Thursday, 10 July 2014

Multiverse: A Linguistic Detail

Greg Bear and Gardner Dozois, Editors, Multiverse:Exploring Poul Anderson's Worlds (Burton, MI, 2014).

This is a minor detail but English becomes:

Anglish in Gregory Benford's "Bloodpride" (p. 331);
Anglic in Poul Anderson's Technic Civilization;
Angelic in Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle's post-CoDominium Empire of Man.

Unless my memory is playing tricks in that third case? If not, then the addition of that single letter "e" is brilliant because "Angelic" links both to Anderson's "Anglic" and to the fact that the Empire of Man is officially Christian.

These word roots have been linked before. When one of the two St Augustines saw slaves being unloaded from a boat and inquired as to their identity, he was told, "Angli," and responded, "Non Angli sed angeli" (not Angles but angels). Augustine traveled to England (=Angle-land), converted its south-east corner to Christianity and became the first Archbishop of Canterbury or Primate of England.

(On reflection, I prefer Anderson's terms "Ythrians" and "Deathpride" to Benford's "Ythris" and "bloodpride.")


Sean M. Brooks said...

Hi, Paul!

Actually, the famous pun about the Angles and the angels has been attributed to St.. Gregory the Great, who was pope from 590 to 604. We read in St. Bede's HISTORY OF THE ENGLISH CHURCH AND PEOPLE of how St. Gregory was eager to preach the Gospel to the English, but he was not allowed to go. So, after Gregory became Pope, he sent St. Augustine--the same man who became the first archbishop of Canterbury.


Paul Shackley said...

Thank you. I should have realized that this is maybe an apocryphal story that could have been attributed both to the man sent and to his sender. Everard and Farness discuss this phenomenon of transferred attributions in "The Sorrow of Odin the Goth." My only authority for the story is remembering it from school so I could be misremembering it or my teacher could have got it wrong etc.

Sean M. Brooks said...

Hi, Paul!

Understood, how this error about the Angles and angels could have been made. And St. Bede's ECCLESIASTICAL HISTORY OF THE ENGLISH PEOPLE is well worth reading in its own right. It might even be a useful text for the study of Latin.

The correspondence of St. Augustine with Pope Gregory (which St. Bede quotes) also gives us a fascinating glimpse on how the Church carried out missionary activities among the barbarians in post Roman Europe.