And the shadow tongues.
There was of course sophisticated Latin, and there was unsophisticated
Latin. I'm never sure which is which. The "Satyricon" of Petronio Arbitro is
supposed to have evidence for BOTH!
Anyway, this new novel by Kingsnorth, as reviewed in the New York Times
Book Review, refers to the 'sophistication of Latin' which I found
The reviewer writes:
"Kingsnorth has created what he calls a “shadow tongue” for Buccmaster,
stripping his vocabulary of any word not used in, or at least derived from,
"Kingsnorth has adopted archaic spelling, replacing letters rarely or never
used in Anglo-Saxon orthography and presenting his text without
capitalization or any punctuation other than a period, in the style of early
"Thus, at the start of the narrative, Buccmaster sees an ominous black
bird, which he takes to be an ill omen."
i. See i had cnawan yfel was cuman when i seen this fugol glidan ofer.
The reviewer comments:
"In that sentence,"
or Griceian utterance, rather,
"only the word "fugol" is NOT immediately guessable [to the reviewer, but
he won't say it] by sounding out the words."
"The reader may work it out from the context, or perhaps by relating it to
its linguistic descendants in modern English and German, "fowl" and German
"A glossary has also been provided at the back of the book."
"Kingsnorth has wisely decided against reproducing the more forbidding
elements of Old English."
"There is no letter thorn (Þ), no case and gender agreements."
"Within a few pages, reading becomes easy, and then one begins to feel the
poetry of a pure Anglo-Saxon register, its weight and rootedness in the
material life of things."
"Kingsnorth’s writing about landscape gains a particular power from it."
"Rowing through the marshes in summer, Buccmaster sees:
ii. the water of the fenn [. . .] with all bright and hued wyrmfleoges and
all the heofon writhan with lif and with the risan sunne on the nebb of
"The reader also begins to hear the absence of all those missing French and
Latin words, of the spirit of technicality, abstraction, emotional
Well, it's not Latin sophistication, but both lexemes are in the same
sentence at least. The philosophically important one is 'abstraction', though,
The reviewer concludes:
"In this absence, we have a powerful sense of the alien nature of the
invading Normans, the “ingengas,” or incomers, the trauma of colonization and
And ends with quoting still a third Griceian utterance:
iii. They tacs our names our names they tacs our tales our songs. i was
grown from this ground the ground they has tacan my ground from me all that i
is they tacs all.
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