Go directly to list of translated textsThese translations of the Canterbury Tales are for those beginning their study of Chaucer's language. They supply merely a pony and by no means can they serve as a substitute for the original, nor even for a good translation. Often the syntax of the interlinear translation will be awkward in Modern English, since the aim is to supply a somewhat literal translation to make clear the meaning of the Middle English words. For the same reason there is no attempt to reproduce in Modern English the spirit and tone of the original (even if that were possible). The translation is more often "word for word" than "sense for sense."
You may find that some of the lines remain obscure even in translation, since more explanation may be needed than a bare translation can supply. This is especially true of passages dealing with technical matters such as astronomy or medicine. In such cases, consult the Explanatory Notes in an edition such as The Riverside Chaucer, or The Canterbury Tales Complete.
These translations should be used for a first reading; go carefully through the text, concentrating on the Middle English and checking your reading against the translation. Then move on to the original in whatever printed text you are using, and refer back to this text only when you encounter difficulties.
For such quick reference, once you have opened a translation use the "Find" utility on your browser (Control F) to search for the words or phrases you want to see.
The translations of the prose tales are somewhat different. An interlinear translation is supplied for the Melibee, but the interlinear form is rather awkward and at times distracting, and many readers might prefer the straightforward translation, which is also supplied. For the Parson's Tale only a straightforward translation is supplied. The assumption is that only advanced students will want to read the tale, and such readers are well beyond needing the aid of an interlinear translation. However, even beginning readers can profit from a translation. The prose works -- the Melibee and the Parson's Tale -- are essential parts of the Canterbury Tales, and they deserve a larger readership than they now have.m
The General Prologue
The Knight's Tale
The Miller's Prologue and Tale
The Reeve's Prologue and Tale
The Cook's Prologue and Tale
The Man of Law's Introduction, Prologue, Tale, and Epilogue
The Wife of Bath's Prologue and Tale
The Friar's Prologue and Tale
The Summoner's Prologue and Tale
The Clerk's Prologue and Tale
The Clerk's Envoy
The Merchant's Prologue, Tale, and Epilogue
The Squire's Introduction and Tale
The Franklin's Prologue and Tale
The Physician's Tale
The Pardoner's Introduction, Prologue, and Tale
The Shipman's Tale
The Shipman-Prioress Link
The Prioress's Prologue and Tale
Sir Thopas (Prologue, Tale, and the Host's Interruption)
The Tale of Melibee (interlinear)
The Tale of Melibee (modern English translation)
The Monk's Prologue, Tale.
The Nun's Priest's Prologue, Tale, and Epilogue
The Second Nun's Prologue and Tale
The Canon's Yeoman's Prologue and Tale.
The Manciple's Prologue and Tale
The Parson's Prologue
The Parson's Tale
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Last modified: Sept 21, 2006
Texts on this page prepared and maintained by L. D. Benson (email@example.com)
An interlinear trnslation of Troilus and Criseyde is now in preparation