I have returned to work on making a translation of John the Deacon’s Life of St Nicholas. In July 2019 I prepared a Latin text. The edition of Falconius, in 1751 seems to be all that there is! During November and December 2020 I translated a couple of chapters with immense pain and huge labour – the structure of the sentences is hard to work with – and then I set it aside and went off to do other things. At one point last night I was seriously contemplating simply abandoning the job.
How things have changed. Last night I jumped to the end and passed chapter 15 through the new and greatly improved Google Translate for Latin. It did a magnificent job, far better than I could have done, and did it in seconds. Of course it needed manual adjustment, but it was sobering how much better it was. In half an hour the chapter was complete.
At one point Falconius printed in the text, “Ab atis dirigas”, in the middle of a prayer asking the Lord to guide the monks, etc. This was beyond me, until I put the sentence into the standard Google search and found a parallel text with the same sentence, where it read “Abbatis dirigas” – “may you guide the abbots”! Wonderful!
Falconius’ text is less than ideal. This morning I was looking at chapter 14 – I’ve already done about half of it using the same tools – and I suffered a bit from him printing “penniculum” rather than “peniculum”, a sponge. There is no critical edition. Falconius seems to be the only edition of any sort, except for an incunable by Mombritius which does not contain these final chapters. But there are manuscripts online – more than Falconius had -, and I have Google search. The job can be done.
It is 10:20 here, and I must go out. This afternoon I shall return to John the Deacon. I’m looking forward to it.