Thursday, August 31, 2017


I've found over my few years that I've known quite a few people whose first language was something Slavic. However, I've never learned much of any particular slavic language, and it's starting to feel a bit embarassing. There's "Lord have mercy", "Господы помелуй", and maybe I could count camels (верблюды!) in the desert (пуштыне), up to about five (what fun, O Swann!). Oh, and I once was asked to learn and sing that choral interpolation on top of Tchaikovsky's 1812, "Spare, O Lord, Thy people and bless Thine inheritance:" "спаси, господы, люди твоя, и благословы достояне твое..."

Anyways, gradually more and more embarassing. Modern Cyrillic script, though, is still a bit weird (to say nothing of the older script actually developed by ... S. Cyril...). So I've decided to work via Polish, and recently bookmarked a table of ancient words and added "Gdasnk 1881" to my Xiphos collection and started on the Ewangelia według św. Jana, because it is probably my favourite writing in any language, and... oh, my goodness!

One could go on (someone already has?) for several dissertations, I'd bet, on the network of words around [SVI]; for instance, Polish has "światłość" (Lat: lux) and "świadectwo" (Lat: "in testimonium") and "świat" (Lat: "[hunc] mundum"... I think because it's what we can see? ... ) and "święty" (Lat: "sanctus"... ok, I pulled this one out of Isaiah, another favourite).

And then there was A colloquial paper about slavic roots (and loan-words) in languages we usually don't think of as slavic at all; that paper suggests that the very Latin "videre" (and hence view, vision...) hail from the same [SVI] family by elision of the initial "s"... which shows up in Polish as "widzieć" (to see), independently of Latin (says the colloquial paper). I'm rather thinking that "Sanctus" is another, or better, of these. (Within Latin, it's hard to connect with its Greek counterpart, "ἅγιος"... does anyone know of any other pairs of words connected by a [nc] ←→ [γ]? There is the pair (septem ←→ ἑπτὰ) for matching an "s" with an aspirated vowel... and then is one of them older???)

There are also some neat jokes one can play: a small egg, in Polish, is "jajko" which sounds "yolky"; the Word that made every thing was "Słowo" which you might like to think has something in common with "λογος"; or "żona" with "γυνή"; or "kora" with "écorce" (French for "rind" or "bark"... no idea where English "bark" comes from...). One must respect the fierce "zwierz".

And now this note is getting długi and my head is feeling tłusty. Time to go back to mathematics, I think.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

... another one of these? how the world wags...

"for, but a year ago, he was 34, and in another year hence (God willing...)"

a mixture of gravity and waggery, shall we say.

I hope you all are well!

en l'union des prières

PS. I'm actually away from the Internet... Did the Sun wink at you? Did it come back again after?

Friday, August 18, 2017

Cantemus Domino gloriose enim magnificatus est

Dear readerfolk, gentles all,

Sometimes a word pops out at you; this evening, rehearsing the Communio for Sunday, that word was "redundabunt".
Here is the verse in full:
Honora Domino de tua substantia et de primitiis frugum tuarum
ut impleantur horea tua saturitate, et vino torcularia redundabunt

Honour the Lord with thy substance, and with thy firstfruits,
that filled may your barns be to bursting, and with wine thy winepresses ...
Well. It is a word not entirely unused in English, but the only example that I can recall is from "Tollers"'s subcreative imagination re. the unique kind of freedom given to Men by The One Creator:
"These too shall find in time that all that they do redounds at the end only to the glory of my work."
It has a majestic sound to it, that's for sure (and the sound of the right word was very important to him), but there's ... well, it's just a bit unfortunate... it's hard to get a sense, from how it sounds in that majestic declaration, what it sounded like to the Latins. For one thing, we're not used, in English, to that shape of the "re-" prefix; one has to cast about recenter Conciliar Decrees to find "Unitatis Redintegratio", which is certainly not about dintegration. But once you've got a handle on that, you'll see quite easily that the word's root is "Unda". Apart from "redound", I can't quite think of another English descendent of that word which is quite free of a Technical or "foreign" tincture. It's unfortunate, because this is one of those special moments that the Latin word feels perfectly right for what it means, even to my English mouth and ears...

Find a quiet place, perhaps by the sea, sit thee comfortably with closèd eyes, and breathe in slowly; pause; and relaxing let out thy breath again. Leaving-off that conscious direction of the flesh, give thanks to God for all these good things.

I've come across two versions of the "Ave Verum" text, and one of them lacks this "unda" word, using instead "aqua" ... (there's also some variability to the ordering around "fluxit"). So "unda" is sort-of about water; however, its later descendents are mostly about waves, "undulating" in English and "ondes" in French. That suggests that "unda" isn't so much about water as a substance, but about how it moves: it is a water that rises and falls, a flood that waves. "Unda fluxit"... and you might just think of a conversation over Jacob's well in the Samaritan country, and of living waters. "Unda" just might be the Swell of the Ocean. And "redunda" might just be about the clash of surf upon the rocks.

So, it's almost as if the Communion Verse promises that, if we honour God rightly, freely making sacred to Him the first of our harvests, in his blessing our winepresses will be as flowing waves of wine, so filled that it won't be clear if the wine is pouring out of the press or flooding back in. (... which, if you think on it, sort-of happened one day at Cana.)

God's generosity can be, frankly, somewhat terrifying, don't you think?

But, oh! what fun!

cantor-culus minimus...

Monday, August 14, 2017

Just for fun

(it's very good to have fun, now and then)

You see, I'd been a bit concerned that the previous version seemed to be set under King Edward's Crown or something similar... which had been, ... I don't know... a bit of a pastiche? (I don't think I've ever really used that word before!) Anyways,it seems to me that if there's any crown the sentiment should be set under, it's the crown of King Eärnur. Here, therefore, we have it!

A high helm, as those of the Guards of the Tower, set with wings of a sea-bird, and at the top was a single diamond (and which I have imagined engraved with the emblem of the Tree)

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

More About Parsing

parsing Scripture, that is...

I was reading, somewhere, I can't remember precisely, but recently, how Matthew's Gospel includes an extra clause in Our Lord's exegesis on the 7th Commandment,
and if a man put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and marry another, he commits adultery...
... the writer I have forgotten was defending the Catholic Tradition against insinuations that the italics above might actually give some sort of loop-hole into serial polygamy, if you should happen to know that all your wives are at some point unfaithful.

As you may guess, given my choice to phrase the insinuation that distastefully, I've an alternative parsing of the "except ...", one that should ring in the heart of any Canonist (... IANAC...), but it starts with the gramatical ambiguity: "whose fornication might excuse?" That is, that word there is a noun with root a verb, which verb involves a subject and an object, and neither subject nor object are clear in the text I have been given. The principles of charity (Oh! what horror to find oneself exerting to be charitable with Charity Himself!) and of Divine Consistency (videlicet, the Holy Spirit speaking in Tradition cannot contradict the Holy Spirit speaking through the Evangelists) impell us to resolve this ambiguity as straight-forwardly as possible.

To be specific, it can happen that Percival, who is free to marry, falls in love with Rowena, who is not; but she conceals this and they proceed through a wedding ceremony. And it then is possible that in one shared act Rowena becomes guilty of fornication while Percival remains innocent; that is, untill he learn the truth. We could switch the names and respective pronouns without changing the content of the narrative.

Such happenings are not unknown; there were at least two Sherlock Holmes Adventures that involved a twist like this. So, the "Except": Percival and Rowena had a wedding, and while he was reasonably ignorant Percival could call Rowena "wife", but once the truth is out he must "put her away", which is to undo the semblance of a wedding as formally as required by law and neighborliness... The point: is he not then free to marry? For he was in fact never married before.

I think, O Reader, that that is what Our Lord is telling us in the "except". For it would be quite feasible, in a spirit of Scruple or of Fencing-Out the Law, to imagine that Percival "ought not" to try marrying again, especially given the bright clarity with which He is in these passages pointing out the Law; but that (I should probably try to finish this thought, eh? Especially if I'm linking hither from the future... here we go... ) Even More Than The Law, Jesus wants us to know that we can always forgive those who have sinned against us, that we can always repent (when we have sinned), and always turn again to Him (if we had turned away), and the Truth will set you free (even when you hadn't). And that is Good News.