15 June 2017

"They aimed for the best" ~ new translation

dike-building on the Frisian island Ameland, 1913


In the first part of this fragment, the word DIGER was interpreted in various ways by the different translators. Sandbach left it out. I discussed DIGER earlier (scroll down to 7. April). It was used several times in the manuscript, with different meanings. Richthofen (1840) dictionary translated it as treu, sorgsam: loyal, careful. Modern cognates seem to be:
  • Dutch - degelijk, terdege, gedegen (solid, sound, thorough)
  • German - tüchtig (efficient, prodicient, competent)
  • Swedish/ Norse/ Danish: duktig/ dyktig/ dygtig (good, competent, skilled)
Competent fits well in the context here.
Jensma and Menkens end this part with a full stop, Lien uses a semicolon. All other translators have a comma, suggesting that what follows still is about Frya's folk. Since part one is in present tense (Frya's folk is...), and the rest is in past tense (they did not become... their aim laid...), I think the second part does not refer to Frya's folk in general, but specifically to the hard workers who restored the lands surrounding Liudweard.

1941 winner of the Frisian
Elfstedentocht, Auke Adema
In the second part, WIRG seems to have been interpreted through the context by my predecessors. In the only other occurence in the OLB*, the verb WIRGA means to strangle (Dutch/ German: wurgen/ würgen, old-Dutch: worgen). A cognate in English seems to be: weary, from Old English werig "tired, exhausted; miserable, sad". No etymologist seems to have made a link with worgen/ wurgen/ würgen yet...
Weary fits well here in the new translation.
Then the most rebellious were strangled with their chains.

The third part was paraphrased by Sandbach (copied by Raubenheimer), Overwijn, and Menkens. The other, more literal translations interpreted LÉIDE as the past tense of to lead (Dutch: (ge)leiden; German: führen). Elsewhere in the OLB, LÉIDE is always past of leggen (lay) or liggen (lie). Only once, as LÉITH, does it mean to lead (leads): WIS WÉSA ÀND WIS DVA ALLÉNA LÉITH TO SALICHHÉD.
For the interpretation, it does not change much, but it is a nice detail to be precise about. If they literally said "because their aim laid at the best", this feels like home to me, and can very well be paraphrased as "because they aimed for the best". I think the readers of my new translation will like this.

Here are my new provisional translation (still to be proofread by my editors) and the older ones to compare:

Ott 2017 English (provisional)
but Frya's folk is competent and diligent.
They* did not become tired or weary,

because they aimed for the best**.
(*'They' does not refer to Frya's folk, but to the people who restored the land around Liudweard; **lit.: because their aim laid at the best)

Ottema 1872 Dutch
Maar Fryas volk is wakker en vlijtig,
zij werden moede noch mat,
omdat hun doel ten beste geleidde.

Sandbach 1876 English
but Frya's people [part skipped by Sandbach]
were neither tired nor exhausted
when they had a good object in view
. [paraphrased]

Wirth 1933 German
Aber Fryas Volk ist wacker und fleißig,
sie werden weder müde noch mürbe [Dutch: murw],
weil ihr Ziel zum Besten führt.

Overwijn 1951 Dutch
Maar Frya's volk is wakker en vlijtig,
het werd moe noch mat,
omdat zijn plan het best mogelijke opleverde. [paraphrased: for its plan yielded the best possible result]

Jensma 2006 Dutch
Maar Frya's volk is oplettend en vlijtig.
Zij werden moe noch afgemat,
omdat hun doel tot het beste leidde.

De Heer 2008 Dutch
Maar Fryas volk is waardig en vlijtig,
zij werden moe noch mat,
doordat hun doel tot het beste leidde.

Raubenheimer 2011 English (as Sandbach)
but Frya's people are diligent and hard working
and they do not lose heart [interpretation]
when they had a good object in view. [paraphrased]

Menkens 2013 German
Aber Fryas Volk ist tüchtig und fleißig.
Sie wurden (weder) müde noch matt,
bis daß ihr Ziel erreicht war, [paraphrased: untill they had reached their goal]

Lien 2013 Norse
Frøyas folk er dyktige og flittige;
de var (verken) trette eller slitne [both words mean tired]
fordi deres mål ledet til det beste.

translation DIGER WIRG
Ottema wakker mat
Sandbach - exhausted
Wirth wacker mürbe
Overwijn wakker mat
Jensma oplettend afgemat
De Heer waardig mat
Raubenheimer diligent -
Menkens tüchtig matt
Lien dyktige slitne
Ott competent weary

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