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 nurrit and will-jick

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Join date : 2017-10-24

PostSubject: nurrit and will-jick   Wed 13 Dec 2017, 14:00

Hello again!

As some of you may already know, I am in trouble with a few words in (probably) middle English gay slang —an impossible find in the Internet, as far as I know…

Here I copy a bit of the context, but the difficult words are those highlighted in the thread header (in bold characters in the text):

"The narrator of The Canterbury Tales eventually declares that ‘I believe he was a gelding or a mare’ – that, literally, he was either a eunuch or a woman. But ‘mare’ was also used as a term for e eminate men. The Pardoner was one who ‘sinned against kind’, a ‘nurrit’, a ‘will-jick’, in the phrases of the period. e fact that he bartered indulgences and sold false relics only ampli ed his nature as a ‘ful vicious man’ and perhaps a heretic as well."

I really hope you can help me here; I would really like to understand the meaning and therefore been eventually able to find an equivalent in Spanish.

Thanks a lot in advance to all the courageous… Smile

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Nobiles Barbariæ

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PostSubject: Re: nurrit and will-jick   Wed 13 Dec 2017, 15:50

Ackroyd is a meticulous researcher, so I do not doubt the terms existed and that he has found them in some obscure reference source. However my own slang dictionaries do not mention them.

He wrote an earlier "retelling" of Canterbury Tales in which he made almost the same statement regarding the Pardoner in his loose transcription of Chaucer's original prologue. In this version he makes it clearer that "nurrit" is a common slang term for "eunuch" and "will-jack" a term for a gay male, listing them in the same order as Chaucer had "gelding" and "mare", also terms for the same two things.

To translate them into Spanish and get across the important aspect of their being base expressions used by the "common" people rather than more literary allusions you would need to find some extremely colloquial and derogatory Spanish terms once popular among ill-educated urban locals from the 14th century (which surely existed but may never have been set into writing) so I reckon you might have to rely on even more obscure references than Ackroyd's English equivalent and would be lucky indeed to find any at all at this stage. I wish you luck!
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Meles meles

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PostSubject: Re: nurrit and will-jick   Wed 13 Dec 2017, 16:09

That's got me defeated. As far as I can see in the prologue to Canterbury Tales where he describes the Pardoner - with his long wavy hair and smooth beardless chin, and says he is like "a gelding or mare" - Chaucer doesn't use the words nurrit of will-jick at all. And I can't find either word in an online dictionary of Middle English so I don't know where they might come from ... and so I can't even start to try and suggest a derivation/explanation for them, which I suspect may well be unknown.

But can't you just take Peter Ackroyd's explanation at face value, that a nurrit and a will-jick are 14th century slang (almost certainly derogatory) for an effeminate (or homosexual) man?

Just for reference, these are Chaucer's exact words:

This pardoner hadde heer as yelow as wex,
But smothe it heng, as dooth a strike of flex;
By ounces henge his lokkes that he hadde,
And ther-with he his shuldres overspradde;
But thinne it lay, by colpons oon and oon;
But hood, for Iolitee, ne wered he noon,
For it was trussed up in his walet.
Him thoughte, he rood al of the newe Iet;
Dischevele, save his cappe, he rood al bare.
Swiche glaringe eyen hadde he as an hare.
A vernicle hadde he sowed on his cappe.
His walet lay biforn him in his lappe,
Bret-ful of pardoun come from Rome al hoot.
A voys he hadde as smal as hath a goot.
No berd hadde he, ne never sholde have,
As smothe it was as it were late y-shave;
I trowe he were a gelding or a mare.

..... crossed posts with Nordmann, but we seem in accord.
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Join date : 2017-10-24

PostSubject: Re: nurrit and will-jick   Wed 13 Dec 2017, 16:22

I see; the translation here presents many problems, but mainly two, concerning the two words of the post.

The first is to know the meaning of the English term.
The second concerns it's foreign equivalence. And this in turn can be exact or approximate.

I will try to dive into foul language and jargon-like vocabulary related to the meanings you point at. Quixote and other picaresque novels (like Lazarillo de Tormes, for example) may provide a suitable source. But the most important thing is done: tell at least the reader what we are talking about.

Thanks a lot for your explanations and help. I guess this translation is bound to be a choral accomplishment (but… is that a real novelty?).

Take care,

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