Versio Latina: (Ex Tragoedia Iulii Caesaris Excerptum: O Pardon Me Thou Bleeding Piece of Earth)

Ex "Tragoedia Iulii Caesaris" Excerptum
Scripsit Anglice Gulielmus Shakespeare (sive Hastiquatius)
Vertit in senarios Latinos A.Z. Foreman

Mihi ignōscās Ō mōlēs terrae sanguināns
Quod clēmēns atque blandus sum laniīs tuīs. 
Heu, rūdera es virōrum nōbilissimī
Umquam quī vīxērunt lūstrīs lābentibus!
Vae manuī, quae hunc cārum effūdit sanguinem!
Ego hīs apertīs vulnere extīs auguror
Quae mūta hiant ut ōra rubrīs lābiīs
Ut linguae vocem et verba furenter flāgitent.
Hominum in membra hinc descendet dētestātiō
Dīrārum. Furor et caedēs saeva cīvium 
Impia statim Italiae omnēs partēs oppriment
Eruntque in ūsū ita sanguis et vastātiō,
Et tam commūnēs rērum horrendae imāginēs,
Ut rīdeant mātrēs tantum cum vīderint
Infantulōs discerptōs bellī bracchiīs,
Et ferō mōre offōcātam misericordiam.
Quīn umbra Caesaris, vindex circumvaga,
Sociā Nemesī flagrante vectā ā Tartarō, 
Tyrannī vōce haec per cōnfīnia saeviens 
Clāmābit PRAEDAM quî bellī expediet canēs,
Ut taetrum hoc facinus suprā terrās pūteat
Cadāveribus gemitū fūnus petentibus.

Versio Latina: Humpty Dumpty

Carmen De Humpti Dumptii Obitu

Sedebat Humptus Dumptius
Olim in summo muro
Cecedit Humptus Dumptius
Casu damnose duro
Cui Caesaris praefecti tum
Equique adfuerunt
Sed lapsum Humptum Dumptium
Sarcire nequierunt

Versio Latina: Vates Bellator

Vates Bellator
Scripsit Anglice Thomas Morus ("The Minstrel Boy to the War is Gone)
Vertit Latine A.Z. Foreman

Puer vates vasit in prœlium,
   Ad mortis agmen cessit,
Qui patris induit gladium
   Lyramque tergo gessit
"Carminum" ait "regio!
   Etsi te mundus fraudat
Te servat unus pugio,
   Et fida lyra laudat."

Perivit at haud spiritum
   Catena hostis clausit,  
Nec dedit lyra sonitum
   Nam chordas cunctas hausit
Ait "nunquam feres vincula
   O cor virtutis bonum.
Nec det tua chorda libera
   In servitute sonum"

Versio Latina: Rei Publicae Hymnus Bellicus

Huic carmini mihi visum est necesse exstare Latine. Omnes autem versiones quas scrutatus sum iudicavi, ut benigne dicam, nullo prorsus pacto idoneas. Accedit quod nemo videtur strophas convertisse omnes, finali et quarta haud exceptis. Quibus omnibus de causis, versionem propriam constitui scribere meam, quam iam diem abhinc imposui Pipiationi Prosopobiblioque in forma jpeg.

Rei Publicæ Hymnus Bellicus
Scripsit Anglice Ward Howe
Vertit Latine A.Z. Foreman

Oculis aspexi gloriam adventûs Domini
Qui vindemiam conculcat qua sunt iræ acini.
Ense celere emisit fulgura terribili.
Procedit Veritas

Gloria et alleluia
Gloria et alleluia
Gloria et alleluia 
Procedit Veritas 

Eum vidi & castrorum centum cinctum ignibus,
Cui aram condidere vesperi in roribus,
Cujus justam legem lego tremulis lampadibus.
Procedit dies Dei

Gloria et alleluia
Gloria et alleluia
Gloria et alleluia 
Procedit dies Dei

In sclopetis scriptum ardens legi Evangelium
"Cui hostes Meos frangit Ego gratiâ adsum"
Nate muliere, frangat serpentém calcaneum!
Procedit Dominus

Gloria et alleluia
Gloria et alleluia
Gloria et alleluia 
Procedit Dominus

Tubam cecinit quæ nunquam caneret receptui.
Corda hominum scrutatur ante Thronum Judic(i)i
Cito anima, responde, io pedes hilari.
Procedit Dominus

Gloria et alleluia
Gloria et alleluia
Gloria et alleluia 
Procedit Dominus

Olim Christus natus est splendorifer trans pelage
Gloria in Cujus sinu transfigurat vos & me.
Quos sanctificavit morte liberemus hodie!
Procedat Dominus

Gloria et alleluia
Gloria et alleluia
Gloria et alleluia 
Procedat Dominus

Venit gloriâ ut supra maria diluculum
Est subversio erorum, sclavis est auxilium.
Cui scamnus fiet mundus, Cui servus sæculum
Procedet Dominus

Gloria et alleluia
Gloria et alleluia
Gloria et alleluia 
Procedet Dominus

Voices of Earlier English: Robert Robinson reads Shakespeare

In 1617 one Robert Robinson, a kid who matriculated pensioner from Trinity Hall two years before, composed one of the most original works of early English phonetics in "The Art of Pronuntiation" in which he used a script deliberately unrelated to the Roman alphabet to sidestep its limitations. He lived as a schoolmaster in London and apparently fourty years later impressed Charles Hoole (teacher of a grammar school in Lothbury Garden) with the speed with which he taught young children to read. Hoole implies that Robinson was using a technique peculiar to him. He appears to have been poor, but had a good education.

His published essay is a general theory of phonetics, complete with a series of symbols by which he hopes to be able to represent speech (of any language) unambiguously. Essentially, Robinson was trying to create a kind of Early Modern IPA. It is not without problems. His desire for featural elegance led him to express things like tenseness in a roundabout way. In this he was probably influenced not by traditional spelling as is commonly suggested but by the model set by Latin and Greek grammarians. His description of the distinctive features is very original and sometimes quite perceptive. I actually like his category of "lesser obstrict" a lot. He seems to have independently arrived at the rudiments of ideas like place and manner of articulation.

He then used his proto-IPA to transcribe his pronunciation of English and Latin. And in doing so is able to unproblematically represent a few phones that anyone bound to just the Roman alphabet would have a hard time doing. He reports things like optional allophonic devoicing, the fact that his particular dialect had a realization of /kl/ and /gl/ clusters that we would otherwise not know existed in the city of london at that time.

In his deliberate disregard of the Roman alphabet, he allows himself to recognize variety not just among different people but in his own speech. He feels no obligation to transcribe every instance of a word the same way if he doesn't always pronounce it the same way. Unlike Hart and Gil and all the English spelling-centered sources, the phenomenon of free variation causes Robinson no ideological problems. He is the only such witness to proceed in such a descriptivist spirit. His idiolectal transcriptions give us real information about an incomplete merger of *ā and *ai in his idiolect, one which was only partially lexically restricted.

His book did not sell well, and only one copy of it survives.

His proto-IPA is rather clunky and in some ways fails him. His biggest limitation is that he seems never to have really learned to speak any other language. Had he broadened his articulatory experience, who knows what he might have accomplished. In any case it's a shame nobody in his day realized that he was onto something big in featural representation. Despite some of its awkwardness, his script does allow one to build up a fairly well-supported sense of what a young well-educated but clearly sub-elite man might sound like when reading Shakespeare's sonnets which had been published just eight years earlier. Especially since he transcribes his pronunciation of verse-texts in his private papers.

The pronunciation Robinson records himself as using in reading verse is a good deal more...formal than the one I typically use for these readings. Much more sparing in its use of weak forms of function words. He usually gives words like "my" or "I" or  "have" the vocalism associated with the strong forms. And when reading verse he always pronounces the <l> in "should/could/would". Incidentally, this is one guy for whom their/they're were NOT homophones. So I read it in a careful way, quite performatively flat, the way a schoolmaster might when trying to illustrate pronunciation.

So here you go, sonnet 18 in his English.

(If you're wondering why this doesn't sound like David Crystal's "OP", here's a tediously detailed disussion of everything that is wrong with it.)




Historians of English phonology haven't always recognized Robinson's achievement fully. Chomsky and Halle were among the worst offenders. Some of what Robinson has to say conflicts with certain theoretical presuppositions about the way in which important sound changes took place. The thought has often been that Robinson (and Hart, and Gil, and pretty much everybody else) must have been misled by English spelling or failing to properly perceive things that "ought" to be there.

People like Dobson (Robinson's most recent editor), Kökeritz and Cercignani never forgave Robinson for not representing the PRICE and MOUTH vowels as sharing a single centralized onset. Worse still, there is really is no way to make sense of how he sets up his feature grid unless ME /ā/ was not yet /ɛ:/ for him. Otherwise he could put it in a length-pair with ME /ĕ/, while pairing ME /ă/ with pre-rhotic ME /ā/. The very fact that he reports a distinction between ME /ā/ and /ɛ̄/ in pre-rhotic contexts and equates the former with ME /ā/ in free development simply makes an [ɛ:] value for ME /ā/ unlikely unless there is something very peculiar about his rhotic. But a value [æ:] would mean that ME /ā/ and /ai/ were merging to [æ:]. As Tessio said in the Godfather "hell, he can't do that; that screws up all my arrangements". Dobson for his part found it preferable to think that /ai/ could only ever monophthongize one way in the history of English. He had his reasons. Philologists dealing with the history of a national language have sometimes suffered from morbidly severe cases of teleology.

Wolfe and Lass set the point straight: a man like Robinson who could describe his feature grid this way, who could tell that orthographic <cl> in <declines> actually corresponded to [t͡ɬ] in his pronunciation (a feature now restricted to certain moribund dialects outside London), who was so dissatisfied with English spelling that he came up with an entirely new script, was not being blinkered by naive reliance on traditional orthography in his transcriptions. The only influence of orthography, I think, is that sometimes variant spellings elicited different covarying pronunciations when he read text aloud.

Voices of Earlier English: Alexander Gil reads Spenser

Alexander Gil (1565-1635) was a Lincolnshire-born teacher at St. Pauls, whose most famous pupil was probably John Milton. He invented a (quite brilliant) phonetic orthography for English, affording access to his rather conservative reading-dialect.

Gil was over 50 by the time he wrote the Logonomia, and his transcription should be taken as a representation of self-consciously learned and acrolectic pronunciation of the kind cultivated in the later half of the 16th century but old-fashioned at the time he committed it to writing.
Personally to me, it seems rather fitting to read poetry of a self-consciously archaizing man like Spenser in this type of English. This is very easy to do, because (unsurprisingly) the puristic Gil was a big fan of the puristic Spenser, and transcribed enormous amounts of material from the Faerie Queene into his system.

Here, I read stanzas 45-46 from chapter 5 of book 3.

Below is Gil's transcription of same, from the Logonomia Anglica in his section on poetic excellencies:

Unthankful wrech (said hï) iz ðis ðe mïd
With which her soverain mersi ðou dust qujt?
Ðj ljf shï säved bj her gräsius dïd:
But ðou dust mën with vilenus dispjt
Tu blot her onor, and her hevenli ljħt.
Dj, raðer dj, ðen so disloialj
Dïm of her hjħ dezert, or sïm so ljħt,
Fäir dêth it iz tu shun mör shäm, ðen dj,
Dj, räðer dj, ðen ever luv disloialj.

But if tu luv disloialtj it bi,
Shal j ðen hät her ðat from dëthez dör
Mï brouħt? Ah far bï such repröch from mï.
What kan J les du ðen her luv ðerför,
Sith j her dʋ reward kanot restör?
Dj, räðer dj, and djing du her serv,
Djing her serv, and living her adör.
Ðj ljf shï gäv, ðj ljf shï duth dezerv.
Dj, räðer dj, ðen ever from her servis swerv.

Based on the corpus of Gil's transcriptiosn, it is not too hard to (re)construct his phonetic transcription of any passage. For example, the opening of the Faerie Queene:


a ʒentl knjħt was priking on ðe plain
iklad in mjħti armz and silver shïld
whërin öld dints of dïp wündz did rimain
ðe krυel marks of mani a bludi fïld
yit armz til ðat tjm did hï nevr wïld
hiz angri stïd did chjd hiz föming bit
az much disdaining tu ðe kurb tu yïld
ful ʒoli knjħt hï sïmd and fäir did sit
az ön for knjħtli ʒousts and fërs enkounterz fit

and on hiz brest a bludi kros hï bör
ðe dër rimembrans of hiz djing lörd
för whüz swït säk ðat glörius baʒ hï wör
and dëd az living ever him adörd
upon hiz shïld ðe ljk waz âlsö skörd
for sovrain höp which in hiz help hï had
rjħt faithful trʋ hï waz in dïd and wörd
but of hiz chïr did sïm tu solem sad
yit nöthing did hï drëd but ever waz idrad...

Here is a reading, in the same pronunciation, of Spenser's translation of Du Bellay's poem "Nouveau venu qui cherches Rome en Rome".

Just for kicks, here is how Du Bellay's original French poem would have sounded at the time when read aloud.

ðou stranʒer, which for Röm in Röm hïer sïkst,
and nöuħt of Röm in Röm percëvst at âl,
ðëz säm öld wâlz, öld Arches, which ðou sïst,
öld palasez, iz ðat which röm Men kâl.
bihöld what rek, what Rυjn, and what wast,
and hou ðat shï, which with her mjħti Pour
Täm'd âl ðe World, hath täm'd her self at last,
ðe Prai of Tjm, which âl thingz duth divour.
Röm nou of Röm iz ðönli Fυnerâl,
And önli Röm, of Röm hath Viktori;
Ne auħt säv Tjber, hästening tu hiz Fâl,
Rimains of âl: O Worldz enkonstansi!
ðat which iz firm, duth flit and fâl awai;
And ðat is fliting, duth abjd and stai.


The kind of speech that Gil transcribes is a formal kind perhaps largely restricted to self-consciously literary reading. He claimed it represented a supraregional southern norm, and that may be so in some sense. But it can hardly represent a kind of aristocratic Koine like British RP or American Mid-Atlantic English in the early 20th century. It is, I think, rather a literary pronunciation in the truest sense of the word. He admits for example that it is normal in speech (in the "common dialect") to say [inuf] rather than [inux] for "enough". He transcribes the word as the latter: <inuħ>.

A pronunciation of this kind must have had currency among the highly letterèd when reading aloud. Gil's *specific* variant of it though is probably not to be taken as representative of a London norm.
In at least two respects, Gil's reading-dialect is at odds with any kind of ordinary speech — even the most elegant. The English he represents appears not to have undergone the VAIN-VEIN merger. This had been accomplished in London by no later than 1350-1400 or so. The rhymes of London poets in the early 1500s show quite clearly that this merger was accomplished in the dialect underlying their speech. The same merger is reflected by Hart in 1551 and in all the work of the London-based phoneticians of the early 1600s who nonetheless distinguish VAIN from VANE. Gil attributes the VAIN-VEIN merger (or at least the pronunciation of "they" as "thay") to what he calls the "communis dialectus", just like the reading of "enough" as "enuff".

The VEIN/VAIN distinction in Gil's dialect however, is clearly not a mirage induced by normative orthography. When spelling implies something at variance with pronunciation, Gil easily represents pronunciation. Gil transcribes metathesis-spawned /u/ in words with orthographic <i> that would eventually join the NURSE lexical set. For example <burd> "bird" a form independently verified in pre-NURSE-merger speech by Gil's younger contemporary, the phonetician Robert Robinson. Other transcriptions such as <fürth, hensfürth> /fu:rθ/, /hensfu:rθ/ "henceforth" (the same vowel as in <dürz>  /du:rz/ "doors") imply strongly that he is basing himself directly on some kind of real pronunciation. And indeed, transcriptions such as <waiħt> "weight" and <ei> "eye" make it clear he is not simply basing himself on spelling on this particular point either. The transcription <rëineth> for "reigneth", if the diacritic is not a printer's error, is especially telling, as to an onset in the higher half of the vowel-space. The pronunciation his spelling implies must have existed in his mouth.

Gil's literary dialect also lacks the WRIGHT/WRITE merger. This had of a certainty taken place in London generally, and featured in the speech of people of the highest status. Queen Elizabeth herself gives evidence that she had this merger (there is no other way to explain her choice to spell "Rhyme" as <righme>). As the rhymes and original spellings of the passage read here demonstrate, Spenser like other aristocrats born in London after about 1550 or so was himself probably insensitive to any such distinction. Gil is in fact the ONLY direct description of its survival after 1600. As with VAIN/VEIN, this may be put down to the fact that Gil's native stomping ground in the East Midlands retained a distinction lost centuries earlier in London itself. (After back-vowels, however, matters were somewhat different: the phonetician Robert Robinson testifies that elegant speech even of young men born in London might distinguish TAUT/TAUGHT in 1617, and words ending in -UGHT are almost never rhymed with anything else by Londoner poets born before around 1610 or so).

Voices of Earlier English: William Harrison on Why Foreigners Can't Learn English

The English language in the 16th century was a bit like Icelandic or Danish in the early 21st, in that very few people outside the British Isles had much practical reason to learn the language, and of those foreigners who bothered trying, fewer still ever really learned it well. Why, after all, would you need English when anybody in England of real importance would know French and/or Latin? As John Florio put it "What think you of this English tongue?.....It is a language that will do you good in England but, pass Dover, it is worth nothing." John Donne, in The Will (written sometime in the 1590s) says "I...give...to them which passe among/ all forrainers, mine English tongue." i.e. nobody on the continent will speak any English to you. Literary works of prose and verse in French by non-native speakers, especially in the Middle Ages but continuing into Renaissance, are fairly common. Even in the 1700s one could find learned Englishmen like Sir William Jones composing verse in French as readily as in English. But I know of only one adult English-learner from continental Europe (Charles d'Orléans) who composed a literary work in English before the 18th century, and his circumstances were extremely unusual. William Harrison (b. 1534) in this passage from his Description of England (1577) describes how adept Anglophones are at learning other languages, whereas foreigners seldom manage to learn to speak good English. To Harrison, the reason why is obvious: English is just harder than other languages, whereas if you speak English that naturally makes it easier to learn other languages. Hard to disagree, no? English could never replace Latin and French as a lingua franca. The very idea is absolutely silly, amirite? I think of this passage in Harrison whenever I hear people spewing asininities about how English is just a really easy language to pick up (with "not a lot of grammar") and is therefore a natural choice as the world's lingua franca

Below are three different recordings of this passage in three different chronolects of English as it was pronounced by the well-read, well-fed and/or well-bred subjects of the crown at different times. Try listening to the first recording, and see how much you get. Then listen to the next two. Then take a look at the text, respelled according to modern norms. (Some time in the early 1600s, the pronunciation heard on the lips of courtiers and schoolmasters became close enough to the modern language that a time traveler would face little difficulty at that point) .

Early-mid-16th century London highborn "Mopsey" dialect, the pronunciation of John Hart. (This type of speech had a MAIN-MEAN merger, but MANE remained distinct. It is not ancestral to the next two) 


Mid-17th century elite speech (the pronunciation of Richard Hodges)

Early-mid-18th century elite speech of the "first British Empire" (the pronunciation of Benjamin Franklin)    

This also is proper to us Englishmen, that sith ours is a mean language, and neither too rough nor too smooth in utterance, we may with much facility learn any other language, beside Hebrew, Greek and Latin, and speak it naturally, as if we were home-born in those countries; and yet on the other side it falleth out, I wot not by what other means, that few foreign nations can rightly pronounce ours, without some and that great note of imperfection, especially the French men, who also seldom write any thing that savoreth of English truly. It is a pastime to read how Natalis Comes in like manner, speaking of our affairs, doth clip the names of our English lords. But this of all the rest doth breed most admiration with me, that if any stranger do hit upon some likely pronunciation of our tongue, yet in age he swerveth so much from the same, that he is worse therein than ever he was, and thereto peradventure halteth not a litle also in his own, as I have seen by experience in Reginald Wolfe, and other, whereof I have justly marvelled.

Voices of Earlier English: Chaucer's Canterbury Tales

Southeast Midland Chancery English ca. 1350-400.

Several people said they'd like to hear Chaucer read in Middle English without the interference from modern phonology (diphthongs, distinction of pale/peal/peel/pail, etc.) heard in most reconstructions. So here you go. I tried, as per usual, to bleed out as much Modern English transfer as I could.

A difference between this and whatever IPA transcription you'd find in a handbook introduction is that /d t/ are dental, and the voiceless stops are MORE aspirated than in modern English. By the latter I mean that aspiration occurs in places where it normally would not in modern speech, e.g. [ɔːpʰən]. The earliest description of aspiration comes from John Hart's manuscript of 1551. With his usual accuteness of perception Hart describes the voiceless turbulent airflow accompanying /p t k/, and relates it to the sound represented by and implies that this is peculiar to the English stops as against their counterparts in other languages. But his examples include not just the usual suspects (, for "pipe", "plum") but also and for "apple", "open". No form of modern English has aspiration in this environment. But Hart's apparently did. Hart's desctiption is also why /d t/ are true dentals in my reading. He states that you pronounce them "by laying of your tongue full in the palate of your mouth, and touching hardest of your fore-teeth". These are unambiguously dentals. (Alveolar articulation, on the other hand, is described clearly a century later by Holder, and then a few decades later we get a few of language-teachers describing the difference between Romance and English /t d/.) Thus [pʰeːrsəd̪ t̪oː ðə roːt̪ʰə]. It seemed the least likely option to be wrong in such matters would be to project Hart's phonology back a century and a half. Certain types of voicing assimilation (e.g. rendered [hað] before voiced consonants and vowels and [haθ] elsewhere) also take their cue from 15th and 16th century sources, on the premise that it is more likely Chaucer's English had them than not.




From the Prologue to the Canterbury Tales
Geoffrey Chaucer (b. 1343, London)

Whan that Aprill, with his shoures soote
The droghte of March hath perced to the roote
And bathed every veyne in swich licour,
Of which vertu engendred is the flour;
Whan Zephirus eek with his sweete breeth
Inspired hath in every holt and heeth
The tendre croppes, and the yonge sonne
Hath in the Ram his halfe cours yronne,
And smale foweles maken melodye,
That slepen al the nyght with open eye-
(So priketh hem Nature in hir corages);
Thanne longen folk to goon on pilgrimages
And palmeres for to seken straunge strondes
To ferne halwes, kowthe in sondry londes;
And specially from every shires ende
Of Engelond, to Caunterbury they wende,
The hooly blisful martir for to seke
That hem hath holpen, whan that they were seeke.

Some Linguistic Sobriety from Ibn Ḥazm of Cordoba

"Some people labor under the impression that their language is superior to all others. This makes no sense. The aspects of superiority are known: things are superior either by the work they do or by selection. But languages do not actually do work, and there is no scriptural testimony about the preference of one language over another. The Almighty says: “We have not sent a prophet except using the language of his community so he can explain things to them”, and also: “We revealed it only in your language in order that they may remember it”. With these words God informs us that He only revealed the Qur’ān in Arabic to make the Prophet’s community understand the message. Here, Galen was in error when he said: “Greek is the most superior language, because other languages resemble the barking of dogs or the croaking of frogs”. This is ignorant hokum. Anyone who hears a foreign language he does not understand regards it in the same way as Galen does other languages."

وقد توهم قوم في لغتهم أنها أفضل اللغات وهذا لا معنى له لأن وجوه الفضل معروفة ، وإنما هي بعمل أو اختصاص ولا عمل للغة؛ ولا جاء نص في تفضيل لغة على لغة ، وقد قال تعالى : {وَمَآ أَرْسَلْنَا مِن رَّسُولٍ إِلاَّ بِلِسَانِ قَوْمِهِ لِيُبَيِّنَ لَهُمْ فَيُضِلُّ اللَّهُ مَن يَشَآءُ وَيَهْدِي مَن يَشَآءُ وَهُوَ الْعَزِيزُ الْحَكِيمُ } وقال تعالى : {فَإِنَّمَا يَسَّرْنَاهُ بِلِسَانِكَ لَعَلَّهُمْ يَتَذَكَّرُونَ } .فأخبر تعالى أنه لم ينزل القرآن بلغة العرب إلا ليفهم ذلك قومه ﷺ لا لغير ذلك ، وقد غلط في ذلك جالينوس فقال : إن لغة اليونانيين أفضل اللغات لأن سائر اللغات إنما هي تشبه إما نباح الكلاب أو نقيق الضفادع . قال أبو محمد: وهذا جهل شديد لأن كل سامع لغة ليست لغته ولا يفهمها، فهي عنده في النصاب الذي ذكره جالينوس ولا فرق

From the Rosae Nomen: Salvatore the Macaronic

Below is yet another passage I managed to transcribe from the medieval Latin Rosae Nomen of Adso Mellicensis. 
The figure of Salvatore in Adso's tale is an interesting one. Half out of his mind, he appears to speak in a garbled mixture of languages spoken in the various Romance-speaking regions he has lived in, as well as Latin. For example "Diavulu" is from central Umbrian, and "Smoardir" (to gnaw) appears to be from some Rhaetian dialect. 
Adso is a native speaker of an Alemannic or Bavarian variety of Middle High German, and of course knows Latin as well. He mentions elsewhere having heard a little Occitan and learned a smattering of a couple Italian Romance varieties, but is unfamiliar with the orthography normally used to write any of these down. Salvatore's speech as recorded in Adso's manuscript thus contains a lot of Romance words whose written form has been improvised by a Middle High German speaker accustomed to writing Latin. 
Many times Adso, in reporting Salvatore's speech, will fall back onto Upper German scribal habits to give a rough phonological spelling of a Romance word whose connection to its Latin cognate is not obvious. By which I mean not obvious to Adso. After all, Adso is unaware that the Romance languages have any historical relationship to Latin at all. Sometime after the diglossic relationship between (what speakers called) written Latin and spoken Latin was severed in the 9th-10th centuries to become a bilingual one between written Latin and spoken Romance, the very idea of any kind of historical relationship between the two disappeared. The fact that Romance languages come from Latin was not realized by scholars until the 16th century, and it took a while to become a matter of uncontroversial consensus. (Dante, who died six years before the date of Adso's story, appears to have believed — as would many others after him — that the Romans too used Latin in educated and written discourse, but spoke something else in quotidian contexts. So natural was the role of Latin in his own day that he failed to apprehend that it had not always been so.) 
Adso's manuscript, as it happens, furnishes us with the earliest attestation of the German idiom "unter der rose" when he responds out of shock in Middle High German vernacular, inducing Salvatore to declaim some verse in the same language about the dangers of confessing your heterodox beliefs to anyone.

Ille plasma retro nos erat specie monachus, quamquam tunica sordida et scisa eum assimulauit uagabundo, et uultus eius prebebat figuram non dissimilem monstris quos nuperrime uideram in capitulis. Nunquam in uita mihi contigit, uelut multis confratris mei, a Diabolo uisitari. Credo autem Aduersarium Nostrum si olim mihi apparet, diuino decreto prohibitum ne naturam suam plane celet quamuis se assimulare homini optasset, haut aliam speciem induturum esse preter illam quam mihi prebuit ipso tempore collocutor noster. Caput eius derasum fuit, set non per penitenciam quin per consequenciam remotam cuiusdam uiscidi eczematis. Frons adeo depressa fuit ut si capilas in capite ullas habuisset, confuse sint superciliis densis et hirsutis. Rotundi fuerunt illius oculi e quibus pupille ostendebantur paruule ac mobilissime. Quorum obtutus utrum innocens esset an malignus nescio, set forsan utroque per uices et momenta diuersa uersabatur. Nasus eius tali nomine dici non potuit, nam tantum fuit ossum quod incipiebat inter oculis set ascendendo a uultu iterum subsidebat in duas cauernas obscuras, nares amplissimas et hirtas. Bucca ad nares per cicatriculam coniuncta, lata fuit et informis, plus ad dexteram quam ad sinistram distensa. Inter labrum superius inexistens et inferius prominens ac carnoso, eminebant innormiter dentes nigri, acuti uelut canis mordices. 
Iste homo subrisit (uel saltem sic credidi) et digitum quasi ad admonendum leuans dixit: 
<Penitenciagite! Retinete en uisiun lu dragun ki es uenidur per rodegarla animam tuam! La morz e sübre nos! Pregi ke uiena lu papa seinte e deliwre nus deu mau de tuz li pecaz infernali! Ai ai, te pleizt kizta nigromancia deu seniwriws nostre Jesu cristo fiwl lui dumneseo! Ed anco dschueiz mes douz e plaseir mes dulurs... Cauete omnes ne sabir e pudir per sagrement dunaz al diauulu! Il sempro me aguaidat in alcuno anglu per me smoardir la cargania. Mai Saluatore nun es idiote, kel sap cum es e tei uœls nella swa testa. Desnaturat son li franzes che deu afar dieu disun nu, ma bonum e lu monasterium e hic se mania e se ruoga dominum. 
Nu kre ka la mort
Digus piws em port
Aueir ni arnei
Mas lus faz ke fei.
e lu reste nu uaut stercus in latrina. Ed amen amen ueritatamente. Nu?>
Hic ego, momentaliter mei oblitus, elocutus sum uulgariter <waz?> (id est, <quidnam?>)
Statim siluit, tunc oculis me tacite scrutatus respondit <tiu...uidetur ses Alemanz...>. 
Cui ego <ia> (id est <ita, recte dixisti>)
Et ille <io nu sape lu teu parladure ma alguno me diget isto olim ueritatamente, memento et tu!
Wann du hast ketzerie getuon,
daz niht fiurpruevung kum darvon
under der rosen halte dich,
nuor in din eigen herze sprich.>
Que omnia fere significant nostratim <Si quid heresis fecisti, ne ignis iudicium ob eo patiaris, teipsum sub rosa teneto, noli eloqui nisi cordi tuo>

Why Are Vampires So Stupid?

One thing I never understood about stories set in universes where vampires are real: why can’t humans just set up a bloodbank to meet vampiric needs? Our bodies are capable of producing so much blood, much more than if you just kill us and drain it all in one go. A single human can produce huge amounts of the stuff if they just give a tiny bit every day.

The whole “vampires need blood and therefore are murderous” thing makes a lot more sense in a pre-modern context where we didn’t know (a) that the human body easily replenishes a complete pint of lost blood within a matter of weeks and (b) just how much blood your average adult is walking around with in their bodies. In modern works, vampires who actually kill or turn a person by feeding on them come off as idiots.

A single human being plus a syringe could probably keep you alive indefinitely, dumbass.

But let's assume extremely high consumption needs, much higher than you find in most vampire fiction. Let's assume vampires need to drink as much blood as adult humans do water: about four pints a day. Even at that extreme, a hundred or so humans giving regular blood would (a) meet your needs comfortably while (b) allowing the humans to lead healthy, normal and happy lives (no one would have to do more than give you a pint of their blood every five weeks.) Given that in most fiction the ratio of humans to vampires is quite enormous, even a need like that should be possible to satisfy without anybody getting hurt.

At bottom, you're a person with a bizarre medical need. Finding willing donors ready to give some blood every few weeks to help you live has just got to be easier than a life of stalking victims, hiding corpses and having to lie to everybody about why you need so much damn sunblock all the time.

Sure, maybe you needed to suck people's blood dangerously back in the 19th century when we didn't know shit about how blood works. But it's time to wake up and check your e-mail.

In the 21st century, it kinda puts a cramp in that “ancient horror” mojo when it turns out you know less about human blood than the average junior high student.‬

Poets in the Qur'an

Some thoughts about the portrayal of poets and poetry in the Qur'an (first released as a mega-thread on twitter)

Why are šāˁir and šiˁr the words for poet and poetry in Arabic?

Etymologically, these two words ought to mean "one who knows/perceives" and "knowledge" respectively. And indeed šiˁr does have the latter meaning, particularly in the fossilized phrase layta šiˁrī "would that I knew, would that mine were knowledge (of)". This usage is quite an old one, and occurs in the transmitted Jāhilī material. For example, the Ḥamāsa attributes to Ta'abbaṭa Šarrā's mother a poem containing the verse layta šiˁrī ḍallatan ayyu šay'in qatalak (would that I knew what thing it was that killed you wrongly).

It is likely that this sense of "know(ledge), sense" is old, and the sense of poetry is a semantic innovation. How and why did this happen? One good place to start looking for an answer is the Qur'ān, which uses the words šiˁr and šāˁir. Interestingly, the Qur'anic voice not only disdains the šāˁirs' (26:224 "The šāˁirs have only a following among the wayward"), but is moved on multiple occasions to highlight the fact that the Messenger isn't a šāˁir. (E.g. "we have not taught him šiˁr, nor would it be right for him. This is only a reminder, and clear Qur'ān" at Q 36:69)

Now, it is vanishingly unlikely that Qur'ān could have been mistaken for šiˁr if the word's meaning were at that time identical to what it means in later Arabic, though this is what is traditionally supposed. In later Arabic, of course, šiˁr "poetry" refers above all else to language that is metrically regulated. So much so that even so esteemed a pre-Islamic poem as the muˁallaqa attributed to ˁAbīd b. Al-Abraṣ might be dubbed "almost non-poetry" (kāda allā takūna šiˁran) on account of its failure to use one of the canonically recognized meters. (ˁAbīd's poem uses a meter that was no longer fully understood by the time of Khalīlians. That's an interesting story in its own right, but one for another post.)

If the audience of the Qur'anic messenger had understood šiˁr in this way, it is difficult to see how there would have been any problem. At minimum, whatever šiˁr meant to the Messenger's audience, it included some kind of linguistic performance close enough in form to the Qur'ān to be mistaken for it.

Ergo it was not restricted to metrical language of the kind found in the qaṣīda. Indeed, it has been speculated by Ahmad Al-Jallad that linguistic performance in quantitative verse was unknown to the Messenger's audience. His suggestion that the qaṣīda tradition has its roots elsewhere is very likely, and the possibility that it may have been originally appropriated from some Old South Arabian language(s) is raised to a mighty height by curious archaeological discovery of a South Arabian inscription — largely undecipherable — which appears to be in monorhymed verse (which I am pretty sure is metrical).

But the fact that the Messenger's audience would use the word šiˁr to describe a performance in Qur'an-like form, with cadenced, rhymed (but not strictly metrically regulated) language, does not actually exclude their knowledge of (and application of the same word to) a metrical verse tradition of the qaṣīda-type. So the question of whether the Messenger's audience was familiar with a qaṣīda tradition is as yet without answer. (I myself think that they probably did know of such a tradition, and if they did not practice it, then it must have been current among the non-sedentary populations of the Ḥijāz. The Qur'anic Messenger is allied with an urban population and views the 'aˁrāb with suspicion and hostility, and Jāhilī verse attributed to town-dwellers is extremely rare.)

So what was this šiˁr of the non-qaṣīda type like? There are justified guesses to offer.

There are Qur'anic passages that shed light on what kind of šiˁr was specifically at issue.

"This is the speech of a noble apostle.
It is not the speech of a šāˁir. Little do you believe.
It is not the speech of a kāhin. Little do you believe."
(69:40-42).

Kāhin and šāˁir are linked by syntactic parallelism, here, and this is not the only place where they lie in close proximity. At Q 52:29 God reminds the Messenger that "By Grace of God you are neither a kāhin nor a madman possessed (majnūn)", and in the subsequent verse the hard-headed are referenced with "Do they say 'He's a šāˁir and we await a foul turn of fate for him'?"

A kāhin is usually thought to have been a kind of soothsayer with some religious function. (Cognates in other Semitic languages often mean "priest" or the like). Many have suggested — rightly, I believe — that the kāhins had a tradition of producing cadenced, rhymed oracular utterances purporting to be the words of the divine, with information about the disposition of the heavens, spelling out what future disasters (or, if proper propitiations are made, delights) lie ahead. It is not hard to see how the Messenger's audience might make the mistake of taking the Qur'ān to be this kind of language. In fact, if anything it would be hard to definitively prove this to be a mistake at all. A true prophet of the Abrahamic tradition would need his Message to explicitly and pointedly distinguish him from those who might well be called "prophêtai" in the pre-Christian sense of thee Greek word.

The Qur'ān does not spell out any formal differences between itself and šiˁr, or between the latter and whatever the kāhins were producing. Rather, the Qur'ān distinguishes itself from these on the grounds of epistemic and technical superiority: the šāˁir and/or the kāhin is a liar who invents things (Q 52:33 et al.) The Messenger does not. His Message really is divine in origin, as proof of which it is stated that nobody can create a single sūra like it (with an explicit challenge to doubters to go ahead and try all they want). But whatever uniqueness is asserted cannot be a generic one. If nothing at all resembling the Qur'an were known to the Messenger's audience, there would be no need for his Message to expressly state what kind of language it was not, nor would there be any earthly sense to the explicit assumption that the Messenger was at risk of being confused with the wrong sort of person on account of his linguistic medium. So, inasmuch as the Message claims linguistic uniqueness, it is a unique excellence rather than unique form.

But the šāˁir and the kāhin are not the same person, though the Qur'an makes a point of distinguishing the Messenger from both. A tradition of non-oracular linguistic art in Qur'anesque form, perhaps involving legendary figures or ancestors, may have also existed and counted as šiˁr. The rhyming habits of the Qur'ān are not haphazard, and Marijn van Putten has shown that they obey well-defined phonological constraints of a kind reminiscent of the "featural rhyme" of Old Irish verse. Such consistently-obeyed formal compositional features do not simply spring into existence out of nothing. This was a type of rhyming whose constraints the Messenger and his audience were already quite familiar with.

For the Messenger's audience then šiˁr probably could be labeled "poetry" in the Modern English sense if not in the Medieval Arabic sense. They likely knew a poetic tradition, one in which verse-length was not strictly regulated, where rhyme was a matter of assonance rather than being built around repetition of the same syllable coda, and where narrative was a major feature (the qaṣīda tradition is conspicuous for just how rare truly "narrative" passages are). Al-Jallad has brought to light a new Old North Arabian inscription, and offered a fresh appraisal of another, with obviously mythological in nature with thematic connections to North Semitic epic narrative verse, in irregular line-length with verse-constituents bound together by loose rhyming. I would suggest that this kind of language may well have been deemed šiˁr by the Messenger's audience. Its purely formal features have much in common with Qur'anic style, but little if any with the Qaṣīdah.

Which brings us back to etymology. If šiˁr was originally "knowledge" or "sense", then perhaps one stage in its semantic development was "lore to be told" or else "that which is sensed, apprehended." A šāˁir might at one time have been either a "knower of tales" or an "apprehender of things". This is completely speculative, of course.

Many different cultures at different times have known a conceptual slippage between the role of prophet and poet, especially inasmuch as the poet too claimed to be godspoken. Much of what we call "Biblical Poetry" is put in the mouths of prophets. An inspiration akin to, or arising from, madness (or "Jinnic possession") may also be part of the poetic package. We may think of the Delphic oracle speaking Apollo's mind in hexameters, or remember that a possessed "Majnūn" composing Arabic poetry out of unhinged feeling is literally the stuff of legend. The connection between madness, poetry and prophecy is nicely expressed in the semantic development of Norse Óðr or its cognates in Latin Vātis, or Old Irish fáith. The flipside of the seer's insanity is his/her status as sage, one who knows, a repository of material which one is better off for having heard.

Quote from Ibn Khaldun

(Translation by yours truly)

"The poet should avoid not only obscure and arcane words, but also those vernacular words banalized by common overuse. This undermines the poem's eloquence. He should also avoid tropes that have become banalized in common knowledge, as this too undermines eloquence, the poem itself becoming banal and approaching the insipid, as when one says "the fire is hot" or "the heav'ns above". A poem's eloquence flows in inverse proportion to such insipidities, which is why poetry on mystical and prophetic themes isn't usually very good. Only masters can pull it off, and then only with difficulty and in small amounts, for the tropes of such poetry are in such common circulation as to have become banal."

وليجتَنِب الشاعرُ أيضاً الحوشيَّ من الألفاظ والمقعَّرَ، وكذلك السوقيَّ المبتذَلَ بالتداول بالاستعمال، فإنه ينزِلُ بالكلام عن طبقة البلاغة. وكذلك المعاني المبتذلة بالشهرة فإنّ الكلام ينزلُ بها عن البلاغة ايضاً، فيصير مبتذلاً ويقرُبُ من عدم الإفادة كقولهم: النارُ حارةً والسماءُ فوقَنا. وبمقدار ما يقرُبُ من طبقة عدم الإفادة يبعدُ عن رُتبة البلاغة، إذ هما طرفان. ولهذا كان الشِعرُ في الربانيات والنبويات قليل الإجادة في الغالب. ولا يحذق فيه إلا الفحول. وفي القليل على العسر لأنّ معانيها متداولة بين الجمهور، فتصير مبتذَلة لذلك.

From the Rosae Nomen: Advice from William of Baskerville

In illo uultu ab odio philosophie uastato conspexi primum imaginem Antichristi, qui non uenit de tribu Iude sicut simulauerint annunciatores eius, nec de regione ulla longinqua. Antichristus nasci potest ex ipsa pietate, de amore Dei uel ueritatis excessiuo, sicut hereticus nascitur de sancto et indemoniatus de uidentibus. Timeto tu prophetas, Adso, et omnes paratos mori pro ueritate, quia regulatim multos alios ad mortem conducunt secum, sepe ante se, aliquando pro se.
Gulielmus de Basceuilla

From the Rosae Nomen: William and Adso Talk About a Strange Man

I have had the opportunity to copy another fragment from the Rosae Nomen. The MS' owner this time only let me turn to a random page, and after that forbade me to touch the book. The paper she gave me was much smaller, and consequently so is the fragment I was able to copy. As I got home with my notes, several bee-themed firecrackers scared the bejeezus out of me by exploding around the door. I found taped to the door-handle a note saying "Best, Humbert". Heretofore it has been odd, communicating with the owner. But what was this in aid of?
I can't decide what is going on. Am I am the butt of a colossal joke? The human gamepiece participating in some resource-rich eccentric's amusements?
Why won't the MS' owner tell me her own name, why did she choose to send that bizarre email to me of all people, why does that strange car of hers have to pick me up with no warning at the most random of unannounced times?

Iterum nauatam centralem perambulauimus et exiuimus per portale quo intraueramus. Ubertini uerba etiamnunc omnia audiebam meas inter aures zonatim bombizancia. <Iste homo> tandem ausi Gulielmo dicere <est straneus>. 
Mihi <est> inquit <aut potius fuit, in multis modis, homo magnus. Set eandemobrem est extraneus. Solum homunculi angusti et minuti prebent speciem normalitatis. Ubertinus potuisset fieri aut unus de ereticis quos ipse comburi fecit, aut cardinalis Sacre Romane Ecclesie. Satis prope accessit ad ambas peruersiones. Quando de Ubertino fabulo aliquatenus habeo nocionem quod Infernus non est nisi Paradisum ab altero latere uisum>. 
Sentenciam eius haut nactus <a quo> inquam <latere?>. 
<Ah sic> recognouit Gulielmus <primum sapiendum est num exstent latera, et num exstet totum. Set noli animaduertere ad me, et pro Dei eterni fidem noli tu respicere in istud portale> acre elocutus est, mihi in nucham leuem ducens alapam dum me respectum uersabar sculpturas quas introeundo uideram <iam nimium ab illis per unum diem horrepilatus es, Adso.> 

This passage, unlike the previous one, contains dialogue. And dialogue of a most interesting character, too. There is a limit to what can be known of the spontaneous Latin speech of 14th c. medieval monastics, as we have no direct access to that kind of language, though there are documents that seem to have been produced from dictation without rehearsal or revision which may offer something close to it, and much of the dialogue in Adso's MS seems to have something of the flavor of that. It is similar in some fundamentals to the spoken business Latin used sometimes in the early modern period, though with a more profound feel of idiom, and a jargon drawn from the scholastic world. It is particularly full of constructions that will cause Ciceronian fanboys to involuntarily relieve their bowels. The (now agèd) author and narrator Adso is a rather learned monk, more learned than he was at the time when the story takes place (as he elsewhere notes, he did not then know Greek, hinting that matters have changed.) The allusions he indulges in make his learning undeniable. He is familiar with the language of classical literature, and draws on it freely, but it is neither his main stylistic model nor his sole idea of acceptable Latinity, let alone in a document of this kind. The conversational Latin used around the abbey in the text, even by learned men like William and Severinus, is of a workaday, practical type with much syntactic calquing from vernaculars. Thus in this passage we have, on the one hand, spoken parts that contain not only the usual medieval suspects (quando used as a relative with an indicative verb, "quod" as a subordinator with notionem habere for a verb-phrase) but also such medievalisms as extraneus in the sense "bizarre". (Whether the aphaerisis of straneus is intentional or not is difficult to say, but it is not without precedent in MSs from this period.) On the other hand, in Adso's narrative parts, there are medievalisms (nucha, a loan from Arabic) used in the same expression as a specimen of ancientry like "alapam ducere" (to give a smack), followed by the learnedry of "dum me respectum versabar sculpturas" (while I was turning to look at the sculptures) where an accusative supine taking a direct object. These monks' Latin speech is not unsophisticated, uneloquent or broken. No matter that Ciceronians may not have what it takes to handle it.

A diplomatic MS transcription:

Rosae Nomen

Below is a transcription of the beginning of a medieval manuscript which I was permitted to view. Directly above the main text on the first leaf the name Adso Mellicensis is written under a stylized rose. Stirred by a whimsical afflatus of I know not what, I bestow on it the title of Rosae Nomen. I transcribe the MS, without altering spellings and without apology for the syntactic vagaries of late medieval Latin, or at least as faithfully as technology allows. The MS, written in assured blackletter minuscules (with the occasional words written rather inexpertly in Greek), is shot through with a rich array of sigla which cannot be easily represented in the fonts available to me on this blog. Enormous though the MS is, the scribe clearly felt the need to economize writing space as much as possible. Here's a picture of what a faithful diplomatic edition would look like:



At any rate, the owner of the MS permitted me to view it only over the course of a single day in the confines of her library's reading room, where I was supervised at all times (sometimes by her, more often by a rather loquacious guard in her employ) and supplied with only a single sheet of legal-sized paper on which to transcribe material. Though I was told I was free to make and distribute further copies if I wished, the single sheet was clearly meant to limit the amount I could copy. Using the the smallest and most condensed shorthand I could summon to my pen, I compressed as much text as I could onto the one sheet. What I was able to transcribe I give below. I have exhorted her to allow me another day with it, if only to transcribe another page's worth, but she has remained adamant, and will only allow me to see it when so instructed by its previous owner, a man she refers to only as Humbert. I do not know when or if I will see the book again, or what circumstances she will insist on if I do.

In principio erat Verbum et Verbum erat aput Deum et Deus erat Verbum. Hoc erat in principio aput Deum, et omnis fidelis monachi fuit diatim repetere uno humili psallenti sono illum unicum euentum immodificabilem cui ueritas asseri potest incontrouertibilis. Set uidemus nunc per speculum et in enigmate, et ueritatem non uidemus antequam omnibus signanter in conspectu manifestetur nisi phragmentis carptim (eheu quam illegibilibus) in errore mundi istius. Debemus ideo uix silabatim fidelia signacula eius efferre etiam ubi nobis apparent opscura et uelut intexta uoluntate summum attentissima ad malum. 
Hodie ad uite peccatoris mee occasum perueniens, canicie tamquam mundus senescens, opperiens ut in sillenciose deserteque diuinitatis abisso perdar, particeps lucis inenarrabilis ab angelorum inteligencia fluentis, iam corpore egro et grauato hac in celula charissimi monasterii Mellicensis constrictus, paro huic pergameno mandare testimonium de mirabilibus terribilibusque que accidit ut in iuuentute conspicerem. Nunc omnia que audiui et uidi in scripturam redigam uerbatim, quin ex eis designacionem coligere conar, quasi ita ut subcessoribus meis uenientibus in hunc mundum (nisi Antichristus primum aduenerit) signorum signa relinquam in quibus exerceatur oracio ἑρμηνεύματος. 
Mihi Dominus eterne rei conditor graciam concedat ut transparens perhibeam testimonium de gestis in abbatia cuius de nomine equum est et pium dehinc tacere, sub finem anni domini MCCCXXVII quo descendit Imperator noster Ludouicus in Ytaliam ad Sacri Imperii Romani dignitatem restituendam, iunxta Altissimi consilia et ad confusionem usurpatoris scelesti, simoniaci, eresiarche qui in Auennione sacro apostoli nomini uerecundiam intulit (dico animam peccatricem Iacobi Cadurcensis quem impii sub nomine Iohannis XXII reuerebantur.) 
Vt ea plenius comprehendam quibus me innodatum habui, forsitan oportet primum memorare de rebus extremo seculo excurrente gestis, cum ut tunc me eas uiuente accipiebam, tum ut nunc eas memini aliis istoriis aliquantulum post auditis auctas, si quid est in me memorie que etiamnunc tot euentus confusissimos philatim renectere capiat. Nam, ut mihi iamdudum dixit amicus quidam (de quo postea tractaturi sumus) <libri semper alios libros reuocant; non exstat fabula nisi fabulam narrat iam narratam>. 
Illo seculo ineunte Papa Clemens V cum ipse sedem apostolicam ad Auennionem transtulisset Romam reliquit predam ambicionibus dominulorum localium; deinde est Sanctissima Vrbs gradatim in circum uel lupanar transformata, luctacionibus inter seniores dilaniata. Misera illa ciuitas, armatis cateruis oppugnata et seuitie predacionibusque subiecta, respublica dicebatur set haut erat. Ecclesiastici e seculari iurisdicione elapsi scelestorum greges ducebant latrocinando cum gladiis in manibus et preuaricando et commercia inpiissima ordinando. Quemnamadmodum impediri quominus Caput Mundi iterum fieret meta, ac recte, eius qui studeret choronam Sacri Imperii suscipere et dignitatem restaurare dominii temporalis quod Cesarum factum fuerat totum?
Itaque anno MCCCXIV quidam V principes electores Teutonici in oppido Franconefurde Supremum Caput Imperii elegerant Ludouicum Bauaricum. Eodem autem die ex aduersa Meni ripa Comes Palatinus Reni et Archiepiscopus Coloniensis similliter Fridericum Ducem Austrie elegerant eandem in dignitatem. Ita fuerunt imperatores simul duo sedi unice, ac Papa unicus imperatoribus duobus. Que causa profecto motus attulit permagnos in mundo. 
Duos post annos in Auennione, nouus Papa electus est Iacobus Cadurcensis, senex LXXII annos natus qui, ut superius diximus, nomen Iohannis XXII sibi sumsit. Placeat celo ne pontifex maximus quisquam dehinc nomen adeo bonis inuisum suscipiat. Ille Francicus Regi Francie deuotus (cuius corrupte terre homines  semper suis rebus consulere inclinant, ac nequeunt totum orbem aspicere patriam spiritualem) Philippum Pulcrum contra Templarios subleuauerat, quos criminum turpissimorum (meo quidem iudicio iniuria) ipse rex accusauit qui, conscio istulo ecclesiastico renegato, eorum possessionibus potiretur. Interea se inseruit Robertus Neapolitanus qui ad propriam dicionem manutenendam peninsule Ytalice persuaserat Pape ut neutrum imperatorum teutonicorum agnosceret. 
Anno MCCCXXII Ludouicus Bauariensis concertatorem Fridericum uinxit. Iohannes, unum imperatorem plusquam duo timens, uictorem excommunicauit. Ille inuicem Papam tanquam hereticum denunciauit. Oportet etiam referre ut eodem anno capitulum Franciscanorum generale conuenit Perusie ubi minister generalis Michael Cesenas, instancias accipiens Spiritualium (de quibus dicendi iterum infra occasionem habebimus) pro re fidei doctrineque proclamauit pauperitatem Christi, qui nihil cum apostolis suis possederat nisi in usu facti. Hec autem resolucio dignissima ad uirtutem et puritatem ordinis custodiendam Pape quam maxime displicuit, qui fortasse in ea creuit racionem qua omnia periculo adducerentur que affirmauerat, imperio ius Episcopos eligendi negans et sedi apostolice peculiare imperatorem inuestire asseuerans. His et similibus commotus, Iohannes proposiciones Franciscanas anno MCCCXXIII condempnauit in epistula decretali <Cum Inter Nonnullos>.
In illo uestigio temporis, ut opinor, Ludouicus in Franciscanis, iam Pape inimicis, socios uidit probabiles. Illi, pauperitatem Christi affirmando, quodammodo nociones imperialium theologorum, uidelicet Marsilii Patauiensis et Iohannis de Ianduno, ei confirmabant. Tandem nonnullos menses post que hic enarro, pactus est Ludouicus cum Friderico, et postquam in Ytaliam descendit Mediolani choronatus est.
Ita breuiatim res se habuerunt quando ego, iuuenis nouicius Benedictinus monasterii Mellicensis, de pace claustri subito demptus fui a patre meo qui in commitatu Ludouici pugnabat.  Optimum ei uidebatur me secum ferre ut Ytalie mirabilia scirem et  Imperatoris choronacioni Rome adessem. Illum autem adsedium Pisarum curis militaribus opsedit funditus. 
Ergo solitarius homo relictus, inter Thuscie ciuitates uagantem uitam agere cepi partim ex ocio, partim ex desiderio discendi. Set rudis et indisciplinata hec libertas, ut opinabantur parentes mei, non decebat adolescentulo ad uitam contemplatiuam deuoto. Secuti igitur consilio Marsilii qui me diligere ceperat, tutelam mei committere iudicarunt doctissimo Franciscano fratri Gulielmo de Basceuilla tunc inituro opus quod se ad ciuitates famosas abbatiasque antiquissimas perduceret. Que cum ita essent, factus sum Gulielmo scriba et discipulus simul, quod nullatenus me unquam penituit, quia comes eius plurima conspexi condignissima tradendi, ut nunc facio, eorum memorie qui post nos uenturi sunt.

Written On Somebody's Paper Napkin

Mad paper, go, and on the firewood burn
Spew these rough lines out in a cough of smoke.
I've had enough of you. We can't return
To this. Destruction is the masterstroke.

As ink turns ash, and words turn not a thing,
Affirm what blowhard poets liked to doubt:
That like this earth all supple sonneting
Won't mean one damn when all the lights go out.

Ask in a violet flame like burning fat:
Can lines gleam in a detonated sun?
Or poets claim immortal this or that
When all the cosmos is a shining gun?
Can you believe yourself in shrieking "But
It's enough to have once been"? I am done.

Latin Compounding

The idea that the Latin language itself is (or was) ill-suited to prolific formation of compounds of the kind found in Greek is hooey. Ancient Roman linguistic preferences do not exhaust the possibilities of the language itself.

Quintilian's value judgment:

Sed res tota magis Graecos decet, nobis minus succedit, nec id fieri natura puto, sed alienis favemus; ideoque cum κυρταύχενα mirati simus, incurvicervicum vix a risu defendimus.

(But all this suits the Greeks better. It has not caught on so much with us — not I think because of any innate property, but rather we favor loanwords and so admire κυρταύχενα whereas we can hardly keep from ridiculing "incurvicervicum")
 
Should not be interpreted to be an inexorable result of something intrinsic to the Latin language, as when one scholar suggested that "nominal compounding is not as developed in Latin as it is in other IE languages, since the prototypical length of Latin words is rather short".

The fact that, at least during the empire, Roman-era Latin was not especially given to creative compounds reflects less a linguistic property of Latin than the aesthetic and cultural judgments of those Latin writers whose works survived transmission from antiquity.

 I strongly suspect that resistance to innovative compounding in Latin was BECAUSE it was so associated with Greek, and thus was especially liable to strike the tender nerves of Roman linguistic insecurity. Some words from early Latin tragedy coined on Greek models (sonipes, flexanimo) got entrenched early enough to be grandfathered in.

Some Late Republican writers did coin freely when they wanted to. I think it's no accident that they tend to have been either (a) rather experimentally uninhibited in their Hellenizing or (b) in operating genres held in low esteem by the Roman literary elite. A single poem by Catullus contains such interesting items as hederiger (ivory-bearing), nemorivagus (grove-rover), silvicultrix (forest-tending), erifuga (master-fleeing). And this by no means exhausts the list of Catullan compounds. In the fragments attributed to Decimus Laberius, who worked in a low-prestige genre, there are 46 hapax legomena, and many of these too are obvious compound words. Three nonce-compounds to describe a bull (testitrahus, reciprocicornis, lanicutis) all occur in a single fragment of his. Both the Catullan examples, and those of Laberius, (and even more so comparable coinages found in Lucretius and the fragments of Accius) seem to be inspired by Greek precedent.

Glosses of Greek terms often contain as explanations perfectly serviceable compounds which simply seem not to have caught on in recorded latin. For example πλατυλόγος in one gloss is explained as "latiloquens", which — though a hapax word — is not just perfectly intelligible, but probably near-idiomatic given that that the adverb "late" qualifying verbs of speaking (including loqui itself) was no stranger to the language of Cicero or Quintilian, and that "lati-" as a compounding theme itself is well-attested in words like "laticlavium" and "latifolius."

That "latiloquens" never caught on in accepted literary usage probably has little to do with inherent unsuitability. There is no intrinsic reason why literary Latin could not have taken such a Greek lexical technique over wholesale, much as it did Greek metrical and generic conventions. That it did not do so is an accident of cultural history, and has little to do with the kinds of lexemes the Latin Language itself can or cannot withstand.

Carmen Latinum: Ad Seipsum

Hoc carmen melius priore evasisse dicam. Sed iam in una sententia omnia pertractavi pro eo dicenda.

Ad Seipsum

Quid plebis in rem? Quomodo rusticos
iuvit laborantes, tonitru in sena-
 -tu, Tullius iactationes
  in Catilinam oligarcha ructans.
Rem publicam fur a populo ferens,
Arrisit ori rhetoricā ferā
 mulcato honesti fuste Gracchi,
  proditor impius. O Quirine.
Persanctā acerbus Christi Hieronymus
famē iste Blaesillam modo gratia
 mori subegit, castigator
  quam sacer ac reprehensor orbae.
Noli, Sicandre, odisse magis mala
quam ames bona. Ācri afflatum aquiloni ăcer
 quî, ni imbribus gratis foventis
  caeli alitum, solide resistat?
Etsi Tyrannon sanguine compleas
centum ducentorum ora, cruoribus
 evaseris solis peritus,
  nec sitiens saniem requirit.
Quocumque oberres gentium amiciter
subventitā, nec dic "Sum Alienus Hic".
 Humani amice humanē in omni
  sis generis. Crucem initŏ dogma.

To Himself

What use for the commoners' weal, what help to the slaving rural peasant was Cicero with all his thunder in the senate, an oligarch belching agitations against Catiline. A thief taking the republic from the people, that unholy traitor smiled in savage oratory on the club-shattered face of honorable Gracchus. Oh Quirinus. The harsh Jerome, godawful chastiser and censurer of a bereaved woman, impelled Blaestilla to die of oh-so-holy starvation, just for Christ's sake.
Sicandrus, do not hate evil more than you love good. How can an air-whacked maple tree soundly resist the rough north wind if it is not fed by a favoring sky's welcome rains? Fill a hundred mouths with the blood of two hundred tyrants, and all you will be is carnage-proficient. A thirsty person is not in need of gory fluids. Wherever in the world you wander, proffer friendly help, and do not say "I am a stranger here." Humanely, in each thing, be part of the human race, my friend. Dogma can go fuck itself.

Pluri Versiculi Latini: De Bellis Stellaribus

Narrationem "Bellorum Stellarium" si recoquere numeris Latinis velim, huiuscemodi initium faciam. Utrum aliquando plura scribam necne haud scio. Interpretationem soluta oratione Anglicam adieci in extremo. Quo haud serio animo hos vaniverbosos vermifluos versiculos scripserim nihil, ut spero, attinet dicere.

(If I should want to recast the story of "Star Wars" in Latin verse, I'd begin it like this. Whether or not I'll write more at some point I have no idea. I put a paraphrase in English prose at the end. I hope it goes without saying just how seriously I took this little hexametric fuckton of silliness.) 

 Bella Stellaria Ad Camenae Modos

 Ille ego qui quondam vulgo sermone solebam
 Vertere contextos versus prisco meŏ more 
 Antiquûm virûm. At ecce mihi peregrina Camena 
 Mandavit rudibus plectrum digitis modulari 
 Ausonium. Sed quid faciam hic, inconditus auctor,
 Hac aetate ubi non Latii valet alma loquela? 
 Sis peregrina, Camena. Peregrinemur in orbe
Pes ubi mortalis lustrat super immortalia metra.**
 Carmina condamus vatum illibata vetuste.

 Proelia stellarum in medio flammensibus* acta
 Concussis canimus. Quae Vis evorterit ingens
 Astripotens, aciesque galaxiae in orbibus olim
 Longinquae congnatas, quo Crucialigerorum*
 Tot bombardae canderent, cur tot Bōthānōs
 Sȳthānus* Dominus tortos effuderit aspri
 In vacuum spatii exanimans, quousque Aerobatorum*
 Saevirent animi, tu animo mihi volve volenti,
 Dum valeat nobiscum Vis, O Musa novorum. 

 Olle planeta fuit, quem olim insedēre coloni
 Humani: Tatuīnus, circumfusus arenā
 Flaminibus iactatā. Hic Titan torruit ingens
 Terram quam pridem profugi domuēre, coacti
 Iuribus hosteque adhuc infando nomine. Et Arma 
 Aethera supra nunc flagrant. Immanis in omni
 Vis collidit iniqua. Ululantibus ictibus inter
 Fulmina fulminibus concurrunt. Caelicarinam*
 Fulgivomi* concidunt. Cedunt tenuia scuta   
 Instante Astriduellona*...

*Has locutiones excogitavi omnes. 

**Hunc versum feci consulto hypermetricum. 

(I am he who, in my old-school way, once was wont to translate the woven verses of men from auld lang syne into my vernacular. Yet here a strange exotic Muse has charged me to wring rhythm out of the Ausonian lyre with my awkward, untrained fingers. But what am I to do here, a half-baked author, in this age where the nourishing speech of Latium has no sway at all? Muse, be exotic indeed. Let us go alien in a world where the mortal foot will wander in orbit beyond immortal measures, and let us fashion such a song as poets of yesteryear never even got a sip of. 
We sing the battles waged amid the stars at the clash of lightsabers. Of those things that the prodigious star-ruling Force upended, of battle-lines between kinfolk on worlds long ago in a galaxy far away, of what so many X-Wing canons blazed for, of why the Sith Lord cast so many tortured Bothans into the breath-crushing vacuum of cruel hard space, of the end to which the passions and minds of the Skywalkers raged, spin the tale into the mind of willing me, O Muse of the new, so long as the Force is strong with us.
There was that planet, long settled by human colonists: Tatooine, enveloped in gust-hurled sand. Here a great sungod parched a terrain which refugees, forced by laws and an enemy whose name remains unmentionable, tamed. Now, weapons are blazing above its atmosphere. The Force, tremendous in everything, smashes unequal things together. Thunderbolts vie with thunderbolts in shrieking strikes in the midst of things. Laser canons pummel a starship. Weak shields fail as a Star Destroyer bears down.)