Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Did Dracula dip his bread--or his fried chicken--in the blood of his enemies?

I asked historian and Dracula expert Hans de Roos whether he though the mistranslation of the poem describing Vlad Dracula dipping his bread in the blood of his enemies--it should read that Dracula washed his hands in the blood of his enemies--written in the 1400s but rediscovered by Dracula biographers Radu Florescu and Raymond McNally was intentional or deliberate on their part. His response follows: 

"I cannot look into the souls of dead people, but I can tell you this, Wayne: For anyone familiar with German, or Old English, for that matter, translating "hend" with "bread" makes no more sense than translating "cat" with "sponge, "nose" with "fork," "apple" with "shoe," "water" with "book," "tree" with "donkey," etc. etc. The two words have a different spelling, a different sound, a different meaning and a different origin.. "Hend," "Hende," "Hände," "Hand" and "Hant" all come from the Proto-Germanic *handuz (“hand”) and speakers of English, Dutch, Flemish, French, Frisian, Swedish, Norwegian, Icelandic, as well as students of Middle and Old English and Old Saxon can easily recognize it.

For "bread," by contrast, Beheim would have used the Middle High German "brōt," from Old High German "brōt" (attested since the 8th century), from Proto-Germanic *braudą, from Proto-Indo-European *bʰrew- (“to seethe, to boil”); an extension of Proto-Indo-European *bʰerə- (“to well up, to boil, to be in motion (as of fire or water)”). Originating from the same root are "Brühe," "Brei," "braten" and "brennen" [Source: Wiktionary.]

For anyone seriously attempting to translate the discussed stanza from Beheim's poem, translating "Hend" with "bread" makes no sense at all; it has nothing to do with a "liberal translation" or a "far-fetched" interpretation. In my opinion, it is a fabrication that serves the interests of authors who like to extrapolate Vlad's habits (that are gruesome enough already) to a type of behavior that fits the definition of "vampire."

If McNally and Florescu would be negligent or ignorant enough to make a simple translation error, the far more plausible option would be to mix up "Hend" with "Hendl," the Bavarian word for (fried) chicken -- a term that has gained global popularity by the famous "Oktoberfest," where the "Hendl" and the "Brez'l" are the traditional companions of the good German beer ("bier" from Middle High German "bier," from Old High German "bior," from Proto-Germanic "*beuzą" (“beer”), from Proto-Indo-European "*bʰews-," "*bheus-" (“dross, sediment, brewer's yeast”).

The "HENDL" almost a homonym of "HEND".... Yes. would it not be imaginable that Vlad the Impaler dipped his HENDL in the blood of his victims??"