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Fencing and History Nut Extraordinaire. While I am tending toward 16th century at the moment, I am and have been interested in history for a long time. Hence the fencing focuses more on the Renaissance period than the modern. This explains two out of three of my blogs. The third is a more personal one focusing on fibromyalgia. What I write in these blogs, I hope will be of use to people.

Monday, May 2, 2011

A New Project - Modern to Early Modern


I have undertaken a new project, and before the question is asked I have put the "Fabris from a Chair" project on hold. I will be returning to it later on. On to the new project, this will be a short discussion of the project itself highlighting what I am doing and some of the reasons for it. As the work progresses, I will be giving some updates in my blog as to how it is going.

The new project is designed to take a modern fencing treatise and translate it into Elizabethan English. More to the point the project is to write my own manual and then translate that into Elizabethan, or Early Modern English. This is a new work which is not based on any of my previous lessons or lesson plans, though much of the information found in the new work will be very similar if not the same as that found in the previous lessons and lesson plans. This particular project will require a lot of work, this is something that has only recently become truly realised.

So, if there is to be so much work done then there needs to be a good purpose behind it. In this particular case there is a two-fold purpose in the writing and translation of the manual. The primary reason for the project is to increase the access and understanding of works written in Early Modern English. Much of what scares the beginning historical martial artist away from serious research is the language which is found even in the manuals written in English. The purpose of this project is to remove some of that problem by making the language more familiar by presenting the same manual in both languages with as little "noise" in the translation as possible. For my own personal purposes it presents an opportunity to codify and collect my previous 15 years worth of experience in fencing and teaching fencing into a single place in a more usefully presentable form.

With the purpose in place it is necessary to look at the process. The first part of the process was an investigation of period fencing manuals for format. Format in this sense being introductions, dedications and so forth. The next part of the process, which is continuing, is to write the manual in modern English. This is actually surprisingly more difficult than it would seem. I have knowledge which comes out only when I am teaching and this presents a problem when I am writing rather than teaching, and also the fact that it is buried within the inefficient filing system which is my brain. I have no doubts that there will be a couple of edits before I am happy with it. The part of the process which is going to and is taking time is the study of Elizabethan English. I am essentially having to create my own dictionary of words and phrases for the use in understanding the language. This and assembling some rough rules about how the language works. The final parts are the translation and construction of suitable diagrams. Obviously there will be a publishing (in some form) part as well.

The modern will be presented next to the Early Modern in that the reader is presented with the original and the "translation" of the modern into Early Modern. There should be little "noise"in the translation aside from the language itself as I am writing both the original and the translation. It is my hope that this will be useful to those practitioners of the blade who are studying period texts. The presentation of the two is an attempt to make the language more familiar and easier to read and understand. The side-products of the dictionary of words and phrases will hopefully be of use to people studying other manuals and documents in the same language.



1 comment:

  1. The first rule of Early Modern English is not to be afraid of Early Modern English. Here is some classic English xenophobia from 1533, complaining about that newfangled Dutch game all the kids are playing these days

    O lorde of ipocrites,
    Nowe shut upp your wickettes,
    And clape to your clickettes, —
    A farewell, kinge of crekettes!

    Just turn off your spelling and put that in Yorkshire talk - 'E were a good bat, were Trumper' - and you could hear Geoffrey Boycott say that today.

    The second rule is not to under-rate them. Yeah, even George Silver. We have access to more stuff, but they are are smart as we are (and in some cases, smarter. Duns Scotus is still getting footnotes in philosophy papers, seven hundred years and more dead).

    The third rule is to understand that the past is a foreign country, they do thing differently there. And if your stuff still works then, it means you have got it right.


Comments are welcomed if they are in English and are relevant to the topic. Comments will be moderated.