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The following is is my translation of a sentence from Bede's Account of the Conversion of King Edwin. Old English tolerated the double negative, and I am trying to translate the text in such a way that would carry the spirit of the original language. Can I have thoughts on the grammaticality of the translation? It does sound odd, I know, but it is not supposed to feel like ME. I particularly am interested in feedback about my use of 'neither nothing' which I am highly suspecting to sound 'off'.

The original Text:

Ic þe soðlice andette, þæt ic cuðlice geleornad hæbbe, þæt eallinga nawiht mægenes ne nyttnes hafað sio æfæstnes, þe we oð ðis hæfdon & beeodon.

The translation and the construct in doubt

I truthfully confess to you that I clearly learned that, neither nothing of virtue, nor nothing of usefulness does that religion have, which we till this day had and practiced.

P.S: I am aware that the forum does not accept translation questions. My question is NOT about the accuracy of the translation; it is more about clearing out the doubt I have about the said construct.

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    I don't feel qualified to answer formally, but my feeling is that, although I appreciate what you're aiming for, modern English-speakers are so hung up on 'two negatives make a positive' that some of them may misunderstand your translation. – David Garner Feb 21 '15 at 13:45
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    I’m not sure I’m following your reasoning here—the Old English text doesn’t have a real double negative, so you’re introducing one (and not a very natural one, at that) in your translation. The OE just has two parallel negatives, as you would in ME: “nothing of virtue nor of usefulness”. Adding neither seems quite odd to me. It is borderline ungrammatical (and I ain’t got no objections to double negatives in general). – Janus Bahs Jacquet Feb 21 '15 at 14:23
  • Forgetting the original altogether, in modern standard English, instead of 'nothing' use 'anything'. Otherwise you're using the non-standard double negative of two negative words for simple negation. – Mitch Feb 21 '15 at 16:19
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    You got it upside down. OE didn't "tolerate the double negative". Duplex negatio affirmat at Bede's time was a rule confined to schoolmen discussing logic. In Latin. OE, like most IE languages, simply had negative concord, like the Romance languages still do. The only thing that needs toleration about double negation is modern peevers. Negation is not a simple matter. – John Lawler Feb 21 '15 at 18:16
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I truthfully confess to you that I clearly learned that, neither nothing of virtue, nor nothing of usefulness does that religion have, which we till this day had and practiced.

I would suggest that a cleaner, more modern translation might be something like:

I truthfully confess to you that I clearly learned that nothing of virtue or of usefulness does that religion have, which we till this day had and practised.

or:

I truthfully confess to you that I clearly learned nothing of virtue nor of usefulness that that(this?) religion has, which we till this day have had and practised.

The 'of', wherever it is, is largely is largely an oratorical flourish these days:

"We want a community of honesty, of hard work, of religion----" Etc, Etc.

or even:

"We want a community of honesty, a community of hard work, a community of religion----" Etc, Etc.

Hope this helps

dmk

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Not knowing Old English, I can say that double negatives do appear in translations of Classic texts if I remember correctly, so to a scholarly or academic audience it might be fine.

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