Communications 1999

Assignment #12 – Spelling in the Spotlight
A Briefe and True Report of the New Found Land of Virginia

Friday, May 28, 1999

Below are 4 plausible translations of the document with which we've been working.


In 1975, Michael Alexander published a version of the page you just translated. He chose to modernize its spelling and punctuation. This is his version. (Discovering the New World: based on the works of THEODORE DE BRY, edited by Michael Alexander. Harper and Row, 1975, page 79)

Their sitting at meat

Their manner of feeding is in this wise. They lay a mat made of bents on the ground and set their meat on the midst thereof, and then sit down round, the men upon one side, and the women on the other. Their meat is maize sodden, in such sort as I described it in the former treatise, of very good taste, deers’ flesh, or of some other beast, and fish. They are very sober in their eating, and drinking, and consequently very long lived because they do not oppress nature.


In 1946, Stefan Lorant published a version in which he completely modernized the text. Here it is. (The New World: The First Pictures of America, edited by Stefan Lorant. Duell, Sloan and Pearce, 1946 and 1965, page 257)

HOW THEY EAT

This is their way of eating. They lay a mat of twigs on the ground and set their meat in the middle of it. Then they all sit around it – the men on one side, the women on the other. Their meal consists of boiled maize, which has an excellent flavor, deer flesh or some other kind of meat, and fish. As they are very temperate, both in eating and in drinking, and do not overload their constitutions, they are very long-lived.


Here is a translation I did in 1977 before reading either of those above.

Dining Habits

They dine in the following manner. After placing a mat made of reeds on the ground, they set their meat at its center. Then they sit around it; men on one side, women on the other. Their meat, cooked as I described earlier, is very tasty. They eat a variety of animal flesh, including deer and fish. Because they eat and drink moderately, they are very long-lived.


Here is a translation I did in 1999 after 20 years of off and on again thinking about the meaning of this passage.

Sitting down to a meal

They dine in the following manner. After placing a mat made of reeds on the ground, they place their meal at its center. Then they sit around it; men on one side, women on the other. Their meal, boiled maize cooked as I described earlier, is very tasty. Deer, or other animal meat, and fish are also on the menu. Because they eat and drink moderately, they are very long-lived.