Now that I have a passing knowledge of the grammar and structure of Middle Welsh, I am being tossed headlong into the translations. Our first endeavor is to translate from the second branch of the Mabinogi, the tale of Branwen, Daughter of Llyr. I’ve read it several times, which is hypothetically helpful when translating, but going word by word is still all kinds of confusing fun. This takes me back to the days of translating Old English texts… only every so slightly more difficult, I think.
I am using the same system I used with Old English, because it is the only thing that makes this possible for my poor brain. I write out snippets of the text with two lines in between and space on the side for notes. Underneath the text, I put the direct translation of each word. The third line is for my final translation. Using three colors makes it possible to actually read what I come up with and not get all mixed up. Not that I’m not all mixed up anyway…
All of this took about three hours total, the first page in class and the last three classes this afternoon. I am quite proud of what I’ve done so far… but then I remember that I am only eleven lines into the 22 that I have to finish by Monday.
Honestly, I find translating a calming and enjoyable exercise. I know that might seem odd unless perhaps you’ve done it yourself in some language or another. Going through a text and uncovering its meaning, perhaps with some nice music playing in the background, is not a half bad way to spend an afternoon. If it weren’t for the fact that I have research to do and work this evening, I’d probably just go ahead and finish it.
Oh, and in case you were wondering how I have all of my admittedly terrible handwriting uploaded on the computer, I did it all on my iPad and exported it to my computer, easy as the proverbial pie. Doing translations on the iPad is actually really, really handy. Limitless pages in a notebook, easy switching between text colors, and instant exporting as needed! Technology is my friend.