eye of newt

things loom out of the murk and paddling cautiously towards them, we read well the warps and bends of light in the rippling data-flow, we make conscientious use of the incidental lenses that bubble up past us to read the waters well, and we make our approach unerringly. we can retrieve a sense of the past that is evidence-based and credible from the old texts. but we have to admit that current models of pre-renaissance history just aren’t always evidence-based or credible, and learn which bits to keep and which to discard.

 

what ox, which ford, and what’s a university anyway?

herman announces:

morning all, i’m as you know herman newt poking about in the medieval mire looking for scraps of history, and in my perambulations mysterious and deep i find myself up against the mysterious and deep mythology surrounding the famed name of oxford and not a whit the less of university, so i thought at once of my dear friend, etty moliji.  i find her in a sunny meadow on a mild may morning surrounded by a circle of admiring students and i arrange  my gills tidily over my shoulders and i raise my nice amphibian hand and i ask my questions most respectfully, as a good newt should.

herman boldly enquires:

where is the ox ford after which oxford is named, and who first called a university a university?

etty replies:

oxford is og’s fort, not oxen ford. og=egg. they were birds (confused nowadays with bards) and that was a kenning.

university is from iona/juno/ionia/jonah/jonas dion etc+gwersi+ty. no one was ever inventive enough to think up ‘one turning’ as a good thing to call an educational institution – imo! i could be wrong. maybe someone did and everyone just sooooo agreeeeeed with him/her because of the powerful force on their imagination of that glorious metaphor, but no, i think it meant gwersi/verses, and that meant rote-learnt chanted verses, and specified those of the joneses and not those of say the cailleach/colaiste/colleges.

keith, an earnest pupil, protests:

but ms moliji, is wikipedia so lost in its sin? why would it misinform us while referring us to academic resources?

wikipedia says

from wikipedia

common sense etymologist

word doctor

etty persists, gently but firmly, choosing her words with care:

ahem, yes. the ford for oxen. that seems to be current textbook opinion. well, i can’t say i’ve ever successfully pinned this one down, but here are my thoughts so far. the university of oxford is in oxford and oxford is in oxfordshire. now i’m not saying that anyone knows the origin of any of it – there’s nothing older than the old texts – and i’ve never seen anyone verify, in any way you could call academic, the folk tradition that it is named for a river crossing for oxen.

i find it unlikely that they would have named a whole shire after a famed city named after a river crossing so primitive it hasn’t even got a bridge and then put a university there. if you are establishing something so proud and elevated as a university you’re not going to name it after a particularly polluted and obstructed part of the local landscape relevant only to labourers, carters and other low types.

so i take leave of the textbook models which are still writhing in the grip of false bible-distorted chronologies and the cultural neurosis around sacred texts and the myth of the antiquity of the potted-into-paradigms ‘school’ languages such as latin and greek, and long overdue for an update, let alone lawkes a’mighty an up-hahaha-grade, heheheheh, because of course it’s so hard to get funding for anything that might threaten the credibility of the establishment with its investment in the magical events of the noughtth of nought noughteen noughty nought, which is of course the start of everything sort of. prolly adds up to 42 but i ran out of fingers and toes.

and yes, belinda, you do still get flamed and sometimes cruelly, for heresy/errorsie/errors, though there’s a sea-change in view as post-modernism unpacks the politics of academic discourse and makes us all behave. but like i said, you’re always treading on someone’s corn – ovia (oops, cor/kor/kernowvia)  wherever you go and there are sore points everywhere…

like i said, the etymologies have never been done. the plethora is unplundered. the richest, plushest, preciousest treasures of the english speaking world are buried undiscovered beneath the screen memory scab of the glorious biblical glossages of the renaissance, restoration and general rehash since the introduction of the gregorian calendar. (i allow myself the occasional coinage.)

nb (re above parag) notice the astounding spirit of eloquence that seizes me when i draw nigh to ogma. i recite anything you like, backwards or forwards, or boustrophodon and no one has to ask what is in that bou/bull’s troph.  i chant lists of lists of lists off by heart, all the way to ninthly, and tenthly and beyond. my captive audience is spellbound as if by the golden chains of my dogma – aye by the dogma of ogma.

i believe we learn more from a different kind of analysis, dealing in syllables as if they were whole words each with its own meaning, conscious of the limitations of the so-called ‘corpus etymology’ of the old comparative philologists and looking not so much for adam and god in the garden as for the bitchy snitchy sprangly, wrangly racist pious elevated debased degraded lah-di-dah, lithping, putting-on-the-dawg medieval patois/padua/pathways, focusing on english forms of it, since it seems to have been spoken in various local forms worldwide..

even aotaroa is water-rower in the patois. same words, different accent. and yeah, they sure were water rowers.

i should have added scholarly to that list of adjectives and even still ‘noble’ enough to be potted up for chanting in class.

og is irish for young. it occurs in words like dogma, pedagogy, ology. (i disagree with greek origins for these words, maintaining that they, like england, got them from their local patois, the forms being diverse but often still recognisable. THERE IS NO EVIDENCE TO SUPPORT THE BELIEF IN THE ANTIQUITY OF ‘ANCIENT’ ‘GREEK’. they appear to me to be medieval.)

og/ag/ug/ig/og all have been ways of pronouncing it. the g can become a v or f or bh or y or i. it can pick up remnants of old articles, t-og, d-og, thug, yog, sieg, zieg, hag, hog, higgs, hug, hugh, or from the invading normans/romans, l’og,  lag, leg, lugh, etc – all are possible, some are probable, but i have a different derivation for lugh and haven’t finished comparing it with this one. then any of these might pick up remnants of old plurals such as ogre = og+array agnes/agonies oglaigh, oygle, aggle, hagel, hagan, hogan, and blimey, blokes, we’re all over the map of europe again and bá í craic í if it ain’t the court of the crimthann king.  yep the kremhild/cream guild that lugh invited in to teach the irish dairying and the making of butter and cheese.

si-(e)g seems to have been fried.

and this is what i see emerging from the mythtth. it all fits/fitz/feats. this has been fit/feat/fight the severalth.

herman winds up:

well, that was etty on the subject.

i’ll now go and see if i can waggle up some wireless and i’ll try and post it to you all.

slán

hermeneutical championships: the rosetta stone challenge

good morning class. the subject for today is the rosetta stone. the rosetta stone is every bit as important as they say, as it is exciting hard evidence of a linguistic situation in the past. but to the consternation of any fastidious post-modern-and-beyond hermeneut they’ve gone beyond that evidence and look what a pickle they’re in.

we hermeneuts are oh so suave and heavens don’t we snuggle up close to our spirit guides and try earnestly to lift our games for the advancement of learning, oh yes, we do. chompy won’t mind if we drop the formalities.

chompy was a bright boy, and more than that he was a very privileged newt. he would probably have been all right if he’d kept to his proper ponds, but ambition, and not only his own, piled laurels upon him and he was, they say, awfully good at coptic, no really, SERIOUSLY PRODIGIOUSLY GOOD AT IT, back when NO ONE ELSE COULD  SPEAK A WORD OF IT to check whether he was or not, except copts but they were safely not in on the academic process, so weren’t much consulted except by chompy himself who being still at the dewy-eyed stage of growth, nevertheless found himself to be the only world expert, far above the steadying reach of peer review, the other contenders being of course, not only very inferior people, but also considerably less expert.

we know he spoke excellent coptic, flawlessly comprehending rapid speech and ingesting huge slabs of grammar and vocabulary every night before he went to sleep –  because he and his tutors tell us so. from Wikipedia at  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jean-Fran%C3%A7ois_Champollion cometh thith:

he was a bright boy

he was a bright boy

i personally haven’t seen his test results, so i’ll do the hermeneutically punctilious thing and not regard these unsupported assertions as facts. that would be a bit slovenly wouldn’t it? they go back to 1808 when academic standards were naive and we-e-e-ell, fibby in bits, and well let’s face it, daft, or more than half daft anyway. they were worse than modern day students of old stuff, who still haven’t loaded the idea that going beyond the evidence is UN! ACA! DEMIC!!! they were worse than the worst of the romantics in fact they were the fountainhead the romantic lips leeched to. and they could get away with it. they were almost as bad as the king of greece in tirant lo blanc who judged debates by the most whimsical criteria. they were worse than the dear rev. skeet.

chompy

chompy in full battle array

well now, there he is for you, and a handsome lad if you can believe the artist. of course, some artists are paid to flatter, and he might have had patches of rough skin, dandruff, pimples even, while still mastering (???) his first fifteen languages or twenty languages. i mean wow, he was a charismatic boy, but as a hermeneut (interpreter of texts) he wasn’t taking the cake;  and let me tell you why.

he went beyond the evidence

he was competing for the honour of being the first to interpret the rosetta stone with others not making quite the same prodigious claims (clearly VERY INFERIOR SCHOLARS to our chompus) and was given the prize for filling in the most gaps. most of the others weren’t willing to go THAT far BEYOND THE EVIDENCE.

one day when i find my pencil i’m going to devise a test that corresponds precisely to the one that fate set for chompollion. it will feature a text written in a well-known classical language, say, sanskrit, of the exact same length as the rosetta stone texts, to be equivalent to the greek, and a translation of it into a known extinct language such as old english, for the coptic with its transliteration into a hieroglyphic or similar script of my own devising known only to me.  it will be fragmented with the same area of the pictographic text removed. i will make available an amount of writing in my pictographic text known only to me equivalent to the egyptian corpus that chompollion and his colleagues had to work with.

then, if anyone can from my schmossetta stone  decode my pictographics well enough from the 400 or so words to read the entire corpus with anything like accuracy i’ll bake them a cake, with icing on, and ball bearings and jubes, and pale blue piping round the edges, and champion hermeneut emblazoned across the top in your choice of lime green or fair-trade chocolate. and i’ll even pay the postage.

Lynn Gwsyt: a lucid look at St Luke

Luke 18:35-43

this is not pure greek, ma darlings, but richly mixed with a number of school and town languages which I class together loosely as ‘the patois’ (see padua) the language of the pathers/cathars (think of parthian, partholan (don’t believe the chronologies; they are guesses) catharism etc and catholic as well. (the official etymology is false)

official translations depend upon a lexicon that is schoolboyishly wistful and naïve. a lexicon is what you have when you have no dictionary, i.e., nobody knows what the words really meant, you’ve had to work it out from somebody’s best effort at a translation. the makers of these texts were passionate about reconstructing, and as naïve about it as the Romantics, or as the neopagans around us today.

it’s a passage taken from the gospel of st luke. I chose it at random to try my classical, mostly Homeric greek on, totally not expecting to find what I found.  I was going to fill in the ‘theirs’ column, but ran out of time. the feel of it is that it has been skimmed for a sense that it could have to agree with the growing mythos, without much expectation that anyone else could discern the errors. and the translators were without peer review and were committed to getting up a gospel for the indoctrination of school children. the bible used to be their primer. this accords with Cervantes’ description of medieval/renaissance translation practices. gets him some of his biggest laughs. i’ve set this out in table form. it’s not complete, but not, i do ardently believe, as wrong as the official one. have a look and see what you think.

a lucid look at a little of luke