[Smashy the Hammer] [An Aspiring Luddite]
I carry no phone
An aspiring Luddite
In a wired world.
[Jeff Berry]
Jeff Berry is an early adopter of the Internet and the Web, a late adopter of Twitter, and declines to adopt Facebook. With the death of Google+, he's experimenting with federated platforms. He admins a medievalist Mastodon instance, and can found on t he PlusPora diaspora pod. He hates cell-phones.


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Latin, Palaeography, and Latin Palaeography
Part Three

Last time, we finished up the basic formulae which starts off this document: Omnibus ad quos presentes litere pervenerint salutem.

( Click on the image for a larger version in a new window.)
We continue with a change of script, again indicating a syntactic break. The word is short, an e and five minims. None are dotted, and 'emu' seems unlikely in a medieval Latin document, so it is probably 'eum.' The next word is also pretty easy, 'nos.' The next one presents some interesting features.

The first bit is clear, 'pre,' then it starts to look strange. There is an s or f, and then some other letters with a long strong line across them all. This is a case where skipping to a more easily readable word can help to identify letterforms. So let's leave it for the moment and try the next word.

A nice easy one. The only tricky bit is the first letter, which is a capital r. We've now seen three different r's in the body text: this one, the usual one found in eg 'presentes,' and the 2-shaped r at the end of 'defensor'. In fact, we've seen this r and this word before. It is 'regina.' Next to the the previous word, it looks like some of those letters at the end are a's. And if they are, then, for me at least, the rest clicks into place. That's a t between the a's, and an f before them, make the word 'prefata.'

'eum nos prefata regina' - this is one where the sense is easy, but the grammar is weird. 'Regina' is queen, in the nominative. 'Eum' is the the pronoun he/she/it, in the accusative. 'Prefata' is an adjective meaning 'aforesaid.' Adjectives agree with the noun being modified, so prefata certainly looks at first glance like it agrees with 'regina.' 'Nos' is the pronoun 'we' in the accusative or nominative. The last three bits are 'we the aforementioned queen'

The 'eum' is a bit tricky - it's an object without an obvious verb at this point. It may be the object of the entire sentence, which goes on for a bit. Remember that in Latin, case endings mean that word order is pretty flexible. In any case, the formula is that the Queen has greeted everyone, and now the aforementioned Queen is about to get down to business. So we will let the 'eum' lie for the minute.

What comes next are more formulae. Formulae are great, because they let you get your eye in on a specific script since you pretty much know what they are going to say. These next few clauses are a perfect case in point. We've already seen most of the letter forms, so 'per literas nostras patentes' presents no challenges, especially since it (or phrases like it) crop up in many royal documents. The last a in 'nostras' is worth looking at since it lacks the strong cross line of the ta or at combination. From a palaeographical standpoint, that at/ta with the single cross-stroke looks fairly distinctive, and is something I would keep an eye open for if I was, for instance, trying to identify the specific scribe. The Latin is pretty clear. 'Per' is still in use in English. 'Nostras' is 'our,' the same root as 'noster' as in 'paternoster' - our father. The possessive agrees with the noun, in this case, 'literas' - letters. And for those familiar with the English formula, 'patentes,' again agreeing with 'literas,' is 'patent,' meaning open as opposed to sealed. 'By our letters (or letter) patent' is the usual translation.

More formulae follow - 'sub magno Sigillo nostro Anglie.' 'Magno' starts with three minims, but as this scribe is good about dotting i's - skip forward to look at 'Sigillo' with two i's. Our three minims have no dots, which means no i, which means in turn, those minims must be an m. We suspected that anyway, since we know the formula. 'Sub' is a preposition which takes the ablative, the case which often refers to means or cause. The noun, conveniently capitalized with yet another form of S, is 'Sigillo.' Ablatives in -o, are associated with second declension nouns. They come in two forms, masculine and neuter, and this one is neuter.
singularplural
nominativesigillumsigilla
genitivesigillisigillorum
dativesigillosigillis
accusativesigillumsigilla
ablativesigillosigillis
As with first declension nouns, the same ending is sometimes used for different cases, so context is important to determine the meaning.

Adjectives also are declined, and agree with the noun being modified. Most are declined like first or second declension nouns, so just matching the endings is usually a good place to start, although it can get you into trouble. 'Magno' from 'magnum,' the neuter form of the adjective perhaps more familiar in masculine and feminine forms, such as 'Albertus Magnus,' and 'Magna Carta.' 'Anglie,' as mentioned before, is the genitive form of England, which would be 'Angliae' in classical Latin. 'Under our great Seal of England.'

The boilerplate continues, and we have yet to see a verb in this chunk. Fear not, a verb lies just beyond the line break!

Valete, amici et amicae


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Luddite'sLog, 19 May 2020
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