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Some Samples to try translating...Sometimes in my workshop sessions, I use some Tudor style English. It is the same language which turned into modern English, so lots of the words were the same.
Some words were a bit different, but are often easy to work out if you look at the whole sense of what's going on.
My first two samples are in modern spelling. They come from a book by Richard Carew, published in 1602, called "The Survey of Cornwall."
Paul White, of the modern publishers of this book - http://www.bossineybooks.com/tamar-imprints.html, who kindly gave me permission to use these extracts, told me that in 1614 Richard Carew also published an essay about the English Language, in which he recommends Shakespeare as being a good example to read.
As Mr. White says, a sort of early Talent Spotter!
I have missed some words and phrases out, to make it shorter reading here. If you want the whole lot, buy the book!
In Cornwall, tin mining, which involves digging the tin out of tunnels in the ground, was very important. Mining has always been dangerous too.
Here he's describing part of how it works:
The captain's office [job] bindeth him to sort each workman his task, to see them apply their labour,
to make timely provision for binding their work with frames of timber, to place pumps for drawing off water, and to give other such directions.|
In most places their toil is so extreme they cannot endure it above four hours in a day.
Their ordinary tools are a pickaxe of iron about sixteen inches long, sharpened at one end to peck, and flat-headed at the other to drive certain little iron wedges wherewith they cleave the rocks.
[Carew describes how they make their tunnels, then goes on]
Their work is most by candle-light. In these passages they meet sometimes with very loose earth, sometimes with exceeding hard rocks, and sometimes with great streams of water.
The loose earth is propped by frames of timber-work as they go, and yet now and then falling down, either presseth the poor workmen to death or stoppeth them from returning.
By now you've probably worked out that anything with "-eth" on the end is the same as some modern English words ending in "-es" or "-s" |
(but not plural, or more-than-one!)
So "presses" becomes "presseth" and "stops" becomes stoppeth.
And becomes becomes becometh!!
|Later in the book, Richard Carew tells a story of a man who used to frighten women for fun, by going round with a poisonous snake, from which he was sure he had drawn the fangs with their venom, or poison.|
There was not long since a merry old Cornish gentleman, having got hold of a snake and broken out his teeth, (wherein consisteth his venom)
used to carry him round in his bosom, to set him to his mouth, to make him lick his spittle, and when he came among gentlewomen
would cast him out suddenly to put them in fear.
But in the end their vain dread proved safer than his foolhardiness, for once as he walked alone and was kissing this gentle playfellow, the snake in good earnest, with a stump either newly grown up or not fully pulled out, bit him fast by the tongue, which therewith began so to rankle and swell, that by the time he had knocked this foul player on the head and come to his place of abode,[his house] his mouth was scarce able to contain it. Fain was he therefore to show his mishap, and by gestures crave aid in earnest of the gentlewoman whom he had aforetime often scared in sport.
... and if words are long and seem hard, sometimes you can work them out by seeing if they are made up of words you do know, or can work out.|
SO - "wherein" = "where" + "in". Nowadays you'd have to say "which is where...", which is longer than simply "wherein".
"Aforetime"= "afore" + "time". "Afore" is much the same as "before". Modern English might use "earlier" in the same place.
The spelling they used was often different, and often changed - just read it out loud and see what it seems like.|
Here is part of a play called "Gammer Gurton's Nedle"... or Needle... printed in 1575. On the left is my modern version, on the right the original.
All you need to know is that Hodge, or Hodg, is the manservant of a woman called Gammer Gurton. He is trying to get the cooking fire going by blowing on the ashes left over from the last fire, but he's not finding any glowing sparks to blow on.
This is nearly in everyday language. The only real difference is that plays usually were written in rhyming language.
I've put some explanations in square brackets, [like this.]
At last, in a dark corner, he thought he saw two sparks
which were really nothing but the two eyes of Gyb, our cat.
"Puffe" said Hodge [blowing], thinking that way he'd certainly get the fire going.
With that Gyb shut her two eyes, and so the fire [Hodge thought] was out,
And by and by she opened them again, just as they were before;
with that the sparks [Hodge thought] appeared just as they were before,
and so even as Hodge believed he blew the fire,
Gyb, as she felt the blast [of his blowing in her eyes] straight away began to blink,
Till Hodge began to swear with the best words he could think of, that
the fire was bewitched, and so it would not burn.
At last in a darke corner two sparkes he thought he sees|
Which were indede noughte els but Gyb our cats two eyes
Puffe quod hodg thinking thereby to have fire without doubt
With that Gyb shut her two eyes, & so the fyre was out
And by and by them opened, euen [even] as they were before,
With that the sparkes appered euen as they had of yore
And euen as hodge blew the fyre as he did thincke
Gyb as she felt the blast strayght way began to wyncke
Tyll Hodge fell of swering, as best came to his turne,
The fier was sure bewitched and therfore wold not burne.
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