Chapter: English Literature During The Middle Ages
Alright, let's play a little game. I want you to read this excerpt from a translation of "The Miller's Tale." It's from the same translation I've been reading because Middle English hurts my brain. Right after you read this, I want you to try and imagine my face when I hit that last line. Ready? Alright, let's go:
Now, sir, and then, sir, go befell the case, / That on a day this clever Nicholas / Fell in with this young wife to toy and play, / The while her husband was down Osney way, / Clerks being as crafty as the best of us; / And unperceived he caught her by the puss.
Excellent. Now, whatever image of my face you've got in your mind right now is probably correct. Upon reading that line, I nearly spit Coke across my keyboard. At first I thought, "Surely that translation can't be right." So I opened up the Norton and went back to Chaucer. Here's the original line:
And prively he caughte hire by the queinte.
Prompting me, of course, to wonder, "Queinte? What the hell is that" So I checked the footnotes:
Elegant (thing); a euphemism for the female genitals.
Yeee-ep. That's our Chaucer!
Author: Geoffrey Chaucer • Year: c. 1386 • Info:Librarius