[Bards] "Vivat Ghastly Malapropism!"

Cynthia Rogers wolfpaws at mac.com
Wed Jun 13 04:12:46 PDT 2007

>> I am a little confused. Vivat Rex is OK being in the same language
>> but Vivat King would be wrong?
> That's half of it, yes.  "Vivat Rex" is a well-formed Latin sentence.
> "Vivat King" is not proper Latin or proper English or proper  
> anything else.

Hmm. I'm sure that usage on formal occasions would use language that  
was more formal (although I've not done any research on that  
subject.)  But a wrinkle on that would be-- that mixing Latin and a  
vernacular language together was a widespread practice in songs and  
literature.  Occasionally you even have someone sticking Latin  
declension endings onto English words. And almost every manuscript  
I've seen written in English has at least a few words of Latin tucked  
in here and there, even if it's just the instructions to the book  

The Carmina Burena is chock full of bi-lingual pieces (they call them  
"macaronic poetry.")  Harley 913 (the one I'm working with for my  
thesis) is also chock full of macaronic songs.  They often are not  
printed in editions of the manuscript though because while educated  
people in 14th century England were TRI-lingual (Latin, Norman  
French, and English), modern English speakers are not. So there is  
much less market for works that have more than one language used, so  
they tend to be omitted from collections, while their more homogenous  
cousins (like Summer is a Comin' In) get reprinted.

A piece everyone might be familiar with is The Agincourt Carol, which  
mixes lines of Latin and English. (Although in a very tidy way,  
rather than making it into doggerel.)  It is thought that the carol  
was possibly sung in secular processions for Henry V.

Owre kynge went forth to Normandy,
With grace and myyt of chivalry;
The God for hym wrouyt marvelously,
Wherefore Englonde may calle, and cry
Deo gratias:
Deo gratias Anglia redde pro victoria.

Anyway, all that to say that our modern sensibilities are often more  
tender about things like that than a medieval person's would have  
been. Mixing languages in the same sentence is complete and utter  
doggerel in the modern world, but without looking closer at Medieval  
texts, I'd be hard pressed to assert that it was never done in period.

My, what interesting discussions there have been on the list lately!

Very best,

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