John Palsgrave as Renaissance Linguist: A Pioneer in Vernacular Language Description

By Gabriele Stein | Go to book overview

8
The French Translation Equivalents

What does Palsgrave tell us about his aims in providing his English readers with French equivalents? How much information does he want to put at their disposal? At the end of the grammatical treatment of nouns in book III, he explains his aim and method as follows:

I shall set forthe all the englysshe substantyues in our tong/ after the order of a/b/c/ and in the same lyne shewe what substantyues in the frenche tonge is of lyke signification.

And fardermore/ for a more helpe and spedy forderyng of the sayd lernar/ if he be nat parfyte in my rules herafore declared/ I shall expresse in the same lyne/ what letter the sayd frenche substãtyues haue in their plurell nombres/ and what gendre they be of in the sayd frenche tonge: for if they be of the masculyne gendre/ the lernar shall fynde after

letter of the plurell nombre Ma, if they be of the femyne gendre Fe. (III, fo. xvi)

After this general characterization, he then discusses a more specific case, the plural of French compounds consisting of a noun + a preposition + a noun. He argues that he will indicate the plural and gender for the first noun, since the rest of the compound remains unchanged.


NOUNS

From this statement, we might expect him not to list the French equivalents with an article form, but to specify the gender after the item in question. This is, in fact, the general practice -- for example, 'Budde bovton, bourgon s ma.', 'Buffette buffee s fe. covp de poing z ma.'. When the French equivalent consists of a complex noun phrase with a postmodifying prepositional phrase, practice varies: 'Maggotte uer de chair s fe.' or 'Blacke of the eye le noyr de loyl s ma.'. Both forms may co-occur in one entry: 'Calfe of a legge pommeau de la iambe x ma, le mol de la iambe z ma'.

In some instances, the indefinite article has crept in: 'Globerde a flye ung uer q+̃ reluit de nuyt', 'Warehouse to shewe marchandise in une monstre a marchandise s fe.'. Instances with the definite

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