minstrel: Definition of Bardic

mn13189 at WCUVAX1.WCU.EDU mn13189 at WCUVAX1.WCU.EDU
Wed Apr 23 09:11:26 PDT 1997

On Wed, 23 Apr 1997, Greg Lindahl wrote:

> You could save Bardic (with a big B) to mean those activities carried
> on by people who called themselves big-B Bards in period, and call the
> general entertainment activity "minstrel". I'm not a bard (or a Bard),
> yet people keep on inviting me to these "Bardic competitions"...
> Gregory Blount

Even in period, _bard_ was applied only to a certain type of performer in
the Gaelic speaking areas.  Others were _druth_, _filidh_, another word I
can't remember how to spell but it was pronounced SHAY-na-chee, if I
recall, and meant a storyteller, etc.  Of course, if any of these folks
travelled into English speaking territory, they would not have been called
any of this (except maybe "druth" although it would have been an insult).
They would have all been called a minstrel, so I agree with Gregory on
this point.  However, other things, such as acting and dancing would not
be labeled minstrelsy (I think juggling would be, although I would welcome
corrections).  So even though *historically* speaking, "minstrel" is a
more generic term than "bard," I think the word bard in the SCA has come
to mean a "performing artist."  I seriously doubt we can change this.  You
can refer to yourself specifically as a minstrel or scop or jongluer, and
people should know what you mean, but for general discussion, like in
event announcements and on this list, we need a term that would describe
all of these things.  Bard has come to be this term.  Many people think
that since I have a Scottish persona and do mostly Scottish songs, I am a
"true" bard.  Actually, in the Gaelic lands, I would be called a "druth"
(with no negative connotations).  In English speaking lands, I am simply a
minstrel.  I think it is interesting to note that my Concise Scots
Dictionary lists the word "bard" as being used in the English language
only as late as the 15th century.

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