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Old French Online

Lesson 10

Brigitte L.M. Bauer and Jonathan Slocum

Students will have noticed that translations played an important role in medieval French literature: texts in languages other than French, most commonly Latin, were indeed an important source of inspiration. In addition, the gradual spread of translations shows the increasing importance of French as a language of communication -- that is, in registers other than the day-to-day spoken varieties.

Reading and Textual Analysis

The text selected for this lesson is from Le voyage de St. Brandan, a translation of the Latin Navigatio. Brendan was a 6th century Irish Benedictine monk who had founded a monastery on an island and one day set out to sail to the "Promised Land" situated in the West, which he reaches after seven years. His adventures have been related in the Latin Navigatio, which in all likelihood is a collection of stories of a sea-faring nation.

The Irish in the (early) Middle Ages were well-known for their marine skills, and they had the habit of traveling regularly from one island to another. That the Navigatio may have more to it than just imagination became clear in 1976 and 1977, when an expedition proved that it is possible to cross the Atlantic Ocean and reach North America while taking a northerly route in Irish skin boats (see references below). During their journey in the 1970s, the crew regularly came across phenomena that could be identified as the ordeals described in the text of the Navigatio. If the adventures related in the Navigatio indeed reflect stories of Irish people travelling to North America, then the Irish discovered that continent long before Columbus, or even the Vikings.

The Latin text, which also had a Germanic version, was translated into Old French no later than the second half of the 13th century.

The fragment chosen here relates the beginnings of Brendan's odyssey. Brendan is head of a monastery at Clonfert when he receives a visit from another monk, St. Barind. St. Barind tells him that he has been visiting his godson, Mernoc, who had left him to live as an anchorite and has founded a new monastery on an island. Mernoc invites St. Barind to travel to the "Promised Land," which is described as rich in flowers and fruits and providing plenty of food. Hearing about these possibilities, Brendan selects a group of monks and decides to seek the "Promised Land" himself.

Cis Barintes commencha a plourer et se coucha a terre
et demoura longhement en orisons.

  • cis -- demonstrative; nominative singular masculine <cest, cist> this -- this
  • Barintes -- proper name; nominative singular <Barintes> Barind -- Barind
  • commencha -- verb; third person singular preterite <comencier> begin, start -- started
  • a -- preposition; <a, ad> to, up to, against, in, on -- to
  • plourer -- verb; infinitive <plorer> cry, shed tears -- cry
  • et -- conjunction; <e, et, ed> and -- and
  • se coucha -- verb; third person singular preterite <se coucher> lie down -- lay down
  • a -- preposition; <a, ad> to, up to, against, in, on -- on
  • terre -- noun; oblique singular <terre> land, country, earth -- the soil
  • et -- conjunction; <e, et, ed> and -- and
  • demoura -- verb; third person singular preterite <demorer> stay, remain -- remained
  • longhement -- adverb; <longement> long, for a long time -- for a long time
  • en -- preposition; <en> in, into, on, on top of -- in
  • orisons -- noun; oblique singular <orison, oraison> prayer, speech -- prayers

Mais sains Brandains le leva de terre
et le baisa si dist:
Bials pere pour coi auons nous tristeche en te venue
Enne venistes vous a no consolation.

  • mais -- conjunction; <mais, mes> but -- but
  • sains Brandains -- adjective; nominative singular masculine <saint> holy + proper name; nominative singular <Brandain> Brendan -- St. Brendan
  • le -- personal pronoun; third person singular direct object masculine <il> he -- him
  • leva -- verb; third person singular preterite <lever> lift up -- lifted... up
  • de -- preposition; <de> of, from -- from
  • terre -- noun; oblique singular <terre> land, country, earth -- the ground
  • et -- conjunction; <e, et, ed> and -- and
  • le -- personal pronoun; third person singular direct object masculine <il> he -- him
  • baisa -- verb; third person singular preterite <baisier> kiss -- kissed
  • si -- conjunction; <si> and, and thus -- and
  • dist -- verb; third person singular preterite <dire> say, tell -- said
  • bials -- adjective; nominative singular masculine <bel> dear, beloved, handsome -- dear
  • pere -- noun; nominative singular <pere> father -- father
  • pour coi -- preposition; <por> for + interrogative; oblique <qui> what -- why
  • auons -- verb; first person plural present <avoir, aveir> have, be -- do... have
  • nous -- personal pronoun; first person plural nominative <nos> we -- we
  • tristeche -- noun; oblique singular <tristece> sadness, horror -- sadness
  • en -- preposition; <en> in, into, on, on top of -- at
  • te -- possessive; second person singular oblique singular feminine <ton> your -- your
  • venue -- noun; oblique singular <venue> arrival -- arrival
  • enne -- interrogative adverb; <enne> not -- not
  • venistes -- verb; second person plural subjunctive imperfective <venir> come, go -- did... come
  • vous -- personal pronoun; second person plural nominative <vos> you -- you
  • a -- preposition; <a, ad> to, up to, against, in, on -- to
  • no -- possessive; first person plural oblique singular feminine <nostre> our -- our
  • consolation -- noun; oblique singular <consolation> consolation -- consolation

Tu nous dois miex esleechier que courechier.
Demoustre nous le parolle diu
e refai nos ames des divers miracles que tu as veus en le mer.

  • tu -- personal pronoun; second person singular nominative <tu> you -- you
  • nous -- personal pronoun; first person plural direct object <nos> we -- us
  • dois -- verb; second person singular present <devoir> have to -- have to
  • miex -- comparative adverb; <miels, mels> better, rather -- rather
  • esleechier -- verb; infinitive <esleecier> rejoice -- make happy
  • que -- conjunction; <que> than -- than
  • courechier -- verb; infinitive <corocier> anger, afflict -- make sad
  • demoustre -- verb; second person singular imperative <demostrer> show, indicate, explaine -- show
  • nous -- personal pronoun; first person plural indirect object <nos> we -- us
  • le -- definite article; oblique singular feminine <li> the -- the
  • parolle -- noun; oblique singular <parole> word, speech -- word
  • diu -- proper name; oblique singular <Dieu, Deu> God -- of God
  • e -- conjunction; <e, et, ed> and -- and
  • refai -- verb; second person singular imperative <refaire> repair -- repair
  • nos -- possessive; first person plural oblique plural feminine <nostre> our -- our
  • ames -- noun; oblique plural <anme, alme, arme, ame> soul, somebody -- souls
  • des -- preposition; <de> of, from + definite article; oblique plural masculine <li> the -- with the
  • divers -- adjective; oblique plural masculine <divers> various -- various
  • miracles -- noun; oblique plural <miracle> miracle -- miracles
  • que -- relative pronoun; object <qui> that -- that
  • tu -- personal pronoun; second person singular nominative <tu> you -- you
  • as -- verb; second person singular present <avoir, aveir> have, be -- have
  • veus -- verb; perfective participle oblique plural masculine <veoir> see -- seen
  • en -- preposition; <en> in, into, on, on top of -- on
  • le -- definite article; oblique singular feminine <li> the -- ...
  • mer -- noun; oblique singular <mer> sea -- sea

Dont commencha a dire sains Barintes a saint Brandain d'une isle et dist:
Mes fils Mernoc pourueeres des poures ihu crist
se departi de devant mi et iestres curieus.

  • dont -- adverb; <donc> then, therefore -- then
  • commencha -- verb; third person singular preterite <comencier> begin, start -- started
  • a -- preposition; <a, ad> to, up to, against, in, on -- to
  • dire -- verb; infinitive <dire> say, tell -- talk
  • sains Barintes -- adjective; nominative singular masculine <saint> holy + proper name; nominative singular <Barintes> Barind -- St. Barind
  • a -- preposition; <a, ad> to, up to, against, in, on -- to
  • saint Brandain -- adjective; oblique singular masculine <saint> holy + proper name; oblique singular <Brandain> Brendan -- St. Brendan
  • d'une -- preposition; <de> of, from + indefinite article; oblique singular feminine <un> a -- about an
  • isle -- noun; oblique singular <isle, ille> island -- island
  • et -- conjunction; <e, et, ed> and -- and
  • dist -- verb; third person singular preterite <dire> say, tell -- he said
  • mes -- possessive; first person singular nominative singular masculine <mon> my -- my
  • fils -- noun; nominative singular <fil> son -- son
  • Mernoc -- proper name; nominative singular <Mernoc> Mernoc -- Mernoc
  • pourueeres -- noun; nominative singular <porveor> purveyor -- purveyor
  • des -- preposition; <de> of, from + definite article; oblique plural masculine <li> the -- of the
  • poures -- noun; oblique plural <povre> poor -- poor
  • ihu -- proper name; oblique singular <Iesus> Jesus -- of Jesus
  • crist -- proper name; oblique singular <Christ> Christ -- Christ
  • se departi -- verb; third person singular preterite <se departir> leave, go away -- left
  • de devant mi -- preposition; <de> of, from + preposition; <devant> before, in front of, in the presence of + personal pronoun; first person singular direct object <jo, jou, jeu> I -- me
  • et -- conjunction; <e, et, ed> and -- and
  • iestres -- noun; oblique singular <estre> life, condition, way of life -- a way of life
  • curieus -- adjective; nominative singular masculine <curios> careful -- safe

Il trouva une isle dales le mont de piere
qui est apielee par non isle delisieuse.
Apries une grant pieche de tans me fu nonchiet
qu'il auoit pluiseurs moines aueoc lui.

  • il -- personal pronoun; third person singular nominative masculine <il> he -- he
  • trouva -- verb; third person singular preterite <trover> find -- found
  • une -- indefinite article; oblique singular feminine <un> a -- an
  • isle -- noun; oblique singular <isle, ille> island -- island
  • dales -- preposition; <dales, dalles, dallé> next to, along -- next to
  • le -- definite article; oblique singular masculine <li> the -- the
  • mont -- noun; oblique singular <mont> mountain -- mountain
  • de -- preposition; <de> of, from -- of
  • piere -- noun; oblique singular <piere, pierre> stone, prison -- stone
  • qui -- relative pronoun; subject <qui> that -- which
  • est -- verb; third person singular present <estre, iestre, aistre> be -- is
  • apielee -- verb; perfective participle nominative singular feminine <apeler> accuse, summon, call -- called
  • par -- preposition; <par> through, by, by reason of -- by
  • non -- noun; oblique singular <nom, non> name, title -- the name
  • isle -- noun; oblique singular <isle, ille> island -- island
  • delisieuse -- adjective; oblique singular feminine <delicios> delicious -- delicious
  • apries -- preposition; <apres> after, afterwards -- after
  • une -- indefinite article; oblique singular feminine <un> a -- a
  • grant -- adjective; oblique singular feminine <grant> great, large, tall -- long
  • pieche -- noun; oblique singular <piece> piece, segment -- period
  • de -- preposition; <de> of, from -- of
  • tans -- noun; oblique singular <tens, tans> time, weather -- time
  • me -- personal pronoun; first person singular indirect object <jo, jou, jeu> I -- I
  • fu -- verb; third person singular preterite <estre, iestre, aistre> be -- was
  • nonchiet -- verb; perfective participle nominative singular masculine <noncier> announce, tell -- told
  • qu'il -- conjunction; <que> that + personal pronoun; third person singular nominative masculine <il> he -- that he
  • auoit -- verb; third person singular imperfective <avoir, aveir> have, be -- had
  • pluiseurs -- indefinite pronoun; nominative plural masculine <plusor, pluisor> several -- several
  • moines -- noun; oblique plural <moine, monie> monk -- monks
  • aueoc -- preposition; <avuec, avec, avoc> with -- with
  • lui -- personal pronoun; third person singular direct object masculine <il> he -- him

Et que dex auoit demonstre molt de miracles par lui
En tel maniere alai a lui pour visiter men filluel
et com ie fuisse a trois iours pries de me voie
Il se hasta pour venir encontre mi atout ses freres.

  • et -- conjunction; <e, et, ed> and -- and
  • que -- conjunction; <que> that -- that
  • dex -- proper name; nominative singular <Dieu, Deu> God -- God
  • auoit -- verb; third person singular imperfective <avoir, aveir> have, be -- had
  • demonstre -- verb; perfective participle oblique singular masculine <demostrer> show, indicate, explaine -- shown
  • molt -- adverb, adjective; <molt, mult, mout> many, much, very -- many
  • de -- particle <de>... -- ...
  • miracles -- noun; oblique plural <miracle> miracle -- miracles
  • par -- preposition; <par> through, by, by reason of -- through
  • lui -- personal pronoun; third person singular direct object masculine <il> he -- him
  • en -- preposition; <en> in, into, on, on top of -- in
  • tel -- adjective; oblique singular feminine <tel> such -- such
  • maniere -- noun; oblique singular <maniere> way, intention -- way
  • alai -- verb; first person singular preterite <aler> go -- I went
  • a -- preposition; <a, ad> to, up to, against, in, on -- to
  • lui -- personal pronoun; third person singular direct object masculine <il> he -- him
  • pour -- preposition; <por> for -- in order to
  • visiter -- verb; infinitive <viseter> visit, observe -- visit
  • men -- possessive; first person singular oblique singular masculine <mon> my -- my
  • filluel -- noun; oblique singular <filuel> son, godson -- godson
  • et -- conjunction; <e, et, ed> and -- and
  • com -- conjunction; <com, comme> when -- when
  • ie -- personal pronoun; first person singular nominative <jo, jou, jeu> I -- I
  • fuisse -- verb; first person singular subjunctive imperfective <estre, iestre, aistre> be -- was
  • a -- preposition; <a, ad> to, up to, against, in, on -- ...
  • trois -- numeral; <trois> three -- three
  • iours -- noun; oblique plural <jorn, jor> day -- days
  • pries -- adverb <pres> close -- close to
  • de -- preposition; <de> of, from -- ...
  • me -- possessive; first person singular oblique singular feminine <mon> my -- ...
  • voie -- noun; oblique singular <veie> road -- underway
  • il -- personal pronoun; third person singular nominative masculine <il> he -- he
  • se hasta -- verb; third person singular preterite <se haster, se hasteier> hasten -- hastened
  • pour -- preposition; <por> for -- to
  • venir -- verb; infinitive <venir> come, go -- come
  • encontre -- preposition; <encontre> to, towards, against -- to meet
  • mi -- personal pronoun; first person singular direct object <jo, jou, jeu> I -- me
  • atout -- preposition; <atot> with -- with
  • ses -- possessive; third person singular oblique plural masculine <son> his -- his
  • freres -- noun; oblique plural <frere> brother -- brothers

Car nostre sires li avoit reuele men avenement.

  • car -- conjunction <quar, car> for, because -- because
  • nostre -- possessive; first person plural nominative singular masculine <nostre> our -- Our
  • sires -- noun; nominative singular <seignor> lord -- Lord
  • li -- personal pronoun; third person singular indirect object masculine <il> he -- to him
  • avoit -- verb; third person singular imperfective <avoir, aveir> have, be -- had
  • reuele -- verb; perfective participle oblique singular masculine <reveler> reveal, make known -- made known
  • men -- possessive; first person singular oblique singular masculine <mon> my -- my
  • avenement -- noun; oblique singular <avenement> arrival -- arrival

Lesson Text

Cis Barintes commencha a plourer et se coucha a terre
et demoura longhement en orisons.

Mais sains Brandains le leva de terre
et le baisa si dist:
Bials pere pour coi auons nous tristeche en te venue
Enne venistes vous a no consolation.

Tu nous dois miex esleechier que courechier.
Demoustre nous le parolle diu
e refai nos ames des divers miracles que tu as veus en le mer.

Dont commencha a dire sains Barintes a saint Brandain d'une isle et dist:
Mes fils Mernoc pourueeres des poures ihu crist
se departi de devant mi et iestres curieus.

Il trouva une isle dales le mont de piere
qui est apielee par non isle delisieuse.
Apries une grant pieche de tans me fu nonchiet
qu'il auoit pluiseurs moines aueoc lui.

Et que dex auoit demonstre molt de miracles par lui
En tel maniere alai a lui pour visiter men filluel
et com ie fuisse a trois iours pries de me voie
Il se hasta pour venir encontre mi atout ses freres.

Car nostre sires li avoit reuele men avenement.

Translation

This Barind started to cry and lay down on the soil
And remained for a long time in prayers.
But St. Brendan lifted him up from the ground
And kissed him and said :
Dear father why do we have sadness at your arrival ?
Did you not come to our consolation ?
You have to make us happy rather than make us sad
Show us the word of God
And repair our souls with the various miracles that you have seen on sea.
Then St. Barind started to talk to St. Brendan about an island and he said :
My son Mernoc, purveyor of the poor of Jesus Christ
Left me and a safe way of life.
He found an island next to the mountain of stone
which is called by the name delicious island.
After a long period of time I was told
That he had several monks with him.
And that God had shown many miracles through him
In such way I went to him to visit my godson
And when I was close to three days under way
He hastened in order to meet me with his brothers.
Because Our Lord had made my arrival known to him.

References

46. Grammars and Dictionaries
  • Anglade, Joseph. 1965. Grammaire élémentaire de l'ancien français. Paris: Colin.
  • Buridant, Claude. 2000. Grammaire nouvelle de l'ancien français. Paris: Sedes.
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  • Grandsaignes d'Hauterive, R. 1947. Dictionnaire d'ancien français. Paris: Larousse.
  • Greimas, Algirdas. 1979. Dictionnaire de l'ancien français. Paris: Larousse.
  • Hindley, Alan, Frederick W. Langley, and Brian J. Levy. 2000. Old French - English Dictionary. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Kibler, William. 1984. An Introduction to Old French. New York: Modern Language Association of America.
  • Raynaud de Lage, Guy. 1975. Introduction a l'ancien français. 9e éd. Paris: Sedes.
  • Roques, Mario. 1970. Recueil général des lexiques français du moyen âge. 12e - 15e siècles. Paris: Champion.
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47. Sources
  • Bastin, Julia, ed. 1929. Recueil général des Isopets. Vol. 1. Paris: Société des anciens textes français.
  • Bastin, Julia, ed. 1930. Recueil général des Isopets. Vol. 2. Paris: Société des anciens textes français.
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48. Linguistic Analyses
  • Bauer, Brigitte L.M. 2003. "The Adverbial Formation in -mente in Vulgar and Late Latin. A Problem in Grammaticalization." Latin Vulgaire et Latin Tardif. VI. Actes du 6me colloque international sur le latin vulgaire et tardif. Heikki Solin, Martti Leiwo, and Hilla Halla-aho, eds. Hildesheim: Olm. Pp. 439-457.
  • Bauer, Brigitte L.M. 2004. "Vigesimal Numerals in Romance: An Indo-European Perspective." Indo-European Language and Culture in Historical Perspective: Essays in Memory of Edgar C. Polomé. Bridget Drinka, ed. General Linguistics 41, pp. 21-46.
  • Buridant, Claude. 2000. Grammaire nouvelle de l'ancien français. Paris: Sedes.
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  • Marchello-Nizia, Christiane. 1995. L'évolution du françaiss. Ordre des mots, démonstratifs, accent tonique. Paris: Colin.
  • Moignet, Gérard. 1973. Grammaire de l'ancien français. Paris: Klincksieck.
  • Pope, M.K. 1934. From Latin to Modern French with Especial Consideration of Anglo-Norman. Phonology and Morphology. Manchester: Manchester University Press.
49. Medieval Culture
  • Duby, Georges. 1967. L'an mil. Paris: Julliard.
  • Duby, Georges. 1976. Le temps des cathédrales. L'art et la société, 980-1420. Paris: Gallimard.
  • Duby, Georges. 1981. The Age of the Cathedrals. Art and Society, 980-1420. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
  • Gimpel, Jean. 1975. La révolution industrielle du moyen âge. Paris: Seuil.
  • Huizinga, Johan. 1975 (1919). Herfsttij der middeleeuwen. Studie over levens- en gedachtevormen der veertiende en vijftiende eeuw in Frankrijk en de Nederlanden. Haarlem: Willink.
  • Huizinga, Johan. 1997 (1919). The Autumn of the Middle Ages. Translation by Rodney J. Payton and Ulrich Mammitzsch. Original title: Herfsttij der middeleeuwen (see above). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
  • Huizinga, Johan. 2002. L'automne du moyen âge. Transl. by J. Bastin. Original title: Herfsttij der middeleeuwen (see above). Paris: Payot.
  • Mâle, Emile. 1947. L'art religieux du XIIe siècle en France. Etude sur les origines de l'iconographie du moyen âge. Paris: Colin.
  • Mâle, Emile. 1948. L'art religieux du XIIIe siècle en France. Etude sur l'iconographie du moyen âge et sur ses sources d'inspiration. Paris: Colin.
  • Pernoud, Régine. 1977. Pour en finir avec le moyen age. Paris: Seuil.
  • Pernoud, Régine. 1980. La femme au temps des cathédrales. Paris: Stock.
  • Réau, Louis. 1955-1959. L'iconographie de l'art chrétien. 6 vols. Paris: Presses univeristaires de France.
  • Tuchman, Barbara W. 1979. A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century. London: MacMillan.
  • Severin, Tim. 1979. The Brendan Voyage. New York, NY: Avon.
50. Handbooks, Literature
  • Castex, P.-G. and P. Surer. 1967. Manuel des études littéraires françaises. Moyen Age. Paris: Hachette.
  • Lagarde, André and Laurent Michaud. 1963. Moyen age. Les grands auteurs français du programme. Paris: Bordas.