Beowulf Translation Essay

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Charles Scott Moncrieff’s translation of Beowulf is more linguistically similar to the original text than interpretive of that text which indicates a formal equivalence philosophy. Moncrieff’s translation uses literal translations of the original language, and mirrors the structure and layout of the original text. The first line of Moncrieff’s translation, “Then came from the moor / under misty slopes,” appears to be an exact translation of the original first line. Also illustrated in the first line is the similarity of form. Moncrieff’s translation preserves the medial caesura of the original with backslashes. His translation is also in a vertical form arranged by line, similar to the original epic. Francis B. Gummere’s translation of Beowulf is concerned with maintaining a similar style and tone to the original, although he is willing to sacrifice a few choice words from the original to do so. That indicates a looser formal equivalence philosophy. Gummere was careful in maintaining the alliteration built into Beowulf, most exemplified by the first five lines which contain ample alliteration. Specifically, line 714, “Under welkin he walked, till the wine-palace there,” is a good example of maintaining style as well as tone by using archaic language and kenning. Notably, Gummere altered some words to fit the style such as changing “niht” to “evening”…show more content…
However, Heaney also does a good job of translating literally in several cases, the inclusion or shifting of phrases and words such a “God-cursed,” “race of men,” “mansion” and the change of the last line from the original cement this work as being more dynamically equivalent than formally equivalent (711-2; 728). Nonetheless, Heaney does well in maintaining the original tone and style and the work with kennings such as “God-cursed,” “cloud-murk,” and
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