[ANSTHRLD] Considering the term "regalia"

Jay Rudin rudin at ev1.net
Sat Aug 23 06:41:42 PDT 2008

Teceangl replied to Amra answering Etienne responding to Daniel that milked 
the cow with the crumpled horn that swallowed the spider to catch the fly, 
who played knick-knack on my knee bone connected to the thigh bone, with 
men on first or first and second with less than two outs, when married 
filing jointly and with less than $400 declared on Schedule B, wi' the auld 
moon in her arms. All the rest have thirty-one.  This offer void where 
prohibited by law.  Mileage is for comparison purposes only.  Actual 
mileage may vary.  Do not pass "Go"; do not collect $200.  The cheese 
stands alone.  Is big crime to make anything perfect on Bizarro World. 

>> Etienne, I beg to differ about your assertion that all regalia is royal
>> -- at least until such time as you have a specific source to cite.

> Regalia is not exclusively royal, in the SCA or in the real world.

Well, not any more.

I used to agree with Etienne, until I did some digging.  I still mostly do, 
but I now know the counter-argument.  Actually, this one is kind of murky. 
The problem here is that language changes, and we are simultaneously 
re-enacting pre-16th century activities and speaking modern English.  A 
certain amount of cognitive dissonance is to be expected.

According to the OED, regalia originally meant the rights of the king 
(1540, from the French word regale).  It was extended to mean the physical 
symbols used at coronations by 1626.  The first use of "regalia" cited for 
any non-royal insignia is 1676, refering to the insignia of the Lord High 
Mayor of London.

However, this was described as an improper usage in Edmondson's Complete 
Body of Heraldry (1789).

Today, academic robes are near-universally called academic regalia, and the 
symbols of real-world orders are likewise often called regalia.

So if we are comfortable speaking 21st century English in all ways, then 
all of our insignia can be called regalia.  If we are trying to be more 
precise, we'll restrict the use of "regalia" to just the royal stuff.  (And 
even that's a very late usage.)

A further complication is that the word "insignia" is likewise a 17th 
century invention.

So I can't claim that people who use regalia and insignia interchangeably 
are wrong -- just modern.  But I can't bring myself to do it.  Therefore I 
refer to my coronet (not Crown), my awards and the symbols of my membership 
in various orders as my insignia.  I won't use the word "regalia" for my 
things in a 16th century re-enactment, because that word was restricted to 
royal rights and objects back then.  Further, as a herald, I won't use a 
terminology that the heralds called improper at least through the 18th 

By contrast, my doctoral robes and hood are academic regalia -- correct 
21st century terminology for a 21st century usage.

Etymology is not definition, or digital computing would be counting on your 

Robin of Gilwell / Jay Rudin

(It often amazes me that a body of people who prefer terms like "troll" or 
"feast-o-crat" to simple modern language still shy away from any actual 
period usage.) 

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