• macaronic •
Pronunciation: mæ-kê-rah-nik • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Adjective
Meaning: Sentences, phrases, words, even inflections that mix languages, most often in burlesque verse.
Notes: Here is a perfect 'garden path' word, a word that is far from what it looks like. The sense today had nothing to do with macaroni. Macaronical (not used since the 17th century) is the only adjective and macaronically is the adverb.
In Play: Here is a classical macaronic poem created by students of Latin back when everyone had to study that language:
Boyibus kissibus sweet girlorum
Girlibus likabus, wanta someorum
Pater puellibus enter parlorum
Kickabus boyibus exitus doorum
Using compound constituents from two different languages as in tasseography is also macaronic. Tolstoy's War and Peace opens with the Grand Princess Anna Pavlovna Sherer's macaronic monologue mixing French and Russian.
Word History: The connection between macaroni and macaronic is tenuous at best. The first attempt to explain it was Teofilo Folengo's Liber Macaronics (1517) in which Folengo tries to connect the two by the ingredients of macaroni: "...a certain dough made up of flour, cheese, country butter, thick, coarse, and rustic". Hardly a solid connection. The history of macaroni is even foggier. It is the plural of Italian macarone. Some etymologists have tried to relate it to late Greek makaria "barley porridge" which, in Attic Greek meant "happiness". Again, an invisible connection. (Tony Bowden of London recommended today's mysterious Good Word back in 2011. [Yes, I keep them that long.])