[Ansteorra] Regalia vs. Insignia

Jay Rudin rudin at ev1.net
Fri Jan 18 06:20:42 PST 2008

Ivo asked for documentation for smalls:

>> it was also used to mean children in the 1500s, so I can't complain about the current usage.

> And you can document this? I ask because I have encountered some rather 
> militant opinions that say "smalls" is both not period and condescending 
> to children... but thats another story :)

Not period?  False.  Condescending?  Well, at least we're doing it in good company.  Jesus uses it in the Wyclif Bible translation -- probably the most common transation in Middle English.  There's a passage from Matthew XVIII 6, which in modern translation is "Whoever causes one of the little one who believe in me to sin..."  The Wyclif version is ""who so sclaundrith oon of these smale, that bileuen in me".  The Latin word in the Vulgate is "pusillis", and the original Greek is "παίδιον"(paidion).  (He is *not* being condescending to these children, having just said that we must all become as children to enter the kingom of Heaven.)

The Oxford English Dictionary has example of that usage from 1220 to 1430.  By contrast, the earliest usage of "smalls" as an abbreviation for small-clothes is from Charles Dickens in 1837.  In fact, it only dates the phrase "small-clothes" back to 1796.

If people are being jerks to you about this one, remember that correcting them obnoxiously is only doing to them exactly what they are trying to do to you, and makes you their equal.  If you wish to rise above them, correct them politely.  I like to begin with some version of "Yeah, I used to think that, too.  I felt a little embarrassed when I looked it up and discovered ...."
>> I'd also point out that we shouldn't call our cars, trucks and vans "dragons".
>> Our medieval and Renaissance forebears went to events in cars, trucks and vans.
> Really? How so... what were the applications of the terms in period? I 
> know a cart was a small Car, (wagon) thats the same pattern that we use 
> to get "helmet" from "Helm".  But Truck and Van... I was honestly under 
> the impression that those were post-industrial developments. This is the 
> type of stuff that I actually think about in my spare time (well, some 
> of it anyway).

Oops.  I was mistaken on one of them.  "Car" is indeed a cart.  In the Renaissance tournaments, some fighters would show up in elaborate "pageant cars".  You can go to an event in a van, but it didn't mean what we mean.  If you are caravaning, the the group of people in front are in the van, even if they're driving a compact.  (That usage actually only dates back to the 1600s, although it's an abbreviation for vanguard, which is earlier.)

The OED shows "truck" as a wooden roller for a ship's guns to 1611, but the first use for any other carrier is 1774.  My mistake.  

But I'd rather just call them by a modern word than some cute euphemism anyway.  If the herald makes the announcement that we need to move our cars from the list field, that's a brief modern intrusion.  If he instead tells us to move our "dragons", then we are reminded of our cars just as strongly (or the announcement failed).  The intrusion is just as great, with the added silly joke to emphasize that it's not real.

Robin of Gilwell / Jay Rudin 

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