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Re: [norse_course] Words which have unknown translations.

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  • Brian M. Scott
    At 10:53:23 PM on Thursday, March 17, 2011, ... Initial is very likely to be the negative particle; in both Zoëga and Cleasby & Vigfusson it s
    Message 1 of 5 , Mar 18, 2011
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      At 10:53:23 PM on Thursday, March 17, 2011,
      startrekdataandworf wrote:

      > As part of my study of Old Norse, I figured that going
      > through some texts and trying to translate them would be
      > beneficial. I've found it quite enlightening. However,
      > there are the occasional words that I cannot find the
      > translation of, no matter how hard I try. I realize that
      > umlaut/transformation has a lot to do with my problem, but
      > even when I account for that (or, rather, think that I
      > have accounted for that), I still cannot find anything
      > that'll bring me any closer to the meaning of the word.

      > This brings me to my question: What do you do? Surely
      > you've much more experience, and thus have come upon a
      > similar quandary in times passed. Do you give up? Skip the
      > word? I've spent an hour - or more - on a single word at
      > times. 'óhægenda', from Yngvars saga Víðförla, has been
      > the most infuriating;

      Initial <ó-> is very likely to be the negative particle; in
      both Zoëga and Cleasby & Vigfusson it's normalized as <ú->
      instead. The <æ> is also a potential source of confusion.
      Old Norse <œ> merged with <æ>, and both are now written <æ>.
      Cleasby & Vigfusson write both as <æ>, following the modern
      convention, as does the text that you're using here, but
      Zoëga distinguishes them. Thus, if you're using Zoëga, you
      need to check both <úhæg-> and <úhœg->. This word has a
      suffix that can appear either as <-end-> or as <-ind->,
      depending on the text and normalization; both Z and CV use
      the <-ind-> version, so you want to look for <úhægind-> and,
      in Z, for <úhœgind->. Finally, of course, the ending can be
      inflectional, as indeed it is here.

      > I've managed to figure out closely enough the translation
      > of 'átti' (something to do with being married?), though
      > I'm still having trouble with it.

      Look at the list of irregular verbal forms at the end of
      Zoëga (e.g.,
      <http://norse.ulver.com/dct/zoega/irregular.html#1>). The
      fourth entry is for <á> and <átt>, which are identified as
      forms of <eiga>; <átti> is close enough to make this worth
      checking. Sure enough, the entry in Z for <eiga> shows
      <átta> as the 1st person singular past tense form, and
      <átti> would be the corresponding 3rd person form. CV gives
      <átti> directly as the 3rd person sing. past tense form.
      Reading through the definitions in Z, you quickly find the
      relevant one.

      The list of irregular nominal forms is similarly useful.
      In this context it's worth noting that it helps a lot to be
      able to recognize from the form and context of an unknown
      word what its likely part of speech is; that's something
      that comes with experience.

      With nouns you have to be alert to the possibility that the
      postposed article is present (e.g., <maðrinn> 'the man'
      instead of <maðr> '(a) man').

      Occasionally you'll run across a word that's simply not in
      any dictionary that's available to you. If it's a compound,
      you may be able to infer its meaning from those of its
      elements. If not, you may still find one or two related
      words from which with the help of the context you can infer
      a likely meaning. Occasionally I've been unable to find a
      word but have found its negative in <ú-> or the reverse.

      There are probably other tricks that I use, but those are
      the ones that come to mind at the moment.

      Brian
    • startrekdataandworf
      I ve begun doing what you suggested. However, quite frankly, syllables have never been my specialty. For a word like óhægenda, would I divide syllables like
      Message 2 of 5 , Mar 18, 2011
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        I've begun doing what you suggested. However, quite frankly, syllables have never been my specialty. For a word like óhægenda, would I divide syllables like this:

        ó/hæ/gen/da

        OR

        ó/hæg/end/a

        or some completely different way?

        Well, your suggestion, despite my aforementioned ignorance, has helped me learn that ó is a negative prefix (i.e. 'un-'), which has helped a bit. Hægur is, according to wiktionary (which has proven of invaluable helpfulness), the Icelandic word for 'easy, slow, quiet'. It claims that the Icelandic word is descended from the word hœgr which, according to the Icelandic-English Dictionary by Cleasby means 'easy'. Thus, I figure that 'óhægenda' means something along the lines of 'hard' or 'not easy' or, seeing as how the word is in a sentence that has to do with divorce, maybe even 'intolerable'. I'm still looking for a more authoritative translation before I decide once-and-for-all how I'll translate the word before I go on with the rest of the text (Yngvars saga víðförla).


        Still, any other strategies for translating will be welcomed!


        Also, if I ever get through the first paragraph, expect to see my translation of Yngvars saga víðförla (at least the first few chapters) followed by a desperate plea for feedback, soon.


        --- In norse_course@yahoogroups.com, William Lake <wl9517@...> wrote:
        >
        > Hi Worf,
        >
        > I'm really envious of the time and effort you've put into the language so
        > far. I finished the basic exercises on the website long ago, but started
        > learning Spanish shortly after.
        >
        > Have you already tried writing words such as "óhægenda" on paper, and
        > drawing a line between each syllable? Dividing a world like that might shed
        > some light on some of the root words involved as you flip around through the
        > dictionary. I know my experience is practically zero in translating rustic
        > literature, but this tactic has helped me with other languages.
        >
        > Good luck!
        >
        > -Mozilla's Witness
        >
        > 2011/3/17 startrekdataandworf <heinrichbrun@...>
        >
        > >
        > >
        > > Hello,
        > >
        > > As part of my study of Old Norse, I figured that going through some texts
        > > and trying to translate them would be beneficial. I've found it quite
        > > enlightening. However, there are the occasional words that I cannot find the
        > > translation of, no matter how hard I try. I realize that
        > > umlaut/transformation has a lot to do with my problem, but even when I
        > > account for that (or, rather, think that I have accounted for that), I still
        > > cannot find anything that'll bring me any closer to the meaning of the word.
        > >
        > > This brings me to my question: What do you do? Surely you've much more
        > > experience, and thus have come upon a similar quandary in times passed. Do
        > > you give up? Skip the word? I've spent an hour - or more - on a single word
        > > at times. 'óhægenda', from Yngvars saga Víð örla, has been the most
        > > infuriating; I've managed to figure out closely enough the translation of
        > > 'átti' (something to do with being married?), though I'm still having
        > > trouble with it. However, I must make it clear that I do not want the
        > > translation of those words (!!!) I want to do it on my own - I'll never
        > > learn if I'm spoonfed the answers - but would desperately like some
        > > strategies so that I may do so successfully.
        > >
        > > Thank you.
        > >
        > >
        > >
        >
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