- Oct 24, 2013View Source
The OE instrumental altogether slipped my mind!
While neither of the two OE forms 'thy/thon' can be decisively related to forms in other Germanic languages, according to Hogg & Fulk (194), they are generally believed to stem from Proto-G '*tho', as does Gothic 'the' and 'thana' (Lehmann). Gothic 'the' is extant only once as an independent element in the expression 'ni the haldis' (Skeireins 4,22) 'by no means'. 'Haldis' is assumed to be an adverb in the comparative meaning 'more', and the whole construction is then literally 'not the more'. The OE counterpart is 'ne...thy ma'. Bosworth (653) gives, for example,
gelpan ne thorfte Costontinus ne Anlaf thy ma ('no need had Constantine to boast, no more had Anlaf')
This suggests that the Gothic equivalent of ModE 'the...the...' may possibly have been 'the...the...', if 'the' in 'ni the haldis' is not simply a relic preserved in a fixed expression.
There is also the Gothic expression 'ni thanamais', the counterpart of which in OS is 'than mer', and OE 'thon' would seem to be closely related to 'thana'. Again, if 'thana' is not merely a relic, then 'thana...thana...' might be a further possibility as well.
---In email@example.com, <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:About translating phrases like "the more the merrier":I would have offered the same suggestion as Edmund made. However, there definitely seem to be other reasonable possibilities:The Shorter Oxford English Dictionary tells us that use of "the" as an adverb, or rather as two adverbs, in phrases like "the more the merrier" goes back to Old English. In this context "the" is not, of course, the article; it is a relic of the instrumental case of "that", which was "thy/thon". Hence, in my specimen phrase the sense would have beenby that [much] more, by that merrier.More logically perhaps, the sentence ought to be*why more the merrier,the Old English instrumental case of "hwat" being "hwy/hwon". However, I have no reason to think it was ever expressed in that way.The Oxford English Dictionary offers the following quote from AD 897:Thaet her thy mara wisdom on londe waere, thy we ma getheoda cuthon
= that here would be the greater wisdom in the land, the more of languages we knew (?)The OED also seems to imply that two distinct words, thy and the, had fallen together in Old English.We could also consider cases from Icelandic.I recall encountering, though I do not remember whether in the old or the modern language, a phrase like"...er thvi betri sem meiri er..." i.e. [something] is the better as greater is [something else]Here the second word in the Icelandic is the dative case of "that", but looks as if it corresponds to Anglo-Saxon "thy/thon". In any case, the dative in Icelandic often seems to be used as an instrumental.Cleasby and Vigfusson's Dictionary of Old Icelandic does not seem to mention any construction like the one I mentioned, but does indicate another similar possibility, using "thess", the genitive case of "that", instead of the dative. It likens this to the German "desto". Here are two examples they give, with my uncertain translations:heldur var hon thess at litilatari
rather was she the humbler (?)thess meirr er hinn drekkr, thess meirr thyrstir hann
the more that the other (man) drinks, the more he thirsts (?)Possibly these observations will give further ideas for inventing a Gothic construction.In a message dated 22/10/2013 16:18:48 GMT Daylight Time, edmundfairfax@... writes:
I have looked through my materials, in vain. If you are unable to find an example in the Gothic corpus, you may wish to follow the construction in Old English, as it is far more likely to be closer to Gothic than Modern English:
Swa he bith ieldra, swa he faegerra bith (Bede, eighth century)
'The older it is, the more beautiful it is'
(lit. 'as it is older, so it is fairer')
---In email@example.com, <anheropl0x@...> wrote:So for a challenge I decided to translate the St. Crispin's day speech (please refrain from telling me how fey it is to do so) and I'm quite pleased with what I have so far. But I ask you, the line "The fewer men, the greater the share of glory" is slightly troubling. I can not shake the feeling that Gothic has a peculiar way of saying "the X, the Y" like this. I also am unsure how to render "fewer". Any insight would be much appreciated!