Moving Towards My Final Project

In the past couple weeks, I have continued my study of translation from Latin to Old English. After reading the Colloquy, I moved onto looking at a translation of Bede’s story of Cædmon from his Historia Ecclesiastica Gentis Anglorum. This was an especially fascinating text to study because it included both translation of prose and poetry. Unsurprisingly, I noticed that the poetry translation took many more liberties in altering the original text. While the translator prose tried to communicate the same meanings in the prose maybe adding a few phrases to explicate a point or changing some grammatical constructions, in the poetry, they clearly want to preserve the feeling, tone, and overall message of the poem, without attempting to translate each phrase directly. I also noticed that there is not any direct correspondence between the specific lines of Latin and Old English. The next week, I began reading Aldhelm’s poem “De Creatura”from his collection of riddles, the Enigmata, and its Old English translation as Riddle 40 in the Exeter Book. This has been truly fascinating, and I have decided to write my final paper on this poem (I’ll write about my topic more specifically in my next blog post). The translation of a riddle presents many interesting problems. The translator must preserve the mysterious tone and try to retain the rhetorical effect while allowing phrase to fit the answer, “creation.” Thus, it would be truly impossible to give a word-for-word, or even phrase-for-phrase, translation. I found a great book that contains a section about this specific translation and addresses those issues, and I’m guessing this book will turn into one of my main sources for my final paper. The author points out that this translator does pay special attention to retaining rhetorical devices, which is largely possible because Aldhelm especially uses aural devices, rather than syntactic or semantic ones. Such aural devices were common in Old English literature, generally much more so than in Latin, which allows the translator to preserve them, even as they stray from the precise meaning of each phrase. I have really enjoyed my study of “De Creatura” so far, and I’m really excited to continue as I begin working on my final project.

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