Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Geoffrey Chaucer Hath a Blog

Laughs for the litgeeks--some advice on Chaucer's blog to a metrosexual of the day:

Sir -
Ich wishe for adyce in the matter of fashion and armes. Ys it verrily a mistake to wear a lilyflour in my helm? (Ich have a shylde of golde.)

Mon Sire Thopas,

By seinte Jerome, finallye someone who kan spelle! Messire Thopas, yow seem a man fair and gent, and Y sholde muchel relish for to tellen yowre tale. Ich shalle have myne peple calle yowre peple. As for the lilye? It dependeth how whethir yow wolde ben 'easte coaste' or 'weste coaste.'

Le Vostre G

It gets better, oh yes it does.


  1. Lots of sly wit in Chaucer; I'm glad to see him blogging. It's been too long since he's published anything new.

    For those who didn't make it through their years of schoolboy Latin, a partial parse: When he quotes the proverb "pauperes non possunt electores esse," it translates literally to:

    Paupers // not // are able // electors // to be.

    In more proper idiomatic English, you'd say:

    Paupers are not able to be electors.

    This is an old social rule that persists to this day: In the ranks of the Electoral College you won't find representatives from our nation's mighty ranks of homeless. Electors come from the wealthier classes.

    But as with so many translations, you have to be careful with diction to capture the real intent of the writer. Most lasting expressions have more than one layer of meaning, and it can be tricky to word a translation so it gets them all.

    In this case ("Paupers can't be electors"), I might substitute the modern English terms "beggars" and "choosers" instead of using the direct descendants of the Latin terms.

    Like I said, Chaucer has lots of sly wit in him. That's just one example of the amusement this blog has to offer.

  2. Niiice.

    That had me laughing aloud as I walked Barky around the bowling alley. Yes, I do read while I walk . . . I used to question those dog walkers who were on the phone, reading, etc., but it turns out that walking the same route is only exciting the first hundred or so times. After that, it's better to be distracted.