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Translating Middle English (Im)politeness: The Case of Geoffrey Chaucer’s Miller’s Tale


Jucker, Andreas H; Seiler, Annina (2023). Translating Middle English (Im)politeness: The Case of Geoffrey Chaucer’s Miller’s Tale. Chaucer Review, 58(1):35-59.

Abstract

Some of the bawdy details of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales continue to pose challenges to translators, who must find renderings that are both descriptively and stylistically adequate. The Miller’s Tale provides an illustrative case study, in which the drunken narrator describes Nicholas’s rather physical wooing of the carpenter’s wife Alisoun in graphic detail. Existing translations of the key term queynte range from the flowery euphemism to the straightforward vulgarism. An appropriate translation into present-day English needs to be based not only on sound philological analysis, but also on a careful evaluation of the register of the original Middle English expression. This article offers a corpus-based assessment of relevant candidate expressions in order to propose a translation that captures the appropriate level of (im)politeness, both of the narrator towards his fellow pilgrims and of Chaucer towards his readers.

Abstract

Some of the bawdy details of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales continue to pose challenges to translators, who must find renderings that are both descriptively and stylistically adequate. The Miller’s Tale provides an illustrative case study, in which the drunken narrator describes Nicholas’s rather physical wooing of the carpenter’s wife Alisoun in graphic detail. Existing translations of the key term queynte range from the flowery euphemism to the straightforward vulgarism. An appropriate translation into present-day English needs to be based not only on sound philological analysis, but also on a careful evaluation of the register of the original Middle English expression. This article offers a corpus-based assessment of relevant candidate expressions in order to propose a translation that captures the appropriate level of (im)politeness, both of the narrator towards his fellow pilgrims and of Chaucer towards his readers.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > English Department
06 Faculty of Arts > Zurich Center for Linguistics
Dewey Decimal Classification:820 English & Old English literatures
Uncontrolled Keywords:Literature and Literary Theory
Language:English
Date:17 January 2023
Deposited On:10 Jan 2023 09:53
Last Modified:29 Mar 2024 02:37
Publisher:Pennsylvania State University Press im Project MUSE
ISSN:0009-2002
OA Status:Green
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.5325/chaucerrev.58.1.0035
Related URLs:https://scholarlypublishingcollective.org/psup/chaucer/article-abstract/58/1/35/336508/Translating-Middle-English-Im-politeness-The-Case?redirectedFrom=fulltext (Publisher)
  • Content: Accepted Version
  • Language: English