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A Briefe and True Report of the New Found Land of Virginia

Plausible Translations

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


In 2003, the University of North Carolina published a transcription of the document that includes the page you just translated. They used the modern English alphabet (no elongated s) and a modern typeface.

Their sitting at meate.

THeir manner of feeding is in this wise. They lay a matt made of bents one the grownde and sett their meate on the mids therof, and then sit downe Rownde, the men vppon one side, and the woemen on the other. Their meate is Mayz sodden, in suche sorte as I described yt in the former treatise of verye good taste, deers flesche, or of some other beaste, and fishe. They are verye sober in their eatinge, and trinkinge, and consequentlye verye longe liued because they doe not oppress nature.


In 1975, Michael Alexander published this version of the page. He chose to modernize its spelling and punctuation. (from 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. (from 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 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.


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original web posting: Thursday, July 8, 1999
last modified: Sunday, March 29, 2009