Global Chaucers Roundtable at NCS 2016 in London

London_2-1371043833Global Chaucers is sponsoring another roundtable at the next New Chaucer Society Congress. Titled “Translating Global Chaucers,” the roundtable will continues the Global Chaucers conversation begun at the 2014 Congress. The focus will be on translations of Chaucerian texts into languages other than standard Present Day English. Participants include translators, scholars, and teachers outside the Anglophone inner circle (UK, US, Canada, Australia, and NZ). Their presentations consider the ways translations

  • reflect the particular linguistic, cultural, or social context in which they appeared;
  • reveal understandings of Chaucer’s texts unavailable to an Anglophone reader; and
  • take advantage of verse or prose forms (or other stylistic conventions) available in the receiving literary culture but not in English.

The five participants are

  • Stephanie Downes, University of Melbourne, Australia, “Vilains mots! Nineteenth-Century French Translations of The Canterbury Tales”
  • Marcin Ciura, Independent Translator, “In the Margins of the Polish Parlement of Foules”
  • Züleyha Çetiner-Ōktem, Ege University, “Reinventing Chaucer’s Sir Thopas from a Turkish Perspective”
  • Denise Ming-yueh Wang, National Chung Cheng University, Taiwan, “When Global Chaucers Go Local: Reading Chaucer in Taiwan”
  • José Francisco Botelho, Independent Translator, “Contos da Cantuária: Chaucer in Brazil”

We’re super excited about the international panel, with its mix of translators and scholars!


Pseudo-Glot Chaucer: Call for Translations

by Candace Barrington

2014-04-13 03.45.51We had so much fun with the Polyglot Reading of The Miller’s Tale at the New Chaucer Society Congress 2014 in Reykjavik that we thought we might try it again at NCS 2016 in London, but with a twist: the languages will be constructed languages such as Barsoomian, Dothraki, Elvish, Esperanto, Klingon, Na’vi, Tho Fan, Valyrian,and Vulcan.

Ideally, we will have the translation completed well before July 2016, and it will be shared on the website.

If you’d like to try your hand at translating a Chaucerian passage into one of these (or any other) constructed language, please contact either Candace Barrington (BarringtonC at ccsu dot edu) or Jonathan Hsy (JHsy at gwu dot edu) for more information.  Currently, we are considering this passage–the opening lines of The Parliament of Fowls–and we’d ask you to translate two or three lines of it:

The lyf so short, the craft so long to lerne,

Th’assay so hard, so sharp the conquerynge,

The dredful joye alwey that slit so yerne:

Al this mene I by Love, that my felynge

Astonyeth with his wonderful werkynge

So sore, iwis, that whan I on hym thynke

Nat wot I wel wher that I fete or synke.

For al be that I knowe nat Love in dede,

Ne wot how that he quiteth folk here hyre,

Yit happeth me ful ofte in bokes reede

Of his myrakles and his crewel yre.

There rede I wel he wol be lord and syre;

I dar nat seyn, his strokes been so sore,

But ‘God save swich a lord!’–I can na moore.

By usage–what for lust and what for lore–

On bokes rede I ofte, as I yow tolde.

But wherfore that I speke al this? Nat yoore

Agaon it happede me for to beholde 

Upon a bok, was write with lettres olde,

And therupon, a certeyn thing to lerne,

The longday ful faste I redde and yerne.

For out of olde feldes, as men seyth,

Cometh al this newe corn from yer to yere,

And out of olde bokes, in good feyth,

Cometh al this newe science that men lere.

But now to purpose as of this mater:

To rede forth hit gan me so delite

That al that day me thoughte but a lyte.

(Parlement of Foules 1-28)

 Update: Languages and lines claimed for pseudo-glot translations

1-3          Quenya (Lindsay Bensenhaver)

4-7         Toki Pona (Michael A Johnson)

8-11        Python (Matt Schneider)

12-14     Esperanto (Chris Piuma)

15-17a   Elvish (Mary Kate Hurley)

22-25    Deseret Alphabet (Tim English)


The Miller’s Tale: Wahala-Dey-O! in Reykjavik!

2014-07-16 21.35.51by Candace Barrington

Chaucerians at the NCS Congress in Reykjavik, Iceland, were treated to a multi-media production of Ufuoma Overo-Tarimo’s The Miller’s Tale: Wahala Dey-O! on Wednesday, 16 July 2014 at the Tjarnarbíó across from City Hall. (At left, Jonathan Hsy, Ufuoma Overo-Tarimo, and Candace Barrington,)

The production begins with a live performance of Overo-Tarimo’s dramatic adaptation of The General Prologue set in Nigeria and draws on African folk traditions of storytelling intermingled with music, drums, and gossip. Once the storytelling framework is established, the production moves to a filmed adaptation of The Millers Tale.  Overo-Tarimo had planned to use live actors in this segment–just as she had in her production at Edinburgh’s 2012 Fringe Festival. Because, however, key Nigerian actors were unable to secure visas, she shot a pilot film of the play in Nigeria.

Overo-Tarimo’s adaptation of The Miller’s Tale incorporates many explicit Nigerian elements. As she explains,

“Nigeria as a nation is made up of many tribes and I try to reflect this reality in the various characters. For example, Abusolon’s character is from the North of Nigeria who has moved to Ibadan in the West of Nigeria to start a new life. As a refugee, he is particularly sensitive because of the massacre experience of his family and village in the North where traumatic killings have taken place and still happening.  Hence, security is one of the most challenging issues for the country with the rise of Boko Haram and other terrorists groups. His dream is to eventually move abroad to the UK or US, where he believes all his problems will be solved. In t he meantime, he falls in love with Alice, who taunts and rejects his love and adds to his torment. Nikori is from the same Urhobo tribe as the carpenter; hence, he enjoys partial treatment and is implicitly trusted by the carpenter. … “Julie you too like money” is a stereotypical reference to Julie’s [a servant in Carpenter John’s household] Igbo tribe, who are known to be industrious, and Alice’s love of dressing and partying is reference to her Yoruba tribe’s uwambe ‘good time’ associations. Rabiu [another servant] is from Akwa Ibom, a tribe known for their domestic hard work and loyalty.”

The songs of Abusolon/Absolon are based on Nigerian styles. The dialogue is conducted in a mixture of Nigerian Pidgin English and the Queen’s English, thereby establishing social divisions and enlivening the comedy.  Nikori/Nicholas, the university student who seduces Alice/Alisoun, uses a form of black magic, a cultic practice associated in Nigeria with some universities. Throughout, the bane of Nigerian urban life–the blackout–weaves its way through the tale, ultimately providing the context for the misdirected kiss and Abusolon’s retribution.

The cast in both the live and the filmed portions reflect the production’s international flavor. Hailing from Nigeria, Britain, and Iceland, they made Overo-Tarimo’s The Miller’s Tale: Wahala Dey O! a global Chaucer.

2014-07-16 21.41.00

(At left, Candace and Jonathan with the cast from the live production.)

Polyglot Reading of The Miller’s Tale

10523345_10202678190939844_3058271171990410868_nby Candace Barrington

The Polyglot Reading of Chaucer’s The Miller’s Tale turned out to be my favorite NCS event. Held at the University of Iceland’s Stúdentakjallarinn, it brought together 14 Chaucerians reading in 14 modern languages (plus a bit of Middle English introducing the tale), providing the audience with a lively multilingual interpretation of Chaucer’s tale.  The line numbers, languages, and readers are

  • 3170-3186, Middle English, Candace Barrington
  • 3187-3232, Emily Steiner
  • 3233-3270, Mandarin, Jonathan Hsy
  • 3271-3338, Danish, Ebbe Klitgård
  • 3339-3396, Turkish, Nazmi Ağil
  • 3397-3447, Japanese, Koichi Kano
  • 3448-3500, Russian, Liza Strakhov
  • 3501-3554, Polish & German, Sebastian Sobecki
  • 3555-3610, Spanish, Alberto Lázaro
  • 3611-3670, French, Juliette Dor
  • 3671-3726, Korean, Donghill Lee
  • 3727-3782, Icelandic, Sif Rikhardsdottir
  • 3783-3839, Czech, Alfred Thomas
  • 3840-3854, Italian, David Wallace

To listen to the reading, go to . The audio recorder was not as expert as the readers, so please be patient with the quality!  Also know that you’re missing a real treat by not being able to see the readers in action.

Watch this website for a script of the reading in all 14 languages!

A special thanks to Sif Rikharksdottir for arranging all the logistics.  Without her help and guidance, the reading could not have happened.

Finally, MANY THANKS to our readers who stepped out of their comfort zone for the reading.  I hope the audience’s enthusiastic response more than compensated for their bravery!


Update on Ufuoma Overo-Tarimo’s production of The Miller’s Tale: Wahala-Dey-O.

by Candace Barrington
Because Ms Overo-Tarimo was unable to obtain necessary visas for her actors, there will not be a live performance of her acclaimed adaptation of The Miller’s Tale. Instead, Chaucerians will be treated to an exclusive showing of her film version of the play on Wednesday, 16 July, at 7:00, immediately after the Reception hosted by the mayor. The screening will take place at Tjartnabio, a theatre building opposite City Hall (the site of the reception).
Seating is limited to 160, so I advise you to purchase your tickets as soon as possible. Tickets are available online or at the door for ISK 2500 apiece.
To learn more about The Miller’s Tale: Wahala-Dey-O and its fascinating origins and its storied production history, please see my earlier blog posting.

The Miller’s Tale: ‘Wahala Dey O!’

by Candace Barrington


We have great news for Chaucerians in Reykjavik this summer for the New Chaucer Society Congress! We’ve learned that Ufuoma Overo-Tarimo will be staging her adaptation of The Miller’s Tale to coincide with the conference in July.  Written in both Nigerian Pidgin and English, The Miller’s Tale: ‘Wahala Dey O’ had its premier at the 2012 Edinburgh Fringe Festival and received a four-star rating and glowing reviews

Ufuoma’s adaptation draws on her background: born in Nigeria and raised in Britain, she is a former student of Sif Rikardsdottir (the Icelandic Chaucerian heading the conference’s local organizing committee); she took Sif’s “Chaucer and the North” course.  She wrote in the play in 2006 while studying for her Masters in English.  Based on the snippets of the play that I’ve viewed on YouTube, I wasn’t surprised to learn she had previously studied Philosophy and History of Religion at King’s College, London University and later studied at the College of Law.  That legal trajectory changed when she moved to Iceland with her husband in 2004 and began graduate study in English.  And even that journey has taken a side trip.

She explained it to me this way:

I discovered play writing and feel very passionate that this is a sound way to get people who would otherwise not care for Chaucer right into the heart of Chaucer’s work. The Edinburgh Fringe proved this right.  As the play attracted all and sundry from curious Chaucerians, English Professors, bored students, wanderers, homesick Nigerian/English expatriates and colonialists, and those in search of a good time…

Chaucerians at the Reykjavik conference will get a chance to meet Ufuoma and to see her play.  We will keep you posted on the performance schedule and how to purchase tickets.

A Global Chaucers post on the New Chaucer Society blog


by Candace Barrington

Thanks to Ruth Evans and the New Chaucer Society blog for the opportunity to share some preliminary thoughts on Chaucer’s Voices! And thanks to John Boje (South Africa), José Francisco Botelho (Brazil), Lauri Pillter (Estonia), Alireza Mahdipour (Iran), and Nazmi Agil (Turkey) for so graciously sharing their time and expertise. It’s been an auspicious start to a fascinating project.