minstrel: Bards, Ceilidhs, and Ye Olde Englyshe

Fruitbat fruitbat at macquarie.matra.com.au
Fri Apr 25 06:46:55 PDT 1997


>However, the practice
>of adding superfulous "e"s on the end of words that otherwise don't have
>them was a Vicortian romantic convention to make something sound archaic.
>So "Ye Olde Englishe Shoppe" is horribly incorrect (unless you are trying
>to sound Victorian).  

Not _entirely_ true, since many words that in modern english have no
trailing "e" did have in older (not necessarily Old) english.  Adding them
willy-nilly, however, is probably going to be wrong.

>Also not that "ye" meaning "the" (as in the previous
>example) is Victorian also.  Now Middle English did use "e"s on the end of
>words when needed, and "ye" was in the vocabulary as "you."  But these
>things were not used in the way we stereotypically see them used on store
>signs and what not.

I have the following direct quote from Anthony Wood (1632-95), quoted in
_The Oxford Companion To Music_:

Dr. Tye was a peevish and humoursome man, especially in his latter dayes,
and sometimes playing on ye Organ in ye chap. of qu. Elizab. wh. contained
much musick, but little delight to the ear, she would send ye verger to
tell him yt he play'd out of Tune; whereupon he sent word yt her ears were
out of Tune.

Note several points.  First, this is from a diary, hence the many
abbreviations (qu for Queen, chap. for chapel, and so on).  This may
explain the use of ye for the and yt for that, but only slightly: the fact
is that the old symbol for a "th" sound, commonly called thorn, looked
enough like a "y" that they became confused, and one was commonly used for
the other for many years.  Also note "play'd" for "played"; we can assumed
the full word was pronounced with two syllables, "play-ed", but that this
was already going out of fashion, and it was therefore abbreviated this
way.  You see the same sort of thing with early 20th century writers
referring to "the 'phone" or "the piano'".  And also note the capitalised
nouns, "Organ" and "Tune": this is still done in German, but is almost
unheard of in French, and is only occasionally used (for proper nouns like
German and French) in English.  Back then it was more common, but evidently
becoming less so.

>That being said, let us move on to things more bardic (if I am still
>allowed to say that)  =-)

I'll be discarding the word "bard" as being almost as abominable as "the
eric" or "the autocrat", in favour of "minstrel" which seems to have
precisely the right meaning, at least after the 14th century.

In fact, I intend to start up Le Societe des Menestrels de Taillefer
(pronounced Ty-eh-fair if you're French, or however you damn' well please
otherwise) to promote what I used to call the bardic arts here in
Politarchopolis.  I'm researching a lot of this stuff for a collegium I'll
be helping with, so I might as well get more use out of it!


- - Fruitbat - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -


Everything I am today I owe to people
whom it is now too late to punish.

- Ashleigh Brilliant


For further proof that I Have No Life, see
http://macquarie.matra.com.au/~fruitbat

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