Changes of meaning.
Old English derivations.
Old English affixes that we use now.
The Celtic, Latin, Scandinavian Influence on English language.-->Borrowings in English<Old English words that have undergone the meaning change in New English.
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I'm afraid you wouldn't understand a word!
Hello Abbie

It is nice to hear you live in the northern part of England. I have some troubles about the interpretation of some passages in the Great Curse which was written in 1525 in the Scottish-English language of those days by Gavin Dunbar the Archbishop of Glasgow to condemn the border reiver clans who had continued doing wrongs for three centuries in the regions bordering Scotland and England.

The below given are some part extracted from the document and their translation into modern English. The translation was probably made by a writer who published a book about the story of the border reivers. But I feel there are some questionable points in the translation. I would like hear your opinion..

Original text
"I denounce, proclamis, and declaris (1)all and sindry the committaris of the said saikles, murthris, slauchteris, brinying, (2)heirchippes, reiffis, thiftis and (3)spulezeis, oppinly apon day licht and under silence of nicht, (4)alswele within temporale landis as kirklandis; (5)togither with thair parakeris, assitaris, supplearis, wittandlie resettaris of thair personis, the gudes reft and stollen be thaim, art or part thereof, and their counsalouris and defendouris of thair evil dedis generalie cursit, (6)waryit, aggregeite and reaggregeite, with the Greit Cursing."

A translation I found online
"I denounce, proclaim and declare (1)all the committers of the said senseless murders, slaughters, burning, (2)torturing, plundering, raping and (3)pillaging, openly by daylight and under silence of night, (4)even on such peaceful ground as church lands; (5)together with their families, henchmen, suppliers, and willing conspirators who give them refuge, their receivers of goods stolen by them, and any benefit or part thereof, and their counselors and defenders of their evil deeds, generally cursed, (6)denounced, execrated, in sum total, with the Great Cursing."

Note and questions:
[1] This translation omitted a word 'sindry' in the original. My dictionary (OED) says it is "sundry" in the currently spoken Northumbrian dialect. I think 'all and sundry" is some idiomatic expression meaning "all and each". Is it right?
[2] I feel the word 'heirchippes' might mean literally 'cutting hairs'. Is it right?
[3] 'Spulezeis' may be an old form 'spoiling' which has an obsolete meaning of pillaging or robbery.
[4] Here I feel the translator made a mistranslation. 'Alswele within temporale landis as kirklandis' would be 'within temporal (=secular) lands as well as within church lands'. Could you give me a suggestion about this?
[5] About the underlined passage (5), I feel some difference between the original and the translated one. My attempt is "together with their partakers, assistants, supporters, and those who willingly harbor their persons and the goods reft (=robbed of) and stolen by them, whatever sort or whatever part of them (=the goods), and the their counselors and defenders of their evil deeds". How do you think?
[6] 'Waryit'='waried'='cursed'. I feel the 'denounced' in the translation is rather redundant. 'Aggregeite, regaggregeite' is 'aggregate and reaggregate'(='collected and recollected into one mass") but I think this phrase would be used as an adverbial phrase. Am I right?

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Original text
"I curse their heid and all the haris of thair heid; I curse thair face, thair ene, thair mouth, thair neise, thair tongue, thair teeth, thair crag, thair shoulderis, thair breist, thair hert, thair stomok, thair bak, thair wame, thair armes, thais leggis, thair handis, thair feit, and everilk part of thair body, frae the top of their heid to the soill of thair feet, befoir and behind, within and without."

"I curse their head and all the hairs of their head; I curse their face, their brain (innermost thought), their mouth, their nose, their tongue, their teeth, their forehead, their shoulders, their ***, their heart, their stomach, their back, their womb, their arms, their leggs, their hands, their feet, and every part of their body, from the top of their head to the soles of their feet, before and behind, within and without."

I can read this paragraph almost without any problem. The only one word that I can't get is 'ene' that is noted as 'inner most thought' by the translator. Seemingly OED contains no trait about this word. I'm wondering if it is a Scottish version of 'anima'.

Their eyes

Thank you!

Yes, OED is saying 'ene' is 'eye' in Scottish.

I wonder why the translator put it into 'brain'.

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Original text
"I curse thaim gangand, and I curse them rydland; I curse thaim standand, and I curse thaim sittand; I curse thaim etand, I curse thaim drinkand; I curse thaim walkand, I curse thaim sleepand; I curse thaim risand, I curse thaim lyand; I curse thaim at hame, I curse thaim fra hame; I curse thaim within the house, I curse thaim without the house; I curse thair wiffis, thair barnis, and thair servandis participand with thaim in their deides. I way thair cornys, thair catales, thair woll, thair scheip, thjair horse, thair swyne, thair geise, thair hennes, and all thair quyk gude. I wary their hallis, thair chalmeris, thair kechingis, thair stanillis, thair barnys, thair biris, thair bernyardis, thair cailyardis thair plewis, thair harrowis, and the gudis and housis that is necessair for their sustentatioun and weilfair."

"I curse them going and I curse them riding; I curse them standing and I curse them sitting; I curse them eating and I curse them drinking; I curse them rising, and I curse them lying; I curse them at home, I curse them away from home; I curse them within the house, I curse them outside of the house; I curse their wives, their children, and their servants who participate in their deeds. I (bring ill wishes upon) their crops, their cattle, their wool, their sheep, their horses, their swine, their geese, their hens, and all their livestock. I (bring ill wishes upon) their halls, their chambers, their kitchens, their stanchions, their barns, their cowsheds, their barnyards, their cabbage patches, their plows, their harrows, and the goods and houses that are necessary for their sustenance and welfare."

This is the part I love best in the Great Curse. But what I'm not quite sure is the structure of "I curse them doing something", which is repeatedly used in the first passage. Does it mean "I curse them while I am doing something" or "I curse them even when they (=reivers) are doing something"? I guess it would be rather the former, but not sure. Could you give me any advice?

Looks remarkably like our old friend the accusative participle, to me.

'I curse them-going, I curse them-riding, I curse them-this-that-and-the-other-ing...'

So I curse them while they are going and riding and etc-ing.

Mistranslation is all I can suggest
Students: Are you brave enough to let our tutors analyse your pronunciation?
1."All and sundry" =each and every one - so yes, you are correct

2. "heirchippes" - 'heir stealers', i.e those who kidnap the heirs, probably for ransom. (From old Norse "to scratch or pull" and Dutch 'kippen' - "to steal")

3. Spulezeis - I think "spoils" covers it nicely. We still use that term.

4. Again, I think you cover it; "as well" or "whether within ....."

"Receivers of stolen goods" is good, and still a current offence!

5. "... together with their families, followers, suppliers, ..... and the receivers of goods plundered and stolen by them, and their advisors and cousellors and defenders of ....." (I think it important to keep "families" in here, as the families did suffer for the misdeeds of their relatives)

6. I would be inclined to keep the 'denounced', because it's not quite the same as 'cursed'.

"... cursed and denounced,both individually and together ...." or "individually and collectively"
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