mjj (flemmings) wrote,

And Lady Mondegreen: fun with words on a rainy Tuesday

Sudden satori, courtesy google. The last line of 'I shot the sheriff' which I'd always heard as 'Every day the buck goes round the world/ Some day the bottom will drop out' turns out to be
Ev'ry day the bucket a-go-a well
One day the bottom a-go drop out.
Less a warning against indifferent buck-passing and more a 14th century (as it turns out) proverb about pitchers going to the well once too often. To be precise: Zuo longe geth thet pot to the wetere: thet hit comth to-broke hom from Joyce's darling, Ayenbite of lnwit (The Prick of Conscience, which opens up its own possibilities).
...the vocabulary shows a marked preference for translating technical terms into compounds of English words, rather than borrowing French or Latin terminology. The title itself is a common example: it uses ayenbite, "again-bite", for modern English "remorse", and inwyt, "inward-knowledge", for modern English "conscience", both terms being literal translations of the Latin words. Even "amen" is often translated, into the phrase zuo by hit ("so be it").
There's a full text of it available online, but several eye-crossing pages later, I think my time would be better spent on Piers Ploughman, if I must read middle English aloud.
Tags: language, music

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