I had to pick a manuscript and transcribe it on a sheet of paper for my English assignment. I picked an Anglo-Norman (the dialect spoken among the aristocracy of England and large parts of northern France) manuscript by Marie of France, entitled Yonec (BnF, 14th c ms). Lays of Marie of France are usually written in octosyllabic couplets (8), that often deals with tales of adventure and romance.
When I first looked at the manuscript, the writings looked like they were transcribed on actual paper, but it’s actually written on animal skin. One can notice words that are absorbed or faded away, due to the expensiveness of animal skins during that time.
Moreover, one can notice a tittle, illuminations that are ornately decorated, and border marginalization. The text is divided into two columns; however, the layout of the text isn’t meaningful, especially between the last two paragraphs where a space gap is found. Some initials are bigger than the others, mainly the colored ones with blue and red. The last paragraph in the manuscript seems to be the conclusion, since the initial is colored both in blue and red.
Additionally, the color of ink isn’t pure black. It varies from black to brown. Plus, the letters are written in an angular shape.
What was first difficult to me, was to read the text and try to distinguish some letters from others.I was exposed to new letters and some of them looked weird. While I was trying to copy the text on a paper, it was exasperating to differentiate the letter “u” from the “v”, or the “w” from the “ui”. As I tried to copy the words, I started recognizing the letters by comparing them to other letters in the words I could read. For example, the last word in the 10th sentence is “de paradis”. I used this word as a reference point to identify some letters. I also noticed that some letters like the “t”, can be written in two different ways, depending whether it was written first or at the end of a word.
Then, I transcribed this manuscript by using a computer device. It wasn’t well accomplished as the first edition (on paper), and some of the letters didn’t exist on the keyboard nor in the symbols offered by Microsoft word; because they are no longer used nowadays.
Et la urge loee
Et lefi fai aucci
F teuote peucee
P our dieu ol euteudes
P eveftous giaus z petis
C autft coulaquita
S es ozois loyaus waris
B elles vertus ifift
L e roy deparadis
When I was doing the transcription process, I came aware of a huge difference between the written transcription and the digital one. The written transcription is tough, yet easier than the digital one. I transcribed the original manuscript by copying the letters directly into paper, whereas in the second transcription, I had to choose each letter on its own .
To conclude, remediation of manuscripts can change the original text and many choices will be lost. For example, one could not feel the texture (materiality) or smell the original manuscript. In my opinion, I think that transcribing a text without giving the credit to the author is a major issue of remediation, especially by removing some of the symbols added which contributes in the modification of the text.