Macaronic

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Macaronic

Postby Dr. Goodword » Tue Jul 07, 2020 7:33 pm

• 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.])
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David Myer
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Re: Macaronic

Postby David Myer » Wed Jul 08, 2020 8:10 am

I remember as a small boy (7?) being taken out for tea (in England) by my grandmother who was an incurable snob. She perused the menu and announced in her very deep and very loud voice "Humph! Not much of a choix, is there." Presumably trying to impress the staff and other patrons with her linguistic talents. All she succeeded in doing was embarrassing me horribly.

If only I had been knowledgeable enough to say "I'm afraid your macaronic efforts are somewhat humiliating".

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Re: Macaronic

Postby damoge » Wed Jul 08, 2020 10:58 am

I am most impressed that at 7 or thereabouts you recognized the word and knew it to be another language!
I would simply have wondered what was being said.
Bravo!
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Re: Macaronic

Postby George Kovac » Wed Jul 08, 2020 2:10 pm

Those of us of a certain age fondly remember this untranslatable macaronic lyric sung sweetly, but with exquisite irony, by John Lennon:

Quando para mucho mi amore de felice corazon
Mucho paparazzi mi amore chicke ferdy parasol
Cuesto obrigado tanta mucho que canite carousel


(His castilian pronunciation of "corazon" was a nice touch.)
"The messy layers of human experience get pulled together, and sometimes ordered, by words." Colum McCann, But Always Meeting Ourselves, NYT 6/15/09

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Re: Macaronic

Postby David Myer » Fri Jul 10, 2020 2:38 am

Perhaps Debby, my cringe was mostly because of the volume with which the expression was delivered. I certainly recognised that everyone else in the room was staring at us. I think we started learning French at six, but Granny was inclined often to lapse into French mid-sentence, so I was used to it. This one just happened to be a memorable occasion.

George, I had always wondered what that gobbledeygook was about and now having looked it up, I find it was only ever meant to be gobbledeygook!

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Re: Macaronic

Postby Dr. Goodword » Fri Jul 10, 2020 8:32 am

If only I had been knowledgeable enough to say "I'm afraid your macaronic efforts are somewhat humiliating".
Only Rumpole of the Bailey (and you, now) in his prime could have put it so eloquently. He comes to mind because I'm going through the whole series again and finding it as enjoyable as I did twenty-five years ago.
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Re: Macaronic

Postby bnjtokyo » Fri Jul 10, 2020 9:26 am

What is the difference between an utterance that is macaronic and one that is code switching? I am acquainted with some people who are equally fluent in Korean, Japanese and English and in the right circumstance and switch among them at the drop of a post-position.

Once in my misspent youth I visited a family in Seattle where mom's mother tongue was German, pop's was (I think) Lithuanian and the kids were required to respond in language in which they were addressed. Of course all spoke to poor old me in the dialect of English spoken in the Northwestern United States. Was that a macaronic household?

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Re: Macaronic

Postby David Myer » Fri Jul 10, 2020 10:00 am

The Good Dr flatters me! Rumpole's creator, John Mortimer, went to the same sort of secondary school as I did (although I twenty years later). I imagine the education was similar. Mortimer also attended the Dragon School in Oxford as a youngster, and by sheer coincidence, I have just this minute finished listening to a podcast of a conversation with a fellow called Pico Iyer, of whom I had never heard, but who also went to the Dragon School. You might find the conversation interesting.

https://www.abc.net.au/radio/programs/c ... r/12418554

It is 53 minutes, but in these Covid times...

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Re: Macaronic

Postby David Myer » Fri Jul 10, 2020 10:06 am

Great question, bnjtokyo. I doubt that "sentences, phrases and words" extends to whole conversations within households, but I think it should, even if only to give more opportunity to use the excellent word.

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Re: Macaronic

Postby Dr. Goodword » Fri Jul 10, 2020 4:31 pm

I think code switching would involve complete sentences or utterances, not mixing codes within words, phrases, and sentences.
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Re: Macaronic

Postby Dr. Goodword » Fri Jul 10, 2020 4:41 pm

I love the way the Dragon School came by its name. Apparently, several Oxford dons founded it, led by a certain Mr. George. Taking his name, which reminded them of St. George and the dragon, they named the school The Dragon School.
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Re: Macaronic

Postby call_copse » Wed Jul 15, 2020 12:22 pm

Entertaining persiflage all, thanks.

I like this version of the macaronic verse :D :

Darkibus nightibus
Nota lamporum
Boyibus kissibus
Sweet girlorum
Girlibus likabus
Wanta someorum
Pater puellibus
Enter parlorum
Kickabus boyibus
Exibus doorum
Nightibus darkabus
Minus lamporum
Climbibus fencibus
Breechibus torum
Iain

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Re: Macaronic

Postby damoge » Thu Jul 16, 2020 11:06 am

adorablum!
Everything works out, one way or another

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Re: Macaronic

Postby Slava » Wed Dec 09, 2020 12:35 pm

Would "irregular" Latin verbs count as macaronic?

Spitto, spittere, hoktui, splatum
Piggo, piggere, squeeli, gruntum
slippo, slippere, falui, bumpum
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Re: Macaronic

Postby Philip Hudson » Mon Dec 14, 2020 5:21 pm

I am glad to find fellow Rumpole-ites in the Agora.
It is dark at night, but the Sun will come up and then we can see.


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