translation help edit

Hi, sorry for bothering you, but this page tells me that you are one of the very few contributors to turn to in questions of Middle English. I've just added a quote to a Hungarian entry from the oldest surviving Hungarian manuscript, which, even in transcription sounds very archaic to modern ears. I would like to convey the same tone in the English version, so I made a botched attempt at translating it into Middle English. Could you please check up on it if you have the time, and make any necessary corrections? It is just a shortish sentence. Much obliged.--94.21.176.222 08:03, 2 January 2019 (UTC)Reply

Hey there! I took a look at your translation. It's perfectly fine, but I'd call it Early Modern English rather than Middle English. I'm not sure how archaic you want it to sound—most modern English speakers will struggle to comprehend Middle English text, if they can understand it at all! I'd recommend leaving it as is, because most native English speakers today will perceive it as archaic the way you have it, yet they will understand it just fine. However, in the event that you want it to come across as more archaic, I took a stab at producing a MidE version that should hopefully not be too difficult for modern readers to decipher. I documented my process below:
original Látjátuk feleim szümtükhel, mik vogymuk: isȧ, por ës homou vogymuk.
interpretation (Modern Hungarian maybe) Látjátok feleim szemetekkel, mik vagyunk: [ita (L.) ?], por és hamu vagyunk.
interpretation (gloss) [ye see!] [my partners] [with your eyes], [what (pl.)] [we are]: [ita (L.) ?], [dust] [and] [ash] [we are].
Early Modern English (yours—it's good!) Ye can see, mine own brethren, with your eyes what we are: truly, we are but dust and ash.
Middle English Ȝe breþren min, see with eyen þat we aren: soþely, we aren but dust and ashe.
Lemme know if you've got any questions!  :)
--c bríghde (talk) 22:54, 2 January 2019 (UTC)Reply
Oh, I see, sorry for the confusion. English not being my mother tongue, I don't know very much about its history, and I'm bound to make such mistakes. Indeed, I was aiming at a style that, while archaic, can still be easily understood, something Shakespearean maybe. The Hungarian version, too, is already a somewhat modernized transcription of the original (Latiatuc feleym ʒumtuchel mic vogmuc. ýſa pur eſ chomuv uogmuc), which is nigh unintelligible.
As to the translation: the word "isȧ" is tricky, as it is most likely a word that doesn't exist anymore in any form. Its meaning is only guessed at from its various occurences. Some sources claim it to be equivalent to bizony (truly), others interpret it as íme (lo). In any case, if you say it's good to go, I'll leave it, but nonetheless I would like to thank you again for your prompt and exhaustive answer, I really appreciate it.--94.21.176.222 08:40, 3 January 2019 (UTC)Reply
No need to be sorry! To be quite honest, most native English speakers don't know very much about its history, either. It's very common for Anglophones to call the language of Shakespeare (ca. 1550-1620) "Old English", although that language bears little resemblance to the language of the Anglo-Saxons that scholars call Old English (ca. 450-1150; a 10th century Englishman may well have written: sēoð gē, mīne brōðer, mid ēgum þæt þe wē sind: sōþlīce, wē sind būtan dūst and æsce). Perhaps it's a failing of education, or perhaps it's due to the inevitable awkwardness of applying such general words as "old" into rigorous academic specificity. Perhaps a little of both.
To be sure, I knew very little about Hungarian (they speak it in and around Hungary; it belongs to the Ugric branch of the Uralic languages; it is agglutinative) before reading your request. Admittedly, I still know very little—but I know a bit more than I did before ;)
"isȧ" certainly proved the trickiest. Knowing no Hungarian, all I had to go on were some basic reference materials, Google search, and (of course) Wiktionary. For the most part, these were enough that, when combined with your translation, I could find a modern word that seemed to correspond. I could find nothing for "isȧ", but both its form and its usage reminded me of Latin "ita". I wouldn't argue that "isȧ" is derived from "ita" (afaict, the phonetics would be problematic regardless), but it seemed like a fine enough match for my own use in the gloss. Mostly I wanted to make sure that when I was translating the phrase, I was sticking as close to the sense of the original as I could, rather than just bastardizing your own translation to make it sound ye oldere. As it turns out, there was a wonderfully close correspondence in sense already, as far as I can tell! But I don't feel as though the time was wasted, because it is always fun for me to learn, even if it's only a tiny deal :) --c bríghde (talk) 21:09, 4 January 2019 (UTC)Reply
That's a relief to hear, because now I was beginning to feel bad that I hadn't made it easier for you by providing a word-by-word translation as well. (Then again, if I had, it would have taken the fun out of the detective work, no?) It just never occured to me that you would go to such lengths to be as faithful to the original as possible, but I guess you're right, unless we wanted it to turn into a funny game of Chinese whispers. Anyhow, I sure would like to promise to return the favor some day, in case you have any nagging doubts about the mysterious workings of the Hungarian language, but being on a dynamic IP and reluctant to commit myself to any community-based website, I can only give you this whistle [hands over magic whistle]. If in need, just blow it, and I'll be there right away :) --94.21.111.63 22:06, 5 January 2019 (UTC)Reply