We have just hosted our day workshop, “Translating, Editing and Using Medieval Documents”, and tweeted about the day using the hashtag #MedDocs. The Voices of Law Committee lent their expertise to the day, putting together a programme of talks and interactive workshops to explore issues of translation and transcription through the medium of medieval legal documents.

Here’s a reminder of how the day went in Storify form – all talks and discussions were live-tweeted, with sample tweets from the workshops:

//storify.com/VoicesofLaw/meddocs-pg-workshop-translating-editing-and-using-/embed?border=false&template=slideshow[<a href=”//storify.com/VoicesofLaw/meddocs-pg-workshop-translating-editing-and-using-” target=”_blank”>View the story “#MedDocs: PG Workshop “Translating, Editing and Using Medieval Documents”” on Storify</a>]


The day was a great success, with a total of 25 attendees, including taught postgraduates, postgraduate researchers, and Early Careers Researchers: our Undergraduate research placement student also attended. The mix of people meant that the breaks and discussion times went really well, with lots to talk about and plenty to learn from one another.

The workshop was funded by The Leverhulme Trust and Medium Aevum, which meant we were able to award a total of eight bursaries for travel and accommodation. The attendees came to Cardiff University for the day from as far afield as the University of Oslo; other institutions represented included the Universities of Edinburgh, St Andrews, Birmingham, Southampton, Cambridge, Durham, Bangor, Nottingham, Manchester Metropolitan, as well as a good number of students from the host institution, Cardiff University.

Morning Talks

The talks ran as follows:

Jenny Benham  – Basic Problems

Carole Hough – What is a Translation?

Paul Russell – Contemporary Medieval Translations

Sara Pons-Sanz – Borrowing and attestation: A difficult combination!

Helle Vogt and Han Nijdam – Translating a medieval legal system into modern English

Afternoon Sessions

The parallel workshops after lunch focused on Latin/Welsh (Paul Russell), Old English (Carole Hough), and Old Danish/Old Frisian (Helle Vogt and Han Nijdam), which meant that students could choose to attend two out of the three options.

One student’s experience of the Old English workshop followed by the Old Danish & Old Frisian workshop can be found here. Many thanks to current Durham MA, Cait Scott, for such a great write-up of the day.

Roundtable Discussions

To conclude the day, Jenny Benham chaired the round table discussion, where the following ideas came out:

1) Translation is best done collaboratively. Why do you show your translations or glosses to the people you do? Are they the best people for the job? If showing things to your own lecturers and tutors, are they the best people for that particular translation topic?

2) Expertise aside, peer reading groups are a great thing to form. First of all, there can be cake. Second of all, having 10 pairs of fresh eyes looking at your work can be a great help even if no one in the group is an “expert”. The best ideas often come out of group discussions – try not to be precious about your own! You can then take these ideas (credit your group or the person who came up with it, if necessary), and take it to an expert in the field – your supervisor, or another scholar with a strong interest and publishing record in the topic – afterwards.

3) #ProTip – Translation, while best done collaboratively, needs consistency in terms of style. Draw up your own style sheet as you are going along to ensure you can go back and make all of your work consistent. Keep a track record of the stylistic choices you use so that you can justify them. If you’re doing an edition, the notes you make about your own process and justifications don’t just have to be for you: they can end up forming your introduction!

Future Plans

We have collated a list of translation and transcription guides on this blog, which we hope will be of assistance for those looking to explore these issues in their work. We will also be pulling the talks together into papers, to be published in .pdf format later this year.



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