23 December, 2008

Macaronic Frühneuhochdeutsch, anyone?

One passage of many such, from the 1883 Weimar Luther, volume 34 of 127; in this instance, from the 'text' of a sermon delivered on the evening of 11 April, Easter Tuesday 1531.
Audivimus de poenitencia et remissione peccatorum. Das hab ich umb der kurtz wyllen uberlauffen et tamen clare, expresse. Das wyr aber das fest bschlissen, wollen wyr ein stuck odder ii vor uns nhemen. Der Her hat uns vorgemalet, was er vor eyn geberde furet unter seynen jungern, quod in medio illorum progrediatur et salutet illos ita, ut terreantur discipuli. Die selbige erschreckung wyl er nicht leyden, quia non vult estimari spiritus, qui non habet carnem et ossa. Er bekennet, das die geyster alßo erscheinen, tum non habentes carnem et ossa. Diß ist eyn sonderlich bylde pro impiis conscienciis. Der teuffel hat auch die arth, das er offentlich zw uns durchs worth odder heymlich durch gedancken zw uns kumme, uff das er hoc malum, das man heist ein falschen Christum. Satan hat auch die art, quod venit ad nos offentlich und heimlich, 1. per praedicationem, 2. per cogitationes potest etiam dicere: 'bonus dies' et 2. conscientiam terrere et sic hominem irr machen, ut nesciat homo, Christus sit necne, semper vult simia esse dei.
A translation of which would look something like this:
We have heard about repentance and the remission of sins. I wanted to run over that briefly and yet clearly, expressly. To conclude the feast, let's have a look at one or two passages. The Lord has shown us what gesture he makes among his disciples, for he goes among them and greets them thus, as the disciples are frightened. He does not want to suffer the same fearfulness, for he would not be thought a spirit without flesh and bones. He acknowledges that the spirits appear thus, not having flesh and bones. This is a peculiar image for impious consciences. The Devil is of like disposition, that he comes to us openly through words, or secretly through thoughts, such that, on account of this evil, one calls him a false Christ. Satan is of like disposition, that he comes to us openly and familiarly, 1. by spoken words (or, more specifically, 'by preaching, prophesying'), and 2. can also say 'good day' by thoughts alone, and 2. can frighten the conscience and thus make a man mad, so as not to know if Christ exists or not; always would he be the ape of God.
Luther is alluding to the narrative in Luke 24.36-39, where Christ appears to his disciples after the resurrection. In the Vulgate: 'Iesus stetit in medio eorum et dicit eis pax vobis ego sum nolite timere / conturbati vero et conterriti existimabant se spiritum videre / et dixit eis quid turbati estis et cogitationes ascendunt in corda vestra / videte manus meas et pedes quia ipse ego sum palpate et videte quia spiritus carnem et ossa non habet sicut me videtis habere.' And in the KJV: 'Jesus himself stood in the midst of [the disciples], and saith unto them, Peace be unto you. / But they were terrified and affrighted, and supposed that they had seen a spirit. / And he said unto them, Why are ye troubled? and why do thoughts arise in your hearts? / Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have.'

The function of Satan is always to burlesque God, that is, to imitate him in reverse; he is found as the 'ape of God' (simia dei, Gottes Affe) throughout Luther's sermons and commentaries. (Alfred Adam traces the motif to the Cistercian hagiographer Caesar of Heisterbach.) Like Christ, Satan strikes awe into the soul, but where Christ makes his presence manifest, Satan makes a man forget whether Christ exists.

So that's the theology taken care of. But what's going on with the languages? It seems highly unlikely that Luther should have delivered a sermon in hybrid German-Latin, even to a small circle of intellectuals. Some of the Latin fragments play on the Vulgate, but they are not direct quotations, and others have no obvious provenance. Malcolm Parkes writes:
The evidence indicates that the scribes [in Luther's circle] translated the essentials of what they had heard in German immediately into Latin, and then set down the discourse in Latin in order to use the customary methods of abbreviation in that language, which enabled them to record spoken discourse more quickly. Only when the process of instantaneous translation was too difficult, or when the German phrases were particularly striking, did the scribes write down Luther's own words. Subsequently the "reportator" translated the text back into the original language, expanding both the simplified forms and abbreviated thought in such a way as to make the record more readable.
Did the scribes omit to re-translate, in this instance? Or was the Weimar editor using an odd source-text? In any event, the German and Latin seem to play against each other, the one sometimes half-repeating the other, or elaborating upon it, like the interaction between a God and his Ape.

7 comments:

crux said...

Reb Magister Roth,

Ikh zukh shoyn compluribus annibus lang for a suitable investigation (with pictures!) of the Tironian notes. But on the internet, it seems, only to be found is a few very sketchy third hand descriptions of the system. The only thing anyone can agree on is the survival of your standard handful: viz, the tironian et, etc (though not etc, if you get me). Do you or your readers have or know of any more in-depth resource on the Notae?

Z. D. Smith, whose macaronic Lataeno-Yiddish is marginally better than his Lataeno-Deutsch

Steven Augustine said...

Nice twist (or pinch?) at the very end; only someone who has lived as long as I have lived (where I live) could nod as I now do... Reb.

Conrad H. Roth said...

Z. D., sorry not to have replied earlier. I know of three good books on the Notae. The classic is Émile Chatelain's Introduction à la lecture des Notes Tironiennes (Paris: Chatelain, 1900), which has copious illustrations of various notae and abbreviations. Two later books are Louis-Prosper and Eugène Guénin, Histoire de la Sténographie dans l'Antiquité et au Moyen Age: Les Notes Tironiennes (Paris: Hachette, 1908), which has a photograph of a manuscript containing a list of notae; and if you prefer German, more recent is H. Boge, Griechische Tachygraphie und Tironische Noten (Hildesheim: Olms, 1974). There is nothing in English to my knowledge, leaving aside Capelli's famous palaeographical handbook.

MMcM said...

The bibliography for Macaronic Sermons: Bilingualism and Preaching in Late-Medieval England includes Die Sprachmischung in Luthers Tischreden: Studien zum Problem der Zweisprachigkeit. I don't know anything else about it (as far as I recall, Wenzel did not actually cite it) and don't have ready access to a copy.

Conrad H. Roth said...

I've had a look at Die Sprachmischung, but it is rather, um, academic, and its conclusions are not readily obvious. Plus, my German isn't very good!

Michael said...

There's a handy list of contractions on pp. 320-324 of McKerrow's "Introduction to Bibliography" (Oxford, 1928: Clarendon Press).

In my observation of old German books, the interpolation of Latin (and sometimes French or Italian) words or phrases in German text is commonplace. They stick out like the infamous sore thumb because the German will be set in Fraktur and Schwabacher, but Latin is set in "antiqua" (Roman) type. This is not a peculiarity of sermons presumably transcribed from the spoken word. Just to pull an example down from my shelf, the architect and military engineer Joseoh Furttenbach, in his "Halinitropyrobolia" (1627) describes the formulation of an incendiary thus (p. 25):

Sechs [symbol for ounce] [chemical symbol for turpentine] in einem Hafen ob dem Fewr vergehn lassen/darein 12. [symbol for ounce] pegola greca, mehr 6. [symbol for ounce] Raggio di Pino, und 3. [symbol for ounce] pegola, negra, o, sia pegola, navale.

You'll have to envision this set in a mixture of blackletter, Roman type, and archaic chemical symbols.

Here's another passage from his "Architectura civilis" (1628), p 3:

Nach Passierung dess Portico, kompt man under ein gewölbten/dapffern/von Quaterstucken gehawenen mit Pfeilern undersetzten Gang/welcher.12.Braza brait/und ein schöner Spatziergang ist: Von selbigem mag man weiter in alle under Zimmer/in welchen die Hoff Cantzlen/Capellano, Doctores, unnd andere Officieri ihre Wohnungen haben/gelangen.

Portico, Braza, Capellano, Doctores, and Officieri (all Latin but the second, which is Italian) are set in Roman, the rest in Fraktur.

I believe these usages resulted either from a desire to avoid circumlocution in German, or else to show off the foreign or classical learning of the author.

Conrad H. Roth said...

Michael, thanks for your ever-valuable contributions.

McKerrow's great handbook has been updated by Philip Gaskell; I don't have it to hand so I can't check the new page refs.

It is true that other kinds of German text, which have a solely written existence, have Latin elements in them; I think one could imagine a range of reasons for this--as you say, to show off, but also in your case because there are Latin words for things common among non-Germans, just as Latin magical texts will have Greek or Arabic words in them. In a sermon it is not so obvious why one would want to switch languages -- and indeed, there are obvious reasons why the sermons themselves (as opposed to simply the transcriptions) should avoid such a switch. None of the written uses (jargon, quotation, etc.) of cuckoo Latin seem to apply to a sermon such as Luther's.