I loved the series Broadchurch, but I needed subtitles for the Scottish detective played by John Tennant, a West Lotian by birth.
Yes, I watch a lot of British TV series, and I frequently need to turn on the subtitles for some of the regional accents. And it’s David Tennant of Dr. Who fame.
On Beowulf, is it true that modern Frisians can understand it pretty well? Don’t know where I heard that.
No. It’s a myth that grew out of the pretty-much-true-as-far-as-these-things-go statement that Frisian is the modern language that is most similar to Old English. But they aren’t mutually intelligible. Eddie Izzard did a bit some years back where he tried to speak to a Frisian farmer in Old English. It’s silly and doesn’t prove anything, but it’s kind of fun.
What about Seamus Heaney’s translation?
It’s the best verse translation out there, but it’s definitely Heaney’s Beowulf. He takes some minor liberties with the text in order to make the meter work and to insert some Celtic elements. (Nothing radical, but noticeable.) I would use it in undergrad classes and recommend it to those in the general public who want to read Beowulf in verse, but it’s not a good choice for in-depth study or as a crib for one’s own translation. I like Roy Liuzza’s prose translation (Broadview Press) for scrupulous accuracy, but of course you lose all the poetic sensibility. Fulk’s translation (Dumbarton Oaks Medieval Library) is also quite good and has the advantage of including the other texts in the Beowulf manuscript. (I have some quibbles with Fulk at certain points, however; it’s not that he’s wrong, just that in certain places I think there’s a better way to to go.)
Dave, interesting to hear you say the GVS was basically over by Shakespeare’s time. I’ve read elsewhere that it was still on the move
The film gives an end date of 1700, which is really way too late. The big changes were over by 1550, although some vowels continued to shift for some time after that. (The shift wasn’t uniform, and where you place the dates depends heavily on what regional dialect you are speaking about.) The more logical placement would be between Chaucer and Shakespeare and use it to explain those differences, rather than the differences between Shakespeare and today.