take a look at Michael Drout’s nicely done King Alfred’s Grammar Book, and Catherine Ball’s Old English Pages. For those interested in learning more about Middle English and Chaucer, take a look at Larry Benson’s site.

But remember: Chaucer wrote in Middle English.