Friday, January 22, 2010
Beowulf is not my specialty so as far as I know a version like this may already exist in book form, but the Wikipedia page on Old English has an example of the first few lines of Beowulf in a kind of half translated and marked-up form that looks like this:
Thanks to this version all of a sudden the formerly unintelligible vocabulary in the original text makes sense in a way that a full translation doesn't help at all. Compare it to this version, where either terms are used that don't help with terms in the original text (foes in place of þreatum) or terms that agree with the original text to the extent that they are impossible to understand -- how does the reader know that welkin is supposed to mean cloud? Well, an astute German reader might, but that's no help to most.
So I suppose what I'm saying is that if there's a book out there written in exactly this style then I'd like to buy it, and if one doesn't exist then it should. The overall feel of a marked-up version like this is kind of like having a friend from the 10th century sitting next to you who is explaining the whole tale as it is being read. "Threat here means enemy!" "An atheling is kind of like a prince." "Whale-road is a clever way of saying sea!" and so on.
Edit: this link may be of interest as well - it turns out that the bones of Princess Eadgyth (910 - 946) may have been found.