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Translation help for long winding crazy Medieval sentence

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Translation help for long winding crazy Medieval sentence

Postby autophile » Mon Aug 03, 2009 9:41 pm

Salvete!

Those Medieval writers sure love their long sentences. Usually when translating a such a sentence, I get totally lost in the thicket of phrases. I end up trying to diagram the sentence, which often helps, but sometimes I cannot determine where some phrases connect. Here is an example. This is Trithemius in the Preface to the Steganographia, talking about how his art of hiding messages could be used for raunchy purposes:

Nec tuta inter coniugatos fides contracta sacramento, hac scientia publicata in reprobos, iam deinceps maneret: dum uxor, licet Latini sermonis hactenus inscia, per verba pudica, honesta atque sanctissima cuiuslibet linguae vel idiomatis iam satis docta, malam & impudicam amatoris adulteri seu fornicatoris mentem & intentionem, licet viro perferente literas ac collaudante, ut optimas, latissime intelligere, suumque desiderium eodem modo, quam late & copiose voluerit, illi securissime eisdem vel aliis literis pulchra & satis admodum ornata serie posset remandere.


What I have so far. I put in bold the verbs (as well as some particles) where I think they connect the phrases. I've broken the sentence down into subsentences for my own sanity:

1. Also, by publishing this knowledge among the base folks, not upholding loyalty between persons having been joined into marriage by sacrament, one may now hereafter have an affair:

2. Provided that a wife (although thus far not knowing Latin diction) is to realize a wicked and unchaste plan and intention of an adulterous lover (that is, a fornicator) (by chaste, honest, and most holy words of whatever language or idiom currently adequately learned), even though her husband bears the letters as well as praises her extensively as the most honest...

3. He would be able to reply with his desire to her in the same way, as widely and as copiously as preferred, most secretly, by the same or some other beautiful and sufficiently completely ornate series (of what? words?).

I would appreciate any feedback!

Valete,

--Rob
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Re: Translation help for long winding crazy Medieval sentence

Postby ptolemyauletes » Mon Aug 03, 2009 11:33 pm

fides is the subject of maneret and is modified by tuta and contracta.


And marital faith, bound together by sacrament, henceforth would no longer remain among couples once the knowledge (of this skill) is made known to wicked folk: as long as the wife, although unskilled in Latin speech to this point, through words chaste, honest and very holy of whatever language or speech she now knows well enough, is able to understand very broadly the wicked and impure intent and thought of her adulterous lover or fornicator, even though her husband is bringing the letters and praising them as the best, and she can return her desire in the same way, as widely and as fully as she wants, to him (the lover) very safely, with the same or other letters, in a beautiful and sufficiently elaborate arrangement.

I believe this is pretty close to the meaning.
uxor is the subject of posset
posset is the main verb, used once with intellegere and once with remandere.
Apologies for a few poor English vocab choices. Don't have my dictionary in Canada.
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Re: Translation help for long winding crazy Medieval sentence

Postby autophile » Tue Aug 04, 2009 12:50 am

That's really excellent work! A question, though: I'm having a tough time understanding how tuta inter coniugatos fides contracta sacramento becomes "marital faith, bound together by sacrament, among couples". How is tuta modifying fides if there is a phrase in between? Or, how can *I* learn to detect when that is the case, instead of trying to fit the words into separate phrases?

Furthermore, how does one get the idea that posset modifies intelligere as well as remandare?

Thank you very much!

--Rob
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Re: Translation help for long winding crazy Medieval sentence

Postby adrianus » Tue Aug 04, 2009 10:37 am

Nor henceforth may the trust agreed in the sacrament between marriage partners any longer remain safe ...
I'm writing in Latin hoping for correction, and not because I'm confident in how I express myself. Latinè scribo ut ab omnibus corrigar, non quod confidenter me exprimam.
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Re: Translation help for long winding crazy Medieval sentence

Postby ptolemyauletes » Tue Aug 04, 2009 1:49 pm

I teach my students to work until they find a verb. I teach them to look for markers of subclauses, such as cum, ubi, qui, ut etc, and if they don't find any of these to keep looking for the main verb. In this sentence, posset is the only verb. Since intelligere and remandere are infinitives it makes sense that they must be dependent on posset, as there is no other possibility. Furthermore, it makes sense. Also, the que on suumque, immediately following the first infinitive, serves as punctuation in Latin, giving a further indication that we have just finished the first of two ideas, governed by infinitives.

LAtin word order is not always the same, as we all know well, but it often follows rules better than seems obvious.

Safe, between couples, faith, bound by sacrament, no longer remains, is how Yoda would say it.
LAtin typically interrupts a noun and an adjective with a participial or some other phrase. Logically, the word order here makes perfect sense. tuta is placed emphatically as it is the key word. inter coniugatos comes next, between tuta and fides, as it describes the exact type of fides that will no longer remain safe. Furthemore it creates a word picture 'inter coniugatos' placed between tuta and fides. Finally, contracta sacramento finishes the idea of the faith, a further description, emphasising the sacredness of the faith, and heightening the sense of danger that this skill of hiding meaning in words poses. Next comes an ablative absolute phrase, which is tried in meaning to the final verb. Finally the verb. Remove all the trappings and you have a simple sentence. nec fides iam maneret.

Again, it comes down to the verb. Only a verb, or some form of conjunction, can normally separate ideas. Since there is only one verb in this first sentence, and no conjunctions, everything else must fit together somehow.

It also helps to know that fides is feminine! :)

Mind you, this was by no means an easy sentence, but it does follow general rules.
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Re: Translation help for long winding crazy Medieval sentence

Postby autophile » Tue Aug 04, 2009 5:08 pm

Thank you for the helpful hints, especially on infinitives. I've found that I can whip through easily some of the sentences which are just as long, but there are a few characteristics which trip me up, and the infinitives were one of them :)
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