23 Dec 2007

Let's call it 19th century

Submitted by Karl Hagen
I'm now in England for Christmas, after spending a week in Ireland. We stayed in a lovely rural area in Claire, and one of the spots we stopped was Bunratty castle, a fifteenth-century structure that has been quite well restored. Like many other castles, it is cramped and has lots of narrow staircases, not at all like the Hollywood image of spacious luxury. You can understand why so many aristocratic families tended to abandon their castles for more comfortable dwellings.
11 Dec 2007

Prose translation is for sciolists

Submitted by Karl Hagen
I was contemplating a post about Old English metrical forms to mirror the last one on word order, but I'm leaving for England and Ireland at the end of the week and don't have time to come up with anything elaborate. So instead, I present for your philological amusement my translation of one of Aldhelm's Enigmata into Old English verse.

Ic eom huses weard,    holdscipes genoh,
bold wæccende,    bryce geardstapa.
On þearle niht    ic þeostre oferfare,
ne anforlæte    þæt eagena leoht,

4 Dec 2007
A few days ago, a Language Log post mentioned an old Onion article about reverting the grammatical rules of English to something roughly equivalent to Late Old English. It's satire of course (something that seems to have gone over some people's heads), and the article doesn't actually follow a consistent practice.
4 Dec 2007
The notion that Beowulf's nudity in the movie can be justified by the original poem seems to be floating around out there on the web. I seem to recall Neil Gaiman himself making that claim in an LA Times interview several months before the movie opened, so perhaps that's the origin of the idea. (I can't find a link for this article, though.)

I'm afraid, though, that that's a misreading (or at least reinvention). The relevant passage starts at line 661.

Ða he him of dyde, isern-byrnan,

20 Nov 2007

I'm clearly not trying hard enough

Submitted by Karl Hagen
According to the Blog Readability Test, my blog has a high school reading level. I'm not sure if that's a good thing or not. Part of me feels that I need to work harder to obfuscate my writing lest someone question my academic credentials. Of course it could just be the algorithm. I presume that this site is using something similar to the Unix style command. When I run my ten most recent items (not all of which are on the front page) through style, I get the following results: readability grades: Kincaid: 9.2
18 Nov 2007

The Scop's Oration

Submitted by Karl Hagen
In the movie Beowulf, The scop's oration during the "Beowulf Day" celebration is a bastardized version of Beowulf's fight with Grendel from the poem. It's a snippet of what we originally recorded, which managed to tell the whole fight, from Grendel coming off the moor to Beowulf raising Grendel's arm in victory in about 90 seconds.


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