Amo Amas Awhat?
October 23, 2009 1:23 PM   Subscribe

Is there a Medieval Linguist in the house? I need a very short conversation between Cistercian nuns in Saxony translated into Medieval Latin. Any help so I don't sound like a complete idiot warmly welcomed.

Background, it's 1301 in Lower Saxony at Wienhausen Abbey

"He wishes in all humbleness to adore the relic."


"But abbess, he has brought a wonder! He says it is a gift. He only wants a moment with it."

"Bring him to me."

Total Side Question: I can't figure out if the nuns wouldn't used Old German or Latin when speaking to each other rather than writing religious texts. Some sources say Old French, even.
posted by The Whelk to Society & Culture (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
To your total side question: in 1301, it's my understanding that everyone (even clergy) would be much more likely to speak in whatever their local vulgar tongue was, unless they were involved in ritual, study, or maybe high politics. My money would be on medieval German.
posted by oinopaponton at 1:29 PM on October 23, 2009

Best answer: How about this?

"Reliquias venerari summe modeste vult."

"Nullo modo fieri potest."

"Sed rem miram tulit, mater, quem donum esse affirmat! Maneri vult tantum breviter coram sancto."

"Fer illum ad me."
posted by verstegan at 2:22 PM on October 23, 2009

(Sorry, that should be 'manere', not 'maneri'.)
posted by verstegan at 2:27 PM on October 23, 2009

I second oinopapanton. They spoke their local language/dialect.
Good going verstegan.
posted by feelinggood at 5:05 PM on October 23, 2009

Response by poster: Then I guess the question becomes "Any Old German speakers in the house"?

It's for a comic book, of course. It really just has to be unintelligible to the average reader, but I'd really like my linguistics ducks in a row. (Plus, accurate detail? awesome)
posted by The Whelk at 5:17 PM on October 23, 2009

You don't want Old German, you want Middle Low German. The main source for the language is the 13th-century Sachsenspiegel ("Saxon Mirror"), which is online here. My German, whether New High or Middle Low, is not good enough to attempt a translation, but perhaps that will give someone else a helping hand.
posted by languagehat at 5:28 PM on October 23, 2009

The nuns would mostly have spoken to each other in German, but during periods of silence (e.g. after night prayer) they would have spoken in Latin. A nun called Gertrude, from the Benedictine convent of Admont (in modern-day Austria), wrote a biography of one of her teachers in which she says: 'Sometimes in the dead of night she composed a letter and dictated to a scribe. In spite of this she maintained the observation of silence since she never uttered German words.' As a modern scholar has pointed out, this suggests that 'speaking Latin was acceptable when speaking German was not'. (Alison Beach, Women as Scribes: Book Production and Monastic Reform in Twelfth-Century Bavaria (2004), p. 70.)
posted by verstegan at 4:26 AM on October 24, 2009 [1 favorite]

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