Thursday, July 20, 2006

Chaucer' Blog

One thing that had really bugged me was that people had always called Shakespeare "Old English". It's not Old English people! It's Modern English. The colloquialism is different, that's all. It's no different than if you went to Australia or England and you heard phases or terms that you don't understand. Their terms of references are different from North America, yet, they are still speaking English!

Case in point, Shakespeare's Sonnet 18:
Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer's lease hath all too short a date
Now here's Middle English (Intro to Canterbury Tales):
Whan that Aprill, with his shoures soote
The droghte of March hath perced to the roote
And bathed every veyne in swich licour,
Of which vertu engendred is the flour;
Old English (Intro to Beowulf):
Hwæt! We Gardena in geardagum,
þeodcyninga, þrym gefrunon,
hu ða æþelingas ellen fremedon.
Oft Scyld Scefing sceaþena þreatum,
So you can see what the difference is!

Anyways, I was chuffed to see that Chaucer has a blog. Check it out!


Gwynabella said...

Its scary that I remember the Canterbury exerpt from highschool. And that I thought the first words in the Beowulf exerpt was "HAWT. We Garden in Geraniums."

Irene said...

Ha, you learnt Chaucer in high school too! My English Lit teacher made us memorize the first bit in Middle English, and recite it!

As for Beowulf, I think you're looking at some rendition of the orginal writing, and not the Arabic letters that we're used to.

The Teacher said...

I majored in English Lit and LOVE it. I had to memorize the first sentence of Canterbury Tales...nineteen lines. I looooove Chaucer.

Beowulf rough translation...very rough as I'm doing this from memory...

Hail! We live in the middle earth,
Thaneking, (something) (verb)
who the retainers/soldiers/followers (something) (verb)

Rats. I only see "oft" in the last line. Um...often shall (something) (something)

I think they were talking about telling stories.

The worst I ever got..."Old English? Is that like...Jane Austen?" Me: "Yes. Yes it is. Now go away because I never want to talk to you again."

Irene said...

Ha! I've gotten the "Isn't Jane Austen Old English" line as well. Stoopid plebians!

SB said...

You know how you can tell people to make the distinction? If, when learning a version of language, you must memorize the declension of nouns, then and only then is it Old English.

se bat. . . .

Irene said...

SB, I have no idea what you just said, but since I know you're such a smart legal eagle that I will bow to your superior knowledge. It must be all the Latin that you had to learn in law school.

RC said...

very good point, i've actually wondered about this before, b/c i can read chaucer but beowolf is harder than anything.

--RC of