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Glossal translation in the Lindisfarne Gospel according to Saint Matthew.

1. Everyone who has ever looked at Old English manuscripts in the British Museum remembers the Lindisfarne Gospels. This beautiful specimen of medieval scriptorium works, illuminated in the Hiberno-Saxon style is hardy comparable in its artistic maturity to any medieval manuscript except perhaps, the Book of Kells. But this work is memorable not only for its ornamentally rich decorative motifs but also for the Northumbrian variety of Old English which is used in the glosses added to the Latin text. For a historical linguist they are an invaluable source of directly accessible information of the dialect on the one hand, and of the Latin-English grammatical relations, on the other hand. Much has been said about the dialectal characteristics of the glossal language, which was written some time in the tenth century by a priest named Aldred; the English dependence of this text on Latin has also attracted some attention. Little research, however, has been done on the glossator's art of transmitting one language int o another. (1) In this paper I shall try to show how the glossator managed to render the Latin original into his native language.

1.1. From time to time one reads about the ignorance of Latin on the part of the medieval scribe or even a glossator, who in many instances was the same man. (2) It happens that for lack of good knowledge of Latin and for often poor education, and the meagre intelligence of monks who were copyists their works are not free from errors of various kind. (3) This almost proverbially bad opinion about the reliability of a medieval scribe can be partly attributed to the status the scriptoria had. It was there that the monks did their penitential work: "in the scriptoria of the monasteries scribere, to copy manuscripts, was regarded as manual labor and consequently as a form of penitence" (Le Goff 1985: 81). Since books were produced manually, medieval scholars did not necessarily have to have the ability to write, they could dictate their works to a scribe, as is reminded by some historical linguists like Derolez (1992: 25), or Mitchell (1995: [section]292), both making references to earlier sources. This is only o ne very important aspect of the medieval religious culture and learning. There is a second, very different aspect: a painful demand of written literature not only in Latin, but also, and above all, in the vernacular translations (see Alfred's and AElfric's Prefaces to their works). Although scribere was manual labour, "the very lowest form of an activity widely held in contempt" (Le Goff 1985: 80), this labour was desperately needed for providing a means for the clergy to better realize and achieve their essential aim: to pray, to contemplate and to preach. Obviously, to make a translation or a glossal adaptation of the Latin original did require of their authors a good competence, even bilingualism, in church Latin, as well as some gift of rendering Latin into an acceptable and understandable vernacular language. That the problem of the accuracy and the reliability of a medieval scribe is far from being settled is clearly seen in Lapidge (1994) who in note five to his article cites two extreme views: scribes as monastic 'blockheads' and scribes as competent translators. He himself is of the opinion that the truth is in between the two extremes.

1.2. That glosses in the Lindisfarne Gospels are not one-to-one mechanical renderings, but rather conscious, occasionally very careful "interpretive translations" make one appreciate Aldred's creative labour of glossating so differently from the scribe's copying in the scriptoria. The linguistic aspects of these verbal efforts show clearly that the strict sense or the word "gloss" that the medieval scholar knows so well, in this respect is not a most fortunate one. I would rather refrain from calling the Lindisfarne interlinear texts glosses and would rather suggest other terms: either a glossal translation or continuous interlinear glosses, the latter expression is sometimes used by glossologists. Though the Old English text is indeed more than a gloss, it cannot, however, aspire to be called a translation in the sense of King Alfred's or Abbot AElfric's enterprises. It is a kind of gloss-translation interface: on the one hand, there are fairly regular lexical counterparts, on the other hand, there are often additional words introduced. Some lexical options are suggested, and even the word ordering is occasionally -- however rarely it may happen -- not exactly the same. Generally speaking, most of Aldred's "innovations" with regard to the Latin original are connected to the lexical (semantic) and morphological aspects, the syntactic ones being few in number. The arguments for the glossator's "creativity" will be presented by the Lindisfarne Old English illustrative examples taken from the Gospel according to Saint Matthew, considering the syntactic, morphological and lexical linguistic characteristics. I fully realize that opinions about the glossator's knowledge of Latin as far as the Lindisfarne Gospels are concerned vary among historical linguists. Ross (1937: 5) for example, is very critical in this respect and says that the scribe of the Gospels who was also the translator, quite frequently could not understand the Latin text. This, however, is hardly so in the case of the Gospel I have analysed.

2.1. The most obvious discrepancy between the two languages found in the Lindisfarne Gospel according to Saint Matthew is the reverse word order of two elements, as in
(1) filii david
 dauides sunu 1.1
 'the son of David' (4)

 de spiritu sancto
 of halig gaast 1.18
 'of the Holy Ghost'

 baptismum suum
 his fulwiht 3.7.
 'his baptism'

 ciuitate ista
 oissoer ceastra 10.23
 'this city'

 mio us 1.23
 'with us'

Such reorderings, especially those with demonstratives and possessives which are dictated by the requirements of the Old English grammar, were infrequent and by no means a norm. The regular Latin pattern is followed in most cases, as in:
(2) fili dauid
 sunu dauides 15.22
 'son of David'

 de spiritu sancto
 of gast halig 1.20
 'of the Holy Ghost'

 in corde suo
 in hearta his 5.28
 'in his heart'

 lapides isti
 stanas oas 4.3
 'these stones'

 oec mid
 'with thee'

Thus, when it comes to choosing a right equivalent, Aldred does not seem to follow any methodologically consistent pattern, even in the structurally and lexically identical phrases. For example, Lat. de spiritu sancto which is rendered as OE of halig gaast (1) and two verses further it is translated strictly glossally as OE of gast halig (2). There is no regularity either in the grammatical categories involved in this reordering within the noun phrase: the Latin noun can be followed by the genitive, the adjective, the pronoun or even the preposition when used with the personal pronoun. Since there are no structural or semantic reasons for this change, the safest and soundest observation may be that the author of the English version felt at ease with Latin and translated it according to his own preferences at a given moment. I would be very reluctant to ascribe such variations to Aldred's negligence or carelessness. Neither would I treat them as errors in the art of glossal translation. Whatever the explanatio n, one has to admit that a change in the position of modifying elements with regard to their noun heads does not entail the syntactic restructuring of other elements that would involve semantic modifications.

2.2. Another syntactic construction which deserves comment is the negatively phrased expression. Latin does not tolerate double (multiple) negation while Old English uses it profusely. It is not surprising then that the glossator could insert into his translation an additional negative element when he wished so. To illustrate:

(3) uidete ne quis sciat

geseao pte nan nyte 9.30

'see that no man see to it'

A negative element is sometimes shifted from one category to another, making Latin and Old English structures incongruent, although semantically equivalent, for example

(4) Nemo potest duobus dominis seruire

oenig monn ne moeg tuoem hlaferdum hera 6.24

'No man can serve two masters'

However, a literal wording does occur and is most common as in:

(5) nihil est

noht is 23.16,18

'it is nothing'

neque audiet aliquis in plateis uocem eius

ne geheres oenig mon in woroum stefn his (5) 12.19

'neither shall any man hear his voice in the streets'

An evident error is found in the Old English translation of the phrase:

(6) uide nemini dixeris

loca l geseh p ou oenigum menn ou gecuoeoa l gesoecga (6) 8.4

'See thou tell no man'

None of the accompanying versions in Skeat's edition uses a positive statement here

warna pe p pu hyt noenegum men ne secge

warna pe poet pu hyt nane gume ne segge

and even the Rushworth text, a cognate version of the Lindisfarne Gospel has

gesech p pu noengum soecge

There are other similar examples, and in most cases the editor informs us on the margin that e.g. "naenig. alt. to aenig" 8.28, which, by the way, does not refer to our example (6). Should anybody be responsible for this change it is probably not Aldred himself, but some other later reader of the book less familiar with Latin.

2.3. The next example of a moderate discrepancy between Latin and its glossal translation is connected with participles. Although this verbal category is morphological in nature it exercises various syntactic functions and hence it is discussed here: (7) (a) when a present or past participle functions as a noun modifier it is adjectively marked, its grammatical categories are: gender, number, case and even degree (participium attributivum), for example milites pugnantes 'fighting soldiers'. If such a participle is nominalized it conforms to inflectional requirements of the noun, for example sapiens, sapientis 'a wise man'; (b) if a participle refers to the subject or the object in a sentence, it has a predicative sense (participium praedicativum), for example Catonem vidi in bitiotheca sedentem 'I see Cato sit in the library'; and finally, (c) participium coniunctum, the most syntactically relevant participle which stands for a sentence substituting such dependent clauses as: clauses of time, cause, condition , concession, for example Timeo Danaos et dona ferentes 'I fear Greeks even when they bring gifts.' One of the most frequently encountered constructions with a participle is the ablative absolute (ablativus absolutus). The Latin present and past participles behave functionally in the same way, the latter is additionally used in the passive constructions. To ilustrate a syntactic behaviour of the Latin participle and its glossal rendering in the Lindisfarne Gospel under consideration, only a few, for lack of space, representative examples are offered.

For a mechanical glossing of the Latin participle a similar Old English category is encountered when the participle indicates some attribution, when it is nominalized, or when it functions predicatively, e.g.
(7) et dabitur genti facienti fructus eius
 gesald bio ooem cynne wyrcende waestm his 21.43
 'and given to a nation bringing forth the fruit thereof'

 uox clamantis in deserto
 stefn cliopende in woestern 3.3
 'the voice of the one crying in the wilderness'

 et uidit spiritum dei descendentem sicut columbam
 uenientem super se
 7 gesoeh gast godes of-dune stigende suelce culfre cymmende
 ofer him 3.16
 'and he saw the spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting
 upon him'

A simple rendering of this kind is possible because the two languages have the same grammatical means at their disposal. Syntactically speaking, such constructions only prove eloquently that Latin and Old English have much in common. Since the participle is used after the nominal it modifies, it is sometimes functionally ambiguous and can be interpreted either as an attributive participle or a predicative participle; the latter can be optionally changed into a relative clause or can be interpreted as a result of some transformation working on a relative clause (depending on the theory one is liable to accept).

Much more interesting are these structures which demonstrate a radical shift in Aldred's translation from the original Latin formal shape and as such demand a more detailed presentation. The Latin parlicipium coniunctum which is meant here is as a rule expressed by a clausal structure with a finite verb in Old English, as in
(8) accessit ad eum centurio rogans eum
 geneolecade l to-cuom to him oe centur p is hundraoes
 monna hlaferd geboed hine 8.5
 'there came unto him a centurion, beseeching him'

 et suscitauerunt eum dicentes domine salua nos
 7 awehton hine dus cuedon drihten hael usic 8.25
 'and awoke him, saying, Lord, save us'

 uidens autem iesus turbas multas circum se
 oa gesoeh uutedlice de haelend threatta l hergas menigo uta
 ymb hine 8.18
 'Now when Jesus saw great multitudes about him'

An Old English finite form of the verb used for its corresponding Latin present participle in the above examples, though not a norm, is encountered in a majority of cases (cf. Callaway 1918); if this general tendency, particularly with verba dicendi has a weakness, it is the ease with which the glossator gives in to the pressure of the Latin original, e.g.

(9) daemones autem rogabant eum dicentes si...

diowles uutedlice gebedon hine cuedende gjf... 8.31

'so the devils besought him, saying...'

(According to Callaway (1918: 47) it is "the Nominative of the Appositive Present Participle with an Accusative Object".)

Et ascendente eo in nauicula

7 of -stigende hine l da he ofstag in lytlum scipe l in cuople 8.23

'And when he entered into a ship'

(For Callaway the participle is used as the Absolute Accusative 1918: 34).

The last illustrative example clearly points to some hesitation on the part of the translator when he uses two alternative forms: a participial which is a formal equivalent of Latin, or as an option a clause with a finite verb. Compare also:

(10) occurrerunt ei duo habentes daemonia

ge-uurnon him tuoege hoebbende l hoefdon diobles 8.28

'there met him two possessed with devils'

(The same example is used by Callaway (1918: 46) to illustrate the use of the "Present Appositive Participle with an Accusative Object".)

porro homines mirati sunt dicentes

soolice l uutedlice menn gewundrade weron ous cueoende

l cuedon 8.27

'but the men marvelled, saying'

How to account for this? For me, it is more a problem of a theoretical nature rather than a translational issue of pragmatic consequences; a problem that would involve a question whether the present participle originates formally by a derivational process from a clause with a finite verb, or whether the participle is morphologically basic and later optionally transformed into a clause with a finite verb. The Latin active participle, being syntactically multifunctional licenses the author of Old English equivalents to use a grammatical structure which 15 closest semantically in his language, provided he has a good knowledge of Latin, which I assume, is the case with Aldred. No matter what are the theoretical consequences of the explanatory hypotheses of the participle, it is fairly obvious that semantically a participle and a clause conveyed exchangeable senses.

3. Morphology

Out of various morphological aspectes which are inherently connected with five inflected categories: the verb, the noun, the pronoun, the adjective and the numeral, there are only few which show striking differences between Latin and Old English, and these few involve chiefly the verb. This does not mean that the languages under analysis are in absolute agreement in all respects: for instance, Latin uses the inflected ablative while Old English renders it by the accusative or dative, for example: Lat. nocte OE in naeht 'at night' (2.14) or Lat. labiis OE of l mio muoum 'with their lips' (15.8). Thus, the case assignment is not ignored in the Old English glossal realization but it is differently expressed on the surface. Such and similar instances speak for a translational rather than glossal technique. Now I shall briefly show the most evident discrepancies as far as morphological markers are considered.

3.1. The Latin verb is much richer in its inflectional system than Old English, (8) so the glossator very often faced a problem of choice: either to provide a single lexical item for a Latin form which may be morphologically not quite transparent, or to add a lexical item to make the verbal expression unmistakenly intelligible. As an example take finite forms in Latin which are neatly marked in person, therefore the personal pronoun is omitted as a rule, e.g. Lat. ueni can be only the first person singular, while in Old English the form cuom can be either the first person or the third person singular. Still more striking differences are in plural where Latin differentiates all three persons, while Old English uses one form for all the three. Here Aldred is for a more explicit specification and adds personal pronouns, e.g.
(11) ueni
 cuom ic 10.34, 35 (ic cuom)
 'I am come'

 he woroade 8.2
 '(there came a leper and) worshiped (him)'

 domine nonne in nomine tuo prophetauimus
 drihten ah ne in noma Sinne l oinum we gewitgedon 7.22
 'Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name?'

 et dicit eis quid timidi estis modicoe fidei
 7 cueo to him huoet frohtende aron gie lytlo geleafa 8.26
 'And he saith unto them, Why are ye fearful, O ye of little

This overt marking of person is very frequent with Aldred, although not exceptionless, cf. Lat. et dicit OE 7 cueo in the above example, and occasionally occurs even in cases where English would not be ambiguous, e.g.

(12) Ipse autem respondens alt non sum missus nisi ad oues quae perierunt domus israhel

oe l he soolice onduearde cueo nam ic gesended buta to scipum oa oe deade weron hus israheles 15.24

'But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel'

The morphological decomposition of this kind does not entail any word ordering pattern, the subjective pronoun can occur before or after the finite verb.

3.1.1. Another translational problem is concerned with verbal morphological indications of time. Latin demonstrates a great generosity in this respect, and although not all inflectional tenses are applied with the same frequency they are used in the text. How then to transpose them into only two Old English inflectional tenses? Out of necessity, in Old English it is either the present or the past that is used in the glossal translation, for example:
1 the Old English formal present tense stands for Latin

(a) indicativus praesentis activi, e.g.

(13) ego autem dico uobis
 ic uutetlice cueoo iuh to 5.34
 'But I say unto you'

(b) indicativus futuri primi activi, e.g.

 haec tibi omnia dabo
 oas oe aalle ic sello 4.9
 'All these things will I give thee'

(c) indicativus futuri exacti activi, e.g.

 Beati estis cum male dixerint uobis
 eadge aron gie mid oy yfle hia gecuoeoas uih 5.11
 'Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you'

The form dixerint in (c) is formally ambiguous, it could also function as a coniunctivs perfecti activi; however, the context indicates future relation rather than the past.
2 the Old English formal past tense stands for Latin

(d) indicativus imperfecti activi, e.g.

 qui quaerebant animam pueri
 oa oe sohton sawel cnaehtes 2.20
 'which sought the young child's life'

(e) indicativus perfecti activi, e.g.
 uenimus adorare eum
 we cuomon to woroianne hine 2.2
 'we are come to worship him'

The form uenimus in (e) is ambiguous in writing, because it stands either for indicativus preasentis activi when i is long or indicativus perfecti activi when i is short; in this case the context refers to the perfective action.

(f) indicativus plusquamperfecti activi, e.g.

quod exquisierat a magis

[thorn] gesohte l gefragade from dryum 2.16

'which he had diligently enquired of the wise men'

It is worth noticing that so many exponents of time in Latin, and only with reference to the active indicative, have so few markings in Old English. One may think that these verbal indications of time played a minor role in shaping the meaning of the Gospel, since there is no one systematic attempt of some significance on the part of the glossator to transfer time/aspect variations. One must remember, however, that Aldred did not have precise morphological means to render these variations; there are no doubt language specific causes for that. If to the list of Latin time/aspect markings one adds a series of different endings for subjunctive, for inflected passive (indicative and subjunctive), for inflected imperative, etc. we get an unspeakably lavish morphological system which is hardly manageable in Old English. (9)

From time to time we come across periphrastic expressions in Old English which show that the translator was aware of the problem. To illustrate

(14) et in tempore messis dicam messoribus

7 in tid hripes ic willo cuoeoa ooem hrippe-monnum 13.30

'and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers'

The Old English verb willan because of its sense is used here probably to express modal and future relations. But it is not always the case: even in a conditional sentence where modal interpretation would be justified we have a simple verb:

si uis faciam hic tria tabernacula

gif ou wilt ic gedo her orea huso 17.3

'if thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles'

Consider now some other sentences which point to Aldred's efforts to express the Latin subjunctive,

(15) absit a te domine

fearr sie from oe drihten 16.22

'be it far from thee, Lord'

Et cum ascendissent in nauiculam cessauit uentus

7 miooy stigende weron in scipp geblann [thorn] wind 14.32

'And when they were come into the ship, the wind ceased'

et rogabant eum ut uel fimbriam uestimenti eius tangerent

7 gebedon hine p t fas t wloh wedes his gehrine moston 14.36

'And besought him that they might touch the hem of his garment'

Our general observation, superficial in nature as it may be, is permanency in translational lexical equivalence, no matter how unorthodox in some instances. Morphological markedness does not seem to be of primary significance.

3.1.2. The most obvious difference between Latin and Old English in their verbal morphologies is the passive: inflectional in Latin and periphrastic in Old English, e.g.

(16) omnis plantatio quam non plantauit pater meus caelestis eradicabitur

eghuelc plontunc done ne plontade faeder min heofonlic

of-awyrtrumad bid 15.13

'Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not plated, shall be rooted out'

et sine fructu efficitur

7 buta wwstm gegunden bid 13.22

'and he becometh unfruitful'

For the Latin perfectum, plusquamperfectum and futurum exactum which form their passives by means of the past participle and a finite form of the verb esse, Aldred most often uses the periphrastic passive in the past, occasionally also in the present, e.g.

(17) et si satanas satanan eicit aduersus se diuisus est

7 gif oae wioer-braca done wioerbraco drifes wio t betiuih

him to-doaled waes t tosliten is 12.26

'And if Satan cast out Satan, he is divided against himself'

uenit malus et rapit quod seminatum est in corde eius hic

est qui secus uiam seminatus est

cuom oe diowi l oe yfle 7 genom t gelahte p gesawen waes in hearta

is oes is l waes seoe neh strete l woeg sawende woes 13.19

'then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the side'

It is interesting to note that for one Latin expression: seminatum, seminatus est Aldred proposes two different participles: the past participle and the p resent participle, the latter is used also in the following:

Aliam parabolam locutus est eis

ooer bisen sprecend woes him 13.33.

'Another parable spake he unto them'

Now a word about verba deponentia which in Latin are passive in form but active in meaning; in Old English it is either the active form of the verb or a periphrastic passive construction. For example,
(a) Old English active semantic equivalents

(18) et curault eum ita ut loqueretur et uideret
 7 geleicnade hine suoe p he gesproec 7 gesoeh t gesege 12.22
 'and he healed him, insomuch that the blind and dumb both spake
 and saw'

 ita ut turbae mirarentur
 sua p oreatas wundradun 15.31
 'Insomuch that the multitude wondered'

(b) Old English periphrastic equivalents of the Latin passive

 et qui maledixerit patri uel matri morte moriatur
 7 seoe yfle-cuoeooes l werges deam feder l oaer moeder of
 deaoe sie acwelled 15.4
 'and, He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death'

 misereor turbae
 willic milsa oreatas l ooam menigum 15.32
 'I have compassion on the multitude'

Generally speaking, Latin morphological passive is not infrequently rendered by optional forms in Old English, as if Aldred hesitated, or wished to be semantically exact, or wanted to leave a translational decision to the user; take two more examples
(19) leprosi mundantur
 lic-orouras geclaensad aron l bioon 11.5
 'the lepers are cleansed'

 omnis arbor quae non facit fructum bonum exciditur
 eghuelc tre oy l oiu ne doeo woestm god gecorfen bio l
 gecearfas 7.19
 'Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down'

It may seem that aron and bidon in the first example are interchangeable and hence synonymous; however, aron refers rather to the present while bidon often expresses future relations. Althought Lat. mundantur is definitely present formally, and so is bidon, the latter has a shade of future reference. In the second example there are: the present passive with bid or the present active, both referring semantically to an action which takes place after some other action which is not fulfilled, i.e. the sequence of events is: the tree does not bring forth good fruit--then--it is hewn down.

These and similar examples show Aldred's uncertainty, or perhaps, just the opposite, his certainty about the lack of glossal substitutes in Old English for overtly marked categories in Latin morphological forms. What is interesting about these cases is that they offer a grammatical variability of the same lexical item: it is the formal means that are at work here, some sort of morphological play with the same word. However, any option usually entails different semantic relations, no matter how imperceptible these differences may be for the basic sense of the whole sentence.

3.2. The next inflectional category which has the potential of morphological variation is the noun. In Old English it is inflected according to number and case, and is assigned a category of gender and a paradigmatic specification; the same can be said about the Latin noun. Out of numerous morphological characteristics a most striking difference between Latin and Old English involves the case realization. There are the following possibilities to deal with case relations: the Latin inflectional case can be rendered by

(a) Old English inflectional case

(b) Old English inflectional option

(c) Old English prepositional phrase

(a) An easiest task for a glossator/translator is to provide a Latin word with an Old English gloss in the same grammatical case, on the condition that other grammatical relations are not violated, e.g.
(20) accipe puerum
 onfoh l genim oone cnaeht (10) 2.13
 'take the young child'

 dixit paralitico
 cueo oaem eoro-crypple 9.2
 'said unto the sick of the palsy'

 coeperunt uellere spicas
 ongunnun genioma oa ehera 12.1
 'began to pluck the ears of corn'

 dicam messoribus
 ic willo cuoeda daem hrippe-monnum 13.30
 'I will say to the reapers'

In the above phrases the same morphological case as in its Latin origin is strengthened by the use of the demonstrative pronoun which is not used in Latin.

(b) A use of two morphological variants for one Latin nominal phrase is not systemically nor pragmatically understandable in all cases, for example

(21) qui in caelis est

seoe in heofnas l [heofn] um is 12.50

'which is in heaven'

An apparent case difference is found between the words deag -- deage in

(22) usque in hunc diem

wio oonne ondueard ooeg l diosne ondueard oaege 11.23

'until this day'

oaeg -- oaege look like two different inflectional cases, the accusative and the dative, but daege functions as the accusative which is obvious from the form of the demonstrative pronoun, i.e. diosne. According to Ross (1937: 57) both are accusatives because of "some kind of analogy between the flexional types" of the noun daeg in Old English. This cannot be said about heofnas -- [heofn] um, which are clearly the accusative and the dative, respectively. A choice between Old English dative and accusative accompanied with a spatial preposition, in in our example, necessarily leads to semantic consequences, and this choice seems to be left to the reader. Why did the translator do it? The answer remains only in the sphere of conjecture.

(c) Although Old English still had in its inventory the inflected instrumental at the time the Lindisfarne Gospels were glossed, though not morphologically distinct under all circumstances because of its syncretism with the dative, the author of the English text preferred to use a wholly unambiguous prepositional phrase. Thus, for the Latin inflected ablative we have different prepositions in the gloss as the sense requires. For example,
(23) corde corde
 from hearte 11.29 mid heartae 13.15
 'in heart' 'with their heart'

 sabbati sabbatis
 to sunnadae l to seternes daeg 12.8 on sabbatum (11) 12.10, 11, 12
 'of the sabbath day' 'on the sabbath days'

 morte sabbato
 of deade 15.4 in sunnadaeg 12.1
 '(let him die) the death' 'on the sabbath day'

 non est opus ualentibus medico
 ne is darf l gemnise daem halum to lece l from 9.12
 'They that be whole need not a physician'

 quia templo maior est hic
 fordon from tempel mara is des l dis 12.6
 'That in this place is one greater than the temple'

In the last two examples Lat. medico and templo are structurally ambiguous, the forms indicate either the dative or the ablative, but it seems from the sense that it was the former that was meant; notice also the use of OE to or from lece for Lat. medico, two prepositions opposite in meaning.

When no misunderstanding would arise in the case of inflected Latin and Old English datives, we would expect one-to-one renderings; but, because Old English endings in dative and accusative singular are no longer fully transparent Old English forms are sometimes strengthened by a preposition, e.g.
(24) tunc ait homini
 da cued to menn 12.13
 'Then saith he to the man'

 increpauit uento et mari
 gedreadade to wind 7 to sae 8.26
 'rebuked the winds and the sea'

The Old English prepositional phrase is sometimes used for a Latin prepositionless accusative, e.g.

(25) cum autem uenisset domum

mid dy uutedlice gecuome to hus 9.28

'And when he was come into the house'

Very rarely as it happens, the same grammatical form of the noun is copied from the Latin by the author of the translation without any formal or semantic justification, e.g.

(26) Duodecim autem apostolorum nomina sunt

tuelfe uutedlice dara apostolorum noma sint 10.2

'Now the names of the twelve apostles are these'

This awkward but easy solution is partly explained by the fact that such a Latin word might not yet have been morphologically adapted to the English requirements of the system in all dialects to the same degree, and partly by the literacy culture of that time when the glossator/translator used Latin while thinking in English (cf. Robinson 1994). In the other versions of this Gospel we find: twelf apostola, twelf apostle.

3.3. The adjective, which is also richly inflected in both languages, in Old English does not offer any interesting details: for a number of examples the morphological ending {e} or zero is functionally unrecognizable, e.g.
(27) dignus sit et si quidem fuerit domus digna
 wyroe sie t clane is 10.17 7 gif soolice sie hus wyroe 10.13
 'is worthy' 'And if the house be worthy'

 de spiritu sancto
 of halig gaast 1.18
 'of the Holy Ghost'

This gradual weakening of adjectival inflectional endings which will finally result in their complete loss, is a very strong tendency already in Late Old English. In other versions of this Gospel for Lat. dignus we also find wyroe, wuroe wyrpe, but for Lat. sancto there are still some residues, or rather traces, of weak endings, i.e. of pam halegan gaste, of pam halgan gaste. The difference in gender in Lat. dignus, digna cannot be differentiated in Old English as OE hus is neuter.

3.4. Much more conservative in this respect is the morphological shape of the pronoun which seems to be very resistant to any changes, hence there are frequent "ideal equivalences", e.g.
(28) mihi eum
 me 2.8 hine 2.8
 'me' 'him'

 ab eis cum illo
 from him 2.7 mid him 2.3
 'of them' 'with him'

 istis ipse
 pissum 5.19 de ilca 1.21
 'these' (the same) 'he'

3.5. The numeral is not richly represented in the Gospel but in the examples given below some remnants of the old inflection are noticed, e.g.

(29) iota unum aut unus apex

foruord t pride an t enne t enne pride t stafes heafod 5.18

'one jot or one tittle'

Nemo potest duobus dominis seruire

aenig monn ne mag tuam hlaferdum hera 6.24

'No man can serve two masters'

sicut enim fuit ionas in uentre coeti tribus diebus et tribus noctibus suae fordon waes ionas in innad l in wom huales drim dagum 7 drim naehtum 12.40

'For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly'

3.6. An issue also of morphological nature although not connected with inflection is the process of word formation. The author of the translational glosses paid much attention to the Latin derivational structure and attempted to preserve it by using the Old English affixes which are semantically close to the original sense. Take the following examples into consideration:
(30) antecedebat eos apparuit in somnio
 fore-geeade hea 2.9 aetdeaude in soefne 2.13
 'went before them' 'appeareth in a dream'

 adimpleretur permundauit
 to-gefylled waere 13.35. derh-claensade 3.12
 'might be fulfilled' 'throughly purge'

 igni inextinguibili accipe puerum
 fyres in un-drysnende 3.12 onfoh l genim done cnaeht 2.13
 'unquenchable fire' 'take the young child'

 de monumentis exeuntes
 of byrgennum ut l of ge-eadon 8.28
 'coming out of the tombs'

A well known productive process of prefixation in Old English allowed Aldred to follow the same technique as in Latin in his translational endeavours. (12)

To conclude, a morphological structure of the Latin word is on the whole respected, in details each category asks for a thorough analysis within new frameworks of contemporary theories of historical linguistics.

4.1. Semantics

The word formation process cursorily mentioned in the preceding sections is a vast subject in itself and will be only mentioned briefly when relevant. What Aldred really did face was the problem of lexical substitution or translation of notionally new words. This happened when he encountered a Latin word which was either a proper name, or for which no English corresponding word was yet available, or finally, when a word, because of its semantic complexity or not immediate comprehensibility needed additional information. There are Various ways of transmitting the sense of such unknown Latin words -- including even commentaries on the margin (for a very detailed discussion of such marginalia see Boyd 1975) -- and some of these solutions will be presented.

4.2. Proper names if not yet adapted phonetically and morphologically are often left out and no English substitute is suggested. We come across such structures as:

(31) Tunc uenit iesus a galilaea in iordanen ad iohannem

da cuom haelend from (blank) in (blank) to (blank) 3.13

'Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John'

Obviously, it is unimaginable that in the tenth century the users of the Gospel did not know these words. They are ignored in translation, I assume, because they are homophonous, or nearly homophonus to Latin which is corroborated by their occasional use in other contexts, e.g.
(32) in galilaeam iohannes
 in galileam 4.12 iohannes 4.12
 'into Galilee' 'John'

 in iordane in aegyptum
 in Iordanen 3.6 in aegypt 2.13
 'In Jordan' 'into Egypt'

One of the most interesting cases of the glossal rendering of proper names is an author's attempt to give a descriptive, "generic" in a sense, reference to the object. To illustrate:
(33) in bethleem
 in ooer byrig 2.16
 'in Bethlehem' (lit. 'in the city')

 oa burguaras 3.5
 'Jerusalem' (lit. 'the inhabitants of the city')

 haelend 2.1
 'Jesus' (lit. 'saviour')

 p is diowla foruost 10.25
 'Be-el-ze-bub' (lit. 'i.e. a chief of the devils')

but see also

 in belzebub principem dumonum
 in belzebub oone aldormenn diobla 12.24
 'by Be-el-ze-bub the prince of the devils'

 oa hierusolimisca l oa burgwoeras 2.3
 'Jerusalem' (lit. 'the inhabitants of the city')

A tendency to anglicize commonly occurring Latin proper names is clearly evident in such verses

(34) de galilaea et decapolim et hierosolimis et de iudaea et de trans

iordanen of galilea 7 of oaer byrig 7 (blank) 7 of Iudea 7 of

bihionda lordanen 4.25

'from Galilee, and from De-cap-o-lis, and from Jerusalem, and from Judaea, and from beyond Jordan'

4.3. The last technique which Aldred uses for less known proper names is also applied when there is a Latin word incomprehensible by its form and semantically not guessable. Take as an example Lat. phantasma (which is of Greek origin) understood by the glossator as yfel wiht 14.26 'an evil creature, a spirit'; take another translational attempt e.g. Lat. uolatilia OE oa flegendo fuglas 6.26 'the flying birds, the fowls of the air', and so on. By giving explanatory interpretation Old English is more specific in each respect and by all means much more understandable. The same obtains for the following words with explicative glosses:
(35) temporalis
 lytle huile 13.21
 'for a while' (lit. 'for a little while')

 magi ab oriente uenerunt hierosolymam
 oa tungulcraeftga of east dael cwomun to hierusalem 2.1
 'there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem' (lit. 'crafty in

 ae-croeftigo 12.24
 'the Pharisees' (lit. 'crafty in law')

 we mio hondum beafton 11.17
 'we have mourned unto you' (lit. 'we threw up our hands')

4.4. That the glossating is not mechanical is attested not only by the above examples, it is even more conspicuously manifest when various native words are suggested for just one Latin word, as in:
(36) accepit
 onfoeng l genom l underhof 8.17

 gebrecon l eton l freton 13.4

 in uasa
 in fetelsum l in fatum l in sciopum 13.48
 'into vessels'

 de spinis
 of hryum l of dornum scearpum 7.16
 'of thorns'

 oe wioerbraca l oe fiond 5.25

 in transmigrationem
 in ofer-cerr l in ymbcerr l in geliornisse 1.11
 'about the time they were carried away (to Babylon)'

In the next verse there is one more Old English equivalent of Lat. transmigratio

et post transmigrationem

7 aefter ymbcerr l ge-faellnisse 1.12

'And after they were brought (to Babylon)'

and many more interesting expressions, each of which deserves a minute scrutiny. It is really amazing how much responsibility for a written word Aldred must have had. It seems that one Old English equivalent was not felt adequate enough to express the meaning carried by the Latin word, thus a new candidate, an alternative gloss was searched for, then another, and so on. The English words are not mere synonyms, if such exist at all; they all seem to capture various aspects and senses of a semantically general, sometimes vague and very often multiply meaningful Latin word.

5.1. These few remarks on the Old English version of the Lindisfarne Gospel according to Saint Matthew have shown that the author was not only well acquainted with Latin, but that he desperately attempted to produce a fully comprehensible text, that he struggled with various grammatical problems and that he seriously desired to follow the Latin original as faithfully as possible. With modesty and a great respect for Aldred's efforts rooted in his linguistic consciousness I recall the words of Roger Lass said two years ago at the Edinburgh Conference and which echo voices of eminent glossologists: "we...have to read glosses with a particular kind of sensitivity, which could end up showing us some interesting things about what glossators may have thought they were doing (in any case a lot more than providing lexical equivalences)."

Post scriptum

I was writing the first draft of this article under a very strong impression of the glossator's instinct of the language and was wondering why so little credit has been given to Aldred for the remarkable job of scholarship he did. I am happy to say that my intuitive appreciation is shared by other historical linguists which I could recently find out in the Library of the English Institute, Vienna University. For a privilege of using the Library my sincere thanks go to Professor Herbert Schendl, Head of the English Institute, who also generously gave me a xerox copy of Skeat's edition of the Gospel.

(1.) I regret to say that I have not been able to reach the publications called "Aldrediana", and wish to apologize for accidental, if any, similarities between what I say and what some other scholars might have said.

(2.) Cf. Mitchell's remark: "...the glossator had trouble with Latin suus and eius or tried to render them very accurately" (1987: [section]109) when discussing the pattern of the demonstrative, the noun and the possessive. In the preface to the Salisbury Psalter the editors say: "our scribe knew little Latin, though his ignorance is to some extent disguised by the general accuracy of the type D" which he copied (1969: 17ff.).

(3.) I would not easily share the enthusiasm expressed by Gneuss when he says: "Hundreds if not thousands of Anglo-Saxon monks and clerics -- and even laymen -- will have had a more or less perfect knowledge of this great international language." (i.e. Latin) (1991: 41).

(4.) Unless stated otherwise the Modern English translations of Latin and its Old English equivalents in the Lindisfarne Gospel have been taken from The Holy Bible containing the Old and the New Testaments.

(Commonly known as the Authorized (King James) Version). Chicago 1959.

(5.) But see other Old English glosses to this verse where double negation occurs.

(6.) The symbol l, Old English oppe, in the Lindisfarne Gospel stands for Lat. aut, uel 'or'.

(7.) See Mitchell's (1987) relevant sections about the participle. A very detailed analysis of syntactic aspects of the absolute participle and the appositive participle used in the Old English of the Lindisfarne Gospels has been presented by Callaway (1918); this study concentrates primarily on Old English, hence it is less relevant to the present discussion than it may look at first glance. Although this monograph makes references to the Latin original all the time the Latin is considered only as an important source background, or an ultimate point of reference.

(8.) A contrastive research on the verbal systems in Latin and Old English, as well as on other categories, would make a fascinating project and deserves special concern. For the purpose or this article only some general observations have been possible.

(9.) For space limitations I have not discussed these as well as other morphological (and syntactically relevant) verbal forms like: the infinitive, the gerund, the supinum.

(10.) I have selected Old English examples which are transparent from the point of view of grammatical case because of the presence of the demonstrative; obviously, a great number of nouns appear without this modifier, e.g. Lat. hominum, OE monna of men'.

(11.) Lat. sabbatis is also translated as an Old English prepositionless NP e.g. sunnadagum 12.5 'on the Sabbath days'.

(12.) For a thorough discussion of semantics and vocabulary in Old English see Kastovsky (1992: 290-408).


Bately, Janet

1991 "The nature of Old English prose", in: Malcolm Godden - Michael Lapidge (eds.), 71-87.

Boyd, W.J.P.

1975 Aldreds marginalia. Exeter: University of Exeter.

Callaway, Morgan Jr.

1918 Studies in the syntax of the Lindisfame Gospels. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins Press.

Cook, Albert S.

1894 A glossary of the Old Northumbrian Gospels (Lindisfame Gospels or Durham Books). (Compiled by Albert S. Cook) Halle: Max Niemeyer.

Derolez, Rene

1992 "Anglo-Saxon glossography: A brief introduction", in: Rene Derolez (ed.), 11-42.

Derolez, Rene (ed.)

1992 "Anglo-Saxon glossography. Papers read at the International Conference held in Brussels, 8 and 9 September 1986. Brussels: Paleis der Akademien.

Gneuss, Helinut

1991 "The Old English language", in: Malcolm Godden - Michael Lapidge (eds.), 23-55.

Godden, Malcolm - Michael Lapidge (eds.)

1991 The Cambridge companion to Old English literature. Cambridge: CUP.

Hawkins, John

1983 Word order universals. New York: Academic Press.

Hogg, Richard M (ed.)

1992 The Cambridge history of the English language. Vol. 1: The beginnings to 1066. Cambridge: CUP.

Holy Bible

1959 The Holy Bible containing the Old and New Testaments. Commonly known as the Authorized (King James) Version. Chicago: The Gideon International.

Kastovsky, Dieter

1992 "Semantics and vocabulary", in: Richard Hogg (ed.), 290-408.

Lapidge, Michael

1992 "Old English glossography: The Latin context", in: Rene Derolez (ed.), 43-57.

1994 "On the emendation of Old English texts", in: David G. Scragg - Paul E. Szarmach (eds.), 53-67.

Lass, Roger

1994 "English glosses and Old English 'word meaning'", (Paper presented at the Eighth International Conference on English Historical Linguistics. Edinburgh. Scotland. 19-23 September 1994.)

Le Goff, Jacques

1980 Time, work and culture in the Middle Ages. (Translated by Arthur Goldhammer.) Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.

McDougall, David - Ian McDougall

1992 "Some notes on glosses in the Dictionary of English", in: Rene Derolez (ed.), 115-138.

McKenzie, Hope Bussey

1991 The craft of the Old English glossator: Latin hymns in the Anglo-Saxon Hymnarium.

[1993] [Ann Arbor, Mi.: University Microfilm International.]

Meritt, Herbert Dean

1968 Some of the hardest glosses in Old English. Stanford: Stanford University Press.

Mitchell, Bruce

1987 Old English syntax, 2 vols. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

1995 An invitation to Old English and Anglo-Saxon England. Oxford: Blackwell.

Robinson, Fred

1994 The editing of Old English. Oxford: Blackwell.

Ross, Alan S.C.

1937 Studies in the accidence of the Lindisfarne Gospels. (Printed by Titus Wilson of Kendal for Members of the School of English Language in the University of Leeds.)

Salisbury Psalter

1959 The Salisbury Psalter [ed. by Celia Sisam and Kenneth Sisam.] (E.E.T.S. 242.)

[1969] [London: OUP.]

Scragg David G. -- Paul E. Szarmach (eds.)

1994 The editing of Old English. Papers from the 1990 Manchester Conference. Cambridge: D.S. Brewer.

Skeat, Walter (ed.)

1887 The Gospel according to Saint Matthew in Anglo-Saxon, Northumbrian, and Mercian versions, synoptically arranged. Cambridge: CUP.
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Author:Nagucka, Ruta
Publication:Studia Anglica Posnaniensia: international review of English Studies
Article Type:Critical Essay
Date:Jan 1, 1997
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