Title Background

William Langland’

William Langland’

After general remarks about translation in the poem, including evidence that some of its English is actually unmarked translation of Latin sources, Lawler takes up two questions: why some Latin is translated and some not, and what principles shape L’s English when he does translate. The answer offered to the first question is that only tutors translate, and tutors nearly always translate when the Latin is at least a line long. These include L, tutoring us. In translating, L undoes the compression of Latin, like Trevisa ‘opening’ the meaning by creating clauses, expanding, and specifying. Lawler derives these principles by analysing Patience’s translations of the phrases in the definition of poverty, B.14.276–322, and shows them operating in a few typical instances: at B.3.305–10, and in revisions of B.5.282–83a, A.7.234–36, A.10.161, and B.5.639–42. He concludes that one of L’s purposes in revising seems to have been to rethink his translations, since these principles are most fully evidenced in the C version. (TL)


The Oxford History of Literary Translation in English, gen. eds Peter France and Stuart Gillespie (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005- ), I: To 1550, ed. by Roger Ellis (2008), pp. 149–59.


Lawler, Traugott