Help translating word in a song.

UkingViking

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 10, 2015
Messages
1,835
Reaction score
1,150
Location
Denmark
Hi,
Looking to do an english version of an old Scandinavian traditional.

It includes the measure of a "pægl", which is ~ 240ml, or a cup.
The measuring vessels I believe were cylindrical, and the word probably has the same roots as a pail - though I understand that pail usually refers to much larger cylindrical vessels?

Anyway, the measurement was used rather formally in commerce. The context is that there should be no cheating with the amounts. Is "cup" too informal a word for translating?
What measure would you use for, say, an amount of brandy in old english?
 
Hi,
Looking to do an english version of an old Scandinavian traditional.

It includes the measure of a "pægl", which is ~ 240ml, or a cup.
The measuring vessels I believe were cylindrical, and the word probably has the same roots as a pail - though I understand that pail usually refers to much larger cylindrical vessels?

Anyway, the measurement was used rather formally in commerce. The context is that there should be no cheating with the amounts. Is "cup" too informal a word for translating?
What measure would you use for, say, an amount of brandy in old english?

A dram?
 
I'd go with dram. Its usually used for whiskey but its about the same amount (1 to 1.5 oz or a jigger) as a serving of brandy, and its a sorta ol' fashiony word.
 
I think it depends on context; I get that you've provided the intent of the word itself, as a measure that ought not be slighted, but is that the intent in the song lyrics too?

If you're looking for a measure of brandy (or similar), dram has an excellent old-timey feel to it. Half pint has another connotation of referring to someone small/short, and if ordering a beverage it would usually be used to refer to a beer (although could also mean cream), less to hard liquor.

I guess it also depends on the rhyming and meter of your song, which option would work best?
 
Anyway, the measurement was used rather formally in commerce. The context is that there should be no cheating with the amounts. Is "cup" too informal a word for translating?
What measure would you use for, say, an amount of brandy in old english?

I don’t know how much it matters for your purposes, but there’s no consensus on how much a dram actually is. If you were looking for a more formal measure “gill” would probably be better, but as far as songwriting goes it rather lacks the romance of a dram!
 
Thanks for all the replies!

As for fitting it in the song, one syllable words are best.
As for rhyming, only one line of the traditional song is known, written in runes in a legislative text from ~1300. So I intend to make up something that rhymes from there.

"I had myself a dream last night, of silk and honest "pægl"".

Since it was put in a legislative text, the honest measure is though to represent justice here. In the most popular version of the song, that people came up with last century, it was suddenly supposed to mean fancy clothes however.

I plan to have the narrator wake up with rough spun clothes and find his beer or brandy wine either watered down or too small. Then conclude that he can live without the silk, but wants a proper drink 😆

I think the best options are to change it to a pint of ale or a gill of whiskey.
 
In that case I would favour simply "pint", as it can be used as a precise measure as well as strongly suggesting a reference to ale.
 
You could go with 'grog' for a one syllable option...

BTW: Check out the song Fathom the bowl for inspiration... that song goes with 'punch' for it's liquor choice of questionable purity!
 
If you use the Imperial measurement system a pint is 20 ounces. If you use US Customary, a pint is 16 ounces. So half pint or cup in IS is 10 ounces.

But to answer your question, "Is a cup too informal a term" - No it isn't too informal. Use that word, it's fine. A glass of brandy also works. Or better still, a snifter of brandy.
 
Top Bottom