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The Miller's Tale: translation, disclaimers, and privacy pro

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Chelsea Henson

on 14 November 2014

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Transcript of The Miller's Tale: translation, disclaimers, and privacy pro

The Miller's Tale: translation, disclaimers, and privacy problems
Modern English vs. Middle English
When in April the sweet showers fall
And pierce the drought of March to the root, and all
The veins are bathing in liquor of such power
As brings about the engendering of the flower,
When also Zephyrus with his sweet breath
Exhales an air in every grove and heath
Upon the tender shoots, and the young sun
His half-course in the sign of the
has run,
And the small fowl are making melody
That sleep away the night with open eye
(So nature pricks them and their heart engages)
Then people long to go on pilgrimages
Latin: to carry across or bring across

"translation" = to carry across languages!

problems/challenges: translation implies interpretation
interpretation = subjective
interpretation = giving meaning
meaning = subjective/personal?
Key poetic terms
Fabliau (French): funny story in verse
inappropriate humor (sex, lies, scandal)
status quo disrupted then restored

Quiting: "paying back" / responding directly to a previous story

Miller: "I'll pay the Knight his wages, not the Monk" (87).
Miller - p87

Chaucer - p88

Why "blame game"?
Whan that Aprill with his shours soote
The droghte of March hath perced to the roote,
And bathed every veine in swich licour
Of which vertu engendred is the flour;
Whan Zephirus eek with his sweete breeth
Inspired hath in every hold and heeth
The tendre croppes, and the yonge sonne
Hath in the Ram his half cours yronne,
And smale foweles maken melodye,
That slepen al the nyght with open ye
(so priketh hem Nature in hir corages)
Thanne longen folk to goon on pilgrimages
Secrets and privacy
"One shouldn't be too inquisitive in life
Either about God's secrets or one's wife.
You'll find God's plenty all you could desire;
Of the remainder, better not enquire."
"An housbonde shal nat been inquisityf
Of Goddes pryvetee, nor of his wyf.
So he may fynde Goddes foyson there,
Of the remenant nedeth nat enquere."
Secrets / "Pryvetee" = meaning / connotations?
Secrets and "private" jokes: #1
Dark was the night as pitch, as black as coal,
And at the window out she put her hole,
And Absalon, so fortune frame the farce,
Put up his mouth and kissed her naked arse
Most savorously before he knew of this.
And back he started. Something was amiss;
He knew quite well a woman has no beard,
Yet something rough and hairy had appeared.
"What have I done?" he said. "Can that be you?"
"Teehee!" she cried and clapped the window to.
Derk was the nyght as pich, or as the cole,
And at the wyndow out she putte hir hole,
And Absolon, him fil no bet ne wers,
But with his mouth he kiste hir naked ers
Ful savourly, er he were war of this.
Abak he stirte, and thoughte it was amys,
For wel he wiste a womman hath no berd.
He felte a thyng al rough and long yherd,
And seyde "Fy! allas! what have I do?"
"Tehee!" quod she, and clapte the wyndow to.
Secrets and "private" jokes #2
Now Nicholas had risen for a piss,
And thought he could improve upon the jape
And make him hiss his arse ere he escape,
And opening the window with a jerk,
Stuck out his arse, a handsome piece of work,
Buttocks and all, as far as to the haunch.
Said Absalon, all set to make a launch,
"Speak, pretty bird, I know now where thou art!"
This Nicholas at once let fly a fart
As loud as if it were a thunder-clap.
He was near blinded by the blast, poor chap,
But his hot iron was ready; with a thump
He smote him in the middle of the rump.
This Nicholas was risen for to pisse,
And thoughte he wolde amenden al the jape;
He should kisse his ers er that he scape.
And up the wyndowe dide he hastily,
And out his ers he putteth pryvely
Over the buttok, to the haunche-bon;
And therwith spak this clerk, this Absolon,
"Spek, sweete bryd, I noot nat where thou art."
This Nicholas anon leet fle a fart
As greet as it had been a thonder-dent,
That with the strook he was almoost yblent;
And he was redy with his iren hoot,
And Nicholas amydde the ers he smoot.
Punchline: making the private public
Connects the two fabliaux

Ends the "secret" affair

Restores public order

Everyone gets what they deserve?
Full transcript