What Scalzi’s Old Man's War Sounds Like In Chaucer's Middle English

Illustration for article titled What Scalzi’s Old Man's War Sounds Like In Chaucer's Middle English

We're used to hearing Geoffrey Chaucer's Canterbury Tales translated into modern English, but what do modern stories sound like in Middle English? Medieval scholar Michael Livingston translates John Scalzi's novel Old Man's War into the language of Chaucer.

Livingston took a section of Chapter Nine of Old Man's War (or Old Mennes Werre by Iohannis Scalzi), translated it, and recorded himself reading the translation. You can listen to and read the entire translation on Livingston's website; here's a snippet of what it looks like:

"I can take a shot," Watson said, sighting over his boulder. "Let me drill one of those things."

"I kan tak a shote," quod Watson, lookynge right over his rokke. "Graunte me striken oon."


"No," said Viveros, our corporal. "Their shield is still up. You'd just be wasting ammo."

"No," quod Viveros, oure ledere. (The first troublespot: "corporal" is French in origin and doesn't really enter English until the 16th c.) "Hire sheeld is stille up. Woldestow wasten iren arwes?" (Like "corporal," "ammunition" is a French loan from the 16th c.)

Livingston has also "Chaucer'd" works by Robert Jordan and Mary Robinette Kowal as well as Dr. Seuss' Green Eggs and Ham.

Scalzi Chaucer'd (Listen!) [Michael Livingston via Tor]


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Damn. If that's Middle English, how does Old English sound?

Also, Middle English sounds surprisingly like modern Dutch.