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Origins:Translating Old English: Cherry Tree Carol

DigiTrad:
CHERRY TREE CAROL
PICKLE CAROL
THE CHERRY TREE (3)
THE CHERRY TREE CAROL


Related threads:
Lyr Add: The Pickle Tree Carol (Lani Herrmann) (3)
Origins: Joseph and Mary (The Cherry Tree Carol) (40)


Richie 04 Nov 14 - 12:49 AM
Richie 04 Nov 14 - 01:16 AM
BobL 04 Nov 14 - 02:35 AM
Jack Campin 04 Nov 14 - 03:27 AM
Richie 04 Nov 14 - 11:02 AM
GUEST,leeneia 04 Nov 14 - 11:12 AM
Lighter 04 Nov 14 - 11:19 AM
GUEST,Squeezer 04 Nov 14 - 11:49 AM
Uncle_DaveO 04 Nov 14 - 12:44 PM
Richie 04 Nov 14 - 02:41 PM
GUEST,Rahere 04 Nov 14 - 03:25 PM
GUEST,Squeezer 04 Nov 14 - 05:55 PM
Lighter 04 Nov 14 - 06:45 PM
GUEST,Rahere 04 Nov 14 - 07:48 PM
GUEST,Rahere 04 Nov 14 - 08:27 PM
GUEST,Rahere 04 Nov 14 - 08:30 PM
GUEST 05 Nov 14 - 05:00 AM
GUEST,Rahere 05 Nov 14 - 06:37 AM
Lighter 05 Nov 14 - 08:06 AM
GUEST,leeneia 05 Nov 14 - 06:34 PM
GUEST,Rahere 05 Nov 14 - 07:25 PM
GUEST,Rahere 05 Nov 14 - 08:03 PM
Richie 05 Nov 14 - 11:46 PM
GUEST,leeneia 06 Nov 14 - 12:07 AM
GUEST 06 Nov 14 - 04:46 AM
GUEST 06 Nov 14 - 05:09 AM
GUEST,Rahere 06 Nov 14 - 12:40 PM
Lighter 06 Nov 14 - 04:16 PM
GUEST,Rahere 06 Nov 14 - 08:19 PM
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Subject: Origins: Tanslating OldEnglish: Cherry Tree Carol
From: Richie
Date: 04 Nov 14 - 12:49 AM

Hi,

I'm work on US/Canadian version of Child ballads and naturally you need to know everything about a ballad before you can understand the source of the these ballads so--

The Cherry Tree Carol analogue appears to be the N-Town plays based on the Gospel. I've tried quickly to translate this and need suggestions. I've started examining the ballad and put it on my site here: http://www.bluegrassmessengers.com/54-the-cherry-tree-carol.aspx

Here it is:

Play 15: The Nativity [This text was prepared by comparing Peter Meredith and Stanley J. Kahrl' s The N-Town Plays: A Facsimile of British Library MS Cotton Vespasian D VIII (Leeds, 1977) with Stephen Spector's The N-Town Play: Cotton MS Vespasian D. 8 (EETS: Oxford, 1991)].

22 Now latt us forth wende as fast as we may,         
23 And almyghty God spede us in oure jurnay.         

24 MARIA A, my swete husbond, wolde 3e telle to me
25 What tre is 3on standynge vpon 3on hylle?            
26 JOSEPH Forsothe, Mary, it is clepyd a chery tre;
27 In tyme of 3ere 3e myght fede 3ow þeron 3oure fylle.

28 Turne ageyn, husbond, and beholde 3on tre,
29 How þat it blomyght now so swetly.
30 JOSEPH Cum on, Mary, þat we worn at 3on cyté,
31 Or ellys we may be blamyd, I telle 3ow lythly.

32 MARIA Now, my spowse, I pray 3ow to behold
33 How þe cheryes growyn vpon 3on tre.
34 For to haue þerof ryght fayn I wold,
35 And it plesyd 3ow to labore so mech for me.

36 JOSEPH 3oure desyre to fulfylle I xal assay, sekyrly.
37 Ow! To plucke 3ow of these cheries, it is a werk wylde!
38 For þe tre is so hy3 it wol not be lyghtly--
39 þerfore lete hym pluk 3ow cheryes begatt 3ow with childe!

40 Now, good Lord, I pray the, graunt me þis boun,
41 To haue of þese cheries and it be 3oure wylle.
42 Now I thank it God, þis tre bowyth to me down!
43 I may now gaderyn anowe and etyn my fylle.

44 JOSEPH Ow! I know wey! I haue offendyd my God in Trinyté
45 Spekyng to my spowse these vnkynde wurdys.
46 For now I beleve wel it may non other be
47 But þat my spowse beryght þe Kyngys Son of Blys;
48 He help us now at oure nede.

I've roughly translated:
22 Now let us go forth, traveling as fast as we can,
23 And Almighty God speed us on our journey.

24 MARY: O my sweet husband would you tell me,
25 What is that tree standing upon yon hill?
26 JOSEPH In truth, Mary, it is called a cherry tree;
27 In the right season you might find berries and eat your fill

28 MARY: Turn again, husband, and behold yon tree,   
29 How that it blooms now so sweetly.
30 JOSEPH: Come on Mary, what we learn at your sight,
31 Or else we may not be blamed, I tell you loathly.

32 MARY: Now my spouse, I pray you to behold,
33 How the cherries grow on yon tree.
34 To have ripe berries, I willingly would,
35 And it pleased you to labor so much for me.

36 To fulfill your desires I will know secretly,
37 Ow! to pluck one of these berries, it's difficult work
38 For the tree is so high, it would not be possible
39 Therefore let him pluck cherries, who fathered your child.

40 MARY Now dear Lord grant me this wish
41 To have these cherries, and be it your will
42 Now I thank you God, this tree bows down to me,
43 I may now gather all, and eat my fill.

44 JOSEPH Ow! I understand! I have offended God and [the] Trinity
45 Speaking to my spouse these unkind words.
46 For I believe now and it may not be otherwise,
47 But that my spouse will birth the Son of Bliss
48 Help us now in our time of need.

Any mistakes in translation? Also why do researchers (Child etc.) expect people to understand old English or for that matter foreign analogues? It seems kinda silly to put give ballad text in Danish without translating it- lazy?

If anyone has anything to add about the Cherry Tree Carol, Child 54 let me know- I've just started working on it.

Richie


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Subject: RE: Origins: Tanslating OldEnglish: Cherry Tree Carol
From: Richie
Date: 04 Nov 14 - 01:16 AM

This excerpt from Play 15 is points to a "ur-ballad" of this analogue. I understand somewhat the concept of the ur-ballad as a lost or undiscovered early prototype. I've been wondering, what is the definition of Ur-Ballad?

Is it an idealized version of the ballad that is complete? or without corruption? Or is it just the missing link?

Richie


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Subject: RE: Origins: Tanslating OldEnglish: Cherry Tree Carol
From: BobL
Date: 04 Nov 14 - 02:35 AM

"þat we worn at 3on cyté" - I'm no OE scholar but I read this as "That we worn [were] at yon city". Meaning, essentially, we should have been there by now!

Why do researchers (Child etc.) expect people to understand Old English? Well, I suppose it depends on the intended readership - academics & researchers might well understand it, the Great British Public might well not.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Tanslating OldEnglish: Cherry Tree Carol
From: Jack Campin
Date: 04 Nov 14 - 03:27 AM

It's Middle English, not Old English (which is otherwise known as Anglo-Saxon). It's not at all difficult (at least that dialect isn't, the one used in "Gawain and the Green Knight" is a lot tougher unless you're from Yorkshire).

Sidgwick and Jackson's collection "Mediaeval English Lyrics" must have outsold Child at least 50 times over. I got my copy when I was about 16 and it was reasonable for Child to assume that anybody serious about poetry could read it.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Tanslating OldEnglish: Cherry Tree Carol
From: Richie
Date: 04 Nov 14 - 11:02 AM

Hi,

TY for your posts- BobL how about:

"We were tired at the [last] city"

And Jack-- you're right. It's easier now for me than it was-- there are some words and slang that escapes me, and I'm sure puzzles anyone. I think an interpretation can be added at least as a footnote.

Anyone agree? other corrections- I did this last night in a few minutes but I was tired.

Richie


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Subject: RE: Origins: Tanslating OldEnglish: Cherry Tree Carol
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 04 Nov 14 - 11:12 AM

Hi, Richie. It's been years since I studied Middle English. so...

"And it pleased you to labor so much for me": and = if

I think sekyrly means surely, not secretly.

You've done a good job. Congratulations!


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Subject: RE: Origins: Tanslating OldEnglish: Cherry Tree Carol
From: Lighter
Date: 04 Nov 14 - 11:19 AM

I think BobL is essentially correct:

"Come along, Mary, so that we may be at yonder city:
If not, I suggest mildly, it will be our own fault."


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Subject: RE: Origins: Tanslating OldEnglish: Cherry Tree Carol
From: GUEST,Squeezer
Date: 04 Nov 14 - 11:49 AM

I've never studied ME either, but it seems to me that your line 27 might be a slightly free translation of the more literal ".... you might feed (yourself) thereon your fill."

The ME on-line dictionary I looked at didn't show equivalents for "lythly" or "sekyrly", but on analogy with "loath" and "secure" I would suggest "reluctantly" and "surely".

Line 31 - there is no "not" in the original. ("Or else we may be blamed, I'm sorry to say.")

Line 40 - a boon is a favour.

Line 44 - rather a nit-pick, but to the author, "God and the Trinity" would have been a very different and probably heretical phrase compared to "God in Trinity".

Line 48 is surely simply "He is helping us now in our (time of) need", because the unborn Jesus is magically making the branch bend.

These are just suggestions - you should check it out with an expert if you have any doubts.

As to why Childs published the original, another reason is that it preserves the true scansion.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Tanslating OldEnglish: Cherry Tree Carol
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 04 Nov 14 - 12:44 PM

The element "ur-" means the probable original of a verbal or
musical work, or at least the earliest known version, thus presumably
"without corruption", as you suggested.

In lines 23(?), 35, and 41, the word which is represented as "and",
I think, should really be "an", that is, "if" in modern English.

In line 34, I don't understand whence the word "ripe" gets into
the translation. I should think the translation would be "to
have thereof I willingly would" or "...I would be (glad?) (happy?)".
Modernly, "I'd be glad to have some" (of them) or (of it).

Dave Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: Origins: Tanslating OldEnglish: Cherry Tree Carol
From: Richie
Date: 04 Nov 14 - 02:41 PM

Great! Anyone else?

Thanks so much I'll make some changes and post again tonight.

Thanks also for the ur-ballad definition. I wonder how long that term has been used?

Richie


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Subject: RE: Origins: Tanslating OldEnglish: Cherry Tree Carol
From: GUEST,Rahere
Date: 04 Nov 14 - 03:25 PM

As far as we can tell, the closest accent in modern English to Middle English is the Staffordshire accent, short vowels and not much colour.

Certain things still survive, for example in beekeeping, we talk of a colony being "queen-right" when the colony is producing spare queen cells ready to either swarm in the early summer or to replace a failing queen.

There are certain Germanic constructions you've missed, such as the use of a conditional subjunctive in the term "and" - it survives in the Flemish "en" nowadays, which also has a meaning of "if". Pulling the suggestions above together gives the following.

The story skips some bits. Mary asks Joseph at the start what the tree is: Joseph doesn't see anything odd about it, and says that in summer, it bears fruit to fill your boots (No mention of stomach ache!). That triggers a pregnancy craving in Mary, which Joseph won't answer (this being a time when fruit out of season wasn't likely, unless you had a rohmtopf available - and that much booze for a pregnant woman wasn't a good idea even then). He's got an idea she attributes the pregnancy to God, but he's not buying it: let whoever put the bun in your oven do it, he says - he's now got his back to the tree. Suddenly, the tree is in fruit, and even then he's not satisfied, the fruit's out of reach - the tree has to bend over for Mary to pick her own before he realises this is a miracle and the foetus' father is God. Sudden change of attitude...

22 Now let us wend our way forth, as fast as we can,
23 And may Almighty God speed us on our journey.

24 MARY: O my sweet husband can you tell me,
25 What is that tree standing upon yon hill?
26 JOSEPH In truth, Mary, it is called a cherry tree;
27 In summer you might eat your fill of it

28 MARY: Turn again, husband, and behold yon tree,
29 How it blooms so sweetly now.
30 JOSEPH: Come on Mary, let's get to that city,
31 Or else we may not be blamed, I tell you in earnest.

32 MARY: Now my spouse, please behold,
33 How the cherries are growing on yon tree.
34 I would dearly love to have some,
35 If it pleased you to labor so much for me.

36 JOSEPH To fulfill your desires I shall try, in security (faith?),
37 Oh! to pluck one of these berries, it's daring work
38 For the tree is so high, it will not be easy
39 Therefore let him pluck cherries, who fathered your child.

40 Now, dear Lord, I beg you, grant me this wish
41 To have some of these cherries, if it be your will
42 Now I thank God, this tree bows down to me!
43 I may now gather all, and eat my fill.

44 JOSEPH Oh! I understand! I have offended God in the Trinity
45 Speaking to my spouse these unkind words.
46 For now I am convinced it may not be otherwise,
47 But that my spouse must birth the King of Bliss's Son
48 He helped us now in our time of need.

OK, for a finished product I'd do another pass, getting rid of the anachronisms and tidying the ideation, but as it stands this halfway house shows how we get from there to wherever we take it.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Tanslating OldEnglish: Cherry Tree Carol
From: GUEST,Squeezer
Date: 04 Nov 14 - 05:55 PM

Rahere, I'd just like to come back to my mentioning that there is no "not" in Line 31. I would guess at it as "Come on, Mary, that we might be at yon city / or else we may be blamed ..." and then whatever "lythly" means.

A friend of mine knows ME. I'll e-mail her.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Tanslating OldEnglish: Cherry Tree Carol
From: Lighter
Date: 04 Nov 14 - 06:45 PM

22 Now let us go forth as quickly as we can,
23 And may Almighty God speed us on our journey!

24 MARY. My sweet husband, would you tell me
25 What tree that is standing on yonder hill?
26 JOSEPH. In truth it's called a cherry tree.
27 In season you may eat your fill of its fruit.

28 MARY. Go back, husband, and look at that tree,
29 How sweetly it blooms now!
30 JOSEPH. Come along, Mary, so that we may be at yonder city:
31 If not, I suggest mildly, it will be our own fault.

32 MARY, Now, my spouse, please look!
33 How the cherries grow upon that tree!
34 I would so much like to have some of them,
35 If you would not mind doing that much for me.

36 JOSEPH. I will try to do what you wish, absolutely!
37 Oh! To pick one of these cherries for you is terribly hard work,
38 For the tree is so high it would not be easy!
39 So let him who got you with child pluck cherries for you!

40 Now, good Lord, I pray thee, grant me this request!
41 To have some of these cherries, if it be your will!
42 Now (I thank God for it!) the tree bows down to me!
43 Now I can gather enough to eat my fill!

44 JOSEPH. Oh! I am wretched! I have offended my Threefold God
45 By speaking these wicked words to my spouse!
46 For now I'm sure it can only be
47 That my spouse carries the Son of the King of Bliss:
48 May he help us now in our need!


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Subject: RE: Origins: Tanslating OldEnglish: Cherry Tree Carol
From: GUEST,Rahere
Date: 04 Nov 14 - 07:48 PM

Aye, I have a problem with that Census, Luke gets it mixed up, it was for Jesus' Bar-Mitzvah. OK, adjust the "not", sorry.
In Y0 Quirinius was Nero's tutor in Rome, and he didn't arrive in Judea until after Archelaus was fired for incompetence and Rome imposed direct rule: it needed to know what it was supposed to be running. If Jesus was born in Herod the Great's time, then he was born before Herod's death in 4BCE. The best guess is 7BCE, making Jesus 13 in 6AD/CE, the year of the census. We know he was presented for his Bar-Mitzvah at the Temple, and that his father could not go there while the Herodians were on the throne, being a rival claimant to the throne.


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Subject: RE: Origins:Translating Old English: Cherry Tree Carol
From: GUEST,Rahere
Date: 04 Nov 14 - 08:27 PM

That last line, Lighter, is not a plea for future help, it's in the historic present tense, God's helping us because he's the father of the child I called upon to help. It's the moral of the song, and absolutely essential in the form. If it were as you have it, it would be in a conditional tense, but it's not.

The point is that it closes one of the uncertainties down, that if it wasn't Josephs' then perhaps it was Nicodemus', or Josua's, or...

What might be interesting is to chase the tree lore thread down. Was this imported from a celtic lore line? This is where the ur-ballad thought comes from, that just as Christianity hijacked the pagan temple sites, and Saturnalia for Christmas, and the Eucharist from the Jewish sabbath service, and ... (the list is long), was this symbolism something in a different song?


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Subject: RE: Origins:Translating Old English: Cherry Tree Carol
From: GUEST,Rahere
Date: 04 Nov 14 - 08:30 PM

Another example of the use of "and" as a conditional signifier is Charles Wesley's opening line "And can it be, that I should boast..."


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Subject: RE: Origins:Translating Old English: Cherry Tree Carol
From: GUEST
Date: 05 Nov 14 - 05:00 AM

"As far as we can tell, the closest accent in modern English to Middle English is the Staffordshire accent, short vowels and not much colour"

The author Alan Garner has written of reading "Gawain and the Green Knight" to his father, who spoke the old Staffordshire dialect and who had little difficulty in understanding it - rather less in fact than his Oxford tutors did.


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Subject: RE: Origins:Translating Old English: Cherry Tree Carol
From: GUEST,Rahere
Date: 05 Nov 14 - 06:37 AM

As Jack Campin says, it stretches into South Yorkshire. I also apply similar tones to reading contemporary Flemish texts, where the language is starting to diverge: the modern "en" which I discuss above is at that time "end", very clearly a very short distance from "and". The language of the 13th century is only about a hundred years away from AngloSaxon, which has much of the Saxon language of the Low German mercenaries who were awarded Flanders after the Battle of Kassel in 1071 saw the defeat of the French Duchy of Flanders. It was reinforced by the defeat of the Angevins at Bouvines in 1214, and left a strong political alliance between England and Flanders reinforced by the common interest in the textile trade. This general tone is probably almost universal by the time we get to the end of the 16th Century, the more effete RP tones only appearing with the arrival of Huguenots and the start of the foreign wars of the 18th Century.
Another dialect not massively far removed is Geordie: the modern Flemish will also go into a bar and say "away", meaning exactly the same thing.


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Subject: RE: Origins:Translating Old English: Cherry Tree Carol
From: Lighter
Date: 05 Nov 14 - 08:06 AM

You are correct about "help."


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Subject: RE: Origins:Translating Old English: Cherry Tree Carol
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 05 Nov 14 - 06:34 PM

Back to the poem. It occurred to me that the baffling 'worn' in this line:

Cum on, Mary, þat we worn at 3on cyté

was probably some form of 'we were in'. 'Worn' is a corruption.
=======
In case nobody said this before, 'ur-' is a modern German prefix signifying primitive or original.


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Subject: RE: Origins:Translating Old English: Cherry Tree Carol
From: GUEST,Rahere
Date: 05 Nov 14 - 07:25 PM

It's no corruption, just the Middle English derivative of a verb which is now most accessible to you as the High German "Werden", to become, in its wider sense rather a broad verb driving at what ought to be. The past participle "(ge)worden" gave rise to this form. It's a tad slangy, but still.
Aye, the advantages of a contemporary avatar!


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Subject: RE: Origins:Translating Old English: Cherry Tree Carol
From: GUEST,Rahere
Date: 05 Nov 14 - 08:03 PM

Oh and ur- is rather 19th Century in their Teutonic Hermanic version of Arthurian neogothicism which gave rise to Wagner. It lays claims to authentic antiquity, rather like Ye Olde Renaissance Fayre! The term is older, though, for example the House of Wurttemburg had its roots in the Counts of Urach, which is etymologically the Old Village, this nigh on a thousand years ago. They may have had reason: local discoveries suggest it was first lived in in the Early Stone Age, at the end of the last Ice Age. And you don't get much more Ur than that!


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Subject: RE: Origins:Translating Old English: Cherry Tree Carol
From: Richie
Date: 05 Nov 14 - 11:46 PM

WOW! Thanks for the translations- I had a hard time getting on Mudcat to respond and now I see some great translations here. Ur-translations!!

This N-Town play seems to be the ur-analogue for the ballad perhaps derived from story in Psuedo-Matthew 20.

That some broadsides have combined the "Cherry-Tree" with it's two main sequels and that his combination of ballads also occurs in Child A and B, for example, makes the original difficult to know.

Perhaps the angel, and Christ's prophecies should be sequels and these ballads should be dealt with like Edward, Twa Brothers and Lizie Wan.

Then there's the symbolism of the garden and the analogy to the Garden of Eden which I'm not seeing. Nor do I see Chaucer's Merchant's Tale another Middle English analogue as being significant in the study of The Cherry Tree Carol(s).

Richie


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Subject: RE: Origins:Translating Old English: Cherry Tree Carol
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 06 Nov 14 - 12:07 AM

worn = some form of werden? I don't think so. I have never seen a sentence where 'to reach the city' is expressed by 'to become the city.'
=======
Richie, I'm glad you could get back on to see what thou hast wrot. I thought we'd lost you.


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Subject: RE: Origins:Translating Old English: Cherry Tree Carol
From: GUEST
Date: 06 Nov 14 - 04:46 AM

Fascinating. Can someone expand on the suggestions of 'somewhat mildly' and 'earnestly' for 'lythly' at line 31 ? If 'lythly' is related to 'loath' wouldn't 'reluctantly' carry the sense better ?


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Subject: RE: Origins:Translating Old English: Cherry Tree Carol
From: GUEST
Date: 06 Nov 14 - 05:09 AM

(continuing) Am I right that the sense is "I don't want to rush you but.." ?


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Subject: RE: Origins:Translating Old English: Cherry Tree Carol
From: GUEST,Rahere
Date: 06 Nov 14 - 12:40 PM

There's a wider explanation on worden here, Leeneia, I was cutting too many corners for you - I read Mediaeval texts live, not through a grammar book. What's probably also missing (as ever in late mediaeval speech) is the verb "to be", omitted much like we use apostrophes.

Another way of deconstructing it is to knock the "n" off the end as it's almost certainly one of the German suffixes, "As Adam lay y-bounden", for instance. What you have left takes you to "wor" and thence to what I said.


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Subject: RE: Origins:Translating Old English: Cherry Tree Carol
From: Lighter
Date: 06 Nov 14 - 04:16 PM

"Lythly" has nothing to do with either current meaning of "loathly" ("hideous," or "reluctantly").

The modern English form of the medieval word is "lithely" (adv. of "lithe"), and in Middle English it meant "mildly," among semantically related things.

If "earnestly" is one of them (my dictionary isn't handy) then either or both would do: "earnestly but mildly," i.e., not to scold but to suggest. (I still prefer "mildly": Joseph's words are earnest enough without having to say so specifically.)

BTW, I read "worn" simply as a third-person plural subjunctive : "Come along, Mary, that we were in yon city." (The more usual form, if I recall from grad school, was "woren.")

"That we were" is still understandable in Modern English to some of us, but pretty archaic in these parts.


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Subject: RE: Origins:Translating Old English: Cherry Tree Carol
From: GUEST,Rahere
Date: 06 Nov 14 - 08:19 PM

Beware, though, not to confuse with the past tenses of zeyn/sein, to be, which go towards waren/weren, but never as far as woren. There are two different senses in the English, one from each root. "Were you there, Moise?" - yes, to be. "Were we to wish otherwise" - that's this passive sense coming in. You can loop that recursively adding in bits of "to be" in an attempt to elucidate the meaning, but all you're actually doing is polluting the case with a circular argument, the core of it is this use of werden in the passive. Even the Germans may never have been entirely clear about the demarcation, as it is most stramge not to use a form of "to be" or "to have", but there we are, they don't - it's rather that we shouldn't be too dogmatic about that meaning of "to become" or "to get", I think, we're talking about an analog parity rather that a digital eidentity.


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