Language in Beowulf Essay

767 Words4 Pages
So many languages, so many cultures. So many people, so many minds. One of the hardest things for humans to interpret is language, especially if the language they are interpreting is one they are not primarily familiar to the language they are interpreting. A result of this is a myriad of interpretations, each with their own individual ‘twist’ depending on the translator. This applies immensely when it comes to the ancient but timeles epic poem Beowulf. Beowulf was written in Old English by an unknown author between the centuries of 800 AD and 1000 AD. Year after year, a new translation is made by an author. Each translation is completely different, yet still the same poem. It is tedious for authors to make their translation literal to the…show more content…
Heaney gives Grendel a personality while still following the plot lines of the original epic. Heaney even gives Hrothgar, the King of Danes, character flaws. In truth, Bewoulf is awfully egotistical and focuses on himself most of the time. One of the main reasons why he defeats Grendel is for his reputation. Beowulf is also a hero in some ways, and is loyal to his kings and nobles. Grendel is a monstrosity and a killer, but has fair traits and only wants to be accepted.
Heaney also is true to the original epic; He uses modern grammar to make the syntax correct in English, as opposed to other translations, where they add unnecessary grammar to enhance their version of it. Personally , I would like to read the epic as it truly is; not a fabricated version of the text. “’For the sight I see to the Sovran Ruler be speedy thanks!” (929-930 Gumerre).Gumerre uses unnecessary vocabulary and twists words into completely different words. Looking at the same excerpt from both translations, I see that Gumerre’s translation tries too greatly to glorify almost every line of the poem. “’First and foremost, let the Almighty Father be thanked for this sight.” (927-928, Heaney) Heaney uses realistic vocabulary and literal meaning to the same excerpt. Also, Heaney’s syntax is understandable and not confusing, as opposed to Gummere’s. Syntax plays a very important role in the translation of this poem, it is imperative that it is correct so it is readable and
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