Middle English Translation
Posted: 12 March 2007 08:22 AM   [ Ignore ]
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I’m updating the entry for scot free and I’m having trouble providing a translation for this Middle English citation of scot from 1297:

Verst hii wolde ete & drinke..& suþþe þe louerd of þe hous quelle..& suþþe brenne al is hous al uor hor scot ywis.

I’ve got most of it, but the last bit is eluding me. Can anyone help?

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Posted: 12 March 2007 10:00 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Some guesswork here, but I don’t think I’m too far off:

Verst hii wolde ete & drinke..& suþþe þe louerd of þe hous quelle..& suþþe brenne al is hous al uor hor scot ywis.

First he would eat and drink...& then kill the lord of the house...& then burn all his house, all for their scot, indeed.

“Ywis” or “iwis” was used to mean “certainly, assuredly, indeed, truly. (Often with weakened sense as a metrical tag.)” according ot the OED.  A modern idiomatic rendering might even be “you know.”

The gist as I see it is that the person referred to (whom I think, from a cursory look over the preceding text, is William the Conqueror, or William Bastard as the chronicler calls him) would slay his host and burn his house in payment for the food and drink.

You may be wondering about the use of the plural ("their scot").  The previous line, not quoted in the OED is “Wanne at an gode monnes house is men were at inne” (When at a good man’s house, his men were at inn [=lodged]...).  So the scot to be paid is not just his, but his men’s.

[ Edited: 12 March 2007 10:36 AM by Dr. Techie ]
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Posted: 12 March 2007 10:35 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Thanks. The uor was what was throwing me. I was uncertain about some of the other prepositions and pronouns, but once I understood that one, the rest fell into place.

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Posted: 12 March 2007 10:40 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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A u is sometimes a v, and a v is sometimes an f.

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Posted: 12 March 2007 02:36 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Yes, in hindsight it’s obvious.

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Posted: 12 March 2007 05:01 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Interesting too to note a stage in the disappearance of the old Germanic ‘ge-’ reinforcing (
and past tense marker) prefix in ‘ywis’ (still around in modern German, ‘gewiss’).

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Posted: 12 March 2007 11:54 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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If William Bastard marked the beginning of the English medieval period (1066)—thus the decline of Anglo-Saxon—and Chaucer marked the end (1400), then 1297 was around the end of the second trimester of the middle (that is the middle of Middle English, of middle Earth). The “y-” formation was alive and well at that time. Dave’s quotation shows a relatively modern dialect for that period probably due to the monk’s education, erudition, and urban location. Just a guess. Chaucer made free use of that construction 100 years later.

The “suþþe”, BTW, more or less transcribed as “suththe” and meaning “thereafter”, later became “sith” and later “since” AFAIK. “Since” as a construct for “because” merely demonstrates the void of a suitable term in Germanic languages for that concept.

I vaguely recall the text but can’t find it on the web. What is it?

[ Edited: 13 March 2007 12:09 AM by foolscap ]
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Posted: 13 March 2007 06:50 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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It’s an untitled text by Robert of Gloucester. It appears in the Rolls series, published in 1887.

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Posted: 13 March 2007 07:26 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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later became “sith” and later “since”

Not exactly.  Since is a contraction of sithens, which derives from Old English siththan ‘after that’ (sith + tham).  So sith becomes only a part of since.

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Posted: 13 March 2007 09:53 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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It’s an untitled text by Robert of Gloucester. It appears in the Rolls series, published in 1887.

Commonly known as the Metrical Chronicle.  One of many Middle English texts available through http://www.hti.umich.edu/c/cme/browse.html

(I thought it would be more informative to link to the index page rather than the chronicle itself.)

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Posted: 13 March 2007 12:45 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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Thanks for the link, Dr. Techie. Informative it is, indeed. Now I know (from Wynkyn de Worde’s “Book of Carving") that “pantry” originally meant “bread-room”, and that “panter” was the individual who looked after it, as the butler looked after the buttery (where the important stuff was kept - man does not live by bread alone ;-).

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Posted: 13 March 2007 02:23 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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Indeed.  As Woody Allen put it, “Why does man kill? Man kills for food. And not only for food. Frequently there must be a beverage.”

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Posted: 13 March 2007 05:03 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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Many’s the day on the first pull I’ve killed a 16 ounce draught beverage.

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