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 "Siuing", "Siving", "Fiuing", "Fiving"…

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Meles meles
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PostSubject: Re: "Siuing", "Siving", "Fiuing", "Fiving"…   Sat 24 Feb 2018, 18:55

deleted ... it might be taken the wrong way.


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PostSubject: Re: "Siuing", "Siving", "Fiuing", "Fiving"…   Sat 24 Feb 2018, 20:00

@Meles meles wrote:
I'm intrigued, Temp, you can't just leave it like that .....

It was just the old story, so will leave it.

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PostSubject: Re: "Siuing", "Siving", "Fiuing", "Fiving"…   Thu 01 Mar 2018, 08:37

Hi everyone,

I learned their story from the book of course and have no problem if anyone wants to tell it.

In the meantime, here is another tricky quote from 1440:

Freris has thame umbythought, and sworne ilkane to other,
Salle never no counte betyne mane bycomen ther brother.

I am trying to give as literal a translation as possible ... so far this is what I've come up with:


Freris = friars
hase thame umbythoght = no idea
ilkane = each one
betyne = between?
mane = man?
bycomen = become?
ther = their?

Making it sound something like this:

Friars ??? and each one swore to the other
That no woman should ever ???


I'm having trouble understanding the first line and piecing together the second line's grammar.

Would anyone care to venture a guess?

Thanks so much.
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PostSubject: Re: "Siuing", "Siving", "Fiuing", "Fiving"…   Thu 01 Mar 2018, 09:12

Hi FandS,

The friars had decided, and sworn to each other,
That no c*nt-beaten (impotent) man would become their brother ...
("Lyarde" may be an ancient, rare and prized example of Middle English poetry, but it fails the obscenity spell-checker on this website)  Smile
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PostSubject: Re: "Siuing", "Siving", "Fiuing", "Fiving"…   Thu 01 Mar 2018, 09:22

Thanks for the quick reply. Wow, that's actually quite interesting, because Ackroyd's take on it seems to be a little different: "The friars have sworn to one another that no c*nt [woman] shall come between them."
Could there possibly be two meanings?

Could you also maybe explain "hase thame umbythought" becomes "had decided"? I'd be interested to know.
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PostSubject: Re: "Siuing", "Siving", "Fiuing", "Fiving"…   Thu 01 Mar 2018, 09:35

"Lyarde" is about women putting their impotent husbands "out to pasture" and is often cited as an insight into medieval views on sexuality. If Ackroyd thinks that it is about homosexuality he is in something of a minority, though I am not saying he is incorrect.

The monks in the poem are definitely portrayed as sexually active (a brotherhood of lechers), and though it doesn't actually go so far as to say that they are servicing the women in place of the impotent men this much has been inferred in the past and in fact forms the basis of the "joke" that ensured the poem's survival in the oral mummer tradition in Yorkshire. Ackroyd's interpretation flies in the face of this tradition, I reckon, and he probably wants it to as he's trying to unearth previously overlooked evidence of how homosexuality has been regarded throughout history and possibly misinterpreted in the past as heterosexual comment. I just think in this instance he has "overshot".

"Counte btyne mane" cannot be construed as "woman" without some tortuously convoluted semantic gymnastics, I think, and I see no reason to disbelieve the traditional reading of the remark.

Umbythought/ombethought comes from Old English "about/around think" and means to resolve or decide something after deliberation.
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PostSubject: Re: "Siuing", "Siving", "Fiuing", "Fiving"…   Thu 01 Mar 2018, 11:34

Interesting. Ackroyd cites these lines as "proof" for "marriage unions" between men in the middle ages; he first mentions phrases such as "sworn brothers" (which I translated literally), "wed brethren" (wich I translated to 'married brothers') and "trouth-plight" (which I translated to 'joined in marriage') and then goes on to give the example from "Lyarde" (without giving the name of the poem or any context). 

But from your answer and my research on the poem, it doesn't seem to focus much on any sort of "unions" between men/friars. 

Quite a conundrum bc I don't want to "correct" an author, especially if he's going somewhere with this, but tbh it feels more like a translation mistake and/or to be taken somewhat out of context.
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PostSubject: Re: "Siuing", "Siving", "Fiuing", "Fiving"…   Thu 01 Mar 2018, 11:59

Been there ... it is indeed a conundrum.

My own approach would be to just present the quote in both forms - the original text and the translation into the vernacular - and let the readers make up their own minds regarding whether Ackroyd has got this one right or not. It's horrible when you come across instances where you're translating what you know is factually incorrect, but as translator you've no choice but to present the original meaning, even when it's flawed. "Lyarde" is at heart an anti-fraternal satire (one of many from the period) so while it might have appeared at first glance to present a good source for literary proof of his main assertion it is actually very strange for Ackroyd to cite it in support of his otherwise sound and quite specific point regarding homosexual "marriages" between clerics. The latter were also satirised within the same literary tradition but not in "Lyarde", which stresses in comical form their heterosexual libido and not their homosexual bonds (they raid the "park" to see if one of their number has been "put out to pasture" after having lost his libido as the parker claims), and is therefore a very bad example for Ackroyd to have picked.


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PostSubject: Re: "Siuing", "Siving", "Fiuing", "Fiving"…   Thu 01 Mar 2018, 12:12

Ackroyd is generally a very interesting, entertaining and informed author, but in this gay history of London he does seem to have sometimes, as you put it Nordmann, "overshot" his target. We voiced similar doubts here about his claim that the 'Naked Boy' tavern in London was evidence of homosexual activity. Ackroyd also miss-quoted Ben Johnson's 'Poetaster' when he referred to the character of Ovid as aspiring to be a common actor (virtually synonymous with a prostitute) whereas Johnson actually had him hoping to be a playwright (and that's the whole point of the play as a satirical attack on Johnson's rival playwrights.)

.... and those are just from the few points that have arisen here.


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PostSubject: Re: "Siuing", "Siving", "Fiuing", "Fiving"…   Tue 13 Mar 2018, 07:23

Hello everybody! Thought you had got rid of me? Not yet, not yet… Wink
I am still wrestling with the really difficult book of Ackroyd.
There's a bumpy passage for my ride:
"In 1855 a thoroughly modern guidebook was published for the demi-monde of England with particular reference to the lower depths of what was called ‘little Lunnon’; The Yokel’s Preceptor: or, More Sprees in London! was ‘every swankey’s book’ and ‘the greenhorn’s guide’ of ‘flymy kens and ash cribs’, the terminology of which was to be deciphered in ‘a Joskin’s vocabulary’ ‘of the various slang words now in constant use’. Among them were of course ‘margery’, ‘poof’, ‘backgammon’ and other words of queer derivation. It was important for the yokels to find a ‘way to know the beasts’. It might even be described as a guide to queer London without drawing undue attention to the fact."
I've highlighted the words I am unable to find anywhere in the Net (as an example I can say that searchs for "flymy" instruct me on how to "fly my drone" which seems fram from the mark…).

I know you will be able to help me in an unvaluable manner. I really thank you all for that.  Smile

CM
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PostSubject: Re: "Siuing", "Siving", "Fiuing", "Fiving"…   Tue 13 Mar 2018, 08:33

Hi CM - either you or Ackroyd require better reading glasses, I reckon. The term should be "flash" and not "ash" (see illustration below of the cover of the Yokel's Preceptor).



A "flymy ken" is a public house/hostelry/brothel with a good reputation, with reasonably priced drink (the term "flymy" is actually Gypsy slang and not confined to London).
A "flash crib" is a public house/hostelry/brothel with a good reputation, though where one might pay slightly above the odds for one's beverage/bed/prostitute of choice.
"Joskin's Vocabulary" - a "joskin" is someone from a rural background, the vocabulary is therefore intended to equip country bumpkins with the means to communicate with city people - a "hick's dictionary" in modern US slang in other words.
A "margery" is a gay man - the Yokel's Preceptor warns the unwary joskin against these "beasts" and tries to steer the reader away from where they lurk, stating that "the punishment generally awarded to such miscreants is not half severe enough, and till the law is more frequently carried to the fullest extent against them, there can be no hopes of crushing the bestiality". A liberal document it is not.
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PostSubject: Re: "Siuing", "Siving", "Fiuing", "Fiving"…   Tue 13 Mar 2018, 08:49

My fault: "ash cribs" is the nice way the copy-paste stuff of the PDF has to "forget" double letters like "fl". I am so much in a hurry with this translations (for a number of reasons), that I didn't pay attention to that —not a detail when addressing someone that has to help me with words; I apologize for this.

I see what you mean with "flymy ken" and "flash crib": two sorts of brothel. These are the objects of the real world the two expressions point at (there was a technical name for that I cannot remember now). But there's surely a meaning in every word, "flymy", "ken", "flash" and "crib". I suppose "flash" can be "flashy", so "garish" of sorts. It will make good to my translation to derive a Spanish approximation from these "brut" meanings. It will give some colour to the depiction, which is what Ackroyd does. A tableau more than a description. An image for a term.

The other explanations are cristal clear, and I appreciate your help, nordmann.

Hope this is not too tedious.
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PostSubject: Re: "Siuing", "Siving", "Fiuing", "Fiving"…   Tue 13 Mar 2018, 08:55

"Ken" and "Crib" should not be taken to mean "brothel" as their primary definition - for the vast majority of people they inferred a place where alcohol was drunk in company, not sex procured. Both are words for "house" or "establishment", though "crib" infers a place where one can also sleep it by no means always inferred this.

"Flash" meant "of good repute" or "wide renown" and is indeed the root of the modern slang term "flashy", though you can see how it has subtly changed in the meantime.
"Flymy" - as I said - is Gypsy slang (and still is) for "reasonable".
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PostSubject: Re: "Siuing", "Siving", "Fiuing", "Fiving"…   Tue 13 Mar 2018, 09:04

Yes that is. Now I have the "wickers" to make my "basket". Thanks. I really have no words to express my relief.
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PostSubject: Re: "Siuing", "Siving", "Fiuing", "Fiving"…   Tue 13 Mar 2018, 09:41

@ComicMonster wrote:
... I really have no words to express my relief...

According to the Yokel's P you could try "stabbing die lawy" Smile
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PostSubject: Re: "Siuing", "Siving", "Fiuing", "Fiving"…   Wed 14 Mar 2018, 09:07

@ComicMonster You've probably found this already or got a copy a different way, but the whole guide can be viewed on Google Books: https://books.google.de/books?redir_esc=y&hl=de&id=cJ9kAAAAcAAJ&q=swankey#v=onepage&q&f=false
Just in case that helps, which it did for me :)

I have another question that concerns culture more than language but I thought we'd keep the enquiries to this thread. Ackroyd dives into the development of the pantomime (which is a whole different story, because the concept is so unknown here), mentioning that

"A gay harlequinade was staged as early as 1702 when the 'Mard Brothers' performed a 'night piece'. 'What ridiculous postures and grimaces,' one contemporary wrote, 'and seeming in labour with a monstrous birth, at last my counterfeit male lady is delivered of her two puppets, Harlequin and Scaramouch.'

Now I've found the "review" they're talking about, but I haven't found any reference whatsoever to the mentioned "Mard Brothers", and I was wondering if anyone has heard of them? Perhaps they were known actors (presumably in the roles of Harlequin and Scaramouch) that a British reader would recognize? The sources I've found seem not to be sure of the said actors' identities, mentioning Sorin and Baxter (but why would they be called the Mard Brothers?) as well as the "Allard" brothers from France (could that be them?).

Or maybe they weren't actors but involved in theatre/the play in some different way? 

I really appreciate your help!
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PostSubject: Re: "Siuing", "Siving", "Fiuing", "Fiving"…   Wed 14 Mar 2018, 10:31

There is no mention of the surname "Mard" at all in the exhaustive "A Biographical Dictionary of Actors, Actresses, Musicians, Dancers, Managers, and Other Stage Personnel in London, 1660-1800: M'Intosh to Nash (Volume 10)" - which name-checks just about everyone (even the odd animal) involved in British theatre from Elizabethan times right up almost to the 20th century, despite the title.

While this does not mean such brothers didn't exist, in the Queen Anne period there were in fact two "March" brothers who produced Harlequinades, Robert and Cecil. I have a suspicion we might be looking at another Ackroydism here, especially as these brothers' productions seem to have been particularly prone to singling out by critical contemporaries as "typical" of the perceived moral decline in theatre that these proto-pantomimes represented to high-brow observers. The mistake, if it is one, may have originated with an American author in the 1960s whose book is the reference for nearly all subsequent citations of the quoted review. If she misread her own source material then the error has been compounded.

For what it's worth I think Ackroyd is also stretching it a bit to use Harlequinades as examples of gay dramatic portrayal, however bawdy, obscene and derogatory he assumes it to have been. Much has been written about these "night pieces" which did indeed depend on lewd humour and graphic sexual references for their contemporary appeal - an appeal which in no way was directed primarily at gays or depended on satirising gays in particular, at least to any extent deemed notable by the authors of these various histories of English/British theatre. And it is also true that a feature of these productions was men playing women on stage, something that continued within this tradition as it evolved into modern day children's pantomime. But as with modern pantomime there is little overt appeal to gay sensitivities in the material or the portrayal when this occurs - in fact beyond grotesque caricature played purely for extremely base humour with a dependency on the incongruity of actors with hardly disguised male features playing feminine characters on stage these theatre pieces hardly addressed the issue at all.
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PostSubject: Re: "Siuing", "Siving", "Fiuing", "Fiving"…   Wed 14 Mar 2018, 11:36

In classic commedia dell'arte, Harlequin is usually a very hetrosexual hero character, always trying to win over his true love, Columbina, ... while Scaramouche, for all his flamboyant gestures and affected language, is basically a send-up of a bourgeois, nouveau-riche gentleman. If the 'Mard Brothers' production did indeed deliberately re-cast these traditional characters into a homosexual mould, I wouldn't have thought most audiences of the time would have understood or accepted such changes from the characters' traditional roles. That was the whole point of harlequinade: it used stock characters who were instantly recognised and whose motives and behaviour were already understood by the audience.


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PostSubject: Re: "Siuing", "Siving", "Fiuing", "Fiving"…   Wed 14 Mar 2018, 13:25

Thank you both for your input, that really helps. I'll have to think about what to do with the reference...
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PostSubject: Re: "Siuing", "Siving", "Fiuing", "Fiving"…   Wed 14 Mar 2018, 15:56

Hi everyone! Nice to "see" you again!
Well this time I have some verses (and one in particular) that I don't understand:

This is the one:
"Smart-looking boys are in my line;
the lad that gives my boots a shine,
the lad that works the lift below,
the lad that’s lettered G.P.O"

The fragment belongs to a longer poem entitled: "Love in Earnest" (1896)—
‘Earnest’ being the slang word for queer, as, perhaps, in Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest (the author says). The telegraph boys from the General Post Office—that's why there's a mention to G.P.O. lettered lads— were widely known as "easy lovers" for queer gentlemen in the final decades of nineteenth London.

All this is to explain my main doubt: considering that the whole book I am translating is full of innuendos and double meanings I wonder what's this "lift below" the lad is "working at"; and what's "lift" here in the first place? Do I have to understand the speaker likes the lads that work in the appartment below his, or is he saying that he likes the lads that "work his underparts" —and then I should be translating it with a more obvious simisexual connotation?

I am sure you'll be able to help me as you always do.

With deep-felt gratitude,

CM
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PostSubject: Re: "Siuing", "Siving", "Fiuing", "Fiving"…   Wed 14 Mar 2018, 16:11

That's an easy one - the boy who operated the old-fashioned elevator (it was often a juvenile posting).

Though if Ackroyd is inferring that the "below" bit makes it into a gay reference, and especially if he maintains that the "Earnest" in Wilde's play's title also was one, then I am growing even more disillusioned with his academic honesty, or lack of it. It's all very well pointing out obscure coded references to homosexuality in history and literature but at this point I'm thinking he's just making it all up as he goes along. He's seeing gay references everywhere! Smile
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PostSubject: Re: "Siuing", "Siving", "Fiuing", "Fiving"…   Wed 14 Mar 2018, 16:30

I tend to agree with you, nordmann. I am obviously in a much more awkward position to judge Ackroyd than a well learned native speaker (or even a not at all learned one for that matter). But this being the third book of him I translate, I can say that I've been increasingly suspecting all along this queer essay that it really is the weakest of them all. It will be long to explain why, but one of the reasons is the one you're pointing at… And I'm afraid I'm myself starting to see also gay shades everywhere, wether it be in gray, blue, green or any other colour… affraid

On the other hand, the elevator or lift was in use in the industral era by 1850, and the poem is dated in 1892, so it's technically possible; thanks for the advice: I will have to avoid now any temptation of being "overcautious"…; while at the beginning of the book I needed to avoid oversimplifying it. But having come accross other "belows" more explicitly connected with sexual activities I have became suspicious…

Take care,

CM
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PostSubject: Re: "Siuing", "Siving", "Fiuing", "Fiving"…   Wed 14 Mar 2018, 16:41

Don't forget also that there was a huge public scandal (end of 19th century) about paedophilia, specifically involving "boys at the GPO", during the Cleveland Street Scandal.


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PostSubject: Re: "Siuing", "Siving", "Fiuing", "Fiving"…   Wed 14 Mar 2018, 16:45

I know, I know, the explanation comes just in the paragraphs below the verses I cited —even the son of the prince of Wales was suspected…
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PostSubject: Re: "Siuing", "Siving", "Fiuing", "Fiving"…   Wed 14 Mar 2018, 16:50

Hi CM

My point was that John Gambril Nicholson's poem is about his love for young males in uniform, and is unpretentiously gay in intent. But even Nicholson would probably be taken aback if he thought that Ackroyd would attempt to ascribe any meaning to "below" in that particular sentence (other than that it suited the rhyme and meter of Nicholson's poem). If Ackroyd infers a lewd meaning then he is finding something no one else has ever noticed and really has to justify it - the poem's openly gay inferences do not depend on that level of innuendo and instead simply refer to stereotypes already established as vaguely homoerotic in popular culture, or at least literary culture as it applied to readers of The Chameleon and other such publications (readership of which was used in Wilde's trial as evidence against him).

This is all very disappointing, actually. Ackroyd's "London: A Biography" has been a favourite of mine since I first read it - and now I'm even beginning to wonder if he took such unwarranted liberties with presumption presented as fact in that one too.
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PostSubject: Re: "Siuing", "Siving", "Fiuing", "Fiving"…   Fri 16 Mar 2018, 09:28

In Ackroyd's defence, I don't think he was reading too much into the poem. In my opinion he simply cites these few lines without ascribing a specific meaning to the use of the word "below" and rather shows that pretty young boys, i.e. temptations, were everywhere.
And even with the "Earnest" reference he is just pointing out the "coincidence", leaving it to the reader to decide. Which is a method he often employs. Even though I may have stumbled across what appear to be inconsistencies, I actually really love the book.

... which doesn't make the poem any easier to translate, especially if you're attempting to preserve meter and rhyme :-)
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PostSubject: Re: "Siuing", "Siving", "Fiuing", "Fiving"…   Fri 16 Mar 2018, 12:11

I know, I'm judging the book based on stuff posted here plus a few very dubious reviews I've read - which are actually all very gushing in their praise but are also written largely by gay people who, I suppose, are glad to see such a history in print at all and less inclined to pick holes in the book as a result. Mind you, there's been a bit of angry flak from lesbians wondering why it's so male oriented.

However I'll take the time to read it - now that I've been so down on it already it's the least I should do! I'd liked Ackroyd's other books (mostly) so I should revert to a more open mind on this one too.
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PostSubject: Re: "Siuing", "Siving", "Fiuing", "Fiving"…   Fri 20 Apr 2018, 22:20

Dear historians,

My translation is nearing its end and I am currently tying up all loose ends... Hope yours is coming along (or finished?) as well, ComicMonster.

I was wondering if you might be able to help me with two things, the first being the description "high 'copt' hat" used to describe Long Meg's hat in the frontispiece of Middleton's play "the roaring girl". Do any of you know what 'copt' means in this context?
Not sure how I can attach an image, but you can see it here for example: http://helenlydiamirren.blogspot.de/2012/ 

My other question concerns the form of address "Master" - my question being if this is simply a form of address or could it also be a title of some sort, especially in the second example? I am trying to decide whether to translate it, leave it in English or even eliminate it altogether.

Example 1:
"William Smyth announced publicly, no doubt from a street pulpit, that he had engaged in ‘a sodomitic crime with master Thomas Tunley’."

Example 2:
"In the mid-fifteenth century one drunken cleric, Master Robert Colynson, had burst into a doubtful tavern in Southwark where, according to the Patent Rolls, he wrapped his arms around a boy of eleven ‘and kissed him many times as if he had been a woman’.

I really appreciate your help!
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PostSubject: Re: "Siuing", "Siving", "Fiuing", "Fiving"…   Fri 20 Apr 2018, 22:51

Hi FannyAndStella

A 'copt hat, or "copped hat", was a shortened term for the "capotain" hat which first became popular in Britain in the middle ages as a pretty standard classless headgear that was universally popular for its weatherproof qualities, though became something of a stylish fashion statement towards the end of Elizabeth I's reign and persisted as such into the 18th century, being most popular during the interregnum years among Puritans and worn by both men and women. It had a distinctive sugarloaf shape, and though it underwent different phases of decorative style and choice of material from which it was made, it retained its general shape and therefore the name throughout.

"Master" depends on the century involved. Up to the 18th or 19th century it could be used to indicate any male who should not be considered a "gentleman" by class, though it co-existed as an interchangeable term with "mister" for quite a bit of this time too. By the start of the 19th century "mister" was the term of address that largely did this job of denoting class, so "master" meant someone of any class not yet fully mature and who as yet had no other official title with its own specific term of address, which in officialdom (such as magistrate's courts and the like) normally meant up to 21 years old or someone who had yet to complete an apprenticeship, even if that would bring them over that age by the time they qualified. By the end of that century it had more or less the same meaning as now, when it was generally reserved for boys or teenagers, though it's seldom used except in a sarcastic or ironic sense these days if at all.
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PostSubject: Re: "Siuing", "Siving", "Fiuing", "Fiving"…   Mon 23 Apr 2018, 07:42

That is so helpful, thanks so much, nordmann! I have been racking my brain why in the world the hat should be Egyptian, and this makes so much sense now. :-)

The examples of "master" both come from the 15th century (sorry I forgot to mention that).
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PostSubject: Re: "Siuing", "Siving", "Fiuing", "Fiving"…   Mon 23 Apr 2018, 08:02

So old a use of "master" can be taken to mean "mister" then, with no insinuation of the person being a minor at all, just someone who was neither of gentlemanly status at one end of the social scale nor indentured or outlawed at the other either (99% of the male population).
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PostSubject: Re: "Siuing", "Siving", "Fiuing", "Fiving"…   Sat 08 Sep 2018, 15:57

Hi everyone,

It's been a while since I've posted, and I see that the Spanish translation is out and in bookstores, congrats, Comicmonster, if you're still reading this (or anybody, for that matter).

Mine is just about to go into print, and while it's all done and edited, I came across one section in the manuscript I would really appreciate an English historian's point of view on.

In 1810, William Beckford writes about a group of men who have been found guilty of sodomy and taken to the pillory: "Poor sods! What a fine ordeal, what a procession, what a pilgrimage, what a song and dance, what a rosary!"
Here is some context: http://rictornorton.co.uk/beckfor2.htm

I translated "Poor sods" to "Poor sodomites" because, of course, that was an abbreviation in use. But I am having doubts as to whether Beckford was actually just using "sods" in the sense of "poor bastards" here and would really appreciate a second opinion ... 

(I'd also be interested to know how Comicmonster solved this "ambiguity").

Thanks so much!
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PostSubject: Re: "Siuing", "Siving", "Fiuing", "Fiving"…   Sat 08 Sep 2018, 17:02

It's technically a correct translation, though misses the nuance that shortening the word confers in English. Whereas "sod" may have started out as an outright abusive term, Beckford was writing to his gay friend Franchi, and between these two people then the shortened version as a slang term was far less critical in tone and probably in fact extremely empathetic. You can be lucky with slang when translating if the target language's slang includes a word that matches the nuanced use, in this case an outright insult that gay people used rather more sympathetically, but in my experience this is a rare thing.
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PostSubject: Re: "Siuing", "Siving", "Fiuing", "Fiving"…   Sat 08 Sep 2018, 20:03

Thanks for your thoughts, nordmann. I am sure you're right, and since I didn't find a German slang term for "sodomite" (from that time!) that works in quite the same way, I think I will follow my impulse to change it to a term that usually expresses contempt but can similarly be used to convey empathy ... even though it means losing the explicit reference to their sexual preference.
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PostSubject: Re: "Siuing", "Siving", "Fiuing", "Fiving"…   Sun 09 Sep 2018, 19:33

Just as a matter of interest does anyone know when sod, in its more empathic rather than pejorative meaning, come into use? From what Nordmann says about Beckford writing to his friend, Franchi, it would seem to have been established in this usage by at least 1810 - which date frankly surprised me as I had assumed the more sympathetic usage was a considerably later, even 20th century, development from the original, rather brutal, sodomite.
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PostSubject: Re: "Siuing", "Siving", "Fiuing", "Fiving"…   Mon 10 Sep 2018, 11:48

When I read the extract I reckoned it was just a very early case of the gay community (or indeed any such minority) "appropriating" insulting terms levelled at them and then using them afterwards without malice so as to strip them of their power to hurt. "Queer" is a more recent example, though admittedly having started out as derogatory rather than brutally insulting, such as to actually call someone a "sodomite", not to mention how fraught with frighteningly deadly legal implications such an accusation was if used publicly against anyone. So maybe at that stage (1810) it had still a long way to go before it was adopted as a rather benign insult by non-gays too. But that's simply a guess, and not corroborated by any OED research etc.

For many years I actually thought that "sod" simply referred to a lump of turf, like "clod", and that it innocently belonged to the "as thick as..." family of mild insults. I was actually taken aback at the viciousness of its origin. Other words probably adopted a benign usage generally for precisely the same reason - that their etymology wasn't immediately apparent, especially to innocent souls. Like my mother, for example, who once told me how, at about 18 years old, her father took her to one side and gently explained to her that her epithet of choice for people or things that annoyed her - "bugger!" - actually hadn't anything to do with them having the mental ability or odiousness of a humble "bug". So marvellously uncontrived were those times that my grandfather had stoically endured her use of the term for several years without even hinting at censure before he reckoned that she was now mature enough to be told the full ins and outs (sorry) of the actual meaning of the term. But then he was equally sure that very few of those who heard my mother use it probably had an inkling of its true meaning either, so he could afford to let it slide for a while before intervening. So shocked was she that she immediately bought an unabridged dictionary of etymology and checked out absolutely every mild curse word in her vocabulary!

Innocent days ...
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PostSubject: Re: "Siuing", "Siving", "Fiuing", "Fiving"…   Mon 10 Sep 2018, 13:00

That was very amusing, Nordmann, thankyou.

I never, ever heard my father swear - though he certainly wasn't a prim, sheltered soul. Born and raised in a Northumbrian pit village, he worked in the Tyneside shipyards before he entered the forces and then on demob worked as a welder/fitter in the workshop of a big engineering firm. He only finally became 'respectably' middle class when he became a college lecturer. His swear word of choice was always "jigger", but we all knew it was just a stand-in for 'bugger' largely because he used it in exactly all the ways that bugger is used. An odious person would be called "a jigger", a loveable rogue might be referred to as "he's a bit of a rum jigger", a minor inconvenience would be "a bit of a jigger", someone delaying or making a hash of a job might be asked to "stop jiggering around and get on with it", and a simple curse if he hit his thumb with a hammer was "jigger!". But as I say we all knew what he really meant. Or did we?
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PostSubject: Re: "Siuing", "Siving", "Fiuing", "Fiving"…   Mon 10 Sep 2018, 14:04

One of the teachers at my convent school was known to translate swearing in French as "bother" - I don't know if she did it more than once.  She wasn't one of the nuns either though to be fair to her if she translated the expression  (whatever it was) with a watered-down version she was not entirely to be blamed - she might have been metaphorically jumped on by some parents if she said a powerful swear word in English.  Can't recall if I mentioned this before but someone (not a religious) was quite shocked that the headmistress at my convent school recommended me to read A La Recherche du Temp Perdu by Marcel Proust because she thought it might improve my style of writing in French.  The reason the lady who was shocked felt thus was because M. Proust was gay!
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