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 Post Posted: Tue Sep 14, 2021 11:17 pm 
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Wednesday is going to assume today's strip was already in the queue. And was not dependent on Pete being able access his account at this moment.

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 Post Posted: Wed Sep 15, 2021 12:05 am 
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Thous? I'm not a stickler for proper old timey grammar, but even I think Pete's trolling now.

 Post Posted: Wed Sep 15, 2021 12:09 am 
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Readable and not a total plague upon mine ears
Yffi not a monster but he is an iffy character and shady too. :pun:

 Post Posted: Wed Sep 15, 2021 1:11 am 
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"I shall say it to though straight". Pfft.
I just imagine his pre-'translated' dialogue was "Imma give it to ya straight. Straight talking".

 Post Posted: Wed Sep 15, 2021 1:59 am 
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I think this was a much better dialog effort than yesterday's. (That was intended as a compliment for today, not an insult for yesterday.) Here is my Jacobean English rendering suggestion for today's comic:


Mayhap I shall reveal myself. But wilt thou tell me why a lone peasant roams the Wodee Woods so nigh unto dusk? Canst thou truly read those books whereunto thou clingest?


Peasant: Fie! I both read and write better than any other in my village!
Wizard: I meant no offense.
Peasant: And I know of magic! How hast thou charmed the beasts? Nary a gesture I saw thee entwine!


"A gesture entwine." Thou wist more than I knew! [or Thou wist more than I understood!]


Thy necklace. Cypress for death and eternal life. The antlers for fortitude. Perchance I have underestimated thee.


I tell thee plainly [or I tell thee directly]: I have not enchanted the beasts. They are mine, and throughout these woods have they searched in vain for those books.


Ah...thus I meet mine end.


I am no monster. Thou hast first discovered the books. They are thine. I bid thee farewell.


Canst...canst thou teach me magic?


Verbs that follow "thou" almost always end in "-st" or "-est", such as "thou canst", "thou wist", "thou wast", "thou hearest", etc. Note that "thine" is used the same way as "mine", and "thy" the same as "my".

The exception in earlier English is when the thing possessed starts with a vowel sound. Today, we would say "my ears", but in early English, they would say "mine ears"; "ears" starts with a vowel sound, and the "n" in "mine" keeps you from having to say two distinct vowel sounds together. (Like using "an" instead of "a" before a word starting with a vowel sound. Think of the Battle Hymn of the Republic: "Mine eyes have seen the glory...") So "my town", not "mine town", but "mine end" (as you correctly wrote) instead of "my end" (as we would say today).

 Post Posted: Wed Sep 15, 2021 2:30 am 
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@spox that was really good!

Only place I could see an improvement was panel six. Yours is a more straight translation, but I think truer to the period might be something like:

Ah. It is plain, then. This hour I meet mine end.

More of a deviation from the text, of course, but sounds truer to my Shakespere-trained ear.

 Post Posted: Wed Sep 15, 2021 5:21 am 
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spox wrote:
Thou wist more than I knew!

As I had to look up these words, I notice that Wiktionary says that "wost" is present and "wist" is past tense. Present tense seems to fit best in this case.

 Post Posted: Wed Sep 15, 2021 8:51 am 
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Ok, "thous" threw me, but I keep reminding myself that if we were really seeing accurate English for Mercia in 650 it would be more like:
Gedwinon his drycræftas swa swa rec þonne he toglideð, oððe weax þonne hit for fyre gemelteð.

(Borrowing an entertaining line from the Mercian Old English Martyrology, from roughly 200 years later: “His magic dwindled like smoke when it dissipates, or wax when it melts by the fire.”)

Just on the second person pronouns, we’d be distinguishing singular, dual, and plural, and have an extra case to worry about.

Mercian Old English is what Tolkien used to render the language of Rohan, for a modern fantasy connection.

 Post Posted: Wed Sep 15, 2021 9:13 am 
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I remember when Weird Al's "Word crimes" song came out. So many respected linguists across the world kept jumping in to criticize how it was technically wrong in the most pedantic manner, and they just looked bad.

I hope Pete doesn't need his own Stephen Hawking to keep people humble.

 Post Posted: Wed Sep 15, 2021 10:14 am 
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Couple of thoughts:

1. Thee/thou etc. confuse us because they're all replacing a single word 'you' in English, which doesn't decline. The quick fix if you don't care about learning obsolete grammar is to just switch in a word that *does* decline, and use that to work things out.

Although 'you' doesn't change in English, 'I' does, so to get a good first run at thees and thous, rewrite the sentence in the first person before following this simple mapping:

I -> thou
me -> thee
my -> thy (if the next word starts with a consonant sound), thine (if the next word starts with a vowel sound)
mine -> thine

So, for example:

"You know why they chose you; it was your looks."

Rewrite in the first person:

"I know why they chose me; it was my looks."

Map as above:

"Thou knowst why they chose thee; it was thy looks."

2. Some errors of grammar are more important than others. Not sure exactly what the linguistic time period here is, but it's possible one of the characters here is making one of the few that can actually be lethal.

Historically, there are two forms of you - 'thee/thou', which is singular and 'ye/you', which is plural. But as well as the singular/plural distinction, there's also one of respect. When talking to someone important, you would use the plural form. The singular would be used for family and friends, children, people of a lower station, lovers and God. Speaking to people you didn't know, or people more important than you such as nobility or potentially capricious sorcerers of unlimited power you would use the plural form if you wanted to avoid appearing a boor or having your head exploded with a magical fireball.

 Post Posted: Wed Sep 15, 2021 10:15 am 
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 Post Posted: Wed Sep 15, 2021 11:07 pm 
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Faceless hooded beings are quite scary...

 Post Posted: Thu Sep 16, 2021 7:31 am 
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Thous thous! Thous thous! Thous thous! Thous thous! Mr. Thous!

 Post Posted: Thu Sep 16, 2021 5:57 pm 
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Ok, actually, Pete we've had like two or three people join the forum because they're upset at your old time-y English grammar. I think you should proceed as Grammer Gorilla would!!!!

(OK so maybe I just want these here forums to be more active, sue me)

*Returns to Relative Obscurity*

 Post Posted: Thu Sep 16, 2021 6:47 pm 
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So, After 22 years of being a reader, I finally get onto the forums to stick my oar in.

Looking at the linguistics, there’s a really simple piece of advice I’d give regarding the period language...


So, the opening scenes place it as 650CE, and to give that a little bit of perspective, Rædwald of east Anglia, the Saxon king whose iconic ship, mask and sword were buried at Sutton Hoo died about 25 years earlier, The Merovingian dynasty is just beginning to wane across Western europe, The Vikings have yet to set sail, the Normans who would invade England are 400 years into the future. The Great Vowel shift, a linguistic slide which moved English-speaking language towards its current path is about 800 years in the future, so everything sounds weird, and Shakespearean era Early Modern Jacobite is a full millennium into the future. The language of what would become English-speaking British Isles bears a closer resemblance to Icelandic, or Germanic, at this point in time, than it does modern English. This is the age of Beowulf – where spoken word verse might read:

Hwaet! We Gardena in geardagum,
þeodcyninga, þrym gefrunon,
hu ða æþelingas ellen fremedon.
Oft Scyld Scefing sceaþena þreatum,
monegum mægþum, meodosetla ofteah,
egsode eorlas. Syððan ærest wearð
feasceaft funden, he þæs frofre gebad,
weox under wolcnum, weorðmyndum þah,
oðþæt him æghwylc þara ymbsittendra
ofer hronrade hyran scolde,
gomban gyldan. þæt wæs god cyning.

Of those words, the only ones which really are close to recognisable are “him” and “he”, and if its spoken, þæt wæs god cyning might well be understood to be “that was a good king!” if the person’s doing really well.

In this context, people aren’t using “thee” or “thou”, any more than Shakespeare’s heroes are talking about hoopy froods yeeting their fam… and the language is so alien to a modern English speaker as to be almost entirely incomprehensible. As an example, our character and subject introduced in the last strip or two would perhaps be (and I should apologise, because my saxon is extremely poor - and outside my usual field of study, which is later high medieval) something like y bóc-hord beinnan an holtwudu, áfunden þá a læringmæden "the book-hoard found in a forest glade by a literate/learned woman" - and individual bits might be comprehensible - the "holt", a glade or area within a forest, the wudu, or "wood", a collection of books, a bóc-hord, and a woman who's literate enough to read, a learning or learned maiden/woman, the læringmæden, are probably fairly easily understood, but the whole ensemble is difficult at best.

I think that single phrase should show how distant the language itself is for that date, and how different it is. I suspect what Pete's trying to echo in the characters' language is probably closer to later high medieval English of 700-800 years later, Chaucerian periods:

Whilom ther was dwellynge at Oxenford
A riche gnof, that gestes heeld to bord,
And of his craft he was a carpenter.
With hym ther was dwellynge a poure scoler,
Hadde lerned art, but al his fantasye
Was turned for to lerne astrologye,
And koude a certeyn of conclusiouns,
To demen by interrogaciouns,
If that men asked hym in certain houres
Whan that men sholde have droghte or elles shoures,
Or if men asked hym what sholde bifalle
Of every thyng; I may nat rekene hem alle.

Certainly not the most comfortable reading, but vastly more comprehensible than Anglo-saxon of the 7th Century!

So when it comes to the question of how to represent that past language in the comic, my inclination is not to really try - we have to assume that our characters' words are being translated for us here, no different to the language used by Farahn, for example (And lets be honest - "Wodee Woods" might well be in the British Isles but could just as easily be anywhere in western europe at that date. Wodee might well have a root word origin in Woden/Wodan, in which case it could very easily be in Northern Germany, with the entire use of english in the modern day being inappropriate.) So while I personally would be inclined to use older-fashioned words and maybe tweak the pacing of the language to have a slightly different word patterns to modern English, I feel that trying to significantly alter it, with the "thees" and "thous" is a bit of a tangent to the actual content.

Sorry. That's a bit longer and wordier than I intended. Hope you'll excuse my waffling.

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