IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/hig/wpaper/10-ls-2015.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Translator and Language Change: On J.R.R. Tolkien’S Translation of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

Author

Listed:
  • Maria A. Volkonskaya

    () (National Research University Higher School of Economics)

Abstract

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, an English poem written in the latter half of the 14th century, constitutes an important part of Tolkien’s life as a scholar and translator. The complex language of the poem attracted his attention from the moment Tolkien first encountered it as the Gawain-poet used some native words that were characteristic of Old and Middle English alliterative poetry. On the other hand, more than one third of his vocabulary is not derived from Old English: approximately one tenth of a total of 2650 words has Scandinavian etymologies (although at the time they were no longer considered borrowings, but rather northern dialect words) and about a third is of French origin. In his translation of the poem, Tolkien was primarily interested in special verse words, which resulted in his use of archaic diction such as capadoce ‘a short cape’ or carl ‘man’. However, this study focuses on the second important feature of the vocabulary of the poem: the combination of French and dialect (Scandinavian) words, which are not distributed evenly in the original text. As the author uses the stylistic contrasts between borrowed and native words; he carefully loads some of his lines with French loanwords while others are devoid of them. This paper discusses the stylistic effect thus created by the Gawain-poet and whether Tolkien managed to preserve it in his translation.

Suggested Citation

  • Maria A. Volkonskaya, 2015. "Translator and Language Change: On J.R.R. Tolkien’S Translation of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight," HSE Working papers WP BRP 10/LS/2015, National Research University Higher School of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:hig:wpaper:10/ls/2015
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.hse.ru/data/2015/10/14/1075903818/10LS2015.pdf
    Download Restriction: no

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Sir Gawain and the Green Knight; Tolkien; translation; Middle English; Modern English.;

    JEL classification:

    • Z - Other Special Topics

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:hig:wpaper:10/ls/2015. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Shamil Abdulaev) or (Victoria Elkina). General contact details of provider: http://edirc.repec.org/data/hsecoru.html .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.