Language In Beowulf Essay

736 words - 3 pages

So many languages, so many cultures. So many people, so many minds. One of the hardest things for humans to interpret is language, especially if the language they are interpreting is one they are not primarily familiar to the language they are interpreting. A result of this is a myriad of interpretations, each with their own individual ‘twist’ depending on the translator. This applies immensely when it comes to the ancient but timeles epic poem Beowulf. Beowulf was written in Old English by an unknown author between the centuries of 800 AD and 1000 AD. Year after year, a new translation is made by an author. Each translation is completely different, yet still the same poem. It is tedious for authors to make their translation literal to the original epic, while simultaneously making it understandable, modern, and readable. Many have tried to accomplish this, but personally I find that Seamus Heaney’s translation of the epic accomplishes these goals notably well, keeping the plotlines intact while putting a vastly interesting twist on the aged epic. Heaney’s use of colorful vocabulary creates and understandable and modern translation while still preserving the texts key values and lessons, far preceding many other translations.
Translations of the epic Beowulf vary in a plethora of different ways. Most authors will over-glorify the poem to the point where it becomes unrealistic and sprawling. This is why I prefer Heaney’s translation; His translation is down-to-earth and keeps the reader wanting to turn the page. He also does not glorify Beowulf overzealously, which brings a sense of normality and flaw to his character, something needed in every single character. He also brings the necessary flaws to other characters, such as Grendel. Again, most translators will deprive Grendel of any character and justify him as a cold-blooded killer, no more, no less. Heaney gives Grendel a personality while still following the plot lines of the original epic. Heaney even gives Hrothgar, the King of Danes, character flaws. In truth, Bewoulf is awfully egotistical and focuses on himself most of the time. One of the main reasons why he defeats Grendel is for his reputation. Beowulf is also a hero in some ways, and is loyal to his...

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