Print

Print



Nancy I have been thinking seriously about what you wrote yesterday about Middle Scots and first of all want to thank you for holding my feet to the fire on this issue.
 
In replying to Carrol's objection to my use of "zeitgeist" I was focussed on defending it as a definition of the "différance" between texts produced in different historical periods in contrast to the universal or mythic deep structure they may share.
 
(I was thinking in terms of Joyce's Ulysses, which shares the deep structure of a hero's homecoming with Homer's tale. The difference between Homer's telling of the story and Joyce's is in a signficant sense the theme of Joyce's novel.)
 
But I did toss off that remark about the Scots ballad being a subset of the English thoughtlessly, even though I have found numerous books and websites on old ballads that include the Scots with the English.
 
I have printed out your message below and will study it. I can't tell you how grateful I am for you and other members on this list who call me on my sloppy usage. No sarcasm intended. You guys help me to clarify my thinking and become more precise in my writing.
 
I do have an intense interest in language; David Boyd sent me a dictionary of colloquial Cumbrian dialect that I just love, as I do the East Midlands dialect Lawrence uses in his poems and novels set in Nottingam and Hardy's "Wessex" dialect. One of the great joys of the mystery novels starring the Scots detective that your recommended were the samples of contemporaneous native dialect.
 
I have watched every episode of "Monarch of the Glen" more than once because I love to listen to its characters who speak Highlands dialect!
  
Again, many thanks! Diana

> Well yes, I do want to get very accurate about it.
>
> It is not laughable; it is accurate history of language. Scottish
> ballads are not a subset of anything. In fact most of the ballads from
> the United Kingdom are from the Scottish Borders and most historians of
> poetry would see them as one of the major poetic creations of Scotland.
> Scotland was until 1707 an independent nation and when the kingdoms
> united, it remained in many ways separate: Scottish law and the Church
> of Scotland, for example, have always remained separate. "LOL" is
> condescending--and, frankly, offensive--apart from implying a false idea
> of literary history, and I think you would find any Scottish history of
> ballads hardly imagining them a "subset"--whatever that would mean.
> Moreover, I think it time everyone was a great deal more accurate about
> it. Significantly, there is now (for nearly a decade) a Scottish
> discussion session at MLA and a Scottish literature section in the
> bibliography. Scotland, moreover, now has a separate parliament again
> for internal affairs.
>
> Of the medieval ballads, the Collins Encyclopedia of Scotland says "they
> form the bulk of Scotland's folk literature, described by an American
> critic as 'unsurpassed by any in the world.'" They were collected and
> written down by Child, Burns, Walter Scott, and recently Edinburgh"s
> Scottish Studies department, especially Hamish Henderson, but they had a
> long prior history as oral poetry in the Scottish Borders.
>
> The language also is not a "subset" of anything. Anglo-Saxon had four
> dialects: Northumbrian, Kentish, West Saxon, and Mercian. Middle Scots
> came from Northumbrian and developed into modern Scots. Middle English
> of Chaucer was from Mercian and that developed into modern English.
> Scots was separate from as far back as any text is known in Anglo-Saxon;
> it did not develop from English. In fact, the oldest text in
> Anglo-Saxon is "Caedmon's Hymn," which was first in Northumbrian. So it
> makes just as much sense historically and linguistically to see English
> as a subset of Scots as the opposite. But neither would be accurate.
> If you want to know something about it, just look at the four huge
> volumes of Jamieson's Etymological Dictionary of the Scottish Language
> and see the immense vocabulary that does not exist in English--as well
> as the sounds and rhythms and idioms. Try to get a feel for "sonsy" and
> "couthy" and "scunner" and "antrin" and "wheesht" and "bool" and
> "broukit" and "byspale" and the sounds of "the Sauchs in the Reuch Heuch
> Hauch" before laughing out loud at what you have apparently never read.
>
> I find this so wrong and so inaccurately mocking of a great literary
> tradition that I am amazed to see it from you. I think you might try
> reading some of Scotland's long history of great poetry and look
> especially at modern and contemporary poets like Hugh MacDiarmid,
> Sorley Maclean, Tom Leonard, Edwin Morgan, Liz Lochhead, Kathleen Jamie,
> Carol Ann Duffy, Jackie Kay. I am sorry, but it is disgraceful for
> anyone who cares about poetry to laugh at an entire tradition and treat
> it as a joke. Since I have spent many years studying it, I find it
> astonishing. I realize I am using strong language, but "LOL" and
> "subset" are both false and demeaning.
> Nancy
>
> >>> Diana Manister <[log in to unmask]> 03/20/08 4:36 PM >>>
>
> Well yeah, if you want to get all accurate about it! LOL. Scottish
> Ballads are a subset of English Ballads in most compendia.
>
> Diana> Date: Thu, 20 Mar 2008 13:11:39 -0400> From: [log in to unmask]>
> Subject: Re: "Zietgeist" (Was Inventions of the March Hare )> To:
> [log in to unmask]> > Dear Diana,> > My point is that "Sir Patrick
> Spence" is not in Middle English; it is in> Middle Scots.> Nancy > > >>>
> Diana Manister <[log in to unmask]> 03/20/08 12:49 PM >>>> > > Sorry,
> I don't know why I wrote "spoken English" in my previous message.> My
> bad. Diana> > > > > Nancy, I should have written "more pronounced German
> elements in> English." That's an unintended pun! Middle English shows
> its German> origins more than modern English.> Date: Thu, 20 Mar 2008
> 11:21:10> -0400> From: [log in to unmask]> Subject: Re: "Zietgeist"
> (Was> Inventions of the March Hare )> To: [log in to unmask]> > I'm not
> sure> what you mean by "the elements of German in daily speech,"> but
> that is> misleading here. The ballad is in Scots, which developed> from>
> Northumbrian. Modern English developed from Mercian. Both have>
> elements> of German, and in Scots the sound changes developed later and>
> less> completely than in modern English. But words like "milk,"
> "house,">> "glass," "wine" remain cognates in English and German. My
> point is that>> this is not English with some "elements of German": it
> is Scots with>> some sounds and words that are Germanic--since all
> Anglo-Saxon was a>> Germanic language. Modern Scots retains, for
> example, three sounds that>> do not exist in modern English: the sounds
> of "licht," "loch" and>> "muir."> Nancy> >>> Diana Manister
> <[log in to unmask]> 03/20/08> 10:44 AM >>>> > > Carrol,> > Language
> enacts the history of its time;> it's a time capsule. It> provides more
> information than was recognized> by the writer. Just as> when a snapshot
> is taken, neither the subjects> nor the photographer> could know how
> strange hairstyles and clothing and> the 1938 Ford will> look to those
> looking at the picture in the future.>> > "THE king sits in Dumferling
> toune,> Drinking the blude-reid wine:> ‘O> whar will I get guid sailor,>
> To sail this schip of mine?’> > Up and> spak an eldern knicht,> Sat at
> the kings richt kne:> ‘Sir Patrick Spence> is the best sailor> That
> sails upon the se.’"> > Sailing ships, knights,> the king, the smallness
> of a world in which the> best sailors were> well-known, and many other
> factors of the culture of> that time, not the> least of which are the
> elements of German in daily> speech, are> communicated in just first
> stanzas from "Sir Patrick Spens."> > Another> ballad, having the same
> deep structure of describing a hero, is> the> following:> > "Born on a
> mountain top in Tennessee,> Greenest state in> the land of the free.>
> Raised in the woods so's he knew every tree,>> Killed him a b'ar when he
> was only three.> Davy, Davy Crockett> King of> the Wild Frontier."> >
> "West Side Story" and Shakespeare's "Romeo and> Juliet" tell the same>
> story of lovers facing the same obstacles, in> other words they have
> the> same deep structure. Everything else is> zeitgeist.> > The I Ching
> is based on the metaphysical belief that> "everything that> occurs in a
> moment partakes of that moment." Whether> you share that> belief or not,
> you cannot deny that language> incorporates its historical> period. Or,
> to put it another way, history> is inseparable from language.> > I
> regret using the word "zeitgeist;" it> invites ridicule. No one uses it>
> anymore, but it does say what I mean:>> > American Heritage New
> Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition:>> Zeitgeist "The general
> moral, intellectual, and cultural climate of an>> era; Zeitgeist is
> German for "time-spirit." For example, the Zeitgeist>> of England in the
> Victorian period included a belief in industrial>> progress, and the
> Zeitgeist of the 1980s in the United States was a>> belief in the power
> of money and the many ways in which to spend it."> >> Analyzing a work
> of art for a manifest point-to-point correspondence>> with events such
> as the storming of the winter palace, or the general>> strike or
> lynchings in the south ignores the condensation found in the>> language
> of art. Even the most linear thinker has dreams in which>> logical
> connections are replaced by simultaneity in time. > > Julia> Kristeva
> writes in Language The Unknown that dreapainter who, in a picture of the
> school of Athens or of Parnassus,>> represents in one group all the
> philosphers or all the poets. It is> true> that they were never in fact
> assembled in a single hall or on a> single> mountaintop; but they
> certainly form a group...."> > Whether> Eliot placed any credence in
> Freudian theory or not, if Freud> was> art language and dream language,>> Eliot's poetry would exhibit Freudian
> insights (birds are not>> ornithologists.)> > Freud wrote: "Dreams are
> brief, meagre and laconic> in comparison with> the range and wealth of
> the dream-thoughts." The> extreme dream-symbols parallels that of
> literary symbols, which likewise> are> over-determined and represent in
> a single symbol contents that> "are> often widely divergent in their
> nature."> > So that lynchings in> the south may be expressed in a
> multi-valent symbol> or image whose> ostensible referent is not slavery
> but which is partly> determined by> the existence of lyncings in the
> south. > > Van Gogh's dreams, like his> paintings, would necessarily
> include horses,> carriages, gas lamps and> absinthe, while a painter in
> our time would> dream and paint out of an> experience of orbiting spy
> satellites, video> games, cell phones and> computers. Both dreams might
> have the same deep> content, i.e., tell the> same story, but the
> zeitgeist in both cases> finds ways to have its> say.> > Diana> > >
> Diana Manister wrote:> > > > At least in TWL the> zeitgeist speaks.> >
> Carrol wrote:> > 1. I would challenge the existence> of any such entity>
> as the> "Zeitgeist." Any age I know of exhibits too> large a variety of>
> fractured> spirits to speak of _A_ spirit of the> age. Put otherwise, I>
> don't even> know what "spirit of the age" could> conceivably mean. It>
> seems utterly> empty of content.> > 2. Eliot did> explicitly deny that>
> TWL expressed some spirit of> disillusinment of> the age or something>
> like that. Nancy or Marcia could> probably be more> explicit on this,>
> citing the text and correcting my> sloppiness here.>> > 3. What does
> The> Zeitgeist say? Storming of the Winter Palace? The>> General
> Strike?> Lynchings in the South? (TWL follows by only a couple>> decades
> Twain's> masterpieces, "The United States of Lyncherdom" and> "To> The
> Person> Sitting in Darkness." The resignation, protesting> Wilson's> War
> Policy,> of William Jennings Bryan: that is his true> heritage, not> the
> stupid> trial? My great uncle, who organized> sheepherders in Montana>
> for the> IWW. Beginning of the (hopeless?)> struggle to end English 1
> (its>> inventor called it the greatest mistake> of his life)? The murder
> of> Rosa> Luxemberg? The Easter Rebellion? The> failure to hang the
> various> war> criminals (all responsible politicians> of Germany,
> France, England,> &> U.S.) Imprisonment of Gene Debs?> Freeing of Gene
> Debs by the only> honest> u.s. president in the 205h c.> -- Warren G.
> Harding?> > 4. When> did this Zeitgeist leap into> existence, and when
> did it sink> into the> grave? Would we recognize it> were we to meet it
> walking down a> dark> alley?> > And so forth.> >> Carrol>>
> _________________________________________________________________> How>
> well do you know your celebrity gossip?>>
> http://originals.msn.com/thebigdebate?ocid=T002MSN03N0707A> > > >
> Windows Live Hotmail is giving away Zunes. Enter for your chance to
> win.> >
> _________________________________________________________________> In a
> rush? Get real-time answers with Windows Live Messenger.>
> http://www.windowslive.com/messenger/overview.html?ocid=TXT_TAGLM_WL_Refresh_realtime_042008
> _________________________________________________________________
> Windows Live Hotmail is giving away Zunes.
> http://www.windowslive-hotmail.com/ZuneADay/?locale=en-US&ocid=TXT_TAGLM_Mobile_Zune_V3



Watch “Cause Effect,” a show about real people making a real difference. Learn more.